Happy Mother’s Day!

My posts are infrequent right now, due to the business of life. I am currently taking classes, and doing important work for the rescue I volunteer for, and I need to complete my homeschool daughter’s High School transcript this Summer. All of these are time-consuming and don’t leave much time for blogging. Plus, I am working extra hours at my nursing job to compensate for high gas and food prices eating away at our savings. So, for the next few months posts here may be sporadic, though I will try to update old posts when time permits. I also am going to be taking the updated Kidney Coach classes soon, I hope.

On this Mother’s Day, I would like you to consider a few things. I have two children, both will be adults as of tomorrow. I am almost 53 years old and have completed Menopause. My whole life I have not had to worry about my reproductive rights being infringed upon, and while I have passed the reproductive stage of my life, my daughter has not. If you are my age, then you too lived your whole reproductive life without having your rights infringed upon. You were able to decide what choices were right for you. Think about that. Whether you are pro-life, or pro-choice, you had a choice to choose which one. That choice may soon be taken away from our daughters, granddaughters, nieces, etc.

Something else to consider. I can no longer have children, my biological clock has stopped. However, a few years ago, I could have still had children. I have Kidney Disease and had this potential decision been made a few years ago I may have had to carry a child to term should I have gotten pregnant, which would have been extremely dangerous for me both because of age, and kidney disease, yet in Florida, the new law passed may have forced me to do just that as there is no longer an exception for the health of the mother. There is also no exception for rape or incest. Think about that as you approach Menopause and having a child is possibly the last thing on your mind, even if you are married or in a committed relationship.

I love my children with all of my heart and being a mom has been the greatest gift I was given. But, that doesn’t mean I think women should have their reproductive, and health choices decided for them by politicians.

Happy Mother’s Day! Remember to make your mom feel special today. Being a mom is hard work and a lifetime of work.

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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Gift Idea #1 For People With Dementia!

None of these are affiliate links. I am currently not doing any affiliate links for many reasons.

Sometimes it is hard to know what to get someone suffering from Dementia as a Christmas gift. Whether they have mild cognitive impairment and can still manage at home, or they are in Assisted Living or Memory Care, I will be sharing gift ideas right up until December 20th. I will try to post five times a week. I can’t do weekends as I am working.

Not only do I work as a nurse on a Memory Care unit, but I also have a LO that we just had to admit to Assisted Living for her own health and safety. I have noticed that things that people bring their loved ones as a gift are not always appropriate for the cognitive level they are at. They may not enjoy the same things they used to either.

The first gift idea I want to start with is this Golden Retriever animated dog. We have two of these at my job and the ladies all love them. The gents don’t care so much, but every now and then one will pay it some attention. One of my family members just bought my LO one and I brought it to her today. At first, she was not super impressed and was very distracted by something else. Once I turned it on she came to life too. She really did love it and gave it a name. She used to have dogs of her own but forgot to buy them food, and feed them. This was actually more stressful to her than bringing her joy. This little dog is just cute, and cuddles, and she doesn’t have to worry about feeding or taking it to the potty. A win-win. Some people feel these are childish. You are entitled to your opinion, but honestly, it is about what helps them to relax and be happy, not your opinions. They do also have them in cats, and we have one of those at my workplace too, but most of the residents prefer the dogs.

This is not cheap and I would recommend anytime you buy your loved one with memory issues a gift, that you take a picture of it, keep the receipt, and write their name on it. Just trust me.

Let me know what you think in the comments.

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Going From Stage 3b CKD to Stage 2 CKD!

Hello, and Happy Monday! The sun is shining and my spirits are lifted. I am so very excited for my Kidney appt. this Thursday!

A little back story. If you are new here, and you don’t feel like reading 2 years worth of updates on my kidney journey, I will give a very short summary. On Christmas Day 2016 I became very ill. I thought I had the Flu, but my symptoms got worse over the next few days. I realized something was very wrong, and being a nurse, I was pretty sure I was in kidney failure. I stopped eating, on purpose, and only drank ice water, until I could get into my doctor, which took a bit due to the holidays. I was actually feeling better by the time I did see my doctor, but not much. She referred me to Nephrology after doing initial labs, and they were scary labs. I knew I must have been stage 4 initially, prior to just drinking water for a week. This was very scary. I was only 48, and had young children still at home. I used to work on a Dialysis Unit, so I knew what the future would hold. I was stage 3b when I initially saw Nephrology in March of 2017. He did not give me much hope at all, and basically told me the future was Dialysis with no hope of improving kidney function. There was no reason for my kidneys failing, but over the months, with various test, no genetic or biopsy though, it was determined it was probably genetic, hereditary, and had probably been heading towards failure for many, many years. I won’t go into all of the anger that brought to me, and why, but I can say I was determined to not be on Dialysis, and that kidneys could improve. Since that time my kidneys have slowly started to improve. It took 4 years, but in March of this year my labs showed me back at stage 2. I was so excited, but of course the doctor burst my bubble, telling me it was probably a fluke, probably was not possible, and to not get my hopes up. Damn it! Do doctors not know when they steal a patient’s hope they steal their life? While he was pessimistic, I could also understand his view point, so we agreed to continue with every 6 month testing, and if I stayed at stage 2 he would restage me, and start seeing me yearly. So, I said OK, now to prove him wrong. Yesterday, my 6 month labs came back and I am still stage 2. My Creatinine, the one marker I could never get back to normal is now 1.06, and 1.05 is normal. So, I am just a smidge above normal, but it was enough to put my eGFR at 60, which makes me stage 2. I was 61 the last time. It made my whole day, and all the hard work worth it! I will be asking my doctor this week to repeat my kidney ultrasound to see if the scarring has improved.

So what worked to help me get back to stage 2? I feel it was not just one thing, but a combination of things, much of which I learned on my own, and implemented on my own. I never didn’t tell him what I was doing, as long as he expressed interest in knowing. If he didn’t ask I didn’t tell. Here are the things that I feel helped me overcome my CKD obstacles. I can not say any of these things will work for everyone, but I am saying to talk to your doctor about them.

  1. First and foremost knowledge, and education about all of the things that effect CKD. Such as protein intake, phosphorus intake, maintaining a healthy blood pressure, how the kidneys work and what they need, reducing sodium in food, Sodium Bicarb, stress, Vitamin D, Iron, plant-based diet vs meat diet, weight loss, exercise, and so much more.
  2. I think this is the #1 factor that helped me: protein intake. Learning to eat the proper amount of protein that my body needs, tracking it, and sticking to that amount, never, or rarely over, but sometimes under. I follow a formula that I found on a renal website. I consume enough protein for my goal weight, not the weight I am. I have a weight loss goal, so I am consuming less protein than what my current weight would say I should have. If you have CKD ask your doctor about this strategy. I have been following this since last Fall, and I saw the best improvement in my eGFR after doing this.
  3. Phosphorus intake: This I think doesn’t get enough attention until after you go on Dialysis. Phosphorus additives in foods are not on labels, and you have to read ingredients. I think it should be required on labels. This is one of the main reasons I choose organic boxed foods, over non- organic, most of the time. Most of them do not have added phosphorus in them. Some do, though. If you have CKD learn about Phosphorus and how to manage it. Ask your doctor bc they probably won’t offer it.
  4. Blood Pressure: While I still could be a little bit lower, I am not high, and I do not take Blood Pressure medication. If you have CKD managing blood pressure is vitally important. You also do not want to be too low, either, as that will effect the kidneys in other ways, that are not good.
  5. Knowing how the kidneys work and what they need to function properly: This pretty self explanatory, but I learned so much that I didn’t know.
  6. Reducing sodium in food: This is the number 2 important thing. Processed foods, fast food, eating out in general, are all very high in sodium. If you are eating these types of foods on a regular basis you are damaging your kidneys. I do still eat bad food, sometimes, but I do not do it very often. I read labels, I track my salt intake, and I manage it well.
  7. Sodium Bicarb: When I was initially diagnosed, 3 months after my kidney actually failed, I was still in Metabolic Acidosis, though only slightly. I felt so much better so I didn’t even recognize it. My doctor prescribed me to take 1/2 tsp of Sodium Bicarb dissolved in water twice a day. This worked, and I still take it today, though I am not sure I need to. It is a buffer. If you don’t understand buffers and how it effects CKD, I recommend you learn about it.
  8. Stress: #3 most important thing I did was learn to manage my stress. Stress is a silent killer and if you are continually stressed, or should I say letting stress continually control and effect your life in negative ways, you need to learn to manage it.
  9. Vitamin D, Iron, Exercise, Weight Loss: I have done several articles on these topics, and you should check through my archives to read them. These 4 things are super important to learn about and manage if you want to improve your kidney function. They are complicated topics and too long to write in this little spot here.

What do I want you to take away from this post? Never, never give up hope! Do not let your doctor steal your hope. If they won’t teach you the things you want to know then teach yourself. Only use reputable sources, not influencers on Youtube in Instagram selling you snake oil treatments, or advice. It does take time, dedication, and commitment to make the changes, but if you are serious, then you can do it! Advocate for yourself, if you feel what a doctor is saying or recommending might not work well for you then discuss it and see if there is another approach that you can try. Ask to see a Dietitian, if your insurance doesn’t cover it, or you don’t have insurance, make it a point to save the money to see a dietitian. I encourage you to consider to stop eating fast food, and ultra processed foods. It is hard, very hard, I know, but when you start to see good results you might change your perspective.

Having CKD is a struggle, but Dialysis should not have to be your destiny. It doesn’t mean I won’t still end up on Dialysis some day, but for now at age 52 I will keep fighting to avoid it.

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Should You Avoid Everything But the Bagel Seasoning With CKD?

Hello, and happy Monday! I hope everyone had an awesome weekend. It is finally getting to be a smidge cooler in the mornings, and I can enjoy my coffee outback on the swing. If you have been following along then you know for this month I am discussing Oxalates and how they can effect CKD, and other parts of the body. It is taking me a while to put together a long post on Oxalates in general, and how they effect other parts of the body besides kidneys. I will leave links to all of the posts I have done on this topic so far, so you can find and read them. It is very interesting and understudied topic, to me anyway, because I feel like I probably am sensitive to Oxalates.

Just a note that I love Trader Joe’s and I am not picking on their brand of Everything But the Bagel Seasoning. I am sure they are all similar, but this is the one I have on hand and was consuming regularly up until my strange symptoms begin. See my first post on this topic for more info on that. This seasoning is delicious and adds a nice little punch to food. You can see the ingredients below, but of concern is the Sesame Seeds and the Poppy Seeds. It does have a bit of Sodium as well. A serving is a 1/4 of a tsp, and trust me that is hardly anything at all. Check out this image, to see what I mean. According to my Oxalate app tracker Sesame Seeds contain 324 mg of Oxalates per 1 tbsp, and Poppy Seeds contain 34 mg of Oxalates per tbsp. Unless you are only using the recommended serving size of this seasoning, you could be consuming way too many Oxalates, especially if you have CKD. Oxalates are tiny nano crystals that build up in the urine because the kidneys can’t remove the Oxalates efficiently anymore. You don’t have to get a kidney stone for this to be an issue with CKD.

I sadly have stopped eating this seasoning, at least for now. My symptoms have improved by changing my diet, and I feel like I am back to baseline. My kidneys were actually improving, and at my last doctor visit I was back to stage 2. But, then I went back to stage 3A. So, I would live to be and stay at stage 2. Anything that is potentially going to make my kidneys work harder, and I don’t need it, I will try to avoid. I will eventually go back to using this seasoning, but in smaller amounts, and I will be Mindful of the other foods I eat in a day to be sure I stay right around 100 mg of Oxalates per day.

Please don’t just stop eating foods with Oxalates. You can cause something called Oxalate Dumping. Speak to your doctor, or request a Dietitian referral if you think you are sensitive to Oxalates, or are having strange symptoms especially during Summer months when Oxalate foods are probably higher consumed. If you are Vegan, Vegetarian, or even Keto, and you are having symptoms that are unusual to you seek the advice of a trained Dietitian to see if Oxalates may actually be causing you harm.

If you would like to learn more about how a Health Coach can help you reach your eating lifestyle goals, send me a message using the contact form at the end of this post.

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medical monday: diverticulosis

Hello, and welcome to a very wet Medical Monday! I am having issues with my pool that are getting on my nerves. I have never had issues with it being nice and clean, and clear until last week. I am assuming it has something to do with the dreadful heat. Anyway, that is not what we are here to discuss. For the month of August I have decided the topic will be Diverticulosis, and Diverticulitis. At least once a week I will do an educational post on these two topics. They very much go together. This post may contain affiliate links.

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What is Diverticulosis. Diverticulosis is when you get small pockets, or pouches in the colon or intestines. Think of them kind of like tiny balloons. For whatever reason it is more common in men than women. These tiny sacs or balloons can hold waste products that moves through the intestine, and can become infected. As with any infection inflammation will occur causing pain, and that is when you get Diverticulitis. But, today we will focus on just Diverticulosis.

The tiny pockets form when the inner layer of the Digestive Tract pushes through weak spots in the outer layer. Almost like a Hernia does, if you have ever had a hernia. Most of the time these pouches will form in the left side of the colon, but you can get them anywhere in the intestines.

Diverticulosis is more common as we age. It is rare to get it under age 40, but some people do.

You may already know what I am going to say next. Studies show that a low Fiber Diet is most likely the predominant risk factor for Diverticulosis after age. Countries where eating fruit and vegetables is abundant, there is very little Diverticulosis possibly even in the over 60 age group. I will discuss this more in another post. If you would like to see what the pouches look like in the colon, watch the short video below. It is age restricted so you will need to click it to go to Youtube and watch it.

What are the symptoms of Diverticulosis?

  1. Some people have no symptoms at all until the pouches become inflamed and they have pain, usually in the lower left side of the abdomen.
  2. A change in bowel patterns. For example you may be very regular with no issues, but all of a sudden you are constipated. Or your bowels become more frequent and loose when that is not your normal.
  3. You may also experience cramping or bloating.

How is Diverticulosis diagnosed?

  1. Since most people experience no symptoms, or have vague symptoms they relate to something else, Diverticulosis is picked up by other exams you may have as Preventative Care such as a Colonoscopy, or Sigmoidoscopy. They can also be seen via a CT Scan, or Barium X-rays. If you have vague symptoms such as bloating and cramping, and are over age 40 talk to your doctor about having one of the diagnostic exams above. You do not want these pouches to rupture, especially if infected, trust me!

Most people do not need treatment for Diverticulosis other than preventative to prevent the pouches from becoming inflamed, infected or rupturing. Talk to your doctor, but most experts at this stage will inform you to eat a high fiber diet with lots of fresh fruits and veggies. This will keep your stool soft, and moving freely through the intestinal tract hopefully eliminating the pouches from becoming filled with waste and becoming infected. Try to get most of your fiber from whole grains and veggies, as the sugar in fruit can be inflammatory. Nuts and seeds are also good for fiber, but ask your doctor first because they can actually complicate Diverticulosis. If you smoke, quit smoking. If you have other dietary restrictions, or take medications, be sure and discuss with your doctor before you make any major changes to your diet.

If you would like to use a Health Coach to help you meet your Health Goals, hit me up! I am accepting new clients at this time. Use the contact form below to message me and I will email you with dates for a phone meet and greet. The meet and greet is free and should not last longer than 15 minutes. After that you will decide if you would like to hire me as your coach.

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Portion Distortion: Pancakes and ckd!

Updated 9/6/2021: Happy Monday to all of my wonderful readers! I am not sure I am liking this new WordPress editor. I can’t post to certain categories anymore, which is annoying. At any rate, this week for Mindful Monday I am sharing another portion distortion food plate. As I continue to teach my husband, and myself about portion control, I am always learning too as I coach others, we are seeing how much portion sizes are out of control in the USA. Today, I will discuss pancakes.

Who doesn’t love pancakes? They are an easy, affordable breakfast option for many families. However, pancakes are also high in carbs, and a calorie dense food. Pancakes are also a good source of Iron which can definitely make pancakes a healthy breakfast choice. I had a box of amazing Chocolate Chip Pancakes in my cupboard. We don’t eat pancakes a lot, but I wanted a calorie dense morning starter because I probably was only going to have a very light, or no lunch, and was doing a lot of outside work on a very hot and humid day. But, I also wanted to stay within my chose eating portions.

According to the box, one serving is 1/2 cup dry pancake mix, mixed with water. That made exactly one pancake. My pancake got a little mangled when I flipped it, but you get the idea of the size in my image. That one pancake, portion size, was 220 calories. I added a 1/4 cup of Maple Syrup, which added another 100 calories. A portion size on the label of the Maple Syrup was a 1/2 cup for 200 calories. I halved it. This one pancake, was very filling and I had no problem keeping my energy levels up through the sweaty outside work until I could get a meal again.

You can see how pancake calories can very quickly add up if you don’t follow the portion sizes on the food label. I have seen people put way over the recommended 1/2 cup of syrup on their pancakes. Remember 1/2 cup has 200 calories, the majority of which comes from sugar. If you have CKD, pancakes are also high in Phosphorus, one portion having up to a possible 20% of the recommended amount for a day. The pancake mix I used had chocolate chips, making the Phosphorus most likely even higher. They can also be high in Potassium, and definitely Sodium. If you have CKD be sure and consume only one portion of pancakes. Trust me, I know how hard it is to eat just one pancake. But, they are a very filling calorie dense food item, so one is very satisfying.

If you have any questions, please use the contact form after the images, to contact me. I am a Health Coach with CKD, and if you would like to learn more about my coaching services, use the contact form under the images to message me.

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Memory Care Monday: How Memories are Made

Happy Memory Care Monday! I hope everyone had an amazing weekend. I worked all weekend, and I am still deciding if these 12 hour shifts are going to work well for me.

The video below is very interesting, and explains how our brains make memories.  It is not that long, about 10 minutes, so give yourself some new knowledge, and let me know if you remember the name at the beginning of the video.

If you have a goal of improving your memory skills, and would like to work with me to reach that goal, use the contact form below to message me.

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Memory Care Monday: Revisit Old Memories With Photos

Updated 10/18/2021 Hello all my wonderful readers!  Today, for Memory Care Monday, I am going to tell you about one of my most favorite things, taking and looking at pictures.  Now these serve two different types of memory, short term, and long term.  Taking new pictures, and then looking at them in 6 months, or so, will help your short term memory.  Looking at old pictures, from say when you were a child, or your children were babies, will help with long term memory.  I love to pull out all my old pictures, long before smart phones, lol, and try to remember what we were doing, and why were we there.  My kids get a kick out of these pictures too, so it can be a great bonding activity.  Maybe you have a loved one who is starting to lose their memory.  This is a wonderful activity for them as well.  Even people who are already in the throws of Alzheimer’s can benefit from this walk down memory lane.  Have fun with it.  Make it a game, even.  Dress up like the style for that time period.  Learn the lingo of the day. There are many great ways to help your loved one with Dementia, or maybe you work with Dementia residents. I saw this cool photo album that you can add voice to. What a brilliant idea. If you need a gift idea for a loved one with Dementia check it out on Amazon. I will be looking at these for Christmas for a loved one in my family. This is not an affiliate link.

Baby books are kind of becoming obsolete, so start a blog when your baby is born.  It will always be there, unless you delete it.  I have had a homeschool blog ever since I started with my kinds way back in the 2nd grade.  I have graduated 1, and have 1 more to go.  I have so much fun looking back at all the wonderful, fun things we did to learn.  Some day my kids will show it to their kids, and maybe they will even get some tips if they decide to homeschool their kids.

Have a blessed Monday!  If you would like help in setting, and reaching your health, and wellness goals, use the communication form below to message me about my 30 day coaching plans!

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Memory Care Monday: Abstemious

Updated 11/29/2021: As I continue to edit the old posts from this list, I have created a free printable with the current 15 words. You can print it, keep it in a journal, and write the definitions right on that paper. If you would like the free printable please sign up for my Mailchimp newsletter below. I will send it in each newsletter. After I have edited the current words covered, and I start adding new words, each month I will send a free printable with a kind of game or way to help remember the words. Do you remember the definition of words 1 and 2, abjure and abrogate? Leave the definitions in the comments if you do. Last year I shared Christmas gift ideas for people with CKD. This year watch for gift ideas for people with Dementia.

Welcome to week 3 of the Memory Care Challenge.  How are you doing?  Are you following along?  You still always can get in at any time.  Why do memory care challenges?  Because it keeps your brain healthy.  Dementia and Alzheimers are on the rise in this country, and one of the best things you can do to help lower your risk of getting those diseases is to exercise your brain.  There is a total of 100 words on this list, and it is a list I used with my high school son, and now my daughter.  I didn’t learn the list with him but am learning it with her.   Anytime you want to memorize something, write it 10 times, then say it out loud 10 times.  Each week I go back to the previous words and see if I remember them.  So, here is the word for week 3:  abstemious.  Do you already know what it means?  I kind of had an idea but wasn’t 100% sure.  This is a fun word.  Try to use it in a sentence too.  Leave me a comment, and let me know how you are doing. The short video below will help you out. I think abstemious is a very pertinent word around the holidays, lol.

There are other ways to improve memory.  I am still accepting new clients if you want to work on memory or any other health-related goals.  Use the contact button, at the bottom of this post to message me and set up a free meet and greet. 

Exercise is a great way to keep your brain healthy. Check out my Walking Buddy Plan. Walk with me!

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