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 Organ Transplant

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.

Share

 

Where medicine couldn’t go any

further, God stepped in to end the

 battle.

 

 

 

 

Share

After living with diabetes for 32 years of my life, I received a pancreas transplant. Doctors don’t routinely manage diabetes with a pancreas transplant, however because I also needed and received a kidney transplant, my transplant team’s full plan of treatment for my kidney failure was to do a follow-on pancreas transplant. The pancreas transplant would normalize my blood sugar and best protect my new kidney.

 

I was diagnosed with diabetes at the age of 7. And so I grew up as a normal active child, but quickly learned a diabetes routine that my parents created for me. I also grew up with a very remote and improbable goal of a cure for diabetes. My diabetes would likely be something that I would need to manage for the rest of my life.

 

It has been 10 years since my pancreas transplant and no, I’m not cured of diabetes. Instead I have diabetes treated with a pancreas transplant. “Diabetes treated with a pancreas transplant” because if anything were to happen to that pancreas, I would return to insulin injections and my body has endured 32 years of elevated blood sugars and insulin dependence.

 

Recently I was reminded of my body’s condition as it relates to diabetes. On my way to the airport for a health coaching network event, I noticed a familiar sight in my field of vision–a floater.  A floater is debris or possibly blood floating in the vitreous fluid of the eye. I was sure that I had a broken blood vessel bleeding into my eye.  I called my retina specialist’s office and they agreed to fit me in to have it checked out.  I missed my flight and went immediately to the retina specialist. At that point, they couldn’t even see the bleeder. So I continued my travel plans standby.

 

At my connection in Chicago, my vision had gotten worse. I could barely see the signs directing me to the gate to board my flight to Las Vegas. By the time of my presentation I couldn’t even see my slides on the projector screen. I knew the material so I winged it.

 

I was baffled and somewhat afraid because doctors assured me that my long term complications would freeze right where they were after the pancreas transplant. They wouldn’t reverse, but they wouldn’t get any worse.

 

At home I returned to the doctor and he was able to diagnose what happened. This bleeder was not a new blood vessel that had grown onto my retina, as in diabetic retinopathy. This was in fact an old blood vessel that had been treated 15 or more years ago with laser. Apparently in the normal aging process the vitreous fluid in the eye pulls away from the retina. When this occurred in my eye, it disturbed the blood vessel treated with laser, causing it to bleed again.

 

And so the treatment was to wait for my vitreous fluid to absorb the blood that was blocking and clouding my vision. Here’s a description of what this bleeder looked like:

Day 1

A black string hanging from the top of my eye that remained in   my field of vision wherever I looked

Day 2

Several black strings hanging from the top of my field of   vision.

Day 3

Fewer black strings hanging, but the rest of my vision was like   opening your eyes under lake water.

Day 4

Black strings were turning brown with smaller dots around it;   vision was like it was foggy outside.

Day 5

Very few brown strings remain, able to see computer, but felt   like there was soap scum on my eyeballs.

Day 6

A few brown strings at very top of my field of vision; other   vision very clear.

 

Amazing, they tell me that the eye is the fastest healing part of the body!

Share

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

 

Share

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.

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
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

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

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