Exciting Kidney Update!

If you are one of my followers that have followed my story since the beginning then you know I have come very far in the process of healing my left kidney.

While I am under the medical care of a GP and a Nephrologist, it is hard work that has brought me to where I am today. It is hard work to completely change your lifestyle and then maintain that change for years to come. In 2016 my left kidney failed and was probably stage 4 at that time by the symptoms I was having. In the Summer of 2017, I was stable at stages 3b to 3a and that is where I hovered for a long time. I was basically told that the kidney can not heal and I will need dialysis probably within 4 years as the disease progresses. Through the years I continued to learn more about kidney health, diet, exercise, stress, blood pressure, sleep, anemia, hydration, Vitamin D, phosphorus additives in foods, uric acid, gout, oxalates, and many other topics related to kidney health. I started to make adjustments in my life for my kidney to be healthier in relation to all of those topics. In 2021 I began to hover right around stage 2 between 58-61 for my eGFR. I was so excited! All my hard work seemed to be working. I still have blood work done twice a year, with my kidney doctor. 2 weeks ago I got my latest results and my eGFR was 67, stage 2 for sure! I really was not sure it was accurate. I mean it has been over 6 years since my left kidney failed. But, when I looked at the urine sample and the blood work there was no doubt it was accurate. One could be wrong but they both couldn’t. This is the first time in 6 years my creatinine has not been elevated in my blood. I am pretty certain he is going to want to repeat it, but since I have been trending upward for two years now I don’t see why.

I am in no way implying I am healed. My left kidney was shrunken and scarred on ultrasound when I was first diagnosed. It will never be normal size again, nor will the scar tissue go away. Nor can I stop doing all the things that have gotten me here. One virus, dehydration, too much stress, hypertensive crisis, if I get Diabetes, loss of blood, Anemia, parathyroid issues, acute injury, and so much more can cause my kidney to relapse. It is fragile, it is real life, and it is my life. I live with it every day. So for now I will relish this moment. The moment that a lot of hard work has led to an astounding accomplishment.

The only prescription medication I take is Zetia, since November of last year. My Lipid Panel was stubbornly too high, though not awful high, and I agreed to try Zetia. Zetia is a cholesterol absorbing drug. It absorbs cholesterol in the intestines so it is not absorbed by the body. It is not a Statin. I do not know if this medication is why my kidneys got the last little push by decreasing the fat levels in my blood, or not, but it is the only thing that I have changed recently on top of everything else I was already doing. There are some studies that say that Zetia may improve kidney function for people with a high lipid panel.

For now, I will relax, and enjoy this moment. But, tomorrow the hard work resumes.

I am very lucky. At the time my kidney failed, and still today, we have very good health insurance. But, it was not always that way. For many years we had horrible insurance that was too expensive to afford and didn’t cover much of anything. Like most Americans, this led to delayed treatment and diagnosis. There needs to be a change in our healthcare system. It is very broken and very unfair.

Next month is kidney awareness month. Expect some new topics and edited old topics.

My disclaimer is short and sweet. This blog is about my journey with kidney disease and helping others. Nothing in this blog is meant to be medical or nutritional advice. It is for informational purposes only and to spark a conversation.

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my kidney update

My labs came back within 24 hours this time. That has never happened! Before I get to that I want to share an app I discovered that I love. It is called My Healthy Kidney, and I found it in the Google Play Store. It is free and it helps me keep track of nutrients for my level of Kidney Disease. I mostly use it for Phosphorus as that is the one nutrient that is not listed on labels. I still like Eat This Much, their website is great, but I don’t care for their app.

I have been following a mostly Plant-Based diet, but I was still consuming small amounts of animal proteins mainly because I didn’t want to get anemic. My Creatinine did come down slightly, and my eGFR went up slightly. As I continually read about these issues it is somewhat confusing as to whether the body can completely rid itself of Creatinine, once the kidneys are damaged, or just reach a baseline. There is a well known book available, that I have been reading, that basically states a Vegan diet and VLP diet can allow your kidneys to completely clean your blood of elevated Creatinine. I follow a lot of groups and I have not seen yet where this has been successful or true. I am not saying it isn’t possible, I just haven’t seen it yet. I am not Vegan, nor do I care to be Vegan , for several reasons that I won’t go into. So, now for the next 6 months I will try to eat no meat at all and see what happens. I will continue with an occasional egg, glass of milk and I do enjoy ice cream every now and then. I frequently consume 1 oz of cheese per day. When my next set of labs come due I will be able to evaluate whether this method helps or not. All of my other labs were perfect. This still leaves me at stage 3, but I have been stable for almost 4 years now and for that I am grateful. I did find a very lengthy article on new standards of care for people with CKD, that is being suggested for doctors to use. Of utmost interest to me was the amount of protein to be consumed in a day, and whether it was plant or animal protein. There was no recommendation as to whether protein should come from animal products or plant products, as to the healthier option that is for kidneys. I found that interesting with so many people opting to go Vegan for their kidneys. I was very much surprised by the new calculation for protein intake, which I will share in a future post. I have figured out the amount recommended for my stage and have been following that since I read it a few weeks ago. Organic and whole foods is another way of eating that I have been focused on. I have been able to not only maintain muscle mass, but build muscle mass using the protein intake calculation suggested and regular exercise with light weight training.

Remember that your body needs Protein. It is very important to the maintenance of your body. How much protein is the magical question, especially if you have CKD. Ask your doctor if they know about the new standards of care and if they are recommending them to you? Come back to this website to see when I post them if they are. Mine isn’t, and I intend to share them with him. They are fairly new though, and I haven’t seen him yet this year due to Covid.


Can Losing Weight Improve eGFR for People with CKD?

Updated 3/17/2021 When I was first diagnosed with CKD way back in 2017, one of the first things my Nephrologist told me was that losing weight would help my kidney function. Like many of us who are over-weight, I was yep here we go the fat bandwagon. But, apparently he was right. As I have been researching topics for this blog, and for my own personal knowledge of CKD, there have been a few studies on this topic. As with all things CKD there are not many studies, and they are not particularly large, and are often sponsored by companies with products to sell. But, some is still better than none. While I have very good muscle strength and do not find it difficult to build new muscle, even on a protein restricted diet, like most women who have had babies and have reached Menopause, I do carry extra weight around my middle and hips. I have never been super slim, even before children. I have always had a bulky strong look to me, and the smallest I have ever been was 20 pounds over where my doctor said I should be for my height. It is very hard for me to lose weight. I lose inches, but the weight just really takes a long time to budge. Because my ultimate goal is to heal my kidney function, or at the very least get back to stage 2, weight loss is a very important part of that goal. Through all of the trials and errors, I think I have finally found a system that will work for me, not just in the short term, but in the long term as well. It is not an easy plan, and it is not fast, either. But, when I stick to it strictly, I can lose a half a pound a day, safely. I may write an ebook, or I may make the info a pdf for my newsletter followers. I haven’t decided yet, and it will be some time before I am sure the results are not just water weight or something like that. Plus, I need to have my labs checked to be sure it is completely safe.

Read my exciting March 2021 Kidney Update!

For the month of March 2021 I am giving away free coaching sessions related to Kidney Disease. Click to read more.

I found several articles on weight loss and egfr. But, I found this one easy to read, and with lots of information. Some of it you may not understand, but you will get the idea. My husband can lose weight very fast, I can not. I am not sure why, but I am sure it probably has to do with my CKD. https://www.healio.com/news/endocrinology/20120325/weight-loss-guidelines-aim-to-curb-chronic-renal-failure#:~:text=Weight%20loss%20has%20been%20shown,and%20without%20overt%20renal%20disease.

The article above talks about how difficult it can be for people with CKD to lose weight, especially if you also have Diabetes, or HTN. I do not have either of those, but I am right at the borderline for HTN. Again, weight loss will help keep my blood pressure in a good range. Weight loss will also help egfr by decreasing inflammation, proteinuria, and hyperalbuminuria. I do not currently have any of those, but I did when first diagnosed. I do get inflammation occasionally when I exercise too hard, but some of that is normal body response. I also have a tendency to retain water in my fingers. I always have, but if I am not careful it can get worse. Most of the time it is when it is extremely hot and humid and I have not hydrated myself well enough. I have labs done at the end of next month, so I will have a good idea how my diet and exercise plan is effecting my kidneys.

The article also talks about Bariatric Surgery for those with CKD who are morbidly obese and just can not lose weight. The study showed positive results. While I am not a candidate for Bariatric Surgery, and I believe in Diet and Exercise, if you just can not lose weight due to issues with your CKD, you might want to look into Bariatric Surgery to see if it is a viable option for you.

Obesity is such a huge problem in the USA. With Obesity being a risk factor for getting CKD, or at the very least renal dysfunction, there is every good reason in the world to lose weight. If you follow my Portion Distortion posts on Mondays, you will know that most of us are consuming way more calories in portions than is recommended. I read a blog where they lost weight just by controlling their portion size. They didn’t follow any other restrictions such as Keto, low carb, low fat, a certain amount of calories per day, etc, they just ate the proper portion sizes according to package labels. Hats off to them! Now I don’t know if they were successful in maintaining that, and keeping the weight off long term. But, if you stick with something for at least 3-6 months it will hopefully become ingrained and a habit in your every day lifestyle. Of course, family and friends are huge obstacles to losing weight. You have to have more will power to succeed than their will power for you to fail.

If I stick to my plan I can lose 1/2 pound per day, and I have already lost several inches on my arms, waist, hips, and thighs, but not my chest, sadly. Vacation was tough and I did not stick to it, and gained back 5 pounds of the 6 I lost. But, I am back on track and have lost 3 of those 5 in just a week. Follow this blog to read future updates and how I am progressing on my Diet and Exercise plan. Don’t forget to read the article. It has some great info.

I am also a certified American Kidney Fund Health Coach. This is a volunteer position. Before covid came I was setting up in person classes, but that didn’t last long. Now, they have approved for us to do virtual classes, which I am very excited about. I can reach so many more people virtually. Anyway , I am doing the first class next Wednesday. It is kind of practice to see how it goes and what I need to change. Then I will be doing them publicly. I will post the info here on this blog as well as my Health Buddy Melissa Facebook page, and my personal page. The class is free, and anyone can attend that can read and understand English. The first one for the general public will be in August, after my son’s wedding. I will try to do two a month. Right now I am using Facebook events as I am familiar with that format. But, once I upgrade this blog I can do them right here. Or, Skype and Zoom are other options. I thing Google Connect also could be used, but I have no idea how to use that. So, I will have to familiarize myself with that.

If you would like to learn about using any of my Health Coaching services, please use the contact form at the bottom of this page, after the images, to contact me. Or, you can email me at healthbuddymelissa@yahoo.com Ask about my brand new It’s A New Day, 30 day coaching plan.

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