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 tagged chronic illness

Actor Anthony Anderson, Spokesperson for the Eli Lilly’s F.A.C.E. program.

African Americans are diagnosed with diabetes more than 2.5 times the rate of whites. I had the opportunity to interview Anthony Anderson about his ambassador role as national spokesperson for Eli Lilly’s F.A.C.E. program. The Fearless African Americans Connected and Empowered (F.A.C.E.) program is designed specifically to reach African Americans and inform us about how to prevent or manage the epidemic diabetes diagnoses in our community.
Listen to our hilarious interview:

This is part one, stay tuned for part 2.

Share

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

 

Share

Share

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.

Share

 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.

Share

It amazes me to listen to people argue that the Affordable Health Care act should be repealed and that they believed it was unconstitutional.  I don’t understand how people don’t get that in order to ensure life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, in today’s terms, that means we must have affordable health care.

I get that in order to pay for a comprehensive health care plan, we (America) have got to be able to afford to do it. Again, while I get, providing for the common defense, I don’t get becoming the world’s police. Without being a member of the Congressional Budget Office, I intuitively believe that we can afford a comprehensive health plan if we back up on policing the world and better focus our efforts on domestic issues.

I think it is a good idea to make available a pool of money by requiring people to carry health insurance instead of them being treated for common or chronic illnesses in the emergency room. Insurance can then be affordable and more effective if the costs are lower because of the relative costs of doctor’s offices versus emergency rooms.  Many of the people who continue to oppose this matter, don’t have chronic illness and believe that they will end up having to pay for insurance and will never use it.  But like any insurance (homeowners, car, possibly even life), we find value in paying for “just in case”. Why wouldn’t we want to pay for “just in case there is an accident or illness”?  For those who find requiring Americans to carry health insurance an infringement on their freedom, perhaps we should go ahead, let them opt out. However make the penalty of opting out, an ability for emergency rooms and other medical professionals to “opt out” by refusing care–excuse physicians of their Hippocratic Oath, for this circumstance only.

These arguments against the Affordable Health Care Act are ones typically held by people with health insurance and who are healthy. I consider myself in that category—with health insurance and reasonably healthy. And although I am able to afford health insurance in today’s market, I wouldn’t want to deny anyone who was unable to afford health insurance as if it were a luxury and not what should be a civil right. I am keenly aware of the type of intense medical care diabetes, kidney disease, asthma and heart disease require. Trying to manage these conditions without health insurance would even shorten, if not end immediately, the life of a financially wealthy person.

So why would people oppose something that will be good for all of us, including the “least of these”?

The first answer is an easy one—selfish ignorance. Selfish: “I’ve got it and you should find a way to get it”. And ignorant because they don’t understand how they really live (as my father used to say) with one foot on the ground and the other foot firmly planted on a banana peel. It doesn’t take much for today’s insurance caps to be met and the onus for payment for medical care to be placed on the patient. A serious illness or accident could bankrupt a person.

The second answer is a sad reality responsible for more than opposition to Affordable Health Care, and that is deep seeded generational racism. Affordable Health Care is a policy created, promoted and passed by a black President of the United States along with people who recognize their own vulnerability as it relates to health care, and also care for people less fortunate than them. Even though Affordable Health Care benefits us all and there are ways to make choices so that the policy doesn’t bankrupt the country as some would suggest, they still oppose not just the idea, but the President. Rather than support the President, they would allow their young adult children looking for their first job out of college to suffer a gap in health insurance. They would rather their loved ones with chronic illness be denied health care coverage, rather than admit that what this black president has lead our country to do, protects their life and liberty.

I don’t suspect that people who question the President’s birth certificate, his policies and his patriotism would call themselves racist. They wouldn’t call themselves racist because the people they call racist were their grandparents and parents. They openly disagreed with a black person because of the color of his skin. What is happening now, I liken to Pavlov’s Dogs. The Russian psychologist, Pavlov is responsible for the study of classical conditioning whereby a conditioned stimulus would elicit an unconditioned response. Pavlov was able to evoke salivation from dogs simply by ringing a bell, after conditioning them to expect food after hearing the bell ring.

People who oppose the Affordable Health Care Act react much like the dogs. Unlike generations before them, they have been conditioned and don’t even make the connection that the reason they oppose the act is because the President is black, but instead give an unconditioned response (like the dogs) and oppose the policies because they have been conditioned that if the policy was lead by a black man, it cannot be right.

It appears that sounder minds have prevailed thus far, however I would encourage anyone who opposes affordable health care insurance for most (not even all) Americans, would search their souls and find that this argument is not “Zero Sum”. In other words, giving someone else a benefit does not take from your pot of benefits.

 

 

 

Share

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.

Share

Unexpected Blessings

In my chapter of Victorious Living for Women, I talk about how we can never predict exactly where our blessings will come from. In fact I detail how my difficult period of kidney failure and dialysis was, at that time, the worst thing that had ever happened to me. My kidney transplant after seven months of dialysis then became the reason I was eligible for a pancreas transplant. And what a pancreas transplant meant was that I no longer had to follow a diabetes regimen.

As I reflected back to the time of my diabetes diagnosis at the age of seven, I recall that my grandfather and pastor told me that we would just pray that [diabetes] away.  You can imagine how my parents felt about my grandfather instilling hope into their daughter that they were talking to physicians about how to prepare me for a lifetime of diabetes management. While both my parents were Christian, they didn’t want me to be confused and spend my life waiting for a miraculous cure one day.

I didn’t spend my life waiting for that cure, and instead pushed forward to live a normal life. It wasn’t until after my pancreas transplant that I reminded my grandmother of my grandfather [now deceased]’s prayer. Could it be that he did pray it away? Why do we think that when we pray, God is somehow on the clock? That He has a timeframe in which to answer our prayer. Not only does he have a timeframe, but a manner in which He should do it. “To pray my diabetes away”, somehow seemed to me and my parents for God to perform some miracle and I would somehow be cured. A simple prong on the head and diabetes would be gone!

Who would imagine that He would use physicians and technology and achieve essentially a cure?

It is with that realization that I am careful not to predict and plan where my acts of kindness go, because I never know where my blessings will come from. In other words, I don’t decide to do nice things for people that I expect a return of good fortune. The idea of paying it forward is not finding a trading partner or deciding who is worthy to receive your gift. It is passing on a gift to someone in need or deserving, without expecting anything in return.

I recently had such an opportunity. At a Writer’s Expo, a young woman, before performing a song told the story of her intent to relocate to Georgia in order to donate a kidney to a long time friend of hers. What’s the chance that I was in that room of authors–both fiction and nonfiction–to hear this story. I was in a place to tell my story and experiences of being a two-time organ transplant recipient to someone who really needed to understand the process. I was stunned, even paralyzed to listen to her. I knew immediately that God had placed me in that place to hear her story and provide information and guidance for this transplant procedure. I wasn’t even sure why I attended this Expo; it wasn’t necessarily an event that I thought I would sell many books. But I received a blessing beyond what selling several books could provide: The blessing of knowing that my story mattered.

Share

Soul Food has been the blame for Type 2 diabetes and uncontrolled Type 1 diabetes for years.  One of the reasons that it has not been quickly eliminated from the diet of African Americans is because of the social role these foods have played throughout history.  Much like the movie “Soul Food”, the Sunday Diner and family contribution to its preparation is what has historically kept families together.  Therefore for the sake of the African American family, we must find a way to uphold this ritual and at the same time reverse the effects it has on diabetes and heart disease.

Many of the foods are in fact healthy and nutrient filled at the start.  It is often the preparation styles that rid the foods of their cancer fighting and sometimes blood pressure lowering nutrients.  Adding excess salt and fat also cause some dishes to be unhealthy. With a few slight changes, soul food can become not just good to you, but good for you.

Low-Sodium Selections

Traditional soul food is high in sodium or salt. Replace
table salt with sea salt. This type of salt has a strong flavor, and you won’t
need to use too much of it to get the flavor you desire. Select foods that say
“reduced” or “low-sodium” on the labels. Include dried or fresh herbs and spices
in your favorite soul food recipes to add flavor without adding
salt.

 

Low-Fat Diet Options

Traditional soul foods can be high in unhealthy fat,
such as saturated and trans fat. Soulfoodandsoutherncooking.com suggests
replacing traditional soul food ham hock with smoked turkey and using turkey
bacon instead of pork bacon. Breading and frying meat and poultry are typical
soul food preparations. Select a lean cut of beef or skinless chicken breast,
which are low in saturated fat. Coat the protein with flour, egg wash and
crushed-up corn-flake cereal. You can add your favorite seasonings such as sea
salt or dried herbs. Spray a cookie sheet with a nonstick spray and bake the
meat until done. This cooking method cuts out the fat from battering and
frying.

Balanced Carbohydrate and Veggie Options

Soul foods include starchy vegetables such as corn,
potatoes and peas. You can still enjoy these foods while having diabetes, but
you need to balance them with some nonstarchy vegetables. Enjoy steamed green
leafy vegetables alongside your starchy veggies. Prepare collard greens, spinach
or kale in a hot saute pan with a splash of red wine vinegar. Drizzle the cooked
greens with heart-healthy olive oil, and sprinkle with sea salt to finish.
Black-eyed peas are a staple of soul food. Pair these simple carbohydrates with
complex carbohydrates such as brown or wild rice. Simple carbs break down
quickly and may cause a spike in your blood sugar. Pairing them with complex
carbs may help to stabilize your blood sugar since foods with complex carbs take
longer to break down.

Replacements in Baked Goods

When baking biscuits or cornbread, replace fatty
buttermilk with a reduced-fat milk. Whipped cream is a delicious addition to
homemade apple pie. Replace half the heavy whipping cream with reduced-fat milk
to shave some fat. Use 1 percent or skim milk in recipes that traditionally call
for whole milk.

Different Fats and Oils

Fill your diet with heart-healthy fats, such as
monounsaturated, polyunsaturated and omega fatty acids. Use healthy oils such as
olive, vegetable and corn oil in your cooking. Replace butter with margarine.
Include some nuts that are high in monounsaturated fats, such as almonds,
cashews and walnuts.

Read more: http://www.livestrong.com/article/328360-soul-food-diet-for-diabetics/#ixzz1lf3mTmIx

 

Share

I didn’t expect it–the smell. The extreme smell of disinfectant and bleach, the quiet coming and going of staff and patients. The dialysis center. I hadn’t been inside a dialysis center for nearly 11 years, when I was on peritoneal dialysis or PD as those of us in the “Kidney World” call it.  I agreed to participate in a study for the National Kidney Foundation as a peer mentor talking with dialysis patients.  I am a certified peer mentor, however this study required additional training and all through the training I was excited to participate.  The study’s hypothesis is something I believe in and feel strongly will be successful. Even though I am a peer mentor, much of my work promoting organ donation has been at speaking engagements, church functions and during book signings.  So I really hadn’t been back to a dialysis center until today.

I was glad that the social worker and National Kidney Foundation representative met with me in the conference room first. I needed a minute to collect myself. It is not that I was afraid or changed my mind about volunteering; I just didn’t anticipate the reaction of a negative déjà vu.

After our discussion about how the day would go, I gowned up to meet my patients.  I remember that when I was on dialysis, I was afraid of what would happen next . . . after dialysis.  And if I didn’t do anything today, I wanted the people that I met to know that there can be a successful life after dialysis. With that mantra, my nervousness about the bleach that I smelled turned into eagerness to meet new friends.

My afternoon was spent meeting very interesting people. Sometimes when we get caught up with disease, illness and chronic conditions, we forget about the interesting and complex lives that we live. I shared and they shared. I think we had a good day. I’ll be back in a couple weeks and look forward to building the relationships I created today. Although I’m the mentor presumably offering information and ways to make it successfully through dialysis, I feel like I’m the one who benefited from today’s activities.

Share