Mishaps and Mayhem Finally Come to an End!

In : dialysis, fistula, home dialysis, Nx Stage, short daily hemo dialysis, Uncategorized, Posted by on May.05, 2011

May 25, 2011

It seems things come in threes . . . . there have been no more injuries or accidents. The wounds are healing, but the bone is going to be a slow heal. Still in his removable cast, the wrist continues to be sensitive to movement. He sees the bone doctor on Thursday for X-rays so we’ll see what the prognosis is then. He still has a good story about falling, tripping and nearly knocking himself out. Here he is explaining to Katie, age 9, what happened. Do you think he might be embellishing just a little bit? Poor Grandpa!

Another graft tuneup yesterday . . . . those of you that have been following our story know that this is a regular thing – we’ve done this many times. The graft narrows in areas and makes cannulating (sticking fricking gigantic needles into his arm!!!!) even more difficult. Every 3 months of so we head to the surgery center with a bunch of candy. Here is Dawn, aptly named for the ray of sunshine she brings to the day . . . and loving her candy stash. You can see why John is always smiling – the nurses are beautiful! Jamie, checking him in to the OR has worked for AKDHC for ten years. They always make this most unpleasant situation a game for us that’s fun to play.

Care Partner Pumps Iron

In : dialysis, home dialysis, Nx Stage, respite for caregivers, short daily hemo dialysis, Uncategorized, Posted by on Apr.04, 2011

April 28, 2011

Some people will do anything to get out of working out. After John’s fall and fracture of his wrist, he cannot continue his workouts until he’s healed. However, he’ll not get off that easy – I don’t think he broke either one of his legs! Half a workout is better than no workout at all! He ‘s very  accustomed to me prodding him about his health and diet – sometimes with a sharp stick! He thanks me for it nearly every day.

The photos are of me working out with our trainer/son, who has been working with us since August of last year – 9 months ago. These workouts are amazing. Just 15 minutes per week of high intensity training adds muscle quickly. In my past I have worked out with a trainer (3 or 4 times per week) or on my own for many years, been an avid cyclist, jogged, played racquetball and stayed active most of my life, but this tops all of them – even at my tender age of 63. The muscle building opens your world to more activity, fighting disease with more strength, looking and feeling better. Other exercise should be done in between like walking, bike riding, moving in any way that works for you. But with the new found muscle, it’s just easier and more fun.

I will add this about being a care partner. It takes strength – lots of it – to get through the many ups and downs that comes with fighting disease or helping your partner fight disease. Your willingness may be the only thing you have control over, so why not be willing to take care of yourself. If you are going to have aches and pains one way or the other (we all do!), why not have them from adding new muscle and adding quality to your life. Another bonus is I have lost 20 pounds over this last year. It’s better for my arthritic joints and makes moving a whole lot easier.

I’m developing a website for my son for his personal training business. If you want to know more about the high intensity training (HIT), visit www.idealexerciseaz.com. His method and scientic approach is unconventional but effective. I call him my HIT Man.

Adding Insult to Injury

In : dialysis, home dialysis, Nx Stage, short daily hemo dialysis, Uncategorized, Posted by on Apr.04, 2011

April 25, 2011

He would like to say he got into a bar fight, or “you should see the other guy”. But the truth is he fell down in the garage hitting the floor first with his head. He’s been called hard headed by many, but in this case it was a good thing. Another trip to the ER for scans and X-rays, but not before we do a treatment. By 7:30pm we were in the ER and walked out at 10:30. Aside from the cuts, bumps, bruises, sore bones and humiliation, the most serious was a fractured wrist. An orthopedic doctor will look at it this week and will most likely apply a cast. As you can see in the photo, his spirits are good as always, and the Percoset is helping with pain. Do you think wrapping him in bubble wrap would help?!

Hello World! I’m back

In : dialysis, home dialysis, Nx Stage, short daily hemo dialysis, swimming schnauzer, Uncategorized, Posted by on Apr.04, 2011

April 16, 2011

Long absence. No excuses. I just took a break. John and I are both fine. That does not mean we haven’t had our bumps. Life with dialysis is full of ups and downs. The downs generally consists of health issues. Otherwise, we have a relative peaceful life. We have much to be grateful for – each other, our family and our dog! I will post a few photos of the fun times we’ve had since I last posted. Next time I’ll get back to more specific subjects. Enjoy!

John Pushing Iron. Definitely NOT fun!

A visit from our friend Barb.

Riley's first swim of the year.

Kate's 9th birthday - they have no idea what is coming next!


Inside the OR

In : Nx Stage, short daily hemo dialysis, Uncategorized, vein mapping, Posted by on Mar.03, 2011

March 8, 2011

I’ve posted many articles about going to the Arizona Kidney Disease & Hypertension Center for what we call a tune up or a repair on the graft. We had an unexpected trip to the surgery center this last week, just 3 weeks after the last one. It is commonly done about every 3 or 4 months to keep the access in good working order. However, stenosis, or narrowing, of the graft can occur at any time. There are warning signs such as difficult cannulation or excess bleeding. We had difficulty over the weekend so showed up on their doorstep at 6:45 a.m. Monday morning, candy and treats in hand, and waited our turn. As always, the staff was gracious, lively and to task.

The first few photos were taken by me (Dawn loves her candy!) and the rest were taken by an operating room nurse so we could use them in our blog. She did a great job and shot the procedure from beginning to end . . .  scrubbing and sterilizing, anesthetic, inserting fiber optics into the graft and taking X-rays to find the narrowing. The last photo is the venogram unit taking X-rays to see if the balloon (venoplasty) was successful opening the graft. The graft is made of gortex and is about the diameter of a pencil. Gortex does not heal itself, but the body does the best it can to heal itself over the punctures from the dialysis needles used every day. It is truly amazing how the body defends itself as the needles are about the size of a fork tine. As time goes on, they may need to do a stent or even a new graft. One day at a time!

Click on photos to make them bigger.

Tune Up #9

In : dialysis, home dialysis, Nx Stage, short daily hemo dialysis, Uncategorized, Posted by on Feb.02, 2011

February 10, 2011

Yesterday we made a trip downtown to the surgery center for a much needed repair of John’s graft. Narrowing of the graft can cause all sorts of problems . . . .  excessive bleeding, difficult cannulation and poor cleansing of the blood. It’s common to go in for a venogram and angioplasty 3 or 4 times a year. We generally wait for a sign that there is trouble as one is never eager to elect surgery. I’ve blogged many times about the AZ Kidney and Heart Disease Center. It’s like a beehive of doctors, nurses and techs who specialize in placing and repairing access for dialysis. They have become like friends in the time of need, always with a smile and a good attitude. Treats are always in order when we go to the center – this time it was apple pie and chocolate covered strawberries. With at least a dozen staff on any given day, the goodies were gone before we were out the door.

The pre and post op are in the same room so we have a view of everyone coming and going. I sit with John except for his time in the operating room which is usually only about 20 minutes of the 3 hours we are there. It’s hard not to listen to conversations between doctors, nurses and patients as it is very close quarters. There were nine patients in the same time period we were there, and by the way, all were diabetic. It’s always sobering to hear the pain others are going through. Two were too sick to return home and were on their way to the hospital. One man was young, in his 40’s, and had already experienced a liver transplant, failed kidneys and fell recently in a parking lot and broke his hip. And you’ve heard the old saying, “I felt sorry because I had no shoes, then I met a man who had no feet”. A very quiet little lady who did not complain about anything had no legs. This was a day to count our blessings.

A New Month . . . A New Day

In : dialysis, home dialysis, Nx Stage, respite for caregivers, short daily hemo dialysis, Posted by on Feb.02, 2011

Grandpa snoozing post-op

February 1, 2011

How many folks have the opportunity to have 3 colonoscopy’s within 3 weeks?! We are hopeful there will be no more for another year. The third one was successful in that the doctor removed a nickel size polyp and 3 more smaller “blossoms” as we call them. The pathology is being done. John has an appointment to see the doctor in a few weeks to determine what is next. As we put this episode behind us (no pun intended), we are on to the next adventure whatever that may be. I think just a plain old dialysis schedule would a nice thing – who would have thought that would be the smoother side of life? We have learned much about the bumpy side with it’s peaks and valleys. The name of our blog indicates this by its name ,”ins and outs of dialysis” . . . . . not the mention the ups and downs. It’s not a perfect science and it’s not a perfect world. Our ability to adapt and roll with the punches is tested to the max during the valleys and our confidence grows during the peaks so that when another valley comes . . . . . we are stronger. Just marching in place to your own beat becomes soothing, peaceful and very desirable.

I’ve had friends ask me how I cope. I always have to think a bit about that, because it comes so naturally. Yet there are rules (my own) and I do have techniques I use. The most important thing is to keep your life as simple as possible. This is not a new concept . . . . . Simplify, simplify – Thoreau (mid 1800’s). I try to get lots of sleep, some exercise, and address my own health issues. If I’m not functioning well, John is not going to get the care he needs. Also nurturing my creativity is important to my well being. I always have 4 or 5 projects in progress, usually knitting, to work on while waiting at doctors offices, or during the hours of treatments in our home. This last year I made dozens of shawls and scarves for the group home where my mother spent her last days. Service to others is a great way to nurture yourself. I also have projects that are just for fun and for no particular reason except that it’s fun and I love the color and textures. This blog is cathartic in that I can talk about what we do and hope that it is informing, and maybe even helping others.

Third Time’s a Charm

In : colon polyps, dialysis, home dialysis, short daily hemo dialysis, Uncategorized, Posted by on Jan.01, 2011

January 29, 2011

John just had his second colonoscopy this month. As per my previous post on the “Master Gardener”, he was growing a garden of polyps in his colon. Seven were removed earlier this month and all proved to be negative for cancer. Today’s procedure was to complete the task of removing those little unwanted blossoms of trouble. The Gastroenterologist found that there was a polyp up high that was too large to remove without risk. It must be done at the hospital with more sophisticated equipment. Monday morning he will have his third colonoscopy this month. He has not had anything but clear liquids for two days. Nothing but clear liquid for another three days followed by another procedure, with two dialysis treatments in between. Do you wonder how this man copes?! If I could bottle his attitude and sell it, I’d be wealthy. The ingredients would be the constitution of a battleship and a zest for life that keeps him upright, centered and looking forward. His attitude also keeps me centered and hopeful. We call it the continuing saga of “The adventures of John and Gayle”. I am grateful to be able to share it in hopes that it will help others. We’ll keep you posted on the next harvest.

A Spoonful of Sugar

In : dialysis, home dialysis, short daily hemo dialysis, Uncategorized, Posted by on Jan.01, 2011

We’ve all heard the song from Mary Poppins, “A Spoonful of Sugar Makes the Medicine Go Down”. While I love the song and in my head I see Julie Andrews joyfully dancing around the room with a bottle of cough syrup, it was really about cleaning your room and makingthe task easier. But here is a little warning about taking a pill and making it go down. John takes lots of pills – 20 to 25 every day. Some are large, some are small, and some are coated with a chemical that if allowed to dissolve in your throat or esophagus may release chemicals that irritate the lining of the esophagus. The irritation may cause ulcers, bleeding, perforation (a hole or tear), and strictures (narrowing) of the esophagus. That happened this week when John “popped” some pills without water. That night he had all of the warning signs below. The next day he called the doctor and he had him take Maalox for a few days and go on a liquid and soft food diet. If it did not start to heal, go to the hospital and he will order an esophagus scope procedure. He will be having his second colonoscopy this month next week. Nothing like getting it from both ends! It’s been about 4 days and it is still healing but is much better. We hope he has dodged this dreaded procedure. Lesson learned here . . . . . . plenty of water with pills. Below are the warning signs and precautions if this happens to you.
Warning signs:
Pain when swallowing food or liquid.
Feeling of a tablet or capsule “stuck” in the throat.
Dull aching pain in the chest or shoulder after taking medicines.
Swallow tablets or capsules while you are in an upright or sitting position.
Before taking a tablet or capsule, swallow several sips of liquid to lubricate
the throat, then swallow the tablet or capsule with at least a full glass (8 oz.) of liquid.
Don not lie down immediately after taking medicines to ensure that the pills pass
through the esophagus into the stomach.
Call your doctor if painful swallowing continues or if pills continue to stick in the throat.

Master Gardener

In : colon polyps, dialysis, foot ulcers, home dialysis, short daily hemo dialysis, Posted by on Jan.01, 2011

January 11, 2011

Meet the Master Gardener. John has just been given the title of “Master Gardener” by his gastroenterologist. Not because of the beautiful tulips and desert plants you see in the photo, but a gardener of colon polyps. He had a colonoscopy last week and these unwanted little growths were in abundance. So many, in fact, that another colonoscopy will be necessary in a few weeks to harvest the rest. For those who have had this procedure, you know that it’s not the procedure itself that is so uncomfortable –  it’s the preparation the day before. Someday maybe modern medicine will make this a little more friendly? We’ll keep you posted on the next harvest.

He has also been growing something else – on his foot. If you are diabetic and have dealt with foot ulcers, you know how potentially dangerous these can be. John has had numerous foot ulcers and Osteomyelitis (bone infection) and lost part of two toes. If the bone becomes infected, all of the infected bone has to be removed. While showering Monday morning, he noticed a lesion on the top of his foot that most likely started from a simple blister. The podiatrist saw him immediately and prescribed antibiotics and wound care. I am pretty sure we addressed it early enough to avoid something more dreaded.

John – how about we stick to plain old gardening? I don’t think the scriptures were referring to your blossom as the  “lilies of the field”.

Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow, they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all of his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Matt. 6-28-29