Blessed Assurance: Success Despite the Odds

by Jacquie Lewis-Kemp, Author & Health Coach for Living life with diabetes and organ transplants, rather than limiting life because of them.

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By: Lauren Eveler Glover, RDN, LD

How many people have a New Year’s resolution to lose weight, eat healthier, and exercise more? A lot. How many people will actually stick to it past January 31st? Not many. The truth is habits are hard to break. If you think about it, however, this is actually a good thing! While it may be hard to break your unhealthy habits at first, once you form those new healthy habits, then those will become hard to break. So, you’re more likely to stick to it. Keep these tips in mind to develop better habits, and you won’t need to set a resolution again. Here’s to a healthy, happy 2016!

N – Never trust fad diets.

They don’t work. While they may deliver short-term results, they usually don’t last forever.  Why? Fad diets are simply unrealistic. They make you exclude entire food groups, include unnecessary supplements, or even worse, starve. If you can’t eat that way for the rest of your life, don’t trust it.

E – Exercise a little every day.

How often do you exercise right now? If your answer is “never,” then you have a great area for opportunity! Even if it’s just a 10 minute walk every evening, or choosing to take the stairs instead of the elevator, every little bit helps.

W – Watch out for phonies.

There is so much nutrition information out there it’s hard to determine what’s fact and what’s fiction. Who can you trust? Have no fear, Registered Dietitians are here! When it comes to a healthy diet, kidneys can be complicated. It’s best to meet with a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) to discuss which options are best for you.

Y – You don’t need to focus on weight.

Weight is just a number on a scale that’s affected by many factors. Rather, measure your waistline. Anything greater than 40 inches for men, and 35 inches for women increases your risk for disease.

E – Eat more often.

Instead of eating two or three large meals a day, try eating four or five smaller meals spaced evenly throughout the day. This will help keep your appetite under control since you’re eating more frequently.

A – Avoid junk food.

Your body doesn’t need it. Eating too much processed food is proven to have negative consequences on our health. They are high in calories and low in nutrients, which is an awful combination.

R – Rest.

Plain and simple, your body needs sleep to recoup and reset for the next day. Aim for 7 to 9 hours per night. Adequate rest, along with a healthy diet and exercise, are the secrets to good health.

Remember, make it a habit and you’ll stick to it.

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Here is a good explanation of how the donation and transplantation process works. I hope that if you are not currently signed up on the national registry, you will consider signing up after watching this.

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Show your support for organ donation at the University of Michigan’s Vita Redita, a black tie celebration of Life Restored!

Vita Redita 2014 . . .

   November 8, 2014 at 6pm

      Silent & Live Auction, fabulous food

         at the Jack Roth Suites . . .

             in the Big House . . .

                 SAVING LIVES!

FOR MORE INFORMATION AND TO GET TICKETS VISIT: http://www.umtransplantevents.org/events/vita-redita

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There are so many observances throughout the year that several of them happen simultaneously. However April’s pairing of National Minority Health Month and National Donate Life Month is not pure happenstance.

National Minority Health Month

African Americans and other ethnic minorities are plagued by a number of chronic illnesses that may not be an immediate threat to life itself; however neglect of these chronic and often preventable conditions can surely lead to an early death. Perhaps the biggest of these chronic illnesses that disproportionately plague African Americans is hypertension and diabetes. According to the National Institute of Health,

“The most common causes of kidney failure are diabetes and high blood pressure, together accounting for about 70 percent of new cases.”

That bears repeating, 70 percent of new cases of chronic kidney disease is caused by uncontrolled diabetes and hypertension—both controllable conditions. Controllable in large part by good decision making: diet and exercise, and medication prescribed by a doctor. And this brings us to the next April observance.

National Donate Life Month

National Donate Life Month promoted largely by the Gift of Life Foundation encourages people to make the decision to become organ donors, either living or at the time of death so that those waiting on the transplant list, can live. There are currently more than 110,000 people waiting for an organ transplant in the U.S. Millions of organs are wasted daily when people die without donating their organs. It is a simple process to sign up on the national organ donor registry: http://donatelife.net/register-now/

In the case of kidneys, while African Americans make up 12% of the population, we make up 32% of those on dialysis.

In April and beyond, join with me to make smart and healthy decisions to improve minority health, and please “Donate Life”—my brother Jeff (my kidney donor) and another individual (my pancreas donor)’s decisions to donate life are why I live today!

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Christmastime is when most of us decorate our homes and invite family and friends over to overeat, laugh and catch up on what has been going on since the last time the group was together.  If you have lost a loved one it is also a time when we remember Christmases past and the fun times we shared.

When I lost my father he was just 52 years old and there was a list of people that I felt God could have taken instead of my father.  Each holiday felt like my shopping list was so short–even though there was only one name removed.  My father-in-law perhaps suffered the most. His birthday was the same day as my father’s. We’d have a birthday dinner for both of them and I would buy similar gifts in different colors–it was fun. But after my father died, I couldn’t bring myself to shop for September 23.

Finally I rationalized in my mind that I shouldn’t feel sorry for myself about having lost my father.  There were many women that I knew who would never know what it was like to have a father like mine.  The old saying that it is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all, is hard to grasp–AND SOMETHING YOU NEVER WANT TO HEAR RIGHT AFTER LOSING SOMEONE.  But in time, I got it.   The impact of my father’s love for me has lasted me and I believe will continue to last for the rest of my life. People (particularly my son) are probably so tired of hearing me say, “What my father used to say about that is . . .”

It’s a good thing that I learned that lesson before losing my mother.  By this time I had received the Gift of Life twice and survived the West Nile virus.  And so what brought me peace was that “things” were not my mother nor did they represent her. But the impact that she had on my life and the lives of so many others, is her legacy.

My brother and I were also fortunate in that  we were able to carry out her final wishes and that was to donate her organs to people who needed them. It is interesting that we did not discuss her wishes during or after our kidney transplant.  But we both knew growing up that both our parents wanted to donate their organs–it was something that they discussed with us as children.

We missed the opportunity when our father died, however we were able to oblige our mother.  Even though it wasn’t my organs that were donated, that we completed my mother’s wishes, felt like I was paying it forward.  One day I will ACTUALLY pay it forward since I am a registered organ donor.

Even though they are not likely to use my brother’s transplanted kidney in my body or my new pancreas, I don’t want to make a medical decision that I’m not qualified to make.  The way I figure it, let me donate the organs when I’m through with them and let the doctors decide who may be able to use them.

IF YOU HAVE RECEIVED AN ORGAN TRANSPLANT, REGISTER TO BECOME AN ORGAN DONOR AND PAY IT FORWARD!

 

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Although the hottest of weather, heat warnings and advisories seems to have moved past the metro Detroit area, people with diabetes
and organ transplants should continue to exercise extreme caution.

The effect that the heat can have on diabetes is complex

  • Sweating, which burns calories and therefore lowers blood sugar, can lead to hypoglycemic  episodes (low blood sugar). Heat can also make hyperglycemic episodes more difficult to identify.

  • Dehydration due to excess heat can cause hyperglycemia (high blood sugar).  Since dehydration occurs when there is low fluid level in the blood stream, there is a high concentration of glucose, causing hyperglycemia.

  • Medication, such as insulin, and supplies can be damaged by excess heat and manufacturer’s recommendations regarding storing medication and supplies must be followed.

Recommendations for people with diabetes:

 

  • Drink plenty of fluids

  • Keep water convenient and close by to make hydration a thoughtless effort.

  • Test blood glucose more often than prescribed, particularly if you don’t feel normal. Since the heat’s impact on blood sugar

    control can be varied (heat can make it go both up or down) it is best to know exactly what the blood sugar level is, rather than guess.

  • Keep diabetes medication and supplies cool without subjecting them to freezing temperatures.

Kidney Transplant Patients must also exercise caution in the heat

 

  • Excessive sweating—not even dehydration–can cause creatinine levels (a measure of kidney function) to increase. High creatine levels can potentially lead to kidney transplant rejection, or worsening of chronic kidney disease.

 

Kidney Transplant Patients should:

 

  • Drink more than the 2 liters of doctor prescribed fluid each day.

  • Again, this should be done by always having water, decaffeinated and non alcoholic, beverages handy to sip on all day.

  • Remember, both caffeine and alcohol dehydrate.

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Enjoy this video as transplant recipients say thank you.

Wolverines for Life encourages you to sign up to be an organ and tissue donor, donate blood and get screened for bone marrow donation.

You can be a hero, and save a life … and it’s easy to do. For more information go to www.wolverinesforlife.org

 

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My son celebrated a milestone birthday, 21. And in Michigan that means getting rid of the probationary portrait driver’s license for a regular landscape one. He made another adult decision while at the Secretary of State: He signed the registry to become an organ donor.

Like me, he too has seen both sides of organ donation. He witnessed his mother’s second chance at life, thanks to the generosity of his uncle and a complete stranger. He also understood his grandmother’s gift of life so that other families would be as fortunate as his.

Here is another story of a famous donor and the lives he saved.

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 Des Moines Iowa’s Mercy Hospital performed an historic chain of kidney transplants. Beginning with an altruistic donor (someone who wants to donate life because they are healthy and able), patients with willing and able donors who do not match find complete strangers to donate kidneys to until all the would be donors have donated to someone, and those with kidney disease have received kidney transplants. This new vehicle of kidney transplantation will save many more lives as it puts together donors and recipients when they might have never connected. Here is KCCI tv in Des Moines, Iowa’s accunt:

For the first time ever in Iowa, doctors performed five kidney transplant operations with living donors in three days. What makes it so special is how complete strangers gave of themselves to save five lives.

 

It all started with this one man who had the desire to save one life. Tyler Weig, 30, was so thankful for his own health that he wanted to give the gift of health to a complete stranger. “Going through operation to remove my kidney to give it someone who needs it more than I do,” said Weig. “Right now it’s starting to hit me, what it means, how special it is.”

 

On Monday, Weig went into surgery to have his kidney removed, to be transplanted into a patient who needed it to survive. While Dr. Cass Franklin removed his kidney, another patient waited to receive it.

The Mercy staff put the healthy organ into an ice bath to prepare it. A short time later, Doctors began the long, complicated transplant surgery on 42-year-old Lance Beyer of Pella.

Beyer had kidney disease for 25 years. After a successful surgery, two days later, the two met for the first time. “So you’re the donor? Appreciate it…thanks a lot…it’s working real good,” Beyer told Weig.

But how do you thank someone for the gift of life? Beyer said he couldn’t put it into words.

“I see his family, what he’ll be able to do now makes me happy,” said Weig.

 

Weig’s desire to save one person set off a chain reaction, a domino effect, that lead to another kidney transplant that same day. Jay Lindahl, of Boone, was wheeled in to receive another kidney. His donor was the wife of the first recipient, Lance Beyer. “You can give your kidney to someone. Someone will help my husband in that way. It’s a no-brainer,” said Julie Beyer.

 

Her kidney wasn’t a match for her husband, so she paid it forward to help a stranger instead.

After that pair of operations Monday, two more kidney transplants were performed Tuesday. On Wednesday, even one more.

 

None of the recipients knew his donor, but four donors were friends or family of another patient in the chain who they wanted to help, but didn’t match. Mercy will hold a news conference Friday morning to introduce the other six patients and donors.

 

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