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.

 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.

 

Share

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

 

Share

It’s not often that I get involved with my husband’s work. My husband is a funeral director and I have lost both of my parents. Empathizing with families who have lost loved ones, brings a familiar heaviness onto my heart–one that takes a long time to remove, and so I try not to become too involved in my husband’s work.

 

But when he has the honor to work with a family of a person who has donated the gift of life, as a two time organ recipient and member of a donor family myself, I can’t help but feel kinship. Whether or not I know anyone affected by the donated organs, I feel compelled to thank the family . . .  unofficially . . . on behalf of the lives that have been saved and enhanced . . .as a part of my unofficial transplant recipient family.

 

If you know anyone with an organ transplant, you notice a special glimmer in our eyes when we speak to one another.  We all have a special kinship. Not just those of us with kidney transplants, but livers, hearts, lungs, pancreases. We don’t discriminate among transplant recipients–even bone, blood, skin or tissue recipients are cousins of sorts.

 

As 2012 comes to a close, my husband received such an honor. I couldn’t help empathizing with the donor family and how courageous they were in giving the gift of life or carrying out the wishes of the donor to give the gift of life.  I also imagined the other story of the amazing gifts of life that were given to make 2013 a very special New Year.

 

Please share your gift of life story, whether as a donor family or organ or tissue recipient.

Share

When you decide not to listen to your doctor’s advice and eat whenever you want to or miss doses of critical medication, what’s the big deal? You’re only hurting yourself, right? Wrong! YOUR NONCOMPLIANCE AFFECTS EVERYONE AROUND YOU!

 

A woman living in the sandwich generation (sandwiched by needing to take care of college students and aging parents) was perplexed because her mother complained that she never visited her father. The woman’s parents were both in their eighties and somehow Stephanie found it difficult between work and immediate family commitments to visit her parents.

 

Stephanie’s father suffered from insulin-dependent Type 2 diabetes and found it difficult to walk and to see due to the onset of neuropathy and retinopathy, complications of uncontrolled diabetes. He especially felt bad when Stephanie would abruptly end a phone call needing to return to work, and forgetting to return the call.

 

One day after receiving a tongue lashing from her mother about not visiting them and her father in particular, Stephanie decided to confide in a close friend about the situation. Stephanie’s friend listened intently and explained,

 

“Stephanie, I know you well and I know how much you love your parents. I also know that you find conflict challenging. Diabetes, left uncontrolled can lead to very debilitating illnesses. I believe that the reason that you haven’t made time for your father is because you have watched him ignore advice from his doctor, refuse to monitor his glucose and eat regularly. As a result, he walks with a cane and is losing his sight. He has passed out requiring EMS to treat ailments that wouldn’t occur if he better managed his diabetes.

 

What happens when people see an accident about to happen? When two trains are barreling down the track toward one another? They look away don’t they? No one wants to watch something bad happen. And so I think you subconsciously don’t visit your parents to avoid seeing the train wreck about to happen–what will likely happen to your father if he doesn’t get serious about controlling his diabetes.”

 

This holiday season, if you don’t take care of yourself for you, do it for someone who loves you.

Share
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.

Share

Diabetes and Christmas

No comments

Try these tips for festive gatherings this holiday season, brought to you from across the pond.

 Christmas brings seasonal joy and the comfort of the family. With a wealth of food available though, it can also be a trying time.

 

Keeping discipline to control sugar levels and portions can be particularly difficult.

 So for those of us for who willpower doesn’t come too easily, here are our tips for enjoying sensible eating at Christmas.

Commit yourself to a food plan

It’s very easy to get carried away by what’s on the table. To reduce the chance of this happening plan how much you intend to eat and make a point of sticking to it. If you’re not cooking, find out what will be served in advance.

 For sensible drinking see Diabetes and alcohol

 It’s best to make this plan at a time when you’re not hungry as hunger can distort your judgement. Don’t forget to factor in that alcohol contains high calorie content and also causes sugar levels to fluctuate.

Plan how much or whether you will drink and stick to this too.

 

It’s a good idea to let you your family know in advance of the Christmas meal too so they won’t offer you anything you’ve planned not to have.

Avoid feeling hungry for too long

It’s a well drilled family that gets the Christmas meal to the table on time. If the meal is taking longer to prepare, it can lead to an unusually long period of hunger and anticipation. 

Say you actually wanted to overeat, the best way would be to make yourself very hungry before eating.

One way to avoid being so ravenous is to break the delay.

 Protein and/or non-starchy vegetable based pre-meal snacks are a good choice as they are filling and slowly broken down.

Have a glass of water before eating

Having a glass of water before you start your meal is an easy and effective way of reducing your food intake; it makes you feel full earlier on, thus reducing your appetite.

Base your meal on non-starchy vegetables

Vegetables are the staple of sensible eating. Make sure that vegetables account for a good percentage of your plate.

Eat gradually

Eating with the family is a nice occasion but if you’re a fast eater, it can make things more difficult. If others are still eating, you may be tempted to have another helping. 

Eating slowly will help with this and will also allow you to savor and better enjoy the food you’re eating.

Don’t feel guilty about turning offers down

Any food you eat is going to end up in your blood stream and on your body so don’t feel shy about turning food down

Feeling stuffed can be quite unpleasant by itself and it’s also worth bearing in mind that the body’s natural reaction to having to digest a particularly large meal is to release extra sugar into the bloodstream.

Go easy on the puddings

One can be forgiven for indulging every once in a while. If you’re a pudding person Christmas can be something of a trial of restraint though. If you cannot resist pudding make sure you stick to at most one and keep the serving sensible, remembering that sweet dishes are very fast absorbed. Once again apply the rule about eating gradually.

After and between meals put foods away or under cover

Remember the classic Christmas cracker joke about a ‘sea food’ diet – “I see food and I eat it”? Food left out and exposed grabs the eye, therefore grabbing the attention of the mind and this can all too easily lead to ‘small’ indulgences. 

A couple of mince pies will typically have over 500 calories, a quarter of a woman’s daily energy, and a fifth of a man’s; not forgetting the 70 plus grams of fast acting carbohydrates. Apply the rule ‘out of sight, out of mind’ and this can help to avoid between meal snacking.

Walk away from the craving

If temptation is proving a taxing task and hard to avoid, it can help to literally walk away from the craving. A 20 minute walk in the crisp air should be enough to increase endorphins and serotonin which can help to overcome cravings.

Test your blood where possible

If you self test, commit yourself to testing your blood sugar more regularly, over the Christmas period, to catch those blood sugar fluctuations early.

 

Reprinted from http://www.diabetes.co.uk/food/diabetes-and-christmas.html

Share

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.

Share

When first diagnosed with diabetes it is likely that you have to develop a new routine and change some bad habits. While many young people with Type 1 diabetes haven’t established a routine and so the prescribed routine from their doctor easily becomes their routine, often people newly diagnosed with Type 2, Gestational or Pre diabetes have a more difficult time making change to their established routines and habits.

Much like fad dieting, biting the bullet and deciding to try to eat the right food and  test like a robot three times a day, doesn’t create a routine and you are likely to slip back into old habits. On the other hand, understanding the reasons for eating certain foods and testing glucose levels with a purpose in mind will bring about permanent change.

According to author of Changing for Good, James Prochaska, PhD, there are six stages of change that a person has to go through in order to make permanent change and they are

  1. PRE CONTEMPLATION- recognizing that a change or routine is necessary.

  2. CONTEMPLATION – thinking about what that new routine might look like.

  3. PREPARATION – organizing thoughts and supplies necessary to begin the new routine.

  4. ACTION – Beginning to eat, test and exercise according to the new routine.

  5. MAINTENANCE – the action steps are now a daily routine with seamless modifications for schedule changes,

  6. TERMINATION – for some types of change like smoking cessation, the maintenance phase may no longer be necessary, however for Diabetes Control, the maintenance routine never ends and provides a very healthy lifestyle whether a person has diabetes or not.

Share

I’m thankful for being able to celebrate this Thanksgiving with my 92-year old grandmother. A few weeks ago, her house caught fire while she was getting ready for bed. When she first smelled smoke, she checked her kitchen to make sure there was nothing burning on the stove. Satisfied that there wasn’t, she returned to bed.

She woke up again smelling smoke and when she entered her dinning room, it was full of smoke. She managed to escape out of her back door where she flagged down a car passing her house. The Good Samaritan helped her into his car, called 911 and my cousin to come to get her. The fire was an electrical fire that demolished the basement and smoke damaged the remaining items in her house.

While this fire damaged lots of wonderful memories of Thanksgivings past around Granny’s dining room table, the bottom line is that God spared her life, our cherished memories are not “things” in that house, but experiences burned onto our consciousness.

As you can imagine, at 92 my grandmother has attended lots of loved one’s funerals. As I look at the calendar, I realize that November 20, 2012 marks the 29th anniversary of her husband’s (my grandfather’s) death. I remember having a very somber Thanksgiving in 1983 anticipating his funeral the day after. So losing her house, the home she vowed never to leave despite its size because it was the home that Granddaddy provided, is particularly devastating as I know she is mindful of the anniversary of his death. We will wrap our arms around her and take a new step much like the one she took in 1983.

Granny and I share that this fire proves that even at the ripe age of 92, God still has something that he needs for her to do here on earth.    

 

Share

Share