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.

Browsing Posts in Organ Transplant

THE NEW INTRODUCTION TO EXERCISE VIDEO FEATURING JAMIE BROOKS IS NOW AVAILABLE FOR PURCHASE!

 

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Jacquie Lewis-Kemp

Because I have been affected by both diabetes and chronic kidney disease, it has become my mission to help others by providing information and tips on how best to live with these conditions. Recognizing that all people who suffer from diabetes aren’t necessarily affected by kidney disease, and that not all people affected by chronic kidney disease developed it as a result of diabetes, I have separated the blog subjects into two separate blogs.

Over the coming weeks and by the first week in January, this website will be used primarily to buy books and other information products related to Diabetes Management and Chronic Kidney Disease and Transplant Living.  I will have two separate blog sites, one for Diabetes related matters and another for CKD, organ donation and transplant.

If you have subscribed to www.jlewiskemp.com, initially you will be subscribed to both blog sites, however feel free to only subscribe to the blog site you are interested in if it is only one of the subjects.

Look for my new blogs Diabetes Success and CKD Success.

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Michigan Funeral Directors Association Journal

In an industry already plagued with consumer protection concerns, it baffles me why funeral directors would choose to publish an 11 page article suggesting that organ transplant is a for profit industry and is potentially harmful to the donor. Don’t funeral directors have enough controversy to settle when consumers feel that some take advantage of people at their most vulnerable time of need? Why would they take on the merits of organ transplant unless of course they were looking to justify another profit center–a potential mark up on embalming an organ donor?

I am the recipient of two organ transplants–a living related kidney and a cadaveric pancreas. I am also part of an organ donor family. My brother and I carried out our mother’s wishes to donate her organs. Finally I am the wife of a funeral director. And so my perspective is pretty all encompassing.

The article in question is an excerpt of the book “The New Undead” written by Dick Teressi. In it, he sensationalizes organ transplant and refers to it as an industry as if it is done for profit. He suggests (among other medical untruths);

  • ·       “The Transplant Industry is a $20 billion dollar per year industry…”

  • ·       Donor family should remain present after the brain death has been declared

  • ·       Donor pain during organ recovery

  • ·       Organ Donor disfigurement for funeral services

“Transplant Industry”

Indeed there are significant costs associated with saving lives by transplanting good organs from someone who has died into others with failing organs. It is a medical advancement that gives a second chance at life to people with diseased, failing organs. To maintain these new organs immunosuppressant drugs have been developed and improved to prolong the life of the new organ. This is not exactly a self serving industry when there are so many beneficiaries. Yes the drug companies, hospitals and medical staff benefit. But to a much larger degree, the organ recipient, donor family, and recipient family benefit. Perhaps an unexpected beneficiary is the funeral director. Because my husband is a funeral director and has buried several organ donors including my mother, I know that he has a special sense of pride when serving a family of an organ donor–similar in nature to washing Jesus’ feet.

Family remaining present after a brain dead declaration?

Surely hospitals and funeral directors know that the grief process is highly individual–from screams and shouts to vigils to celebrations of life. To suggest that family members remain present through the entire donation process is not just ridiculous, but unchristian. The body is merely the shell we leave behind after death.

 Donor pain during organ recovery

I will sum up this implausible notion with a quote from a transplant medical professional, “The peripheral pain receptors have to travel thru the brain stem to be perceived by the higher brain. Dead is dead. Hearts have regulatory systems that are independent of brain function which could explain the racing, especially if stimulated. Has he ever seen a heart beating in a Petri dish?”

Organ Donor disfigurement for funeral services?

I suppose it depends on the skill of the funeral director the family chooses. As for my husband’s work, it has always been pleasing to the families he has served.

So why did the Michigan Funeral Directors Association use 11 pages of its journal to offer credence to this quackery? Was it to discourage organ donation? Was it to justify funeral homes who want to charge extra for embalming an organ donor? Or was it to gain readership and issue discussion for the Journal?

If the purpose of publishing this article was to increase the Journal’s readership and discussion, an article touting the benefits of Cremation would do more and would certainly wake up brain dead funeral directors who base their profit margin on casket sales.

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Nearly 12 years ago my brother saved my life by giving me his left kidney. As awesome as his decision to make such a gift was, almost as awesome is the process to donate a kidney as a living donor. My brother’s road wasn’t quite this simple since it was 12 years ago, but today, this process will hopefully encourage many to become living donors.

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Vita Redita (Life Restored) Gala, Silent & Live Auctions Support UM Transplant Center.

Join us at the 10thannual Vita Redita Gala Dinner & Auction in support of the University of Michigan Transplant Center.

 

We have some very exciting things planned for the evening; including a chance to win a one of a kind diamond, custom made jewelry, a flight on a B-17 Bomber, Suite tickets to the Michigan Homecoming game, premium wine and more.

 

We still have seats available. Please consider inviting your friends and family to join you for this fun filled evening supporting a great cause.

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I am a transplant patient and so my medication list is almost as long as your arm.  My husband has a few chronic health conditions that also require that his medication be taken up to three times a day.  With all of those pills, inhalers and vitamins, our meds require a system of organization.

Chronic illness and prescription refills

Our illnesses are chronic and so are our prescriptions. Therefore 90 day refills make economic sense and a mail order pharmacy makes procedural sense.  I order our prescriptions online and they are mailed free of charge to our home.

Storage of the “bulk” meds

I have a 3 step plan for making sure that my husband and I take all of our medicines as prescribed.

The Pillcase

We each have two pill cases–one is in the kitchen stored in a bin with other occassional drugs in a 3 drawer bin. We each have another on our night stand with pm pills and water bottles. My husband carries a mid-day pillcase as well.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Filling the pillcases

The bin pictured to the left of the pillcase drawers contains the 30 day supplies of each medication type.

It takes some engineering to fit all the pill bottles into the drawers, but with some thought, trial and error, it works.

 

The bulk or balance of the 90 day supply of medicine

 

I keep all the extra supply that I refill the 30 day supply with in my pantry, in yet another 3 drawer bin.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This may seem like a complicated plan, but it keeps the medications organized and it is a method that we can visually manage. I never run out of medication because when I refill the 30 day supply with the last of the 90 day supply, I know that it is time to refill the prescription.

Tell me about your medication organization.

 

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Health Coaching for Success by Jacquie Lewis-Kemp,

author of Blessed Assurance: Success Despite the Odds.

 

Preventing Diabetes Wheel

With the promise of the Affordable Healthcare Act, more people will have access to healthcare. Physicians will be in great demand especially while we train enough physicians to now care for the millions of people who will now have access to affordable health care. What a great problem to have. Just when our college graduates wondered what they would do after graduation, the healthcare industry will be booming with opportunity for several disciplines. Opportunities will exist of course for physicians particularly internists, pediatricians, and family doctors, but also nurses, nurse’s aides, clerks, accountants, actuaries, economists and other business disciplines. A new area is opening up and that is for health coaches.

Health coaches do not replace the role of the doctor or any medical professional. In fact the health coach works closely with the doctor through the client/patient to understand the lifestyle change necessary to become or continue being a compliant patient. My health coaching practice, Take Control of Your Health works with several client issues; however it is focused on preventing or controlling diabetes. I also work with dialysis and transplant patients to focus on the area that presents a challenge that the client would like to overcome.

The physician diagnoses, treats and as time allows, educates the patient, however if the patient doesn’t follow the doctor’s orders or is otherwise non compliant, then the doctor cannot treat the condition accurately. And that is where the health coach comes in. A health coach functions like most consultants: Wears your watch and tells you what time it is. And on the surface it may sound silly to pay someone to wear your watch and tell you what time it is, but as in business when the job demands are so numerous trying to put out fires, it is a good practice to have a person who can give you feedback on how the business is performing. It works the same way with a health coach. When the best intentions to make a change in your lifestyle continues to end up with few or no results, then a health coach can measure your progress and the baby steps that you take to achieve the change that you are looking for.

 

Because this is such a client driven process, there is no one formula or set prescribed time for completion. The client names the goal and it is the job of the coach to monitor or recommend baby steps that are appropriate for the success of the goal. It is the job of the coach to pace the progress, encourage and hold the client accountable.

 

 

Transplant Living Wheel

For more information on Take Control of Your Health, please contact me at Jacquie@jlewiskemp.com.

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This was really an event for sociologists to study. Last week my husband and I attended a UM Transplant Center fundraiser at Zingerman’s Roadhouse in Ann Arbor. As usual, Chef Alex whipped up an amazing meal that helped to fund Camp Michitanki, a summer camp for kids living with an organ transplant. The dinner was great, the live auction was fun, but to observe such concentration and skill given to delivering plated food and beverage was something to see.

Only my husband, and his propensity to return to his roots as a researcher, would notice how these surgeons brought their surgical skills to the restaurant. As we sipped our wine before the meal, Steve pointed out how one surgeon wanted to clear empty appetizer dishes from the table from everyone at the same time rather than make several trips. Steve said “Look at him” as he impatiently waited for the man to finish his last bite. “They’ve got to be efficient with their work”, Steve said about the surgeons.

I had to catch myself as one of the surgeon/waiters asked me if I’d like more wine. I almost replied, “Well do you think I should”? “Sure” I told him.

Alas, the meal was over and dessert had been served. Again Steve pointed out surgeon/waiters with empty trays walking aimlessly around the room looking for something to do. “They need to do something. They need to cut something–they don’t know what to do”. We laughed as it really was cute.

Watching these very intense, extremely bright and hard working lifesavers hold back their arrogance (and Steve says there is no one more arrogant than a surgeon) and humble themselves to serve food to others was quite a sight.

We joke about the arrogance of a surgeon, but which one of you would undergo anesthesia with an unsure surgeon placing a scalpel on your abdomen? Give me the most arrogant, the Leaders and Best!

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Managing a chronic illness like diabetes is more an issue of behavioral change than it is a medical treatment. Sure for insulin dependent diabetics, management requires not only learning to administer the injection, but how to manipulate the doses. But the majority of diabetes management involves understanding how various foods and exercise affects blood sugar levels, and learning to orchestrate a routine that keeps a relative flat line of glucose levels within the normal range

The same is true of living on dialysis or transplant living. Other than being compliant with the doctor’s orders, most of the activity while on dialysis or maintaining a healthy transplant, involves a behavioral change.

Many times, dietary restrictions like low sodium, low fat, low glycemic, means that people need to learn to eat and cook differently. Often times this means a change not only for the person afflicted with the chronic condition, but the entire family. For instance, my husband has a condition unrelated to diabetes or transplant that requires him to eat a low sodium diet. Since I prepare about 99.99% of the meals in our house, that means that after a life of no sugar and low carbohydrate diets, I now add to our meals, low sodium! But it doesn’t work if I prepare his meals separately. In a world of processed foods with lots of added salt, eating low sodium is healthy for everyone.

Since a lot of chronic conditions are aided and best managed by lifestyle changes and establishing a routine, I’ve started a health coaching practice which works is concert with your doctor’s care plan. Once your doctor has prescribed the necessary activities, I work with the patient to develop a regimen that makes those changes fall in concert with your current life.

Perhaps the busiest and most difficult to manage time in my life was when I was a dialysis patient. I was CEO of a manufacturing company, married with a son in elementary school. My job was an hour away from my son’s school. He played soccer and went Kumon twice a week after school. Peritoneal dialysis required that I did one midday exchange and connected to a Cycler at night to perform the dialysis as I slept. My diabetes required glucose monitoring four times a day and insulin injections twice a day. Because dialysis can cause the blood pressure to fluctuate to dangerous levels, I also needed to monitor my weight daily and blood pressure several times a day.  At that time I was sodium restricted as well as on a diabetic diet, and so the best way to control sodium and sugar was to prepare meals myself. As a busy wife, mother and CEO, that was more than a notion, but necessary and therefore not impossible.

All of those requirements—medical, occupational and familial could be summarized like this:

  • Eating out had to be a rare treat

  • I needed diabetic and dialysis medication and testing supplies handy at home and at work

  • In order to cook healthy meals and eat at reasonable times, I had to have them prepped to the point of spending an hour to finalize them for dinner.

  • In order to attend my son’s sporting events and participate in the snack schedule or take him to Kumon even when I would normally work late, meant I had to have business resources at home (computer, fax, printer, binding equipment, presentation folders, etc.).

When I finally got my Ultimate Multitasking Routine in swing, this is how it ran…typically.

  • My workday began at 5:30 am in order to disconnect from my cycler, do all of my testing (weight, glucose, blood pressure), take my insulin plan and prep dinner, prepare lunches for everyone to take to school or work, prepare a light breakfast, and if necessary complete any last minute items for work.

  • Our routine was that my husband usually took my son to school and I usually picked him up from school. As they left, I dressed and left for work. My commute was about 45 minutes which allowed me time to clear voicemail and not walk into any surprises.

  • I kept a three drawer plastic storage cabinet under my desk to store a glucometer, testing supplies, dialysis fluid, blood pressure cuff and supplies, an extra pair of pantyhose and nail polish remover—for other emergencies. The key to being compliant with doctor’s orders is to make the process easy to do and have all of the necessary items available. So at midday, I was ready to test and do my midday dialysis exchange. I kept my stock of dialysis fluid replenished by loading up the car on Sunday night and bringing it into the office each Monday morning.

  • If my son had an after school activity, I would also load up the car the night before with the team snack or whatever was necessary so that I could leave work, pick him up from school and be ready with whatever supplies.

  • Because dinner had been prepped that morning, it was usually within an hour of being done, if not crock pot ready. While completing dinner, I supervised my son while doing homework and was available for questions.

  • In the evening, I completed bedtime testing, took medications, and finished any job related work and prepared for the next day.

 

While of course, things didn’t always work out this smoothly, it was my home base, and when things like illness or other family functions got in the way of this routine, I knew where to return.

I would like to help others with chronic conditions to develop the routine that works best for them to be compliant to their doctors orders and live healthy lives without making overwhelming changes to their current lifestyle.

FOR MORE INFORMATION ON HEALTH COACHING, click on the Health Coaching Tab above.

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This week I celebrate two anniversaries. The first was May 27, 2012. My husband and I celebrated 23 years of marriage. Wow, that’s a long time, especially for a 25 year old, huh? 😉 On May 30 I celebrate 10 years of living with a pancreas transplant.

I would never have imagined that I would one day not have to take an insulin shot! When I was diagnosed with diabetes at the age of 7, my grandfather told me while I was in the hospital that we would “pray it [diabetes] away”. My parents worried that I might not learn to take care of myself and instead hope for a miracle.

I had the most wonderful parents who continually made sure that I understood that I could do anything that I wanted to and be anything that I wanted to be as long as I worked hard at it. So instead of sitting by waiting for a miracle cure from God, I worked hard in school and hard at work.

Despite my hard work, my kidneys failed. My brother volunteered to save my life and donate his left kidney. My transplant team had an even more complete plan to treat my kidney disease. Their full plan of action was to perform the kidney transplant to end dialysis, and a pancreas transplant to end the cause of the kidney failure in the first place.

And so, on May 29, 2002, I took my last insulin injection. And on May 30, 2002 my new pancreas provided enough insulin to move glucose from my bloodstream to my cells, and has done so for the last 10 years.

So back to what Granddaddy said. Did he pray my diabetes away? Sure he did, not through a miraculous prong on the head, but through technology and medical science. And despite the fact that Granddaddy has been gone for 28 years, that doesn’t mean that 2002 wasn’t in God’s time.

Actually, I still consider myself diabetic. My body lived through 32 years of diabetes and I still manage some of the long term complications. I received a bronze medal for living with diabetes for 25 years from an insulin manufacturer. Do you think that they will give me the 50 year medal without having bought their product?

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