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 kidney transplant

 

There are so many observances throughout the year that several of them happen simultaneously. However April’s pairing of National Minority Health Month and National Donate Life Month is not pure happenstance.

National Minority Health Month

African Americans and other ethnic minorities are plagued by a number of chronic illnesses that may not be an immediate threat to life itself; however neglect of these chronic and often preventable conditions can surely lead to an early death. Perhaps the biggest of these chronic illnesses that disproportionately plague African Americans is hypertension and diabetes. According to the National Institute of Health,

“The most common causes of kidney failure are diabetes and high blood pressure, together accounting for about 70 percent of new cases.”

That bears repeating, 70 percent of new cases of chronic kidney disease is caused by uncontrolled diabetes and hypertension—both controllable conditions. Controllable in large part by good decision making: diet and exercise, and medication prescribed by a doctor. And this brings us to the next April observance.

National Donate Life Month

National Donate Life Month promoted largely by the Gift of Life Foundation encourages people to make the decision to become organ donors, either living or at the time of death so that those waiting on the transplant list, can live. There are currently more than 110,000 people waiting for an organ transplant in the U.S. Millions of organs are wasted daily when people die without donating their organs. It is a simple process to sign up on the national organ donor registry: http://donatelife.net/register-now/

In the case of kidneys, while African Americans make up 12% of the population, we make up 32% of those on dialysis.

In April and beyond, join with me to make smart and healthy decisions to improve minority health, and please “Donate Life”—my brother Jeff (my kidney donor) and another individual (my pancreas donor)’s decisions to donate life are why I live today!

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Although the hottest of weather, heat warnings and advisories seems to have moved past the metro Detroit area, people with diabetes
and organ transplants should continue to exercise extreme caution.

The effect that the heat can have on diabetes is complex

  • Sweating, which burns calories and therefore lowers blood sugar, can lead to hypoglycemic  episodes (low blood sugar). Heat can also make hyperglycemic episodes more difficult to identify.

  • Dehydration due to excess heat can cause hyperglycemia (high blood sugar).  Since dehydration occurs when there is low fluid level in the blood stream, there is a high concentration of glucose, causing hyperglycemia.

  • Medication, such as insulin, and supplies can be damaged by excess heat and manufacturer’s recommendations regarding storing medication and supplies must be followed.

Recommendations for people with diabetes:

 

  • Drink plenty of fluids

  • Keep water convenient and close by to make hydration a thoughtless effort.

  • Test blood glucose more often than prescribed, particularly if you don’t feel normal. Since the heat’s impact on blood sugar

    control can be varied (heat can make it go both up or down) it is best to know exactly what the blood sugar level is, rather than guess.

  • Keep diabetes medication and supplies cool without subjecting them to freezing temperatures.

Kidney Transplant Patients must also exercise caution in the heat

 

  • Excessive sweating—not even dehydration–can cause creatinine levels (a measure of kidney function) to increase. High creatine levels can potentially lead to kidney transplant rejection, or worsening of chronic kidney disease.

 

Kidney Transplant Patients should:

 

  • Drink more than the 2 liters of doctor prescribed fluid each day.

  • Again, this should be done by always having water, decaffeinated and non alcoholic, beverages handy to sip on all day.

  • Remember, both caffeine and alcohol dehydrate.

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Enjoy this video as transplant recipients say thank you.

Wolverines for Life encourages you to sign up to be an organ and tissue donor, donate blood and get screened for bone marrow donation.

You can be a hero, and save a life … and it’s easy to do. For more information go to www.wolverinesforlife.org

 

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My son celebrated a milestone birthday, 21. And in Michigan that means getting rid of the probationary portrait driver’s license for a regular landscape one. He made another adult decision while at the Secretary of State: He signed the registry to become an organ donor.

Like me, he too has seen both sides of organ donation. He witnessed his mother’s second chance at life, thanks to the generosity of his uncle and a complete stranger. He also understood his grandmother’s gift of life so that other families would be as fortunate as his.

Here is another story of a famous donor and the lives he saved.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Health Coaching for Success by Jacquie Lewis-Kemp,

author of Blessed Assurance: Success Despite the Odds.

 

Preventing Diabetes Wheel

With the promise of the Affordable Healthcare Act, more people will have access to healthcare. Physicians will be in great demand especially while we train enough physicians to now care for the millions of people who will now have access to affordable health care. What a great problem to have. Just when our college graduates wondered what they would do after graduation, the healthcare industry will be booming with opportunity for several disciplines. Opportunities will exist of course for physicians particularly internists, pediatricians, and family doctors, but also nurses, nurse’s aides, clerks, accountants, actuaries, economists and other business disciplines. A new area is opening up and that is for health coaches.

Health coaches do not replace the role of the doctor or any medical professional. In fact the health coach works closely with the doctor through the client/patient to understand the lifestyle change necessary to become or continue being a compliant patient. My health coaching practice, Take Control of Your Health works with several client issues; however it is focused on preventing or controlling diabetes. I also work with dialysis and transplant patients to focus on the area that presents a challenge that the client would like to overcome.

The physician diagnoses, treats and as time allows, educates the patient, however if the patient doesn’t follow the doctor’s orders or is otherwise non compliant, then the doctor cannot treat the condition accurately. And that is where the health coach comes in. A health coach functions like most consultants: Wears your watch and tells you what time it is. And on the surface it may sound silly to pay someone to wear your watch and tell you what time it is, but as in business when the job demands are so numerous trying to put out fires, it is a good practice to have a person who can give you feedback on how the business is performing. It works the same way with a health coach. When the best intentions to make a change in your lifestyle continues to end up with few or no results, then a health coach can measure your progress and the baby steps that you take to achieve the change that you are looking for.

 

Because this is such a client driven process, there is no one formula or set prescribed time for completion. The client names the goal and it is the job of the coach to monitor or recommend baby steps that are appropriate for the success of the goal. It is the job of the coach to pace the progress, encourage and hold the client accountable.

 

 

Transplant Living Wheel

For more information on Take Control of Your Health, please contact me at Jacquie@jlewiskemp.com.

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This week I celebrate two anniversaries. The first was May 27, 2012. My husband and I celebrated 23 years of marriage. Wow, that’s a long time, especially for a 25 year old, huh? 😉 On May 30 I celebrate 10 years of living with a pancreas transplant.

I would never have imagined that I would one day not have to take an insulin shot! When I was diagnosed with diabetes at the age of 7, my grandfather told me while I was in the hospital that we would “pray it [diabetes] away”. My parents worried that I might not learn to take care of myself and instead hope for a miracle.

I had the most wonderful parents who continually made sure that I understood that I could do anything that I wanted to and be anything that I wanted to be as long as I worked hard at it. So instead of sitting by waiting for a miracle cure from God, I worked hard in school and hard at work.

Despite my hard work, my kidneys failed. My brother volunteered to save my life and donate his left kidney. My transplant team had an even more complete plan to treat my kidney disease. Their full plan of action was to perform the kidney transplant to end dialysis, and a pancreas transplant to end the cause of the kidney failure in the first place.

And so, on May 29, 2002, I took my last insulin injection. And on May 30, 2002 my new pancreas provided enough insulin to move glucose from my bloodstream to my cells, and has done so for the last 10 years.

So back to what Granddaddy said. Did he pray my diabetes away? Sure he did, not through a miraculous prong on the head, but through technology and medical science. And despite the fact that Granddaddy has been gone for 28 years, that doesn’t mean that 2002 wasn’t in God’s time.

Actually, I still consider myself diabetic. My body lived through 32 years of diabetes and I still manage some of the long term complications. I received a bronze medal for living with diabetes for 25 years from an insulin manufacturer. Do you think that they will give me the 50 year medal without having bought their product?

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From the Huffington Post:

Facebook Organ Donor Initiative

Prompts 100,000 Users To Select New

Option

 

By MIKE STOBBE 05/ 2/12 05:57 PM ET AP

ATLANTA — Thousands of Facebook users have signed up to be organ donors this week, thanks to a new feature on the social networking site that makes it easier to register.

The new option was announced Tuesday by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg as a way to boost the number of potential organ donors. By the end of the day, 6,000 people had enrolled through 22 state registries, according to Donate Life America, which promotes donations and is working with Facebook. On a normal day, those states together see less than 400 sign up.

The response “dwarfs any past organ donation initiative,” said David Fleming, chief executive of Donate Life America, in a statement.

The Facebook feature allows users to share their decision to be an organ donor on the website. More than 100,000 did that by Tuesday night, according to Facebook, which is working with Fleming’s group to encourage Facebook users to also officially register as donors with their state.

A link on the site connects to online donor registries. At least 22,000 people had followed that link as of Wednesday afternoon. Information from 22 states indicates that a third or more of them filled out the form to register, said Donate Life America spokeswoman Aisha Michel.

California – where Facebook is headquartered – reported startling results. About 70 people register online as organ donors each day. But in the 24 hours after Zuckerberg’s announcement, about 3,900 signed up.

“We’re just thankful we have this opportunity to bring more people into the process,” said Bryan Stewart, a spokesman for OneLegacy, which coordinates transplants in the Los Angeles area.

“We’re looking forward to seeing how long this activity lasts, and at what level,” he added.

Facebook, a social network site founded in 2004, has 526 million daily users around the world. It was Facebook’s idea to add the option, after Zuckerberg took a personal interest in the issue, Michel said. The feature is available in the U.S. and the United Kingdom.

As with some personal information on Facebook, organ donor status can be kept private or shared publicly or only with friends.

More than 114,000 Americans are currently on waiting lists for transplants of kidneys, livers, hearts and other organs, according to United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), the organization that runs the nation’s transplant system. More than 6,600 died last year waiting for an organ.

According to UNOS, 43 percent of adults in the U.S. are registered as donors. Organs can only be used though under certain circumstances, such as when someone dies from a major head injury and a ventilator can keep the organs viable. Less than 1 percent of U.S. deaths annually are under such circumstances. And sometimes the opportunity is lost because family members didn’t know about the person’s wishes on organ donation.

The Facebook feature “is a unique opportunity for people to make their decision known,” UNOS Executive Director Walter Graham, said on a statement.

Most people register as organ donors when they get a driver’s licenses, but about 2 percent sign up through online registries. Both represent legal consent for adults. For children who want to be donors, parental consent is still required.

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