Friday, February 11, 2011

A Whole Nother Set of Numbers

As a pwd for 37 years, I have struggled daily not to give "the numbers" more power than they deserve. The numbers simply tell us what to do next.
As a dialysis patient, there are at least four new numbers that need to be monitored - blood levels of calcium, phosphorous, protein and potassium. Too much or not enough of any of these can lead to significant health problems.
The values are printed out on a "report card" (boy do I hate that term) and given to the patient to be discussed with the nutritionist. Up until this month, my values have been good, and I silently sat there with a smug grin on my face as we went over the data.

This month, my phosphorous was out of whack.

I told Carol that nothing had changed in my diet - that I was avoiding all the things I should - cola, nuts, chocolate and whole grains. I started to get very upset and was crying quite dramatically. She seemed startled that I would get so upset about a little piece of information.
She patted my shoulder and walked away.

So, once again, the body responds in unpredictable ways. What's a person to do? I guess the best advice would be to chill out and take a nap.
Dialysis patients are supposed to eat 10 ounces of animal protein a day. There are some people at the unit who cannot afford to buy that amount of meat, and my heart breaks for them. Low levels of protein in the blood make one vulnerable to infections and an overall feeling of muscle weakness and fatigue.

I have not been testing my blood more that 1-2 times per day. But eating such large amounts of meat leaves little room for carbs. My last AlC, without even trying, came back at 6.3% - lowest ever. My primary said "oh, it's just like the Aitkins diet". I guess so. Go figure.

I once again would like to thank all of the many DOC'ers who expressed concern and emailed me well wishes. It sure makes the journey easier to know others are rooting for you. Thanks.


meanderings said...

More numbers - ick! I didn't know any of that. Thanks for the new knowledge.
Keep up your good work of taking care of yourself. Sorry, no stickers to send you:)!

George said...

More than anything I wish I could give you a massive ninja hug!


I hope you felt that!

Rachel said...

More numbers?!? Ugh.

I have no idea how people who struggle financially make it with diabetes, much less dialysis. The thought that you think of their struggles is amazing.

Sometimes we all need a good cry no matter what is going on in our lives.

Thinking of you daily, absolutely.

Molly said...


SO glad to read an update. Sounds like you are working really hard to manage many variables. I'm glad that you got a sticker on your report card!!!!

Dixie sends a woof, and I send big hugs!

:-), Molly and Dixie

Scott said...

I hope more numbers won't be so stressful! Have you read about home dialysis? Supposedly, there are major health benefits and health of patients is frequently better. Of course, that presents a whole new set of things to learn beyond pumping insulin. My friend Deb Butterfield (author of "Showdown With Diabetes") is a big proponent of doing a pancreas transplant (simultaneous kidney/pancreas is ideal, and one of the best pancreas transplant centers is located in Minnesota), but it can also be done as a follow-on procedure, which helps the newly transplanted kidney avoid potentially damage from vacillating blood glucose levels. Anyway, I wish you a speedy recovery and please do keep us posted!!

Auntly H said...

Keeping you in my thoughts and hoping you're able to get in a little sanity-saving knitting now and then.


Karen said...

Here's hoping the wacky numbers were just a fluke and that things calm down quickly. Sending big hugs and yarny thoughts (of the cashmere variety).

Jacquie said...

Napping is the answer to so many of life's problems!

Thank you for posting about this stuff. I get so stuck in my own number world that sometimes I forget about the numbers that other PWDs have to deal with, too.

You'll be in my thoughts!