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

 

THE GOOD NEWS

Jill Scott recently opened up about her weight-loss secrets saying her diverse exercise  routine, which includes boxing and biking has made the journey worthwhile. “We  have fun!” she told Us Weekly referring to her workouts with her trainer.

Keeping things fun has helped Jill shed the weight –and keep it off — for two years now. She says that taking charge of her health became a priority  when she became a mom. “There’s a world of discovery in [my  son’s] eyes, and I want to be around to enjoy it!” GO GIRL!

Jill Scott has Type 2 diabetes and shows off her curves and new found energy in this video, “So In Love With You” with Anthony Hamilton.

 

 

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“Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane.” Martin Luther King Jr. in a speech to the Medical Committee for Human Rights, 1966

Today we observe the birthday of slain Civil Rights champion the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. It is natural that many measure the impact of what Dr. King brought to citizens of the United States and the world by comparing conditions during the Civil Rights movement with conditions today.

I think many will agree that landmark legislation like the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 were stellar outcomes from the movement focusing America on equal treatment and mandating that certain unalienable rights be protected–not just for some, but for everyone.

However when we take a look at what Dr. King had to say about healthcare in the 1960s and compare our country’s statistics today, some fifty years later, have we improved? Are those unalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness protected?

Al Sharpton said “It’s an atrocity that in a country as powerful as the United States, people are falling ill, losing their homes and going bankrupt all because of a corrupt system that only benefits insurance conglomerates and those in their pockets. Why is it that the U.S. life expectancy today still lags behind 30 other nations? Why does a hard-working factory worker in the Midwest have to choose which finger to amputate because he could not control his diabetes in time? Why does a teenager in California have to die because her insurance company gave her the run around when she was seeking treatment for her aggressive cancer? And why are so many forced to travel to Mexico, Canada and England to get cheaper medicine and better treatment for their ailments?”

The 2010 Report on Healthcare Disparities reports four themes from that emphasize the need to accelerate progress if the nation is to achieve higher quality and more equitable health care in the near future.

  1. 1. Health care quality and access are suboptimal, especially for minority and low-income groups.
  2. 2. Quality is improving; access and disparities are not improving.
  3. 3. Urgent attention is warranted to ensure improvements in quality and progress on reducing disparities with respect to certain services, geographic areas, and populations, including:

  • o Cancer screening and management of diabetes.
  • o States in the central part of the country.
  • o Residents of inner-city and rural areas.
  • o Disparities in preventive services and access to care.

Progress is uneven with respect to eight national priority areas:

  • o Two are improving in quality: (1) Palliative and End-of-Life Care and (2) Patient and Family Engagement.
  • o Three are lagging: (3) Population Health, (4) Safety, and (5) Access.
  • o Three require more data to assess: (6) Care Coordination, (7) Overuse, and (8) Health System Infrastructure.
  • o All eight priority areas showed disparities related to race, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status.

Disparities in quality of care are common:

  • o Blacks and American Indians and Alaska Natives received worse care than Whites for about 40% of core measures.
  • o Asians received worse care than Whites for about 20% of core measures.
  • o Hispanics received worse care than non-Hispanic Whites for about 60% of core measures.
  • o Poor people received worse care than high-income people for about 80% of core measures.

This is a bleak report of circumstances and can be overwhelming unless we begin to peel these issues back one layer at a time and begin to make progress so that in the next fifty years we are not in this same position as a country.

The way I see the major causes of the healthcare disparities, they can be described as 1) Genetic causes or predisposition to illnesses, 2) Environmental causes of disease, 3) Education to prevent or maintain illness, and 4) Access to good healthcare. My ideas to close these disparities include the following:

Genetic causes or predisposition to certain illnesses

Closing the gap on genetic predisposition to certain illnesses is something that research scientists will have to explore and not something that we can change other to be informed about healthy practices and possible prevention. What will be paramount to obtaining the proper research of these diseases is to train scientists, researchers and policy officials with an inherent desire to repair these inequities. An example of a disease with genetic predisposition is African Americans and Sickle Cell Anemia.

Environmental causes of disease

Environmental causes of disease include many cases of Type 2 Diabetes and complications of diabetes, certain types of heart disease and hypertension. Let’s deal with this section in two major categories: diabetes and heart disease.

Type 2 diabetes, unlike Type 1, is usually caused by a significant gain in weight such that the body cannot produce enough insulin or what is called insulin resistance, whereby the insulin cannot be used efficiently by the body. If the causes of this type of diabetes are not diagnosed and treated in short order, it is likely that the patient will need to supplement or provide insulin to the body via insulin injections. Likewise, if the patient is able to lose weight and eat properly, in many cases the diabetes condition can be reversed.

In this case, the environment (with a lack of diabetes education, jobs/income to choose healthy foods, and access to healthcare), works to the detriment of ethnic minorities (because of the disparity in unemployment rate) and particularly the poor.

Heart disease and hypertension are other diseases that exist in large part because of poor food choices, a lack of exercise and education as well as conditions that often go untreated. Stress is another factor that worsens this disease and can exists under conditions of deciding whether to purchase medication or food; strained family relationships or stressful work environments.

It would seem that if our healthcare system spent more dollars on education and prevention, perhaps it would need fewer dollars to treat illness and disease. No one wants to develop diabetes or heart disease. And so it follows that if people knew how they could prevent certain diseases or manage them if they have already developed them, they would begin to transform their environment to include a healthy regimen. This is at least worth a study, in my opinion.

Education and Access to Quality Healthcare

Education in terms of providing understanding of the causes and treatments of the diseases found disproportionately in poor and minority communities is something that should be given increased budgetary consideration at health insurance companies and federal and state governments. It is my belief that if people are given understanding about the diseases that occur disproportionately in their community, they will do what is conceivably possible to avoid them. If they are able to avoid the diseases, and it is verified through access to physicians who verify this, then the dollars spent up front on education and prevention replace and reduce the dollars spent on treating diseases.

For example, if a person diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes is able to control her glucose in large part because she lost weight through a better diet and exercise routine of walking her dog, think of all the money saved (by the insurance company, governments, and the individual) from not treating Diabetic Ketoacidosis, or Neuropathy or Kidney Disease? Think of all the tax dollar revenue governments could collect through her income tax because she was able to continue working.

Not only does education and prevention help reduce healthcare disparities, but it makes good fiscal sense.

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On our parents' balcony before Jacquie's wedding

I can hardly believe that it has been 11 years.  Eleven years since my little brother donated his left kidney to me so that I might live.  In eleven years you would think that I would be pretty used to saying that, but it still brings the same tears to my eyes just writing it.

You know Jeff has never known a big sister without diabetes–taking a shot is what she did everyday, a couple times a day.  But slowing down because of illness is not what he was used to either and I think that is why he stepped up to become the big brother (despite our ages) and save my life.

I had lunch with my husband, mother and brother Jeff to tell them that the doctor recommended that I begin dialysis.  Because I was running my dad’s business at the time, Jeff asked, “What will you do?” I told him I wasn’t sure, perhaps I’d have to find a job.  Jeff piped up with a proclamation that no one expected nor could we proove would be possible.  Jeff said that he would give me a kidney.

We knew that we were the same blood type, but tissue type is another hurdle.  Nevertheless, my hero, my little brother was willing to undergo serious, complicated surgery to save his sister’s life.  And his wife supported his decision.

While all this is serious stuff–we had a ball making light of the process.   From doctors testing us to qualify us for transplant “from the rooter to the tooter”, to Jeff’s journey in the hospital from his room across the hall, to my room with foly catheter in tow and having to remind the newbie nurse that neither he nor the lead in the catheter were as long as the distance between them, so she should slow down.

I will forever be grateful to my little brother.

God bless and keep you Jeff. Much love,

Jac

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The final risk in our three part series on the long term use of prednisone, is that of Osteoporosis. Tips to reduce that risk include:

Eat and drink milk, yogurt, sardines, orange juice, green leafy vegetables, calcium with Vitamin D supplements, soy products, salmon, nuts & seeds, reduce salt, sunshine (best source of vitamin D).

To get the most out of your bone-boosting diet, you’ll want to do regular weight-bearing exercise. This includes any activity that uses the weight of your body or outside weights to stress the bones and muscles. The result is that your body lays down more bone material, and your bones become denser. Brisk walking, dancing, tennis, and yoga have all been shown to benefit your bones.

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

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Brandie Ivy lived on dialysis and has been listed for a kidney transplant for more than 9 years.  During that time she she attended college and married the love of her life. 

This young marriage has always had to consider the constraints of dialysis–hours of time each day, devoted simply to dialysis, nephrology dietary restrictrictions,  constant testing, fluid restrictions, registering with  doctors and a transplant center in the area they planned to travel to that she would be in the area, packing dialysis supplies, . . . and the list continued. 

 

 

On August 12, 2011 all of

that changed!!!!!!!!!!

 

Brandy received her long awaited kidney transplant! Now she and her (not so new, but I bet the relationship will feel new) husband will live a life that they only dreamed of!

The blessing and miracle of organ transplant is not just a medical one. In fact it is a very complicated medical miracle and spiritual experience.  Think about it, the organ that once grew in someone else’s body is surgically implanted and now functions in another person’s body. It is a medical miracle that only Christ can guide.

As you can imagine, transplant is a very expensive procedure, there are the costs associated with procuring the organ, preparing the organ for transplant, administration of the transplant process, the actual transplant procedure and post operative care which continues for life.

Insurance pays for most of the expenses, however there is a significant portion left unpaid that the transplant recipient has to bare, including an anti rejection drug regimen or the rest of this young woman’s life.

That is why on Saturday, September 24, 2011 at Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church there will be a fundraiser and I will be the keynote speaker.  Brandy asks that I bring a message that teaches the importance of organ donation, particularly in the African American community.  We will use our examples of life restored through organ transplantation to encourage others to become organ donors.

Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church is located at  2080 W. Grand Blvd. Detroit, MI 48210.  Tickets for this event are $30 and can be purchased by calling 313 598 2537 and the tickets will be delivered. Checks can be made payable to Brandie Ivy. You may also purchase tickets  through paypal.com by using the email address brandieivy@gmail.com.

I hope you will come out and support

this courageous young woman.

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Hurricanes Irene and Katrina, terrorist attacks like 911, earthquakes and other disasters have us contemplating emergency preparedness.  What items would you pack up to move out of harm’s way? In the case of a sudden emergency, what items would you grab? Even if there is a fire in your home and you have a quick moment to grab one thing, what would it be?

If you wait to answer these questions when you need to, chances are you won’t grab the right things and you will regret that you didn’t think through these  uestions pre-need and not at-need.  For people with diabetes, organ transplants or other chronic conditions,  the question is critical and the first item is a given–medication,  items 2-10 may vary.

 On September 11, 2001, a good friend of mine was traveling from the Midwest to the West coast.  He called  from his layover in Minneapolis to tell me that the FAA was considering grounding all aircraft.  He had been recently diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes.  So as I listened to him complain about airport hotels and poor restaurant choices, my Type 1 brain immediately began to calculate what I would need. What concerned me was that since he had homes in both locations, he likely wasn’t carrying several days of medication. I interrupted his complaining and asked, “How much medication do you have”? He answered, “Oh, I don’t know.” I asked him to pull it out and count how many days worth of medicine he had.  I listened as he opened pill bottles and counted, and he was comfortable that he had at least a couple weeks of medication. Funny thing is that as he was counting pills, I was thinking of next steps if he didn’t have enough medication.  Time was critical because he would need to call his pharmacist (during business hours in another time zone) to transfer his prescriptions to a local pharmacy, in order to fill them.

Here’s a quick list of items to consider:

Quick Evacuation

 

  1.  Medication
  2.  Medication
  3.  Medication
  4.  Critical / Portable equipment

 

Hours to Evacuate or Move to a limited space in the home

  1. Everything from the quick evacuation, plus
  2. Medical supplies such as glucose tabs, glucometer & supplies
  3. Durable medical equipment (dialysis supplies, heart monitors, etc., breathing machines)
  4. Physician and pharmacy phone numbers
  5. CASH
  6. Water
  7. Non perishable food
  8. Flashlight
  9. Battery operated radio

 

Some of these items can be stored in
one location, so that only a few will need to be gathered in the case of an
emergency. No one wants to imagine such disaster, but it is better to be
prepared and not need it, than to need it and not be prepared.

 

 

 

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Join walkers from all over the state of Michigan to support the National Kidney Foundation in its quest to advocate for patients in all stages of chronic kidney disease.

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When chronic illness hits, we often think of the bad things that the illness brings. With diabetes, we lament over having to take insulin injections, taking other medications and following a diet. Diabetes does in fact require a lot of scheduling and monitoring but with that comes discipline that we can use in other areas of our life.

I can’t tell you how often I used my understanding of diabetes and how my body works to understand other concepts.  For instance, when learning how to develop a Bill of Material to manufacture automotive components, I was taught that each manufacturing process had a cost and the sum of those processes and materials made up the unit cost of the product. Said simply, the piece of steel, plus the labor to form it, plus the cost of painting it, plus the box cost, plus the cost to put it in the box, plus the overhead burden cost equals the “cost” of the product—not the price.  The price resulted in a profit margin markup of that cost.

Well, it was easy for me to conceptualize this BOM (bill of material) cost concept as a carbohydrate counting recipe. When a diabetic eats, it is more than a total caloric counting process. Especially in the 1970s, the diabetic diet was comprised of a total caloric diet broken down into meat, milk, bread (or starch), fat, fruit and vegetable exchanges. Such a diet would include a “bill of material” that may call for 2 bread exchanges, 1 fat exchange, 1 meat exchange, 1 vegetable exchange and 1 milk exchange for dinner. It was up to the diabetic to choose between 1 cup of spaghetti with meat sauce (1 bread and 1 meat), a dinner roll (1 bread), 1tsp. of butter (1 fat), ½ cup of broccoli (1 vegetable) and 1 cup of skim milk (milk exchange); or 1 medium sized lean pork chop (meat), ½ cup corn (bread exchange), ½ cup of green beans (vegetable exchange), 1 cup of skim milk (milk exchange) and ½ cup of vanilla ice cream (1 bread and 1 fat exchange).

In school, teachers call using one concept to teach another the use of pneumonics. This worked for me? What works for you? How has diabetes and it’s management helped you in another unrelated area of life?

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Listen as January Jones interviews Jacquie Lewis-Kemp about living with diabetes.

Listen to internet radio with Ms January Jones on Blog Talk Radio

 

 

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