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 National Kidney Foundation

 

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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Blessed Assurance: Success Despite the Odds

CALENDAR OF EVENTS
04/14/12 Writer’s Expo, The Upper Room, Detroit, MI
04/21/12 Signing Books, God’s World 2-4 PM                 Seven Mile and Schafer in Detroit, MI
04/28/12 Walking with Jackie’s Crew to cure MS              at Covington School, Bloomfield Hills, MI
05/01/12 Advocating diabetes and kidney education programs at the American Diabetes Association and National Kidney Foundation’s        Diabetes & Kidney Day in Lansing, MI
05/12/12 Signing books at Antioch Baptist Church  in Pontiac, MI
8/4-8/12 Signing books at the Bass Mollett booth at the   National Funeral Directors & Morticians Association convention in Las Vegas, NV
09/29/12 University of Michigan Transplant Center’s    Vita Redita Gala & Charity Auction  at THE BIG HOUSE! in Ann Arbor, MI
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Perhaps one of the most difficult aspects of chronic kidney disease is the diet.  After you get past figuring out how you will schedule dialysis and what you need to do in order to have energy and strength, you find that diet plays a large role in making that happen.

Salt Restriction

It is common knowledge that too much salt isn’t good for you. However for dialysis patients high, sodium foods impact a dialysis patient immediately. Already plagued with water retention, something as simple as a slice of pizza or a bag of potato chips can cause dialysis patients severe ankle swelling or swelling in the abdomen causing shortness of breath.
Excess sodium also causes blood pressure to rise and cause headaches, mental dullness and a loss of energy. At its worse, hypertension (high blood pressure) can incite cardiac complications.

Phosphorus Restrictions

Who ever thought that potatoes would be something restricted on a diet? But they are a very special case when it comes to kidney disease. The kidneys filter waste from the blood and it is expelled through the urine. When your kidneys don’t function properly, one of the chemicals that don’t get filtered is phosphorus. Doctors prescribe phosphorus binders which make it so that phosphorus can be cleared in the stool rather than urine. However, the best option is to limit consumption of high phosphorus foods like nuts, organ meats, chocolate, cola drinks and beer.

Potassium Restrictions

An orange on the restricted list? For the same reason that phosphorus builds up in the blood stream for dialysis patients, potassium also builds up in the blood stream. Excess potassium can cause problems such as weakness, muscle cramps, tiredness, irregular heartbeat and, worst of all, heart attack. Potassium is found mostly in fruits, vegetables and dairy products. Certain fruits and vegetables are very high in potassium while others are lower. However, eating a large amount of a low-potassium food can cause potassium to add up to dangerous levels. Be aware that most foods contain some potassium — meat, poultry, bread, pasta — so it can add up. Butter, margarine and oils are the only foods that are potassium free.
Refer to the charts below from DaVita Dialysis, as simple reminders of which foods should be restricted and some suggested alternatives.

High potassium

High phosphorus

Double jeopardy —High potassium and high phosphorus

Fruits

Meat

Milk

Vegetables

Poultry

Dairy products

Fish and seafood

Nuts and seeds

Wild game

Chocolate

Eggs

Whole grain products

Dried beans and peas

Check the list below to see if you are eating any of the double jeopardy foods on the left. Using some of the alternatives listed on the right will help improve your chances of keeping potassium and phosphorus under control.

Double Jeopardy Foods (High Potassium & High Phosphorus)

Alternatives

Cheese

Vegan rella cheese, low-fat cottage cheese, sprinkle of parmesan cheese (use very small amounts of extra sharp cheeses for the maximum flavor)

Chocolate

Desserts made with lemon or apple, white cake, rice-crispy treats

Cream Soup

Broth-based soups made with pureed vegetables or make soups with Mocha Mix® nondairy creamer or Rich’s Coffee Rich®

Dried beans and peas

Green beans, wax beans

Ice Cream

Mocha Mix® frozen dessert, sorbet, sherbet, popsicles

Milk

Mocha Mix® nondairy creamer, Coffeemate®, Rich’s Coffee Rich®, Rice Dream® original, unenriched rice beverage

Nuts

Low-salt snack foods including pretzels,tortilla chips, popcorn, crackers, Sun Chips®

Peanut butter

Low-fat cream cheese, jam or fruit spread

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African Americans are disproportionately affected by diabetes and hypertension which make up more than 2/3 of all cases of kidney failure. Understand these risks and take charge of your lifestyle to prevent kidney disease.

Further, share what you’ve learned with family, friends, your neighborhood and your congegation.

 

 

 

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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.

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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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Kidney Transplant

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Kidney Transplant

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Kidney Transplant

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The National Kidney Foundation of Michigan (NKFM) will gather friends and supporters at the MGM Grand Detroit—Grand Ballroom on December 3, 2011 for the 7th Annual Kidney Ball.  The event, which features the theme “Motown Magic” every year, will include a night of live music, great food, cocktails, and an after party, all making it the most fun charity event in metro Detroit. Last year’s Kidney Ball raised over $500,000 for the NKFM’s many programs and services that help more than 900,000 Michigan residents living with chronic kidney disease.

 

The spectacular evening, which attracts more than 700 of metro Detroit’s givers and shakers, will begin with cocktails at 6 p.m. and a fabulous dinner served at 7:30 p.m. There will also be an exciting live auction along with an expansive and unique silent auction.  Guests can also enjoy dancing and listening to the soulful sounds of the Jerry Ross Band after dinner.  Jim Vella, President of the Ford Fund, and Vivian Pickard, President of the GM Foundation, will serve as the Honorary Chairs of the 2011 Kidney Ball. Blanche Mack and Myra Moreland will be this year’s Event Chairs.

 

The evening wouldn’t be possible without the generous support of the Kidney Ball Presenting Sponsor, Meijer, as well as the many other sponsors and supporters of the event.“With so many challenges in our state things are not likely to get easier for people with kidney disease.

“Supporting the 2011 Kidney Ball can continue to help make their lives better,”
said Dan Carney, President and CEO of the NKFM. “We invite everyone to take a
step back into the Motown era and support an organization whose mission truly
is to make a difference.”

Tickets for the event are $250 per guest and can be purchased by calling the NKFM at 800-482-1455. More information about the event is available at www.kidneyball.org or you can get regular updates from the NKFM (including Kidney Ball updates) at www.facebook.com/KidneyMI.

 

The NKFM, voted “Best Managed Nonprofit” of 2003 by Crain’s
Detroit Business, and rated a 4-star charity by Charity Navigator, is a 501(c)3
nonprofit organization established in 1955. Since its inception, the NKFM has
led the fight against kidney disease and has increased awareness of the
critical need for organ and tissue donations. The mission of the National
Kidney Foundation of Michigan is to prevent kidney disease and improve the
quality of life for those living with it. The NKFM is widely known for
providing more programs and services to more people than any other region or state.

Motown Kidney Ball
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