Aortic Calcification and Aortic Stenosis!

For the rest of February 2023, because it is heart awareness month, I will discuss Aortic Stenosis. If you have CKD, like me, you are already at an increased risk for Aortic Stenosis just by the nature of the kidneys not filtering properly. This is not a disorder that should be ignored, or poo-pooed.

Aortic Calcification is just what it sounds like, calcium deposits build up on the Aortic Valve in the heart and cause the valve to become stenosed, or narrowed which limits the amount of blood flow going out of the heart to the rest of the body. The Aorta is the large blood vessel responsible for getting blood out of the heart to the rest of the body. As we age the valves in our hearts can become stiff and work less effectively. That also can cause stenosis, or narrowing.

Below is a short video that shows what this stenosis looks like inside the heart. It is a pretty cool video. I will discuss the anatomy of the heart and how it works, risk factors, symptoms, prevention, and treatment in future posts. But, I will also discuss the very complicated topic of health insurance and how people who are underinsured, or not insured at all have to cope with these medical issues with extreme stress and anxiety.

My disclaimer is short and sweet. None of the information in this blog is intended to be medical or nutritional advice. It is for informational purposes only and to spark a conversation.

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Kidney Class Week #12

Happy Thursday! I am a day late and a dollar short again this week, lol. I guess it doesn’t matter which day I post these on, but I do try to stay consistent for my readers.

This week we are on slide #12 which has to do with HTN in relation to Kidney Disease. This slide is very self-explanatory, and if you want some videos and other information, the past two weeks also were about this topic. I have tons of posts in my archives on the topic of blood pressure, so you can browse there as well. High Blood Pressure is the #2 cause for Kidney Failure, right behind Diabetes at #1. It is imperative that you monitor your blood pressure routinely, even if you don’t have the condition. Catching and treating it early will help prevent long-term effects. I recommend you learn to take your own blood pressure with a manual cuff, or someone in your family, if you have CKD, already. If you can’t technology has improved the electronic monitors greatly. Just be sure and follow the instructions in the packet, and get a cuff size appropriate for the size of your arm. Keep a log of your blood pressure and share it with your doctor, whether you visit yearly, monthly, or weekly.

I am an AKF Kidney Coach. These slides are theirs. As a Kidney Coach I run the class, take comments, and answer questions based on their program, my experience with CKD, and my experience as a nurse. This is not medical advice nor should it be taken as such. It is informative and educational. This applies only to my Kidney Coach status with them. All other blog posts are mine and have nothing to do with AKF Kidney Coach classes.

Please leave me a comment if you have CKD, love someone who has CKD, have High Blood Pressure, or just have questions about the topic. I will answer all valid questions, and spam is deleted. If you would rather not make public comments, you can use the contact form below to send me an email and I will answer you there.

Scroll down to read this week’s slide.

Kidney Class Week #5

Welcome to week 5 of the AKF Kidney Education Class. This week I will be sharing slide #5 and discussing the information. This one is pretty self-explanatory and I don’t have a lot to add to it. There is tons of information about CKD on this blog, and you can see the previous 4 weeks of slides in the archives. I hope everyone is enjoying these, and please leave me questions in the comments, or you can always use the contact form to send me an email. I am an AKF Kidney Coach, and this is a volunteer position, and all of their slides are their property and are shared with the express permission to do so.

I was stage 3B to 4 when I was first diagnosed in 2017. With massive lifestyle changes, dietary changes, and getting rid of bad habits I am now hovering right around stage 2 or at stage 2. I have not been given a definitive reason as to why my left kidney failed, but I was determined to make it better. So, for me, for this slide, I would like people to know that it is possible for the kidneys to get better and I wish doctors would talk to people at stage 1 or 2 so lifestyle changes can be made early rather than later. I think a routine renal panel should be included as part of every yearly physical no matter how old someone is, especially with all of the over-processed foods or society consumes. There are 5 total stages of CKD, and you can read the slide below to see what they are. If you are at stage 3 you probably are showing subtle symptoms that may be easy to ignore or blame on something else.


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Kidney Class: The Kidneys!

Hello, and welcome to the first slide in the AKF Kidney Class. Today, I will share what the kidneys do. I did a detailed post about this last year, and you can read it here. Please be sure and look at the image with the information about the kidneys on it.

The kidneys are two bean-shaped organs, that are only about 5 to 6 inches long. They are located under your ribs behind the abdomen. They are vital organs to the human body. Their main job is to filter waste from your body. When they can’t filter waste properly it builds up in your blood, causing all kinds of problems. The kidneys are part of your Urinary System. You can actually live with only one kidney. You just have to be more cautious to protect the one you have. If both kidneys fail, Hemodialysis will become necessary. You can also opt for a kidney transplant, though that can take years. Preventing Kidney Failure should be the objective for everyone. We will delve more into this more in the weeks to come. So, be sure and bookmark, and or follow, so you don’t miss a topic.

I personally have one kidney that partially failed, my left one. It has always been my goal to preserve, and or improve the function of the left kidney, hopefully back to normal. If you follow this blog then you know that in 2021 I was able to get back to stage 2, improving my EGFR from 49 to 60. I did just have my bloodwork done for my most recent appt, and my EGFR was 57, just below stage 2. So, that means I am hovering right around stage 2, and I am thrilled about that. In the coming weeks, I will share pertinent things that I have done that I feel have helped me improve my kidney function. It does take hard work, persistence, and dedication to the goal at hand. That does not mean I don’t ever waver. That would be silly. No one is perfect nor can you try to be perfect. But, you can be persistent and that is awesome!

I am an American Kidney Fund Kidney Coach. This is completely volunteer and since Covid, I have not done any live classes. I was given the go-ahead to share the slides and information here, that I would normally share in a live class. Please feel free to participate in a good conversation by asking questions, leaving comments, or reaching out to me via the contact form. I do moderate all comments, as there are so many spammers out there, so your comment may not appear for a couple of days. This is different than my Health Coach plans. They are my side hustle and the AKF has no connection to them.

Types of Dementia

Hello, and welcome to another Wellness Wednesday topic. I am updating old posts, still, and that is quite time-consuming. I am also learning the art of grant writing. That is very interesting. Why do I mention these things? Well, it is Dementia awareness month and keeping your mind learning new things is a great way to help prevent Dementia. But, more about that in future posts.

Today, I want to discuss the types of Dementia. Dementia is a complicated term. If you watched the video from yesterday, then you know that everyone experiences Dementia in different ways. I can say that is very true. I have been working with Dementia residents for over 3 years, and they are all very different. How families, respond to their loved one having Dementia is also unique to each and every family.

There is a short video below that talks about the most common types of Dementia, but there are other types as well. If you would like to read more about the other types click here. For the purposes of this blog, I will discuss the more common types, prevention, and treatment. Plus, support for caregivers of those suffering from Dementia.

But, for today let’s learn about the different types of the more common forms of Dementia.

The video is short and worth the watch. There are a couple of terms in the video that I would like to define for you. Aphasia and Apraxia. These are medical terms that are speech-related. You can read more about these with explanations of each.

Be sure and follow this blog so you don’t miss a post on this interesting topic, or you can follow my Pinterest board where all of my Health Buddy Melissa pins are saved.

Increasing your activity level is another great way to help prevent Dementia. Learn about my Walking Buddy Plan. Subscribers to my Mailchimp newsletter can get 20% off my Walking Buddy Plan.


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Memory Care Monday: Churlish!

Welcome to another Memory Care Monday post! Just a bit of housekeeping before I get to the word of the week.

Today is the first day of my November topic, Dementia. But, last month the topic was Obesity. I have been seeing some chatter about obesity being the main reason people were dying from Covid. You can’t really just go by what people say, though. This morning I read an article on Politico, and apparently, if you are Obese it does greatly increase your chance of dying from Covid. The article focused on how other countries, besides the USA, were taking this topic seriously and attempting to help their people eat better food options, and increase exercise. You can read the full article here.

Even though the Dementia topic is only for the month of November, I will continue the word of the week until all of the words have been shared. There are 100. Watch for some fun free printables for my newsletter subscribers that will help you remember and study the words as the list gets longer.

Churlish is the 12th word on the list. You can find the previous words in the archives.

I could tell you what churlish means, but I think you will have more fun watching the cute video below and then looking up the meaning. If you want to play along you can keep an online journal, or pen and paper, of all the words on the list. Look up the meaning, and use it in a sentence. Test yourself weekly to see how much you remember. If you don’t remember much, study first. A few other things you can do are find a synonym for the word, an antonym, write it into a joke, and write out the word and the meaning at least ten times while saying it out loud.

I will be trying to get the first printable done tomorrow, for my Wednesday newsletter. Otherwise, it will go out in a special newsletter. If you would like to work with me to learn ways to help your memory, use the contact form at the end of the post to send me an email. Exercise is a very important way to help improve memory. Learn about my Walking Buddy Plan.

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Mask up, again!

Hello, and welcome to another Wellness Wednesday! This is not the topic I was going to discuss today, however in light of all the new information, and the fact that this is a Health blog I decided to talk about it. This is information and my thoughts. I am in no way, telling people to either get the vaccine or not. This post may contain affiliate links.

First, some background on my experience. I have Kidney Disease. I do not typically get the Flu Vaccine because the couple of times I did get it I got sick anyways. But, Covid was a different story for me. Covid attacks the kidneys and destroys them. I only have one so the risk of not getting the Covid vaccine was too great. I work in Health Care. I have taken care of people with Covid, and I have been exposed by people with Covid. I was fully vaccinated as of March 10 of this year. You can read about my experience with the second Moderna shot. Either my daughter, or myself, have been disinfecting our frequently touched areas every day for over a year, until May that is. We stopped wearing masks in public after the CDC said we could, as all of us are now fully vaccinated, including my teenager. Even though I work in Health Care I have never tested positive and I get tested a lot. Almost exactly 4 weeks ago, a fellow coworker and friend of mine, who is not vaccinated sat in my office doing paperwork with her mask off the whole time. I still wore my mask as I knew she was not vaccinated but required to test weekly. I only removed my mask when drinking from my water bottle. Three days after that I learned that she tested positive for Covid, and then three days after that she was admitted to the ICU with Covid Pneumonia. My job rapid tested me 4 days after I was exposed, and I was negative. One week after my exposure I started experiencing a mild scratchy throat. My job advised me it was ok to come to work and they would rapid test me again. Again, I was negative. Towards the end of my shift I could tell I was coming down with something and left early. My husband and daughter also got sick, though milder than I did. We all got a PCR test on the same day and were all in various stages of something. We all tested negative. Because I work in Health Care I was advised to self quarantine until my PCR test came back negative. There is a point to this keep reading. We went back to wearing masks after this, even before we were advised to do so. I have also gone back to disinfecting daily.

My friend did not have the Delta variant. But, now 3 weeks after her illness we have an outbreak at my work. I do not yet know if it is the Delta variant, but they believe most likely it is. I have heard of other outbreaks in my area where vaccination rates are very low, below 30% in some spots. Today, I had to go get PCR tested, again, due to the outbreak at work. I go to the Health Department, and the line which typically is one or two cars, had about 20 cars in line. Again, I do not know if any of the new cases are the Delta variant, but I can presume because of how fast the cases have exploded in the past few weeks.

If you have been paying attention then you know the CDC just issued new mask rules telling the vaccinated to mask up again indoors in communities with high spread of Covid. Unvaccinated people should have never stopped wearing masks indoors. Indoors does not mean in your own personal home, though if there is an outbreak in your home that may be prudent.

My point to all of this is what the CDC said that the new Delta variant has changed the game for mask wearing.

Some key points I would like to make.

  1. Being vaccinated does not mean you can’t catch Covid. Your chances are much smaller, and you most likely will get a milder illness and not need hospitalization. Nor will you most likely die if you are vaccinated and get Covid.
  2. The vaccine protects you, and those around you because it was thought the vaccinated could not spread it if they did get it. However, the new Delta variant they say has a 1,000 times the viral load of the other variants. It was also stated in tests that a vaccinated person had just as much viral load in their nose as an unvaccinated person with the Delta variant. This also means that vaccinated people, with that higher viral load, can transmit the virus to other people. That is why the new mask guidance came out, because the new variant is stronger and more dangerous.
  3. The longer it takes to reach Herd Immunity the higher chances of the virus infecting people and mutations will continue to occur. A virus needs a host to live. Humans are the host for Covid. If Herd Immunity is reached then the virus can no longer have a host and no longer can mutate. The video below explains virus mutation quite well.
  4. We already know that asymptomatic people can spread Covid.
  5. Children under 12 do not have a vaccine offered to them as yet. This puts them at a huge risk for getting Covid. The original variant did not seem to effect young children much and it was possible they could not spread it. We do not know if the Delta variant will react the same way to children. We have lost over 600,000 people to Covid in the USA alone, whether you agree with how that data was collected, or not, it is the statistic. Are we prepared to start losing large numbers of children to this virus?
  6. If you absolutely do not want to get the vaccine, or can’t for some reason, masks work. They act as a barrier to the virus entering your nose or mouth where the virus can grow and you will become infected. They also act as a barrier to the virus leaving your nose and mouth if you are infected. That protects others. Masks are most important when indoors especially with close proximity to others, if there is not good ventilation, or if proper disinfecting is not taking place. They are not perfect, nor are they 100%, but they are an awesome tool. Even before Covid I would wear a mask during regular Flu Season to avoid getting it. They work for any respiratory illness you may wish to not get. You may wish to wear eye protectors if you are in an area with high community spread and you are indoors.
  7. I had to quarantine and miss 3 days of paid work due to being directly exposed to someone who was positive for Covid they weren’t wearing a mask. I know I personally can not afford to do that every time someone exposes me. Your own place of business may have different rules, but because I work in Health Care and I got symptoms, I had to quarantine until I got a negative PCR test, not a rapid test.

I tend to ramble, but I hope you see my points. The videos below are short and explain it even better. I urge you to watch them and keep an open mind no matter your decision. Please talk to your health care provider also, to learn more and what is best for you.

Stay safe and healthy!


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Processed people!

Welcome back for another Food on Friday topic. The video below is not real exciting, but the topic and the point they make is super important to living a Healthy Lifestyle. I am not going to write a lot, I am just going to encourage you to watch it with an open mind and really listen to what they are saying. Please remember that Plant-Based does not mean Vegan.

If you would like to learn how a Health Coach can help you change your eating habits, email me at, or you can fill out the contact form at the end of this post and the email will come to me.


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eye see you!

Today starts the first of a series on Eye Health. Today, I will cover the function of the eye, and some common disorders of the eye. This post may contain affiliate links.

If you read this week then you know Hurricane Elsa was barreling towards us. We did dodge a bullet as wind shear tore it a part starting last night at 11 PM. This afforded me a good nights sleep. The weather has been nasty all day with wind and rain, but it could have been so much worse. Lots of rain! I am glad it is over, and I am good with no more rain for a bit. It has been such a wet Summer so far.

I am keeping this post kind of short, because it is still quite windy and the power keeps blinking. The two videos below are interesting to watch.


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is this a healthy food? Mindful eating

Hello, and welcome back to Mindful Monday. As part of my Mindful Monday and Mindful Monday posts I will be sharing some of my families favorite food items, and some that I just want to talk about, as to whether these are healthy food items, or food at all. Before I get into it I need to make any potential new customers aware that I have a Tropical Storm heading towards me. The weather will start to go down hill tomorrow. For the most part we will get heavy rain, wind, and possible tornadoes. I may lose power, but obviously I am hoping not. Unless the system rapidly intensifies in the Gulf evacuation will not be needed. We woke up yesterday morning to a leak in our roof from the already heavy rains we have been experiencing for a month now. I noticed my neighbor also has a tarp on their roof, so all this rain is starting to affect us all. Keep us in your thoughts and I will try to keep posting every day. Next week I really am hoping to do a live video shot to put up on Youtube, but maybe you will get to see some Tropical Weather instead, lol. I am glad that I got to eat all of my fresh peaches, straight off of my peach tree before these high winds come. You may see affiliate links in this post.

Today, I am going to discuss Smartfood White Cheddar Popcorn. It is my all time favorite popcorn of any popcorns. I am ashamed to say I could eat this whole bag if I didn’t have portion control. But, beyond my personal love for this popcorn is it a healthy food. The definition of a healthy food is: healthy foods provide nutrients to sustain a bodies well being and energy levels. Water, carbs, fats, protein, vitamins, and minerals are the key nutrients in a healthy food. So, lets look at the label of Smartfood popcorn and decide if I think it is a healthy food.

There are 7 servings in one bag and 160 calories per serving. A serving is about 2 1/2 cups, so that is a nice generous serving size. If you ate the whole bag you would consume 1120 total calories. So, yes it definitely will give you energy.

Each serving contains 14 grams of carbs. So if you are a Diabetic and have been told your snack should be 15 grams of carbs or less, one serving of this popcorn could be a snack for you. However, if someone consumed the whole bag it would be 98 grams of total carbs. There are 2 grams of fiber per serving. So, technically you could subtract 14 grams of carbs to get a net carb total of 84. So, yes it contains carbs for energy and even some fiber. Not too bad.

Fats: There are plenty of fats in here, but you could say it is probably too much to be considered healthy. Each serving contains 10 grams of fat, and 2 are saturated fats. There are no trans fats so that is good. If you ate the whole bag you would get 70 grams of fat, and 14 grams of saturated fats. That is not so great at all.

Protein: There are 3 grams of protein per serving and if you ate the whole bag it would be 21 grams of total protein. If you have CKD this could be a dangerous snack, especially because it is so easy to over eat it. On the note of CKD. There are no PHOS additives listed on the label, so that is a positive for this snack food. However, popcorn naturally has some Phosphorus and milk products are used, and that also contains Phosphorus. So, don’t be tricked into believing there isn’t any. Phosphorus is not a required item on food labels, something to lobby for if you have Kidney Disease.

Other Vitamins and Minerals: Sodium 200 mg per serving, that makes this a high Sodium food. Potassium 50 mg per serving which states is 0 percent of RDA. I find that strange since milk and popcorn both contain Potassium naturally. Calcium 2% of RDA. Iron 2% of RDA for one serving.

Ingredients: You can see the label below, but you will see they are not awful. There is some maltodextrin in there ie sugar and that would be why there is 2 grams of sugar per serving. In all there are 8 ingredients and as far as processed foods go I don’t find that to be incredibly horrible. There is milk used in this product so if you have issues with milk this won’t be a good option.

So, all in all what do I think? I think if you eat one serving that this could be a Healthy Food snack option. It is kind of high in fat so eat some veggies with it to help absorb the vitamins and minerals in your veggies. A win win. I certainly would try not to eat the whole bag, but like I said it would be very easy to. So, if you don’t have portion control this could be very unhealthy. , and would be more of a meal than a snack.

Do you love White Cheddar Popcorn, or do you have another favorite snack food. Obviously, air fried popcorn is the healthiest type of popcorn. Stay safe if you are in the path of Tropical Storm Elsa!


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