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.

Listen to my interview with Divabetic Blog Talk Radio host Max “Mr. Divabetic” Svadec.

Max Szadec, former Assistant to Luther Vandross

Divabetic® was inspired by the late R & B legend, Luther Vandross, and created and founded by his long-time assistant, Max Szadek. ‘Divabetic’, a combination of the word ‘diabetic’ and the letter ‘V’ for Vandross, evokes feelings of power and positive attitude associated with the great DIVAS Luther loved like Ms. Patti LaBelle. Divabetic® encourages every woman affected by diabetes to take on a diva’s bold sassy personae and posture to help improve the quality of her life. We believe, if we empower the DIVA within you to manage your diabetes properly, you will strive to live life at your best. You may even feel glamorous!

Listen to my interview with Divabetic Blog Talk Radio host Max “Mr. Divabetic” Svadec.

Listen to internet radio with DivaTalkRadio on Blog Talk Radio
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Both transplant anti rejection drugs Prednisone and Tacromulis have a long term effect of raising cholesterol levels.  Because we need both drugs to preserve our life saving organ transplants, we must find other ways to reduce cholesterol.  Here are a few suggestions:

1. Eat a heart-healthy diet with plenty of fiber-rich fruits and vegetables. Avoid saturated fats (found mostly in animal products) and trans-fatty acids (found in fast foods and commercially baked products). Instead, choose unsaturated fats (particularly omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oils and canola).

2. People with an active lifestyle have a 45% lower risk of developing heart disease than sedentary eople. Physically active people tend to have higher HDL (good cholesterol) levels. Research suggests that regular aerobic exercise can help increase HDL levels. Even moderate exercise reduces the risk of heart attack and stroke. Resistance (weight) training offers a complementary benefit to aerobics.

3. Quit Smoking

(Sources: Encyclopedia.com, Medscape Today, WebMD, Net Doctor.)

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Mycophenalate

Some medications have side effects and long term implications despite their immediate relief or prevention of more major illnesses.  Transplant immunosuppressant drugs, despite their protective measures for the organs, are particularly hard on the body.
When an organ, such as a liver, kidney, or a heart is transplanted from one person into another, the immune system of the recipient triggers the same response against the new organ it would have to any foreign material, setting off a chain of events that can damage the transplanted organ. This process is called rejection and it can occur rapidly (acute rejection), or over a long period of time (chronic rejection). Rejection can occur despite close matching of the donated organ and the transplant patient. Immunosuppressant drugs greatly decrease the risks of rejection, protecting the new organ and preserving its function. These drugs act by blocking the immune system so that it is less likely to react against the transplanted organ. A wide variety of drugs are available to achieve this aim but work in different ways to reduce the risk of rejection.
Some of the side effects include:

Transplant Drug

Side Effect

Mycophenalate

Anxiety; back pain; constipation; cough; diarrhea; dizziness; headache; loss of appetite; mild stomach pain; mild tiredness or weakness; nausea; tremor; trouble sleeping; upset stomach; vomiting.

Tacromulis

Infections, difficulty sleeping, shaking, usually of the hands, headache, high blood pressure (hypertension), diarrhea, constipation, nausea, vomiting, skin reactions, sweating, hair loss, raised blood sugar level, raised cholesterol, changes in normal levels of levels of potassium, sodium, magnesium, # of blood cells, shortness of breath, appetite and weight changes, muscle or joint pain, anxiety, agitation, confusion, depression, dizziness numb sensations, seizures, heart problems, kidney problems, liver problems, ulceration or bleeding.

While Mycophenalate (CellCept) and Tacromulis (Prograph) can cause more immediate and temporary side effects that can be treated with changes in diet, activity or temporary relief medications, Prednisone has more significant long term effects.
Over the next three weeks we will take a look at the long term effects of Prednisone: Cataracts, Osteoporosis, and Cholesterol.
(Sources: Encyclopedia.com, Medscape Today, WebMD, Net Doctor.)
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My Sweet Life by Beverly Adler, PhD, CDE and friends

There’s a new book hot off the presses, “My Sweet Life: Successful Women with Diabetes.” Published by PESI HealthCare, “My Sweet Life” is available for pre-order now and will be widely available next month, diabetes month.

“My Sweet Life” brings together stories from more than 20 successful women who don’t live with diabetes, but thrive with diabetes. This book is inspirational for the newly diagnosed diabetic woman and for the seasoned diabetic woman needed new ideas and inspiration to continue striving toward her goals. My Sweet Life is also a perfect reference for the men who care about a woman with diabetes.

Finally, this book is perfect for medical professionals and diabetes educators to be able to share “actual” experience and data points about living with diabetes. I am honored to be joined by an illustrious group of women on this project, through the vision and expertise of Clinical Psychologist and Certified Diabetes Educator, Beverly Adler.

List of Contributors:
Brandy Barnes, MSW
Claire Blum, MS Ed, RN
Lorraine Brooks, MPH, CEAP
Sheri R. Colberg-Ochs, PhD
Carol Grafford, RD, CDE
Riva Greenberg
Connie Hanham-Cain, RN, CDE
Sally Joy
Zippora Karz
Kelli Kuehne
Kelly Kunik
Jacquie Lewis-Kemp
Joan McGinnis, RN, MSN, CDE
Jen Nash, DClinPsy,
Vanessa Nemeth, MS, MA
Alexis Pollak,
Birgitta Rice, MS, RPh, CHES
Kyrra Richards
Lisa Ritchie
Mari Ruddy, MA
Cherise Shockley
Kerri Morrone Sparling
Amy Tenderich, MA

Heartha Whitlow


 

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I was able to speak with ‘Living Single’ actress Kim Coles and others at the 2011 Fuller Woman Conference last month about the reducing the risk of diabetes among fuller women. Although the picture was blurry, I hope you can make out both Ms. Coles and the Blessed Assurance book cover.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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From the time I was a child, my brother and I always grew up with a dog. At one point, we had several dogs: one purchased and we took in several strays. And so, when you grow up with a dog as a part of your family, you tend to continue to have a dog as a part of your family.

Santa brought my son a Rottweiler / German Sheppard or Collie (or maybe both) mix rescue from the Humane Society for Christmas. I’ve always preferred rescues to pure bread dogs because they somehow seem to have that character of appreciation and unconditional love for sparing their lives.  So Lizzie is the dog my son has grown up with and she now is the center of attention since our son is away in college.

WhenLizzie began to shed this summer, I thought it odd, but was more concerned with all the hair on our carpet and getting it up than the reason why she was shedding. When she began to get slower and have some difficulty getting up, I thought it was joint or arthritis issues, even though she was only 8 years old (56 in dog years) . The herbal fix of glucosamine and chondroitin didn’t seem to work, so I took her to the vet. He gave her a trial sample of a prescription arthritis drug to see if she perked up. Indeed she seemed to perk up and so I bought the full prescription.

Then she began to have black tar-like looking stools, which indicated she was bleeding internally. The veterinarian said that it was likely the arthritis medicine causing an ulcer and that I should discontinue it. I did of course, and her weakness worsened. Not only that but she really became lethargic and didn’t have much energy at all.

Well, I can remember being anemic during kidney failure (because my kidneys were chewing up my red blood cells) and how tired I was. So I attributed her tiredness to being anemic.  But her symptoms continued to worsen and she stopped eating and shortly stopped drinking. The vet drew blood work and instructed me to get some water into her body by using a turkey baster to squeeze into her mouth, and he should have answers from the blood work in the morning.

When I called the vet, I couldn’t believe my ears–Lizzie is in kidney failure. Kidney failure? What? My first thought was, well, we’ll have to start dialysis until we can find a donor dog who is a tissue matches, right? Wrong said the vet, while there is a doggy dialysis machine at Michigan State, it is used for puppies who are poisened from drinking windshield washer solvent or something, or ate a bottle of Tylenol. They don’t make appointments for regular sessions.

Ok, so the possibilities came immediately to mind and not the probabilities. Even if she could have made appointments for dialysis, could I have really driven an hour each way and waited while she dialyzed? And the cost! I could have just heard my husband talking screaming about the $45 donation to the Humane
Society for the dog with the balloon payment in eight years.

The vet explained to me that the best starting treatment for dogs in kidney failure is hydration therapy. She would receive ongoing hydration packs regularly which has worked for some dogs for up to 2 years. So Lizzie spent two days in the hospital receiving IV fluids while I contemplated becoming a part time nurse to
my dog–my dog who has loved me unconditionally for eight years–I can do this.

When I called to check on her (it’s not a good idea to visit because they become confused why you came and didn’t take them home.) the vet said that each day brought a little more interest in food. When the vet rechecked her blood work, her BUN, potassium and sodium were within the normal canine range–her kidney function was restored!  Ecstatic with the news, I next asked, so what is wrong with her? What caused her kidneys to shut down? More extensive blood work diagnosed that Lizzie has Addison’s disease. As they say, hind sight is 20/20–the hair loss, the weight loss (10 lbs in a month), weakness and loss of appetite were classic symptoms.

Addison’s disease, a condition former president John F. Kennedy had, is controlled by Prednisone and a shot of Cortisol every 25 days. I can handle giving her a daily 5 mg pill of Prednisone hidden in a finger full of peanut butter. The near monthly shot costing about a hundred bucks a pop may turn into a shot from
one of my old insulin syringes–if I can purchase a vial of the cortisol.

After one shot of Cortisol and a little more than a week of Prednisone, I’m happy to report that Lizzie is better than new.

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By Linda Carroll
TODAY.com contributor
updated 9/29/2011 10:34:29 AM ET 2011-09-29T14:34:29

 

People try to slim down for a lot of reasons, but Kari Roberts may have one of the best — losing weight has given her a chance to save her brother’s life.

Her brother, Tony Bolda, needed a new kidney to survive. But Roberts was told she wouldn’t even be considered as a kidney donor because she weighed 320 pounds. And that made her a poor candidate for surgery of any kind, much less one that involved donating a kidney, as her extra weight was straining her kidneys already.

Roberts’s brother was the one who broke the news to her.

“I told him I wanted to be tested and he informed me that they wouldn’t even consider me until I lost some weight,” Roberts told TODAY’s Ann Curry.

That was three years and 135 pounds ago.

Read more and watch the interview at:

http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/44716368/ns/today-today_health/

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Listen as Anthony discusses the specific pitfalls

African Americans fall into and become victims of

diabetes.  He offers suggestions to move from apathy

to healthy and fight diabetes.

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It’s great – to be – a Michigan Wolverine! It’s great – to be – a Michigan Wolverine!

The historic night football game against Notre Dame drew 114, 803 of my best friends to this fabulous event.  Despite Michigan’s difficult first quarter of play and Notre Dame’s first score, the second quarter found Michigan making strides to stay in the game.

The Michigan Marching band’s halftime show featured dancers and flag bearers with black body stockings with blue neon lights—cool to watch, but even cooler when they got into formation with the band and created a target for military personnel to parachute from an airplane and land in the Big House. They plummeted to earth wearing cameras on their helmets and the view from high above the Big House was broadcast on the endzone Sony screens.

The fourth quarter of play was intense. In fact the last 1:23 was filled with lead changes, right up until the final: 02 seconds. Michigan pulled off the win 35-31.

My 114, 803 friends and I were so excited about the win that we couldn’t leave the stadium right away. In fact the crowd took over the cheers we wanted to sing and the band had to kind of follow and wait to start their post-game show.

Traffic was horrendous, particularly with the extra security enforcement, closed streets and available parking. With all the extra people, the bus lines were particularly long. There was a lady in line behind us looking for a mint or piece of candy. My husband whispered to me that she was having an insulin reaction.  New security regulations at the Big House now prohibit bringing in any bags including purses. So we women have to make critical decisions about what to stuff our pockets with. Will it be lipstick, keys, ID and cash? Or will it be glucose tablets, keys, ID and cash?

Fortunately as we asked around for something with sugar in it, we found a woman with chocolate covered nuts—not the first choice to cure an insulin reaction (because it is not simple sugar that can be broken down by the body easily), but sugar nonetheless.

Insulin reactions make you feel weak and as I placed my hand on her back to encourage her to get in front of us and perhaps ask people to let her cut the line so that she could sit down on the bus sooner and get back to her purse quicker, I realized that her blood sugar was likely much lower than a simple reaction. The night air was cool, yet her t-shirt was soaked and wet from perspiration. She refused to cut the line and insisted upon waiting for her turn.

Her decision to come unprepared to a game that was delayed with excitement was a dangerous game of Russian Roulette for her.

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Last Updated: 2011-08-18 10:25:03 -0400 (Reuters Health)
By Tan Ee Lyn

HONG KONG (Reuters) – Stem cell researchers in Hong Kong and the United States are trying to grow spare parts for the human heart that may be ready for tests on people within five years, they said on Thursday.

Scientists have already made basic heart muscle from stem cells, but the Hong Kong-led team wants to refine it so it can replace any part damaged in heart attacks, and to recreate the natural pacemaker, where the heartbeat originates.

“When you get a heart attack, there is a small time window for a cure when the damage is still small. You can cure with a patch, a small tissue, so you won’t progress to late stage heart failure,” said team leader Ronald Li, director of the University of Hong Kong’s Stem Cell & Regenerative Medicine Consortium.

“We have the muscle strip now, but we want it to mimic what we see in the native heart better, (and) that requires engineering,” Li told Reuters in an interview.

An organ or section of tissue grown from a person’s stem cells can, in general, be surgically implanted only in that same person because of immune-compatibility issues.

“There are many different types of heart cells. If cells that are responsible for electricity aren’t going right, you get arrhythmias or heart rhythm disturbances. There are heart muscle cells that do mechanical heart pumping that work all the time.”

The team will use human embryonic stem cell lines to build these human heart muscle strips in the laboratory, as well as the natural pacemaker tissue for people with arrhythmia, or irregular heartbeat.

They plan first to transplant these muscle strips and pacemakers into pigs, and, if successful, to move to human clinical trials, in which they will transplant parts of the heart that are grown using the patients’ own stem cells in about five years.

“The question is whether we can put it in the heart to integrate with the recipient organ. Even if it becomes integrated, will it last?” Li said.

He added that the team chose to use pigs because porcine hearts were anatomically and functionally more similar to human hearts.

“I am hoping that at the end of the five years, we will have a number of blueprints for designing different prototypes that can be tested,” he said.

So-called adult stem cells are the body’s source of all cells for the maintenance and repair of tissues. They can generate all the cell types of the organ from which they originate. Because of their ability to generate different types of cells, to multiply and extend their own lifespans, scientists hope to harness stem cells to treat a variety of diseases and disorders, including cancer, diabetes and injuries.

As well as the Hong Kong experts, the team will include scientists from the Harvard Stem Cell Institute, National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in the United States.

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