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 Uncategorized




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.


I will be hosting a health coaching demonstration targeted specifically for people with Chronic Kidney Disease (whether approaching kidney failuire, on dialysis, waiting for a kidney transplant or post transplant living) on Tuesday, November 6, 2012 at 3 pm,

I will also be hosting a virtual demonstration of health coaching for people with diabetes on Thursday, November 8, 2012 at 7pm.

Transplant Living Wheel

You can participate in an Introduction to Health Coaching on Friday, November 16, 2012 at 3pm by registering at


Does any one of these situations describe you?


I’ve been dieting for years and can’t seem to lose weight

I’m so tired of my doctor harping on my blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar.

I wish I could find a routine that allows me to manage my diabetes and live a normal, active life.


If so, you are probably one of millions who would benefit from having your own personal health coach to help you to design a lifestyle that helps you to reach yours and your doctor’s goals.

My health coaching practice, Take Control of Your Health is a custom program that is designed to your needs and specializes in Active Diabetes Lifestyles, Living with Chronic Kidney Disease and Transplant Living. Listen in to this free sample health coaching call to determine if the accountability of health coaching is for you. 


Email me at for the details of participating on the call.

Decide which type of coaching works best for you:

Individual Coaching

            LIVE, in person, phone or web based coaching

Group Coaching

            Live, conference call or virtual chat sessions


(Lewis-Kemp holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Michigan and is a health coach trained by Hilton Johnson Productions, Inc.  Learn more about Jacquie at and health coaching at



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.


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.


The final leg of our 3 Legged stool of glucose control is diet. Our diet or the food we consume is the source of the glucose our bodies use to fuel our cells. Therefore the more we focus on the ultimate purpose for the food we eat, the more efficiently our bodies can use the fuel and function best.

According to the National Institutes of Health, “It [The diabetic diet] should take into account your weight, medicines, lifestyle, and other health problems you have.

Healthy diabetic eating includes

  • Limiting foods that are high in sugar

  • Eating smaller portions, spread out over the day

  • Being careful about when and how many carbohydrates you eat

  • Eating a variety of whole-grain foods, fruits and vegetables every day

  • Eating less fat

  • Limiting your use of alcohol

  • Using less salt

With these parameters, The American Diabetes Association recommends a “meal plan” which it describes as “a guide that tells you how much and what kinds of food you can choose to eat at meals and snack times. A good meal plan should fit in with your schedule and eating habits. Some meal planning tools include the plate method, carb counting, and glycemic index. The right meal plan will help you improve your blood glucose, blood pressure, and cholesterol numbers and also help keep your weight on track. Whether you need to lose weight or stay where you are, your meal plan can help”.

The Exchange Method gives a detailed account of the food pyramid and how to incorporate each of the food groups into a daily meal plan. It also details the serving sizes in order to comply to the appropriate calorie limits prescribed by your doctor.

Carb Counting

TheJoslinDiabetesCentersuggests the following steps for Carbohydrate Counting.

1.     The first step in carb counting is to have a meal plan.  A meal plan is a guide that helps you figure out how much carb, protein and fat to eat at meals and snacks each day.  If you don’t have a meal plan, meet with a registered dietitian.

2.      Step two involves learning which foods contain carbohydrate. Most people know that starchy foods, such as bread, pasta and cereal contain carbs.  But other food   groups, such as fruit, milk and desserts and sweets, have carbs, too.
There are three main ways to learn about carbs in foods:

o       Ask for a food choice list from your dietitian.

o       Learn how to read the Nutrition Facts Label

o       Purchase a food counts book that provides the number of grams of carb in various foods.

3.      Measuring tools.  In order to accurately count carbs, you’ll need to be accurate with the portion sizes of foods that you eat.  Invest in a food scale to weigh foods such as fruit and bread.  Use measuring cups to measure cereal, pasta and rice, and use liquid measuring cups for carb-containing beverages such as milk, juice and energy drinks.

The Glycemic Index

Web MD defines,  “The glycemic index is a ranking that attempts to measure the influence that each particular food has on blood sugar levels. It takes into account the type of carbohydrates in a meal and its effect on blood sugar.

Foods that are low on the glycemic index appear to have less of an impact on blood sugar levels after meals. People who eat a lot of low glycemic index foods tend to have lower total body fat levels. High glycemic index foods generally make blood sugar levels higher. People who eat a lot of high glycemic index foods often have higher levels of body fat, as measured by the body mass index (BMI).

Talk to your doctor, a registered dietitian, or a diabetes educator and ask if the glycemic index might work to help gain better control of your blood sugar levels”.

The Plating Method

Here’s a quick video from the American Diabetes Association on how the Plating Method works.

Ask your doctor to prescribe or refer you to a dietician to prescribe a meal plan or daily calorie count, and also ask which diet method is best for you.


Before we move on to the third leg of glucose balance, I want to address product and dietary claims to “reverse diabetes”. Whenever I see a product or diet claiming to “reverse diabetes”, it makes me cringe. Don’t get me wrong, I find benefits in many vitamin supplements and raw food practices. However the human body is a very complicated and efficient system of systems. And when something interrupts one of the subsystems significantly, like diabetes, rarely can a product or dietary change alone cure the condition.

When claims that diabetes is caused by obesity and not Type 2  diabetes can be caused by obesity, it saddens me that young children with Type 1 diabetes could listen to these claims and believe that they somehow caused their diabetes by eating the wrong foods. Or they live each day expecting that a quick fix will make it ok for them to not control their chronic conditions. Perhaps some education can help.

There are 4 general types of diabetes: Type 1, Type 2, Gestational Diabetes, and Pre Diabetes.

Pre Diabetes is when the doctor warns that your blood sugar is a little elevated and if you are not careful, it could turn to a condition that we need to treat–diabetes. The only kind of diabetes it could turn to is Type 2.  In this case losing weight if necessary and nutritional balance is important. I say “balance” because it is the balance of eating and exercise along with protein, carbohydrate and fat balance that are necessary. The raw diet tends to be high in carbohydrate content and the diabetic diet is lower in carbohydrate–powders and supplements don’t do the job as efficiently as food proteins.

Gestational Diabetes is when a pregnant woman has elevated blood sugar. Usually when she delivers, her blood sugar normalizes. However what that is indicative of is that when her body is under stress (pregnancy) she has diabetic tendencies and again care like that of pre diabetes should be taken.

Type 2 Diabetes used to be called adult onset diabetes because it typically happened later in life. Now scientists understand that it occurs either when the body isn’t producing enough insulin to balance the amounts of food eaten, or the imbalance caused by a seminary lifestyle, and these causes are usually from obesity or lifestyle. However there are some Type 2 diabetics who have elevated blood sugars because they cannot use their insulin efficiently or they suffer from what is called insulin resistance. The difficulty in treating this condition is that without a doctor’s diagnosis of the likely cause of diabetes a nutritional change may not be sufficient. Also even if it is caused by obesity or a sedentary lifestyle, medication may be necessary to move from one state to the other.

Finally there is Type 1 Diabetes and that is what I have. Type 1 diabetes is simply a condition where the pancreas’ islets of Langerhan do not produce the enzyme insulin. Insulin is necessary to move the foodstuffs (glucose) to our body’s cells in order to live. NOTHING SHORT OF INJECTING INSULIN WILL TREAT THIS CONDITION. AT THIS STAGE OF RESEARCH, NOTHING SHORT OF A PANCREAS OR ISLET CELL TRANSPLANT WILL CORRECT THIS CONDITION.

So to say “reverse diabetes” is not really accurate and only plausible in a few situations: pre diabetes and T2s with obesity causes. Nutrition alone cannot treat the other forms of diabetes.

The self motivation that it takes for a young person to time and balance medication, insulin and nutrition is difficult enough to muster up. But when alternative medicine sources bombard them with inaccurate claims that ‘diabetes’ can be reversed. Even if they know better, their friends somehow think that their friend’s diabetes is caused from eating the wrong foods or being fat.

I’m blessed to have had parents who very carefully protected my psyche and encouraged me to do whatever I wanted to while understanding that it would take a little extra work to get it done. And so I am always conscious of the mind sets of young type 1 diabetics.


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.



 Am traveling with my son and husband. We are in Las Vegas for the National FuneralDirectors & Morticians Association convention. I am fortunate selling books at the Bass-Mollett Publishing booth as another reason to visit the booth.

I am reminded about some traveling tips for people with chronic illness:

1. Carefully pack all medication and necessary supplies in your carry on bag. If bags are lost, you want to make sure your medication is with you.

2. Pack extra medication in case you are delayed returning from your trip.

3. Don’t forget supplements and other medications to treat medication side effects.

As with anything we do, it is done as well as people without chronic illness as long as we do  a little extra planning and preparation.