Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Dr F

Last .Friday at dialysis was a bad day. Plain and simple.

Just as I got there they were carting someone off in an ambulance. Shortly after that, the lady next to me threatened to pull out her needles and walk away. (She is referred to as a "behavior problem".) A couple of the male staff had to hold her until she calmed down, but there was a lot of loud screaming in between.

I had forgotten my book and really didn't feel like watching another episode of Martha Stewart, or the pet channel talking about dwarf hamsters.

I kept thinking "is this what my life has crumbled down to"?

Dr. F happened to be there, making rounds of his patients. He is not my doctor, but I always thought he looked interesting - mid 60's, bald with a very twinkling smile. Each time he comes he has this Russian lady teach him a few words

The unit consists of a big square room with recliners around the perimeter and the nurses station in the center. I was in one of the corners, which is where I prefer to be.

I was surprised when Dr. F come over to me. "How are you today, Ms P?" I tried to hold back the tears and muttered something about having a bad day. He then said he sensed that things were not going well and wondered if there was anything he could do.

One of the technicians said "you better get out of her space - you done went and made her cry". He then said that I looked like a million dollars. I don't know how distorted his perception is, for my hair was sticking out at goofy angles and I had a big food stain on my shirt.........

This guy seems to be a very special person. There I was, not even his patient, tucked away in a corner, and yet he sensed I was having a bad day. What a gem.
Since my "episode" I have had a ton of kind and compassionate doctors cross my path, either for just a moment, or longer. And I cannot describe what a difference it has made.

Monday, February 21, 2011

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.