Kidney Class Week #13

Hello, and welcome back! Have you been following along? I missed last week because we had family in from out of state and I was at the beach. You can find all previous weeks in the archives. This Kidney Class is the property of the American Kidney Fund, for which I am a volunteer Kidney Coach. Before Covid, I would present the whole class in group sessions in person. I was given permission to share the information here on this blog with my life experience, as someone with CKD, and my nursing background. Just like I would in person. Plus, now it is always here, and anyone can read it for years to come, forever even. I encourage you to ask me questions in the comments, or if you would rather it be private you can email me at healthbuddymelissa@healthbuddymelissa

This week for slide #13 is still talking about blood pressure and kidney disease. The last class was more about how high blood pressure can cause kidney disease, whereas this week it is about how kidney disease can actually cause high blood pressure. The kidneys are complicated organs and do way more than most people realize. One of the functions of the kidneys is to regulate blood pressure by reabsorbing sodium, producing renin, and managing water in the body.

Personally, I am right at the cusp of being considered high blood pressure. This is strange because my kidneys have improved back to stage 2. However, I may be consuming more salt than I should, and I know I don’t drink enough when I am at work. That is one of the reasons I refuse to work full time is because I can’t just stop and constantly drink water. I can’t have water at my med cart in the facility I currently work, so it just is not healthy for me. I know when I am dehydrated because I will get a headache, and almost every time I work I get a headache. I also get cloudy urine, a sure sign of dehydration. If you have CKD or want to reduce your risk of getting it, keeping your blood pressure in good control is vital. I have a whole page of stuff just about blood pressure. You can read them here. There are probably others in the archives too.

Read the slide below, leave me a comment with your questions, and then check out this PubMed article on the topic of high blood pressure caused by CKD.

Only these slides are the property of AKF. All other posts on this blog, are mine unless otherwise stated.

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Medical Monday: Menopause!

Welcome back to another month of new Medical Monday topics. If you read here often, you know this blog is focused a lot on health coaching, and help topics, plus CKD. But, I like to talk about other topics as well and Menopause is definitely a medical and a wellness topic. Chances are very good that you are either a woman, or you know a woman. I am sure you have heard all of the stereotypes about hysterical women and Menopause. This month I will discuss Menopause and how it can affect everyone’s wellness, not just a woman.

I watched a ton of videos on Menopause last night until I found one that explains it in a sensible but educated way. The video, a TED Talk, is just a basic introduction to the topic of Menopause. Watch for future posts and how Menopause affects women and their wellbeing.

If there is a subtopic related to Menopause that you would like me to talk about, leave me a comment, and I will consider it.

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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.

The Biggest Kidney Development In 20 Years!

Hello! It is still National Kidney Month, and I meant to talk about this topic weeks ago, but I got busy with other things and it didn’t happen.

I am not going to go into all the mumbo jumbo of a clinical trial, there is a video for that, lol. The video below will talk about the clinical trials for Farxiga and the results. I will keep it simple and state it met all of their standards with flying colors! The FDA has now approved Farxiga for the treatment and prevention of kidney decline in CKD patients with or without Diabetes. This is huge!

Now, before you get too excited there are some caveats. It is for stages CKD 2-4, and you can not be on hemodialysis. You can read the drug information here, but if you are on a low sodium diet, and which person with CKD is not on a low sodium diet, then you need to proceed with caution as Farxiga can cause you to be dehydrated, and cause volume loss. Make sure you discuss all aspects of this drug if you decide to ask your doctor about using it. The people in the clinical trials were on ACE Inhibitors, or ARBS, most likely to control blood pressure. So, I would be curious to know how Farxiga would work for those of us who do not take those medications. Not all of us do, though it is a typical standard of care for most people with CKD. Also, and most important in my mind, is that Farxiga can cause a type of genital infection, that can lead to gangrene, in the genitals. Yes, you read that correctly. You would need to pay extra attention to this very sensitive part of your body for any signs of infection. You also can not have Polycystic Kidney Disease or autoimmune kidney disease to take Farxiga. There are other drugs in this class of medication, but only Farxiga has been FDA approved for the treatment of CKD. Farxiga is made by Astrazeneca.

Now, my thoughts on Farxiga. Would I take it to slow the progression of my CKD? Absolutely, if what I was currently doing did not already have me back hovering at stage 2. I also do not take Ace inhibitors or ARBS, so I probably would be disqualified from using it. I do not want to be on hemodialysis, ever, and so this would be something I would consider. I would request my doctor make adjustments in my plan of care, such as sodium restrictions, and I would request closer monitoring for side effects.

Be sure and watch the videos, read the links, and educate yourself before talking to your doctor about taking Farxiga.

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Kidney Class Week #10- How To Prevent Diabetic Kidney Disease

Hello, and welcome back to week 10 of the AKF Kidney Classes. I can’t believe we are on week 10 already. Please, if you have not read the other posts, from the beginning, please go back and read them. You will find them in the archives under the CKD category. My name is Melissa and I am a Health Coach and a volunteer AKF Kidney Coach. Since covid, I have not attempted to do these in person, and it was approved for me to share the slides and information here on my blog, just like I would if it was in person. By doing a slide each week it gives more time for people to read and ask questions. These posts will always be here, for years even. Please leave me comments, or ask me questions and I will answer, except spam I will not answer spam. I also have CKD and my kidney journey has brought me back to hovering right at stage 2. I am passionate about helping people to learn how to keep their kidneys healthy both before and after they have CKD. I love it when I find an AKF video on the topic I will be discussing. Their webinars are kind of boring, I will admit, but they are chock full of good information. If you have kidney disease, cares for someone with kidney disease, or want to prevent kidney disease these classes are for you. Each week I share another slide in the class series, there are 39 I think altogether, I give my perspective as someone who has CKD, and then I share my medical experience as a nurse. The slides belong to the AKF and please do not copy or share them outside of sharing this blog post.

March is National Kidney Month be sure and support the American Kidney Fund as a leading organization in the support of people with kidney disease.

Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney disease by 40%. Learning to either prevent Diabetes or keep your blood sugar under good control once you have Diabetes is vital to keeping your kidneys healthy. Please read the slide below, and then watch the webinar. I do not have Diabetes, but it runs in my family, so I am always alert to trying to keep it at bay. I am tested at least twice a year to be sure my blood sugar levels are normal. I take care of lots of patients with Diabetes and while it is a very hard disease to live with it is very manageable. When you have blood sugar spikes and your body does not produce enough insulin, or you are insulin resistant, the tiny nephrons in your kidneys become clogged and damaged and the nephron can die. This leads to the kidneys not being able to filter the waste out of your blood and a backup of waste occurs because these tiny nephrons are filters. As the waste backs up and can not be removed from your body you will have all kinds of unpleasant symptoms and complications.

Kidney Class Week #9. How Does Diabetes Cause Kidney Disease?

Hello, and welcome back to week #9 of the AKF Kidney Education Class. I am a volunteer Kidney Coach and each week I share one slide from the class, with my own experience with CKD, thoughts, and experience as a nurse sprinkled in. Before Covid I would do this class in person, now I have decided to upload the slides, and allow people to ask questions and leave comments. As long as this blog is here these posts can remain for many years. If the AKF gives any updates to the slides, I will update them.

This slide, see it below, along with a video that explains it, even more, discusses how Diabetes causes kidney disease. Almost 50% of all kidney failure cases are caused by Diabetes., and Diabetes is the leading cause of Kidney Disease. Controlling your blood sugar is the best thing you can do for yourself if you want to avoid kidney failure, and you have Diabetes.

I don’t have Diabetes, but it does run on my father’s side of the family. I am checked for Diabetes at least yearly. So, far I have had no issues with that. I try to follow a low-carb diet, about 100-150 grams of carbs per day because I don’t want to get Diabetes, either.

Please check out the other weeks in this series, there are a lot more to come. I generally post them every Wednesday. Feel free to leave me comments and questions. I will allow all legitimate comments and questions. I will not allow spam.

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Is Your 401K A Scam?

Welcome back to another Thinking on Thursday topic. As I continue my research on topics related to retiring and elder years, this one came up a lot, and of course, is one I and lots of others can relate to. A scam is probably not completely accurate, but many people do not truly understand their 401K and actually end up losing a lot of their earnings long before they retire.

Most places don’t even offer a 401K option to their employees, and if they do you probably have to work full time to participate. I really am not sure I understand why because my research shows all of the burdens is on the investor, that’s you, not the company offering it to their employee. So, right off the bat, I call BS. At the end of last year, I pulled out of having any more money taken from my check and put into my 401k. Why?

For several reasons.

  1. I did not see any stability in the company I was working for and figured the would be rolling over the business to another healthcare managing company in a couple of years, just like the many previous ones before them. Rolling over a 401k is a pain, and I can’t cash it in without huge penalties, and I wasn’t vested so it didn’t even matter. Most companies don’t have you vested until at least 5 years working for that company. The new job I am starting at next week is 6 years to be vested.
  2. I have about 10 years to retirement, and while they can put my money into less risky portfolios, not all of them are set up that way. I really do not know enough about investing to take any kind of high risk with my money.
  3. The fees these companies charge are ridiculous.

If you don’t know about these things and your 401K I suggest that you learn about them. I urge you to watch the video below and if you do have a 401K start looking into what amount of fees you are paying, where your money is actually invested in, etc.

Index funds may be a much safer place to invest your hard-earned money. They have way less risk and are easy to manage so the fees are nominal at best. Read more about index funds here, and there is a short video that he ranked as the top 5, after the longer video. I do not know that they will make you rich, his title is his title.

I am not an investing coach or money coach. I am a health coach, and retirement issues are a huge part of health.

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What Is A DNR And Do I Need One?

Welcome back to another Thinking on Thursday topic. The answer to this one is it depends.

First off, what is a DNR? DNR is an acronym for Do Not Resuscitate. It is a legal and binding order that makes it illegal for healthcare providers to begin CPR on you. CPR is another acronym for Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation, which simply means in the event your heart stops beating or you stop breathing.

You can not have a legal and binding DNR without a valid doctor’s signature. It also has to be witnessed. A DNR can be rescinded if you decide you don’t want one.

The question of whether you need one is always controversial. If you are under the age of 50, especially if you do not have a terminal illness, getting a doctor to sign a DNR order will not be easy. However, not everyone has the same perception of what being alive, or quality of life means to them. That is why you need a Living Will, especially to make it known what your wishes would be if you suddenly went into cardiac or respiratory arrest. It is never the point of these posts to define what living or quality of life means. Those are very personal subjects and ones you should explore on your own and with your family.

If you decide that you want and or need a DNR make sure it is legal with all signatures required. Then make sure your doctor, family members, and your living will all have copies. You can also file a copy with your local emergency services, and the hospital you frequent. You can carry a copy in your wallet or purse, and I think there are special bracelets you can purchase. Know your state laws in regards to a DNR. Some states may not honor the DNR unless you have the DNR insight on the yellow paper.

As we age these are very important discussions and decisions to make.

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Kidney Class Week #6

Welcome to week 6 of the AKF Kidney Education class. This slide is pretty self-explanatory, but to make it a little more interesting I chose a video to go with it.

One thing the video does not emphasize is the role of diet in keeping your kidneys healthy. While that is a complicated topic eating a whole food diet, and avoiding highly processed foods as much as possible, should be encouraged. These foods are generally higher in sodium, fat, phosphorus, and sometimes potassium through additives and fillers. You can read more about that here.

Remember, I am an American Kidney Fund Kidney Coach. The slides are theirs. I add my experiences, and thoughts to each slide. I was close to stage 4 when I became ill, and now I hover right around stage 2.

Kidney Failure can be acute, which means it comes on sudden possibly from an injury or infection. Or, it can be chronic taking many years of the kidney slowly weakening before it fails. Awareness, education, and advocacy are all ways to help the community prevent getting Kidney Disease. That is why I am a Kidney Coach. As a Kidney Coach, it is all-volunteer, however, I am also a Health Coach and that is why you will see other posts that are not related to the AKF.

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to do so. I love to interact with my readers. You can also share this post to help raise awareness. I would greatly appreciate that.

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Healthy Tip Tuesday: Sugary Drinks Are Your Enemy!

Hello, and happy dreary, rainy, Tuesday. I have talked about quitting the soda habit before, you can read it here, but what about other sugary drinks. I actually want to discuss added sugars in general not just drinks, though drinks are the main area that Americans are getting added sugars. There will be several evidence-based study links below. I urge you to read them.

Have you noticed that people are dying younger and younger? We are supposed to be the wealthiest country in the world but we are not living to ripe old ages as much and if we are we are burdened with chronic illnesses and disease. Why do you think that might be? Check out this article titled Is Sugar Evil and Addicting? Some people can actually give up sugar, or at least added sugars, while others struggle to even give up a little.

What other delicious sugary drinks are there besides soda? Tea, frappe, latte, coffee in general, juices with added sugars, sugary drinks like kool-aid, and Hawaiian punch, coffee creamer, milkshakes, frosty, and the list goes on. What about alcohol?

I will discuss three of my favorite drinks that may not be so great. McDonald’s Ice Caramel Frappe, Welch’s white grape cherry juice, and Bailey’s Irish Cream.

  1. The frappe. I love these iced caramel frappes that McDonalds offers. However, if I were to drink this more than once in a while I would be consuming for a small frappe 420 calories. There is 17 grams of total fat, and 11 grams is saturated fat. There is 60 grams of carbs of which 55 grams is sugars. Now it doesn’t specify if it is added sugar, or natural sugar, but it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure it out. There is 7 grams of protein, but other than that this drink is a nutrititional wasteland. There is no fiber, or micronutrients, except for Calcium. It is fairly high in Sodium as well.
  2. Welch’s. I do only buy the 100% juice which has no added sugars, but is still high in natural sugars. I only add tiny bits of this to my water to give it a little flavor. I probably consume a half cup in total each day of this juice. Per one cup serving I would be consuming 130 calories, zero fat, 32 grams of carbs, 30 grams of natural sugars, no fiber, no high fructose corn syrup, it has some calcium, some potassium, and vitamin C. The sodium is only 15 mg per one cup serving.
  3. Bailey’s. I love this stuff. It is great in coffee, or just milk and ice. I never have read the nutrition label, and good thing I don’t have this very often either. 1 ounce is a serving size, in case you are wondering that is 2 tablespoons. That serving contains 102 calories, 6.5 grams of carbs of which 6.2 grams is sugar. 4.9 grams of fat the majority of which is saturaated fat. And then some other minute nutrients. You can see how this can quickly add to your calories and sugar intake.

If you are drinking heavily sugared drinks, are you reading the label? Are you sure what you are putting into your body or your children’s body? For example, yesterday in my grocery haul were Little Debbie Birthday Cake sticks. My daughter wanted these and they were cheap enough. I decided I wanted to eat one today, after lunch, for a snack. I almost didn’t eat it after reading the label, but I had already opened the package and tasted it. These little cakes are literally the size of a good-sized pointer finger. If I was a food producer I would be embarrassed to call this food. Read for yourself.

Here are some studies on what added sugars, and sugary ladened drinks are doing to our bodies.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5793330/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31398911/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29671076/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32891165/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30235828/

It is recommended that you do not consume more than 6 teaspoons, or 24 grams, of added sugars per day. Added sugars are labeled as such on the nutrition label. This does not include sugars found in whole foods. If you need help understanding sugars vs added sugars use the contact form at the end of the post to send me an email for a free consultation.

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