Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Who Wants to Hear a Good Report?

My kidney appointment went really well yesterday. I have a lot of updates so will do so in chunks:

  • My glomerular filtration rate (GFR) has improved and my kidneys are functioning better than they were six months ago! I went from a GFR of 59 to a 78 -- meaning that I'm now at Stage 2 of chronic kidney disease instead of Stage 3. This change is due to a reduction in my creatinine level; there's less chemical waste in my blood.
  • My diastolic blood pressure (resting heart rate) is still high. The systolic number (pressure when the heart is beating) is good.
  • I still have high levels of protein and blood in my urine. This, coupled with the high diastolic blood pressure, made my doctor decide to increase my blood pressure med; I'm now at the max dosage. I have another urine test in four weeks to reassess and see if this change is working.
  • There's some talk about doing a second biopsy if the proteinuria cannot be controlled. But we're in wait-and-see mode.
  • My file was changed to officially list my diagnosis as: IgA nephropathy (chronic). This was a change from the more generic diagnosis of mesangial proliferative glomerulonephritis. This may not seem like a big deal, but for me it's important. I like specificity.
  • I have (ugh!) gained 25 pounds since being diagnosed with kidney disease. (Did I say "ugh" yet?)
  • Quote of the day: "You put me to shame." -- my doctor, when I told her that I ran a 5K two weeks ago. :) 

All in all, not a bad visit!

Monday, September 17, 2012

This Sounds Fishy

One question I get a lot is: What kind of medications are you on?

And I think they're asking because of the kidney disease and not something else ("...wow, you're weird, are you taking anything for that?")

My nephrologist has me taking:

1. Lisinopril (blood pressure)
2. Spironolactone (diuretic)
3. Fish Oil. Lots and lots of fish oil.

It's the fish oil that people always find surprising. We've all heard about the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids, but lesser known is that fish oil has been shown to slow the progression of IgA nephropathy -- the type of disease I have. This was proven in a Mayo Clinic study in the 1990s and again in a 2004 study. The catch? Patients need to take a very high dose -- at least six grams a day. (The Foundation for IgA nephropathy has a thorough post that provides more information on this topic.)

Some nephrologists recommend fish oil for their patients. Some don't. When my doctor presented this option to me, we decided that it can't hurt to try. We opted for fish oil instead of other, harsher options -- like prednisone or an immunosuppressant drug.

My next appointment is Sept. 24, and I'm curious to know if we'll stay the course or if we'll try something new.

But for now, I faithfully take my fish oil.

And I just keep swimming.    

Monday, September 10, 2012

A Lasting Memory

Old friends. New friends. A very personal cause.

I participated in my second National Kidney Foundation of Michigan kidney walk last weekend in Ann Arbor. There were eight of us on the "Giffy's Kidneys" team, including the wonderful Pauline, who is also living with kidney disease. We raised $780, but that wasn't the highlight of the day.

The 1.2 mile walking path through the Concordia University campus led us to a gorgeous overlook, captured in the image below.

How could I ever -- for one second -- get down when I'm surrounded by friends and scenery like this?

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Holy **** I Ran a 5K!

I did it!!! I was able to run a 5K!

Rob and Denise joined me today to run this race -- and when I say "joined" I mean: coached, pushed, cajoled, encouraged, cheered and got me to the finish line in under 44 minutes. Denise did everything possible to give me confidence while Rob went into full coach mode and pushed me really hard the last mile. I think I needed these contrasting styles today. (And I definitely needed more cowbell.)

I can't believe how difficult this run was for me, and I am so grateful that they were willing to help me accomplish my goal.

A few highlights:

  • This was the longest distance I've run since being diagnosed with kidney disease.
  • I only stopped to walk three times.
  • I had a piece of my Dad with me; I wore a pair of his socks. I have no doubt that he helped give me the strength I needed.
  • The course had several small inclines that mentally kicked my butt.
  • I saw my friends Pat and Denny before the race, as Pat ran the 5-mile race at 8 a.m. It was GREAT to see them!
  • I always like seeing the finish line, but this time it was even sweeter because my Mom was standing there waiting for us and cheering like crazy. Love you Mom!
  • I slept for three hours when I got home. Tired, but happy.