Monday, October 25, 2010

Life around here

 update:  Yesterday's symptoms may be caused by withdrawing from pain medication - morphine in the early days of the surgery, then Percocet.  A friend told me she's had the same flu-like symptoms from that.  So that would be good news, meaning it isn't all side effects from the immunosuppressants.

I feel better today, clearer.  Took a shower!  Wearing shoes! 

Went for the biweekly blood draw this morning and then got in an electric cart and shopped at Kroger's!  (I'm going to run out of exclamation points.)  This was a treat after two weeks in hospital rooms and at home.  And so is the food. I bought an avocado and fresh pineapple and bananas (all too high in potassium for a kidney patient). I haven't totally got the idea yet, the freedom to eat - bought white bread, forgetting that now I can have whole-grain bread (whole grains, nuts and seeds are high in phosphorus), all I want.

I know that many Americans try to confine their diets in various ways - low salt, low fat, sugar-free - and I've been there, too.  But these diets are spacious compared to the restrictions of the diet for advanced kidney disease, which I had to observe for over ten years.

As part of the job of cleaning waste from your blood, your kidneys decide what is waste, and so they automatically remove excess potassium if you've been binging on banana and peanut butter sandwiches.  So you are careful to eat small servings of  high-potassium foods likr tomatoes and potatoes and citrus.  You also restrict salt and protein.  You don't get to cheat too much on this.  As my kidneys failed, I lay awake all one night, unable to digest 3 ounces of filet I'd had to celebrate my birthday. As for cheating on potassium, if it's high you can go into cardiac fibrillation, which I also did at one point. On this diet, you don't get away with nothing.

And so here I am, realizing I am free to eat like anyone else (except no grapefruit or pomegranate with the immunosuppressants).  I'm not used to it yet.  I hope I never take it for granted.  Imagine - I can get up and have raisin bran with a banana.  Simple pleasures.

If I had not received Laura's kidney - I would be on dialysis any time now - I was just barely avoiding it by living an increasingly sedentary life with few good hours.  The hemodialysis diet is a nightmare compared to the chronic kidney disease diet - even water is restricted.  My friend Nancy, a model of aging with grace, keeps a gratitude notebook.  I keep mine in my head, and here.

Tonight we found at our door homemade spaghetti sauce and whole-wheat pasta, gift of another friend and neighbor.  We are living in an abundant universe.


  1. How happy you sound with your new gift. I'm glad and happy for you and Laura.

  2. Loving to hear from you, the difficult parts (of course) too. Thought about you during morning service at Sesshin every day. You and Laura. So glad to hear from you, and to keep hearing from you.