Tag Archives: Kidney Failure

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Help For Kidney Failure: Why A Support Group Is Necessary For the Family

 

Help For Kidney Failure: Why A Support Group Is Necessary For the Family

Help For Kidney Failure: Why A Support Group Is Necessary

Help for kidney failure isn’t all about treatments and medications. Most of the time, the way a patient thinks about his disease and how he’s coping with it emotionally and mentally also say a lot about his prognosis. If you are feeling low or not sure about how you’re handling your condition, reaching out to a support group can really make a big difference.

Here are more reasons why a support group is necessary for kidney failure patients.

Peer Mentoring

For someone who’s struggling to cope with kidney failure, it’s essential that they don’t only get medical advice; they also need to be provided with support. If you are going through this situation, you would want to talk to someone who can really understand what you are going through. Peer mentoring involves people who have gone or going through the same life experiences as you. Although they are not encouraged to give medical advice and solutions, they can serve as role models and offer support.

Adjustments

It’s an overwhelming experience to be told you need to undergo treatments for your kidney. Upon diagnosis, it’s helpful if you can talk to people and ask for help for kidney failure adjustments. You can ask them what food they eat and what type of treatment they are going for just to get an idea of how they were able to cope. Small conversations like this can happen in clinics and treatment areas, but there are also more formal peer support systems you can reach out to.

Less Cases of Depression

Depression can easily develop in people who think and feel that they are alone. And this doesn’t only happen to actual patients, but their caregivers and families as well. When you have someone to talk to, vent out your emotions or just share your ideas with, it lessens the negative emotions that come with the situation. It fosters acceptance and encourages a sense of purpose.

Boosts Well-Being

Participating in self-help groups can mean lesser chances of feeling useless and unimportant. Just the idea of being able to encourage other people and help them adjust to the situation can give you a sense of accomplishment. Aside from that, helping other patients can also reinforce your skills in taking care of yourself.

Increased Survival Rate

Aside from the actual treatment, your predisposition can also affect the course of your disease. Most kidney failure patients face a lot of stress and challenges that push them to the brink of depression and even suicide. By having people who listen and cares for you, a support system can help ease your negative thoughts while encouraging your self-esteem and an optimistic point of view in life.

Kidney Failure-A Family Affair

Kidney Failure-A Family Affair

Kidney Failure-a family affair. It really does affect the entire family, especially a close family structure like ours.

When my 24-year-old son, Michael called from his college town to tell me he was going in the hospital with kidney failure, I went into complete shock. And I hear this story-the reaction to kidney failure news from a lot of people with end-stage renal disease.

How does this happen? How do doctors miss the obvious signs that their patients are nearing the edge of a threshold that will soon change their lives forever? Michael was sky-diving the week before and other than feeling lethargic, he had no real signs that he was getting pretty close to death.

It’s not like he wasn’t checked by a doctor either. In the weeks preceding his discovery of kidney failure, Michael had seen two different doctors for an inflamed knee. One doctor wanted him to begin a regiment of physical therapy and the other started him on a high dose of anti-inflammatory drugs that would further erode his renal function.

What should the average American patient do in order to protect themselves? How do you know if your kidneys are working properly? If you have kidney failure?

When you have a visit with your doctor, ask them to check your kidney function. This is called a GMR Test (Glomerular Filtration Rate) and it measures, among other things,  the creatinine level in your blood. Creatinine is the waste as a result of healthy kidneys doing what they are supposed to do. Most healthy people have a creatinine level of  about .06 to 1.3 milligrams per deciliter.

Most doctors will not even think to provide this simple test, but it may save your life. Last year, the National Kidney Foundation asked me to speak at a luncheon of business leaders in Irvine, CA. Another speaker, who was a nephrologist, confirmed what I am telling you. Doctors are not trained to ask for kidney function tests without you advocating yourself.  It is not their fault, they are simply not aware that kidney disease is growing at a rapid rate.

To put this in perspective, Michael entered the hospital with a creatinine level of 20. That’s right. Twenty times normal and eight nephrologists came to his hospital room because they told me even the textbooks have never documented such high levels in someone who was still alive.

Well, that made me feel just great. Here I was sitting in his hospital room watching a machine remove and clean blood before returning it to a very sick young man and doctor after doctor were sneaking a peek in the room just to see if the rumor had validity.

Prevent kidney failure

Prevent Kidney Failure

Prevent Kidney Failure

3 Easy Ways You Can Help Prevent Kidney Failure

Prevent kidney failureKidney failure is relatively common and in a society fixated on Fast Food, it is becoming a National Issue.. It can happen to anyone at anytime. However, despite being common, predicting when it’s going to happen can still be difficult. As there are no solid criteria or indicators that can definitively say when you’re going to have it, the best thing you can do is to take on a preventive approach.

Here are three of the easiest ways you can limit your chances of developing kidney failure:

1.    Know your medications

Most of the medications that can cause renal failure, such as pain relievers, can be obtained over the counter and with no prescription. Because access to these medications isn’t restricted, anyone can buy them anytime they want.

Although helpful in alleviating certain symptoms, when taken excessively, these drugs can irreversibly damage the kidneys. If you have existing diabetes or you have an elevated blood pressure, then you are at a much higher risk of their nephrotoxic effects.

Before taking any medication or modifying a treatment plan, it’s best if you can speak with your health care provider first. He is the best person to know if an extension of the treatment plan is necessary or if a certain medication is safe to use for your condition.

2.    Limit your exposure to household chemicals

You may not be aware of it but most of your household cleaning agents are harmful to your kidneys. Your air freshener, carpet cleaner, and your furniture polish are all considered nephrotoxic agents. Even tobacco smoke and pesticides can also negatively affect your organs, especially your kidney.

Instead of relying on these toxic products, it’s best if you can find an all-natural alternative. Most organic household cleaners today have the same effectiveness as these products but without the associated health risks. They aren’t only good for your home but they’re generally good for the environment. They are also a lot cheaper than popular brands as well.

3.    Follow your doctor’s advice

If you have an existing urinary tract infection or any issues with your urinary tract, make sure to strictly adhere to your doctor’s treatment plan. In case you’re diagnosed with diabetes or high blood pressure, it’s critical that you take your medications as prescribed. Noncompliance from these cases almost always leads to complications and that includes renal failure.

Aside from medications, it’s also important that you take on a healthier lifestyle. Being active lowers your chances of developing renal failure and other potentially debilitating health issues. It doesn’t always have to be vigorous exercises. You can walk or take a short run in the park. You should also skip processed foods and choose a balanced diet instead. It will also help if you can limit your alcohol consumption and tobacco smoke exposure.

Simple, commonsense alerts can help you stay safe and can prevent kidney failure.

Kidney Failure Treatment

Kidney Failure Treatment

Kidney Failure Treatment

Is Hemodialysis Right For You?

Kidney Failure TreatmentThere are many ways to approach kidney failure treatment. Hemodialysis can be a very frightening word, particularly if you’ve just been diagnosed with kidney failure. However, contrary to what most new patients believe in, hemodialysis isn’t that difficult or complicated. In fact, a hemodialysis treatment can be tailored specifically to your needs and preferences.

What is hemodialysis?

Hemodialysis involves pumping your blood to a machine where it passes through a special filter called dialyzer for filtration and removal of excess fluids and waste products. For the treatment to be feasible, an access to your bloodstream will be required. It can be in the form of a fistula, graft or a catheter. It is often referred to as dialysis.

One hemodialysis session typically lasts for three to four hours and you’ll need at least three sessions per week. It can be done in a clinical setting or you can choose to have home hemodialysis. For home hemodialysis, however, you need to have someone with you during treatment. It can be a family member or a private caregiver.

Which should you choose?

Home hemodialysis is more advantageous for the patient because it can be done right at home. You wouldn’t need to travel all the way to the hospital every other day just to get your treatment. It can also enhance your sense of control, particularly over your treatment schedule. You may even bring your treatment equipment with you when you go on a vacation or a short trip out of town.

Compared with home hemodialysis, going to a dialysis center can be difficult for some patients. Aside from that, it’s physically exhausting, a patient’s privacy can also be compromised. There are also strict rules that need to be followed while inside the center, such as food and drink restrictions. It is also expensive and stressful.

In terms of safety, however, receiving your hemodialysis treatment in a clinical setting is far safer because there are skilled professionals who can assist you throughout the procedure and readily respond in case complications happen. You should consult with your health care professional if you are faced with kidney failure and the choice of dialysis.

Possible complications

Vascular problems are on the top of the list of possible complications of hemodialysis. Infections, poor blood flow; and clotting can happen to the access site. Once any of these issues happen, the patient may need to be admitted to the hospital for correction and to assure that the patient continues to receive treatment despite the problems. He may need to undergo another surgery to establish or maintain patency.

Aside from access issues, chemical imbalances can also happen during treatment. It can result in muscle cramps, dizziness or weakness. In severe cases, it can also cause a sudden drop in the patient’s blood pressure which, when not addressed right away, can be lethal to his kidneys and fatal to the patient’s life.

There are many types of Kidney Failure Treatment and your doctor can assist you in making the right decision for you.

renal failure

Signs of Renal Failure

Signs of Renal Failure

What Happens When Your Kidney Stops Working

 

renal failureThe signs of renal failure are subtle at first. The main role of your kidneys is to filter out and remove toxins and excess fluid from your body through urine. These organs are also responsible for releasing hormones that regulate your blood pressure, maintain red blood cells and phosphorus in your body.

There are a lot of reasons why renal failure happens. Technically, however, it is marked when your organs operate below or at 10% of its normal function. Because of this decline, several changes in your body happen and kidney failure occurs.

  • The earliest observable sign of renal failure involves your urine. Depending on the severity of your case, you can either pass a large or scanty amount of urine. There will also be a notable change in its smell and color. On certain instances, it can also appear foamy and bubbly due to the presence of protein.
  • Because your kidneys are no longer effective in filtering out excess fluid, the tendency of your body is to shift this fluid extracellularly. This can manifest as swelling under the skin or edema. You’ll first notice it around your legs and feet. As more fluid remains in your body, it can also start affecting your hands, arms and even face.
  • Fluid can also accumulate in your lungs which can make breathing harder. Since fluid can take up space in your lungs, you’ll also have a lesser amount of oxygen to sustain the needs of your cells. As a result, you feel tired and exhausted most of the time.
  • The capability of your body to produce red blood cells also becomes affected. This aggravates your lethargy.
  • With the inability of your renal tract to effectively remove toxins from the body, it can also affect your sense of taste. Ammonia breath and metallic taste in the mouth can also make you lose your appetite and, subsequently, a lot of weight. There’s also nausea and vomiting that can make eating a lot difficult for you.
  • Aside from taste, toxins can also make your skin itchy. Since the itch is felt more like it’s coming from beneath the skin, you’re likely to scratch deeper and harder. Because of this, it’s not uncommon for you to break your skin into rash.
  • With toxins accumulating in your body and with the decrease amount of oxygen circulating, it’s also possible for you to experience dizziness and difficulty concentrating. If not addressed properly, it can even cause confusion and risk for your safety.
  • Anemia can also make you feel colder than usual. You can experience chills even if the environment or the climate is warm.
  • Kidney failure also involves a notable pain around your lower back that can radiate to your sides, stomach and your lower legs.
Kidney Failure Defined

Kidney Failure Defined

Kidney Failure Defined

Kidney Failure DefinedKidney failure is medically known as renal failure.  This is the condition of the kidney wherein it could not dutifully fulfil its function in the human body.  The kidney could no longer filter wastes of the blood and you may need a transplant from a live kidney donation.

2. Classifications of Kidney Failure:

Acute Kidney Injury – the classification that causes a rapid loss of kidney functions. Some patients suffer kidney breakdown just within week or less.  This may instantly lead to cardiac arrest.  Common causes could be dehydration and nephrotoxic drugs that were not properly taken in by the body after a surgery.

Chronic Kidney Disease – unlike acute kidney injury, this classification describes the steady loss of kidney functions. This also results in the kidney excreting red blood cells and protein instead of waste products.

Common symptoms include an increase in blood pressure, potassium accumulation in the blood stream and iron deficiency anemia.  Another complication that is cause by Chronic Kidney Disease is sexual dysfunction.

Having kidney failure can later cause damage to either the skeletal or circulatory system.  A simple explanation of how it can be a threat to the skeletal process is because having kidney failure may lower the proper distribution of calcium in the body.  The other possible complication is leading to cardiac arrest.

There are two most common treatments for kidney failure: kidney dialysis or kidney transplant.  Kidney Dialysis uses filtration machines and procedures which are done regularly in clinics and hospitals.  This also involves a strict diet plan to avoid further complications.  There are also some patients who do their own dialysis at home in which a medical practitioner shall give clearance for.  The later procedure on the other hand involves replacing the kidney with a new one from a donor.  A benefit of kidney transplant, aside from having a new kidney, is having a functional internal filtration system with a chance of living a normal life again, although a meal schedule shall also be followed, a drastic change in lifestyle is not required.

Kidney failure is not perceived as many to be a serious body malfunction but what the common public do not know is that this can be a cause of death.  Kidney failure can lead to the body’s incapability to remove potassium from the bloodstream that may result in a stroke.  This is not something to be ignored, if signs and symptoms of constant energy level decrease appear, it is best to go through a complete check up at your local hospital or clinic.  Prevention is always better than cure.

Kidney Failure

Doctor’s & Kidney Failure

This entry is part 2 of 2 in the series Machado Journey

Doctor’s & Kidney Failure

Doctor's and Kidney FailureMany doctors are revered and some rightly so. This image of the doctor’s at Loma Linda transplanting Michael Machado are an example of true professionals, but sometimes a patient has issues with doctor’s and kidney failure.

Because of various medical situations in my life,  I have experienced tremendous medical care and I have witnessed horrible doctors with more interest in ego and status than patient care.

My recent experience with Doctor’s & Kidney Failure and Kidney Transplant was no exception.

When Michael was diagnosed with Kidney Failure, I knew the first thing we were going to need was a team. Our group would be smart, educated and committed to our goal of getting Michael a Kidney Transplant. You should know that I knew nothing about Signs of Kidney Failure before his diagnosis, but my mind is trained to solve problems and get to the end after setting a series of goals. Perhaps it is my business mind, perhaps not, but I knew that if I could put aside my emotions, I could help my son.

An attorney was first on my list, which wasn’t difficult at all. I have used lawyers all my life and am comfortable with them, so I called some I knew and figured we would have no problems in the legal department.

Next, and probably most controversial and met with heated debate and at times, contempt, was my decision to hire Medical Advocates. What is a Medical Advocate?  Never heard of this? Not many people have, but if you are faced with medical situations that you do not understand, or are willing to add personnel to keep doctors in line, a Medical Advocate may be for you. Beware though, they can be expensive.

Normally, retired nurses or individuals with higher educational prowess, these advocates require a Power of Attorney and they step into your shoes. We had a team of three women, all Registered Nurses, one a surgical assistant and another a former Kidney Transplant coordinator. I was not intentionally trying to create a wedge between the doctors and my son, but poor medical care, and inattention to some important details required a couple of telephone calls and the doctors changed their plan and method of medical care once our Advocates were brought in to consult.

I realize that most doctors are humanitarian people who care and want to help people. There are others who add the special ingredient of ego to the mix and I have found that this often clouds their judgement. To some, being right is more important than the patient’s care.

As we moved through the Kidney Transplant process, medical personnel became aware that we were represented by professionals other than just us. How could we not be? At this point, I knew very little- that we had two kidneys and that was about it. To advance my study I needed experts to help us and to also look out for the best interests of Michael.

A Medical Advocate is also willing to go into the Operating Room to observe the surgery. Since we were already on solid ground with Loma Linda and their team, I knew we were in perfect hands with medical care and decided that we did not need to send anyone in the O.R. to observe.

During the six months of kidney failure, I was looking for a dietician, or a chef, or somebody who knew about a renal diet. Food is the number one item we can control and besides medication and dialysis, it would be crucial to keeping Michael strong for Transplant Surgery.

Phosphorus, potassium, sodium are all crucial to keeping the body working properly and who would know that this small pair of organs, four inches in length, could monitor all of this and keep the body in sync. Blood pressure is controlled by the kidneys and this is essential for the heart to function properly.

I started with interviewing chefs and went through a culinary school, but nobody even heard of a renal diet.  All suggested that if I could come up with the recipes, they could implement this fine fare. The problem was that I had no idea how to cook a kidney meal or even what ingredients to use to make bland food taste good.

Some suggested I consult a dietician and I did this, but soon discovered that many can give you the ingredients, but nobody I spoke to had a clue how to prepare a meal. This was beyond issues with doctor’s and kidney failure. I was stuck and Michael was hungry, so I became the new Renal Chef of the family. Check out my other sections to learn how I learned to prepare meals that rocked!

Michael Machado

Kidney Failure & The Meaning Of Life

This entry is part 1 of 2 in the series Machado Journey

Kidney Failure & The Meaning Of Life

Michael Machado_meaning of lifeWe had a party this past weekend for Amanda, Michael’s girlfriend. In attendance, about 60 people in our back yard and the pool was full of both adults and kids. Michael hired a Taco Vendor to keep everyone happy and even bought a keg of beer to keep them happier. I never thought much about kidney failure & the meaning of life until my son went into kidney failure.

It was a celebration to commemorate Amanda’s Graduation–she received her Master’s Degree after a rocky start–the stop and go journey because of Michael’s Kidney Failure. If you remember, she had already quit her job in southern California, moved in with Michael in Monterey and then, less than 3 months living together, he was diagnosed with Renal Failure and she ceased all of her higher educational  studies.

This interruption lasted for 15 months and she suddenly found herself unemployed, scared, living with her boyfriend’s parents and caring for the young man she loved. Education was  the last thing on her mind as we all united and worked toward understanding Kidney Failure and the meaning life.

After his kidney failure diagnosis, we didn’t spend much time in our grief. Sure, we cried all the time, myself included, but simply watching your son/boyfriend/brother struggle for life was motivation for this family to fix the problem, which meant a kidney transplant.

If you are a regular reader of this Blog, you know that Michael Machado received a kidney in about 6 months, one of the fastest times from failure to wellness most doctors have ever witnessed. And now, we were celebrating another event, but it wasn’t simply the advanced degree that Amanda had received. No, it was her guts we were admiring, the determination to pursue a dream despite heavy odds and utter despair.

Going back to school had to be hard and when she discovered her student loans continued to accrue interest, even as she acted as caretaker, her grit continued. What a girlfriend!

And as I sipped my beer and watched Michael and Amanda, I couldn’t help but to wonder about this Kidney Disease business and the challenges we face in life. If I ever needed a dose of humiliation, I have received it. If I ever thought my life was winding down, it wasn’t. And if I ever needed a reason to stop this horrible trend of waiting for people to die, so a kidney patient can live, well, I have my life’s work clearly in front of me.

Our efforts, through The Charles and Jennie Machado Foundation, will be to multiply the Michael’s of the world and turn Kidney Failure into Kidney Transplant. Our goal will be to ensure that another girlfriend can laugh and dance with someone she loves, someone who received a kidney transplant and another chance at life.

Chuck Machado

A Dad’s Heartbreak

A Dad’s Heartbreak

One of the newsletters written by Chuck Machado…

Chuck Machado A Dad's HeartbreakHi everyone,

Sorry for my absence lately; kidney work is taxing on many fronts: emotionally, physically,medically and certainly financially. Fortunately for our family, we have you guys.

The unbelievable outpouring of support is humbling and though it should not be surprising, it is very emotional. My goal for the month is to no longer cry in public. Nothing worse than a grown (really grown) man whining in front of strangers. The meals, contributions, iTunes cards,letters,prayers, Reiki, telepathic energy healing, telephone calls and quick messages have been uplifting and heartfelt. Thank you, a response I will be repeating over and over.

Medical

Michael has been transitioning to Home Dialysis and this involves a fluid exchange through the catheter that was surgically inserted into his stomach a few weeks ago. That procedure yielded 12 staples, which have been removed.  (This also means that the catheter that was inserted into his heart 7 weeks ago is coming out. Hopefully, this will happen today).

Amanda (girlfriend),Jennie (mom) and Kellen(best friend since KG), have been attending training classes-learning how to work thru this Home Dialysis procedure. Our library, upstairs in  our home has been gutted turned into a hospital/lounge area and last night a dialysis nurse stopped by the house for inspection also making sure her students are ready for this next step. All went well, the first rain of the season pounding on the windows, the scent of simmering chicken noodle soup providing the appropriate atmosphere.

Next Weds we meet with Loma Linda for our Transplant Intake meeting. We started this journey Aug 9th and have been told that a 2 month Transplant meeting is very rare, which speaks to the advocate team we have employed (Thank you T&M).

Loma Linda also has three applications from donors who are ready to step into the fire and give up a kidney. Grateful? Unbelievable? The greatest gifts in life seem to have some pain involved, it seems.

Kidney Walk

I received a call from the CA Director of the National Kidney Foundation earlier this week. Not sure what they want, but perhaps they’d like our recipe for successfully raising about $5,000 in TWO Weeks. Most fundraisers are planned, meetings taking place, ideas thrown out-you guys know the drudgery of planning an event. To Michael, Jordan, Lois and Amanda’s credit, they organized this event and as word spread, a Virtual Walk was being planned in several cities.

Taking their own initiative, walkers were printing T-Shitts, making posters, wearing wristbands and signing checks.  We are in the process of putting together a short slideshow, a link I will share in the next update. Thank you everybody-what a great experience to be a part of such passion. I’ll also let you know what the Kidney Foundation wants. Maybe they have some extra kidneys laying around….

Non Profit

I am spending considerable time trying to understand many aspects of this kidney issue we have in the USA. First of all, my question remains: why are so many people in kidney failure?

Yes diabetes, which often points to diet and also yes to this overflowing amount of drugs we are being prescribed. We know that doctors have become pharmacologists and instead of figuring out what is causing swelling, (for instance) they prescribe an anti inflammatory pill.  Napracin, Celebrex…the list is long, but who is watching the damage being done to our kidneys?

I don’t think there much I can do about the medical issue, but the second question remaining is: Why can’t people in need of a kidney get a living donor to cough one up?

We have 2 and these organs work at such a greater capacity than the body actually needs and I find this in itself so strange as the body is so well tuned.

Are we meant to offer up a spare? Were we built this way-with this internal library card? I’m still exploring, however I think this is ultimately a social issue and with some computer genius friends of mine, we are exploring writing some software to make this easier for people to accomplish. If we can pull it off, we would introduce it under a non profit organization. Just what I need-another project…

Again, a HUGE thank you. Please do not reply all, but I welcome your personal reply. More as it develops…

Chuck Machado & Family