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Thursday, June 22, 2017

The "The Distractions of Failed Kidneys", edition.

Good Thursday morning. I know. It's been a while since I've written. It's ok doesn't mean anything is wrong. I've been trying to be more active in the organizations I belong to. It's hard, though. Somehow my bad days coincide on meeting days, or days I've committed to do something. Doesn't make me to dependable. And even when people say it's ok and they hope I feel better, I feel bad and guilty. And let's add that the weather is achieving record breaking temperatures. I don't mean breaking the record for the day, but breaking all time records. Ugh. Going out in the heat is an issue. My skin reacts to the sun. I may also just wake up feeling punky and it goes downhill from there. I'll get killer heartburn and assorted digestive issues for no apparent reason. I'm slowly removing foods from my list. But yesterday I had eggs, sausage and hash browns. Very basic. And I felt like crap later on. I also think the extreme heat makes by body react. Ah well. I still keep going. And I've got to feel pretty bad to not go swimming. 

Anyway, it's not all doom and gloom. We've outgrown our condo.  Don't  get me wrong, it's a nice size, but my dialysis supplies are overwhelming the space. And. I want a dog. Maybe 2 dogs. And maybe a cat. A dog and a cat!  Oh. Brian says well just start out with a dog. So we've been house hunting. We've seen several properties and bid on one.  What tickles me is all paper work is done electronically. Click or touch the screen to sign or initial. This means business is conducted at all times of the day..or evening!  This process has kept us busy.  Getting texts to meet at some homes now! Going all over town looking at houses. And yes, we have narrowed down and area we want to buy.  We'll see how it goes. 

You know Brian and I got a trainer. It's been a busy time there. First of all the owner moved to a larger space and has incorporated a boxing program. The program includes boxing and fitness for people with Parkinson's Disease. Our trainer got trained for the boxing program. I'm thinking about trying it out. The training center is fun and supportive. Yes, there are diehard and incredibly physically fit people there and we believe several are performers in shows on the strip. And then there are people like us. Who want to get and stay fit and active. The training center caters to all of us. This summer the owner is training Boys to Men, New Kids on the Block and Paula Abdul while they are on a 44 day tour. He also does their meal,plans.  He keeps in touch with us (the clients and staff) via Facebook videos. I think he misses us. Lol. But he has a capable staff running the center in his absence.  

Anyway. The training center uses a method called FitRanx. It's a series of fitness levels. People have to test to make the levels (1-8) our trainer decided Brian was ready for level one. She worked with and worked him for the last 6 weeks so he'd be ready. And she gave him a program for him to do at home. Yeah, the condo has an exercise room. Brian was diligent and I could see the improvement. Oh yeah. She trains us at the same time. Anyway.  The weeks leading up to testing people were working out like crazy and the trainers were working with their clients. The night before, the owner sent out a Facebook video encouraging everyone who was testing. For the record, only 2 people are level 8. And niether of them are the staff, not even the owner!  Lol. 

We arrived at the training center in time  for his 9:00 AM test. He was ready. The tests consists of skills and repetitions during a specified time period. Like holding planks for 30 seconds. Or 30 seconds of mountain climbing. Doing a farmers carry with 2 20 pound kettle balls for a timed period. And some others that I can't recall, but he had to do 3 reps of these within a specified time period. During the last rep I started cheering him on. And everyone in the center was cheering with words of encouragement also. During the last skill of the last rep the trainer did a countdown and everyone in the gym counted down also. When he finish the test, the center erupted in a giant cheer and lots of congratulations!!!  This happened with other people also. Lots of support. So what does Brian get?  He gets his name on the wall under his category. And now he's looking forward to starting to work on the next level!  Maybe I'll be ready for the next testing period. Oh. For each category there are requirements based on gender and age. 

Brian and Dad wanted to go to Pizza Rock for Father's Day. Well it was Brian's idea and my dad is crazy about pizza. Oh my goodness. The pizza they selected was beyond delicious. The problem with eating really good food is that your palette becomes accustomed to the goodness.  That has happen with rib eye steaks and prime rib. We are real picky now. Lol. 

Well that's it for today. Today is trainer day.  I whine about going. I whine when I'm there and then it's over I feel good. Lol. I starred off with the dialysis angle...nocturnal is working ok. I'm still trying to figure out what to with the he arm that has the needles. But I sleep well. Anyway. Have a great day and stay cool, or dry and safe! 

Brian and our trainer. 

Fathers Day at Pizza Rock
Dad with his glass of wine and Brian. 

Thursday, June 8, 2017

The 'Interruptions, or Life on Dialysis is never Predictable", edition.

Good Thursday morning!  I had a carefully scheduled week. Things I planned to do. But sometimes things go awry. First of all let's start with early last week. I had to miss a treatment and that screwed with the treatment schedule. We just got back to the regular schedule. And getting off schedule meant that some days I had to do treatment during the day instead of at night. Ugh. Being in the bed attached to dialysis machine for 5+ hours during the day. Bleah. Had to a few sessions like that. In addition the monthly blood labs were off schedule..yes..we (Brian) takes the blood samples and then they're shipped via FedEx at the expense of the clinic. Four vial of blood taken before treatment and one after treatment. Brian has to run the samples through a centrifuge, and then store them in the refrigerator overnight. In the morning he packs the blood in the special packaging and then drops the package at FedEx for same day delivery to the lab.  

Well. We took the labs Sunday, because we can't send it over the weekend. And the lab results are reported pretty quickly and will be reviewed with me by my neohrologist and dietician. Except my monthly appointment was on Monday. And we didn't take the labs until. Monday night. D'oh. Anyway. It was time for my yearly TB test so that happened on Monday. My nurse wants me to return today to see how these turned out. Short of a momentary itch and the little dot where the needle was inserted, it looks ok. 

But wait!  There's more!  Last week I started having trouble during the stick. Specifically my venous needle...blood in needle. When Brian tried to inject the med (heparin-blood thinner) through the tube, it wouldn't  go. The syringe plunder wouldn't plunge. That meant there was clot somewhere in the line or in the fistula. *sigh*. No blood moved through the line. But then!!  When Brian slowly moved the needle out, the blood started to flow. What this meant though was that my fistula needed maintenance. Yes. It was time. What is a fistula you ask?

"A fistula used for hemodialysis is a direct connection of an artery to a vein. Once the fistula is created it’s a natural part of the body. Once the fistula properly matures, it provides an access with good blood flow that can last for decades. It can take weeks to months before the fistula  is ready to be used for hemodialysis." 

Well since fistula is created, it's something that is not natural to the body. It allows the blood to flow and this is where the needles are inserted. But every now and then the fistula closes in on itself. And that's what happens to me. Usually every 6 months. This time was 9 months, but I was in the lookout!  I called my nurse and she made the appointment. Because the fistula is my lifeline, I needed to get it taken care of immediately. 

So yesterday I had the procedure to fix my fistula. It was my fifth time. Once in Detroit and number four here on Vegas. The procedure takes place at a vascular access center. So.  A nurse gets me. We review my previous record. I am allergic to the dye...that is used for the fistulagram.  We review the procedure and meds. I get conscious sedation.  Whoo hoo!!  I get sent to the dressing room, disrobe just my top. Get escorted to the holding area. Placed in a chair with heated blankets, vitals are taken, and finally I talk with the vascular surgeon. Same one as before. A few moments later I walk to the procedure room...very much a surgical environment. The nurse is there, 2 other people to prep me and the finally the doctor comes in. 

Prep involved putting the ekg nodes on me, getting oxygen, scrubbing the hell out of my left arm and they create a sterile area. Oh yeah. I have permanent little hole on my left arm for insertion of stuff related to the fistula. Doc injects me with megadose of benedryl.  That's the conscious sedation and it hits me immediately. Look out. Here comes high Pat. Lol. I'm on my back. Doc is on my left, with some kind of plastic bubble tent. I'm facing to the  right and there are 2 monitors, so I can see what is happening as the doc is doing what he does. I see the fistula and I see 2 areas where the fistula is closing in. I ask and point it out and the doc says yes. He has to insert a balloon into the fistula to expand it, the angioplasty procedure.  It doesn't hurt, but I feel the pressure. Procedure may take 15 minutes at best. After procedure I'm rolled back to the staging area, given apple juice and crackers. Doc comes to talk to me, but we had talked about it during the procedure. Lol. I'm in and out in less than an hour. However, the sedation drug is still at work. For most of the rest of the day. 

Oh. And we're in the process of purchasing a new condo. I needed to go to the credit union to do stuff. Ah well. We went after I napped, but I was still wiped out. But it got done. I still have the bandage. And I have an additional bandage on my arm from doing treatment last night. I'm gonna get a shit load of questions about it today. And today, I still have to speak with the real estate agent and the title company. Yay?  And I have to go back to the dialysis center for the nurse to check the TB test. Alrighty. Oh yeah. We go to the trainer today. Long day. 

That's it for today. Lengthy entry. But you can see being dialysis is not routine.  Ah well this is my life. Have a good day. My adventures in dialysis!  

This is what I see during the procedure. The closed spaces are what needs to be expanded, hence the angioplasty...inserting a ballon into the  fistula and expanding the ball onto force open the fistula. 

Saturday, June 3, 2017

The "Learn to Swim", edition.

Good Sunday morning. It's been a busy week. And next week doesn't seem to be any better.  I got the pedicure and manicure though. The pedicure is mandatory out here. Open toe shoes all the time. And I found that the manicure protects my fingernails because I swim. I also got a haircut.  I don't  like when my hair grows long enough that it curls. Because I have to work with my hair. Well. I have to wet it then comb it out, but still that's way too much effort. Lol. After 15 years or so of short hair, I'm not interested in fussing with my hair. Also when my hair grows out I have at least 3 or more distinct textures.  Ugh. And finally since I swim at least 3 days a week, the shorter the hair the better. 

Which leads me to swimming. I talk about many things, but the topics I talk about the most...or my peronal causes, are kidney health information and getting your kidneys checked....and learn to swim. My mom took me to the local YWCA. Yes yWca.  Long time ago. Lol. She took me when I was about 7. I continued taking lessons and they continued when I went to summer camp. I also swam at a lake near near our summer cottage. By the time I was a teenager my friends and I were waterskiing, riding on ski boards and riding on jet skis. We'd also swim across the lake for the fun of it. (Yes we had personal floatation devices). Some of us went on to be Red Cross certified lifeguards. In college I became certified by the American Red Cross to teach Adaptive Aquatices. This is teaching swimming to people with disabilities. Paid good!  Lol. Some of my swimmer friends got college scholarships for swimming or diving. Some learned how to scuba dive and got jobs doing that. 

Brian learned to swim in college. He took it all the way through. He went from not knowing how to swim to being an American Red Cross certified lifeguard and worked at one of the largest pools in Detroit. It is an Olympic sized pool with 5 meter dive platforms. I am damned impressed with him. This pool required the best of the best lifeguards. Needless to say I started swimming lessons for my child when she was 2 years old. It wasn't on my radar when she was that young. However, Brian, Shawn and I went to a pool party at a friends house and Shawn just jumped in the pool. Diaper and all!  With a huge grin. Yikes!  We got her out and explained as best we could to a toddler that she shouldn't do that. And then she did it again. O. K. That week I found a class at the YMCA and she and I were off to start those Mommy and me swimming lessons. 

Then when she attended Howard University, taking a swimming class was a graduation requirement. I actually think it's a good idea. She took the class and informed us that in order to pass, the students had to sing the Howard University song while treading water. Lol. Ok. But the school song was slow and sounded like a funeral dirge. Lol lol. I estimate they had to tread for 2-3 minutes. And of course she passed. And when we took her and some friends to Disney World (Shawn's college graduation gift). And her friends are Howard graduates. And we went to the water park. And they swam with the sharks! 

Swimming and water safety is very important to me. If you live near a body of water you need to know how to swim. If you go on boats, you need to know how to swim...or if you don't know how to swim wear a personal floatation jacket. I'm a strong swimmer, but I make sure I have a life jacket when I'm on a boat. Most of you know that Brian and I do deep water fitness. Did you know we wear floatation belts during the workout?  I probably could do the hour long work out without the belt, but why would I?  The area of the pool we are  in is 13 feet. Oh yeah. One of the tests for lifeguard was to dive into the deepest part of the pool 10-13 feet, to recover a rubber brick. Good times. Lol. The tester would toss the brick in the water after you dove in so you couldn't see where it landed. And.  We couldn't surface until we retrieved the brick. We had strong lungs back then!  I've digressed. 

So what are the benefits of swimming?  Swimming is beneficial because it can provide an aerobic workout, but also because the resistance provided by the water builds muscle, which helps with blood sugar control. Some other research has shown that swimming and water exercise programs can help people lower blood pressure.  Swimming also manages weight, reduces stress, and helps you sleep. It's low impact and a great cardio exercise. And in the case of our deep water fitness, we get plenty of cardio, we work on core (try doing sit-ups in the water) , strengthen our arms and legs and work on range of motion and work on balance. And the stretching feels good. 

So what's the dialysis angle?  They type of dialysis I chose was solely dependent on if I would be able to swim. Peritoneal dialysis would not allow me to swim.  So I chose hemodialysis. That's why I insert needles into my arm. I can swim anywhere except in a lake or pond. To much bacteria. What about the ocean?  The sea water kills bacteria!  But I'll just stick to chlorinated pools, thank  you very much!  It's important to stay active while on dialysis. It's very easy to give in to End Stage Renal Disease and the whole dialysis thing. But a lot of us refuse to do so. So I swim. I swim 3 days a week. And I love it. 

So I hope I've convinced you to consider swim lessons if you don't know how. The Y has lessons for beginners..yes for adults. They don't toss you into the deep iend. They teach you breathing and strokes and basic self lifesaving. It's worth it. And I hope that you make sure your children and grandchildren and nieces and nephews and godchildren are taking swimming lessons. Those basic self lifesaving skills can prevent a tragedy. But beyond that swimming is fun. And knowing how to swim makes a visit to the pool or water park and even more enjoyable experience!!  

That's it for today. LEARN TO SWIM!! 

Treading water in the deep end. 

Aerobics water belt.  Keeps ya floating. 

Water barbells. Creates resistance. Works your arms.