It’s taken me a day to mentally process everything, but yesterday was my first visit to the Kidney Clinic. Wow! These people are great! I feel like I am in good…no, great hands.
So…to say I was nervous was an understatement. I know a lot about this stuff just by experiencing it with my mother. But that was her. This is me. It’s a whole new ballgame. I’m not sitting in the bleachers cheering her on. I’m out there, facing the pitcher’s mound, and I literally have no idea if I’m going to be able to handle what’s heading my way. But, I’m going to try my best.
Yesterday’s first visit to the Kidney Clinic involved me getting to know some of the people who will be supporting me over this journey. And they got to learn more about me. They asked a lot of questions, gave me a video to watch and lots of material to read including two books:
Book One – Living With Reduced Kidney Function
Book Two – Living With Kidney Failure
What the Kidney Clinic does:
1) Help you keep your kidney function for as long as possible through monitoring, bloodwork, diet, medication, etc.
2) Evaluate your disease progress and prepare you for eventual dialysis.
3) Educate you on dialysis options so that together you can choose which one will work best for you.
4) Make appropriate adjustments/preparations according to the dialysis “lifestyle” you choose. This may involve an operation or two. (I’ll talk about this more in a future post.)
5) Help get you prepared and settled into the dialysis lifestyle. Yes, I say lifestyle because that is what it will be.
Of course, there is the whole transplant option too, but that isn’t something that happens immediately. And even though I have had several offers of kidneys (you know who you are and I appreciate and am humbled by your sincere generosity), I’d like to hold out for one of those synthetic kidneys. Science is advancing every day. And who knows? I could be the first candidate! When my mother had her kidney transplant back in 1982, Cyclosporin was the new anti-rejection wonder drug. But it was so new that it was still experimental and you picked a card like a lottery ticket. The doctor came to your bedside and held out a handful of cards, each having either “No” or “Yes” printed on it. The patient selected a card and if it said “Yes” they received Cyclosporin after their transplant. If it said “No”, they didn’t. Both my mom and her kidney twin* chose “Yes” cards. Cyclosporin has since been replaced with new medications.
My current status is that in the past 2 months my kidney function has dropped another 2%, putting my kidneys at 18% function. I also learned that I’ve lost about 15-20 lbs in the last 6-12 months. I noticed that I had moved down a notch on my belt, but didn’t think much of it. Apparently, loss of appetite is a side effect of this stage. I was wondering why I was turning my nose up at ice cream. And why does it take you to get sick in order for you to look at a piece of chocolate cake and your body to say “Nah”?
I’ve also had a medication adjustment. I mention this only because I was excited to pick up the new pills today and discover they are pink! I get excited over little things now.
Next on the side-affects agenda are leg cramps (more of them) and itching. I’m kinda not looking forward to that. Even just thinking about itching makes me feel itchy. I was curious about this and through a little research found this description which I think explains it best:
During kidney failure, the kidneys are also unable to balance nutrients in the blood, such as calcium and phosphorus. This triggers the parathyroid gland to produce extra hormone to combat the blood imbalance, resulting in itchy skin. (Reference.com)
It’s bedtime for me now. At least I have lots of reading material to curl up with.
* My mother had a kidney twin; that is to say that of the two kidneys that were donated, she received one and another lady received the other. During their recovery they were put in the same hospital room and, being in the same situation and having the same donor, they called themselves “kidney twins” and became lifelong friends. I wish with all my heart that the family of the donor knew how much good they had done by giving such a selfless gift.