Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Apparently I am mathematically challenged because I have been saying I want to get up to walking 4 miles a day and today Joe and I drove the route I walk and I already HAVE been walking four miles a day, for the last week and a half.  Go me!  (The pedometer on my Iphone isn't working properly and I wanted to get an accurate distance of the route I walk).

 Thankful Things:

 I am thankful for having today off(until this evening).  I have been sick with a bad cold and then on top of that  I had a migraine all day. It would have been no fun to have had to be at work while feeling so crummy.  I'm not sure why I had a migraine.  I haven't had one in almost a year.  Joe says it's because of the weather change.  I looked it up and he might be right.  A change in the barometric pressure can cause migraines.  Yuck.  I hope I don't start having them again.  They are awful.

I am thankful for the 25 cent shelves at the library.  I got 5 hardcover  books for a dollar and twenty five cents!  I can't wait to sit out in my hammock swing and read them. 
Tomorrow. Because I am off to work in a few minutes.

Gotta run.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010


I am thankful for the beautiful full moon we had last night. Joe and I went for a walk in it. It was stunning.

I am thankful for Sudafed. I have come down with a horrible head cold (immediately after getting over a kidney infection-blech). I could not function without something to help with my sinus pain and swelling.

I am thankful that I have continued to have the energy to carry on with my walking, despite my illnesses. I can feel my body changing and it feels good.

I’m thankful that we don’t owe any money on our taxes this year. Our income went down so much that we are actually getting some money back. Not a lot. But at least we don’t have to pay.

Putting a positive spin on something negative:
I mentioned that I am sick. I feel crummy. I can’t afford to take off of work(I don’t get sick days), so I have been sucking it up. BUT, tomorrow I have off during the day and for the second week in a row I don’t have any appointments planned so I can stay home in my pajamas and try to get better. And it’s going to rain. I love P.J. days when it rains!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Five Faves

I was inspired by WZ girl over at Buttercup to play along with her Meme.  Here are five things that are my favorites  right now.

1.  Fave Thing to do on my Day off:

Sit out on our balcony and swing it the hammock chair I got while in Mexico.  We have never lived upstairs before, so we've never had a balcony.  I love being above the world and looking down, with the trees and the sky so much more visible than our downstairs patio.  And nothing beats swinging gently, soaking up the sun while reading a book or taking a short nap.
2.  Fave new place to hike
The canyon near my work.  Beautiful and a great workout with the trail leading down to the arroyo.
3. Fave new item of clothing

These workout pants.  I finally got around to using a Target gift card I got for my birthday and I bought some much needed workout clothes.  I bought two different types of workout pants.  I don't care for the others at all, but these are perfect.  The fit is right, they hide a multitude of sins, and they are cool enough for me to walk in the warm weather we have been having(80 degrees here today!), without wearing shorts(no one wants to see me in shorts).

4.  Fave walking route
I have remained dedicated to the walking.  I am up to 3 and a half miles.  I've shown pictures of it before, but about a mile from our house is a lovely walking trail.  We are so lucky to live so close to some wonderful nature areas amid our suburban town. 

5.  My fave  new church I went to last night.
I think it could become my new church home, and I am thankful for the friend who brought me to it.  Thanks Joannah.

What are your five favs?

Let me know if you play along!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Thankful Things

Things I am thankful for today:

--I am thankful I get to spend so much quality time with my husband.  He is my best friend.  I lost sight of that for a while. 

--I am thankful to have a job.  Today my job is crappy. My boss is a jerk.   Some days are like that.  But at least I have a job, right?

-I am thankful it is Friday!

Putting a spin on something negative: (This is my least favorite part of this)

I have a kidney infection.  It hurts.  A lot.  Thankfully I don't get these very often, but because of my kidney issues, whenever I get  a Urinary Tract Infection it almost always turns into a kidney infection as well.

Anyway, I have been taking antibiotics and am feeling slightly better today and it's Friday so I can rest this wekend if I don't feel well.

Hiking in the Canyon

Yesterday instead of walking my usual route when I got home, Joe came and got me at work and we hiked in the canyon by my work that we found last week.

It is so beautiful there.  Here are a few pictures:

Taken with my cell phone again.  I think this is the longest I have ever gone without a decent camera.  Thank goodness it takes pretty good pictures.

 We hiked for over an hour.

Unfortunately for me I had a UTI that ended up turning into a kidney infection and the hiking kind of made the pain worse so I ended the night with a hot bath, a Vic*din and an early bedtime.

I'm hoping the antibiotics kick in today and I start feeling better.  Ouch.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Walking Mojo

As I mentioned earlier, I am loving walking.

Loving.  It.

Yesterday I got up again at 7:00 to go for my walk.  I don't get to walk on Tuesdays because we have an appointment right after work and we don't get home until 8:30 or so.  I think that makes me crave it even more on Wednesdays.  Thankfully I don't have to work until the evening on Wednesdays so I have the whole day to get my walk in.

I'm still walking about three miles a day.  I'd like to work up to four eventually, but seeing as though I have only been walking for eleven days I think three miles is o.k. for now.

It takes me almost an hour to walk three miles.  I have no idea if this is a good time or not. 

It doesn't really matter to me.

I haven't lost any weight(in fact I gained a pound and a half).  But my clothes are fitting looser(and Joe says my butt looks smaller but he's probably just being nice-and he says he likes to look at my butt :)

One of the things that is different about my walking lately is that I do it alone.  It's my time.  I plug into my IPod and I just go.  (I always tells Joe what route I'm taking and last week when I was out after dark he drove over and picked me up so I wouldn't have to walk home in the dark).

The music I listen to is huge for me.  I must have it.  I'm not even sure I could walk without it.  I'm always looking for some good walking music, so if you have any suggestions, please do share.

Here is what is on my walking playlist right now.  I tend to be very loyal to the artists I like so you will see several songs from the same artist a lot.

Warm Up Songs:

Glitter in the Air-Pink  (This song sometimes brings me to tears)

Blackbird-Sarah McLaughlin version

Fast Car-Tracy Chapman

Stepping up the pace:
Pressure-David Bowie and Queen (sometimes this one goes on repeat :)

Be O.K.-Ingrid Michealson

My Humps-Black Eyed Peas(don't judge me)

Don't Lie-Black Eyed Peas

Into the Ocean-Blue October

Shame on You-Indigo Girls

Catch my Disease-Ben Lee

Don't Do Me Like That-Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers

I want to Break Free-Queen

Party in the USA-Miley Cyrus(Again, no judging :)

I Just Haven't Met You Yet-Michael Buble

It's Growing-James Taylor(You didn't think I could have a playlist without J.T on it, did you?)

Get Out the Map-Indigo Girls

Cool Down Songs

Sing For You-Tracy Chapman

Shed a Little Light-James Taylor

Gotta Have You-The Weepies

Sleeping to Dream-Jason Mraz

It may seem to you that some  of these songs don't have the rhythm to keep up a good walking pace, but I find enjoying the music I am listening to is more important  than that.  I am able to keep up a good pace no matter if the song is fast enough or not.

So, what's on your exercise playlist?

Also, I am still finding that the first 20 minutes of my walk is very painful.  My calves and shins are screaming.  I find that if I can power through the first twenty, then the rest is a breeze.  I am spending lost of time stretching, both before and after, so I'm not sure if this is normal or if there is anything I could do differently to avoid the pain.


Wednesday, March 24, 2010


Today I:

Walked 3 miles  (Brings the total up to 30-woot!)

Made a yummy breakfast.

Took a hot shower.

Caught up on my DVR'd shows. (Love the new show "Parenthood")

Napped for a little while.

Read more from my Thankful book and from a new fiction book I got from a friend.

Wrote something that my husband helped me with that made me realize again what a wonderful teacher and writer he is.

Sat in the hammock swing on our balcony and stared up at the sky,  listening to the wind chimes while swaying gently.

Today was a good day.

Today I am thankful for:

The blooming flowers on the bushes and trees on my walk this morning.  They smelled heavenly.

A day to do nothing.  Not one appointment. Nowhere to be. Nothing to do.

Putting a spin on something negative:  (This is hard!)

My car is falling apart.  Like literally falling apart.  The air conditioning is broken.  The paint is chipping on the outside.  Both the front doors won't unlock anymore(yes, this means I have to get in through the back door and reach around to the front to open the door.  It is a pain).  So many people I know have brand new cars right now.  Shiny new cars where everything works like it should. To say I am envious would be an understatement.

But at last I have a car, right? I mean, some people don't even have a car and they have to take the bus.  At least I don't have to do that.

Did that sound convincing?  No?

I'm working on it okay?

I'm not going to post these here everyday.  I'm keeping an online journal for them but since I've only just started I'll post them here when I feel the urge.

Now I am headed off to work.


Tuesday, March 23, 2010


 I had to get that last post off the top. Sometimes you just need to vent, you know?

I tend to get mired down in the negative stuff. I hate to say it, but often I am a “glass half empty” kind of girl. 

I think I come across as a negative Nellie moreso here because this is my place to vent and process my thoughts. I’m a lot less negative in real life.

No really. I am. I’m actually a lovely person once you get to know me. (No comments from the peanut gallery on this one please :)

I have been kind of stuck in a negative pattern the last couple of weeks. The longer my husband goes without a job, the more stressed out, sad,  and just plain angry I become.

I have been experimenting with different ways to deal with these feelings. I found that lying in bed crying wasn’t making me feel better. In fact, if anything it perpetuated the negative feelings and created a vicious cycle from which I couldn’t break free.  I was doing a lot of lying in bed crying. More than I care to admit.

So I started looking for other ways to work through those feelings.

You already know about the baking. While that helped a little, the aftermath of having 10 dozen cookies (and brownies-last week it was brownies) around the house is not good for my husband. He was being very supportive in getting rid of them for me, but it wasn’t the healthiest alternative. I like the idea of giving them to a senior center, but honestly right now I don’t have the time (and often don’t have a car) to deliver them. I am going to keep that idea on the back burner though.

Another thing I have been doing to help me look at things more positively is that I have started walking. Every single day. I’m not talking about going for a leisurely walk around the block for a half- hour. No, I’m talking about hard core, walking as fast as you can, for an hour to an hour and a half a day. I’m not going to lie, at first it was hard. Really really hard. The first half an hour of every walk was pain. Pure pain. I almost gave up. But I didn’t. I powered through the pain and you know what I found out? The last half hour to 45 minutes of my walk, I started to feel great. My mind cleared. I felt the stress melt away. In a way I started to feel free. Now I get what people say about the “runner’s high." (Although I am nowhere near running). But the rush of endorphins? Totally get that. Now I find that my body needs it. Wants it. Looks forward to it. I even got up at 7:00 a.m. on a Sunday to go for my walk.  If you know me, this is highly unusual because I like sleep. A lot. :)

So far,  I have walked every day but one for the last 10 days, and I have logged 27 miles. 27 miles!!!! Dude. That’s a long way! I’m kind of proud of myself, and I intend on continuing with it. I’m not focusing on weight loss right now. I’m focusing on the stress relief it provides and how much stronger my body feels after engaging in it.

One other strategy I have been using to battle the negative feelings is to be more thankful for the things I do have. I know I have tried to do this in the past. I would do it for a few days or a few weeks and then I would forget. It’s not good to forget to be thankful. It makes you focus on only the bad and forget about the good.

It's all about perspective.  I was focusing on all the stuff in my life that was going wrong and completely skipping over the stuff that was going right.  Not a good attitude to have when you are working on changing your negative thinking.

The other day we were window shopping at B*orders(well o.k. not exactly window shopping, as we actually went inside the store, but we had no plans to buy anything-just look). While browsing I came across this book.

Like I said, we had no plans to buy anything.  But this book spoke to me, especially since I have been trying to focus more on the positive.  So I bought it.

This is from the back of the book cover:

"Living life as if each day is a thank you can help transform fear into courage, anger into forgiveness, and isolation into belonging."

Sign me up.

I have to tell you that this book has helped me so much with the negative thinking.  Not only does it have stories of individuals whose lives have been transformed by thankfulness,  it offers suggested gratitude practices along with motivational quotes and blessings.

The first exercises the book suggest is to actively be more thankful in your daily life.  Thank everyone you come into contact with.  The Starbuck's worker.  The grocery store clerk. The gas station attendant who reminded me that the gas hose was still attached to my car before I drove off(duh!). I don't mean just give a quick thank you as you turn to leave.  Look them in the eye and give them a sincere thank you so they know you  mean it.  Strangely I found this a little difficult to do.  Not because I don't appreciate those people, but because I can be kind of shy with strangers and don't go out of my way to talk to them unless spoken to first.

Next it suggested you seek out the people in your life who help you or make your life better in some way and thank them.  Last week, I dropped off a bunch of cookies to various locations  for  people who have made a difference in my life over the last year.  I was even able to get a hold of a therapist Joe and I had worked with early on in our marriage on FaceB**k and drop her a message letting her know the impact she had on our lives and how thankful we are to have had the opportunity to work with her.  She was very happy to hear from me and the fact that we were still together.  She was touched that I would take the time to find her and thank her.

Of  course the book also suggests  the practice of being thankful for things every single day.

I'm only halfway through the book, but so far I am getting a lot out of it.  I highly recommend it.

So those are the things I have been doing lately to deal with what has been kind of a crappy situation.  I can't change the state of my husband's unemployment, but I can change the way I react to it.

Things I am thankful for today:

--The way my body feels after walking 3 miles. Tired. A little sore. Sweaty. Exhilarated.

--My husband. Every morning he gets up and makes me a cup of coffee before I head off to work. Every night I come home to a clean house. So although he might not have a job outside the home right now, he has been working very hard to do the work inside our home. I haven’t done laundry in a year and a half. No joke. How can I not be thankful for that?

I'm also supposed to look for something good in what otherwise would be considered a negative situation.  This is not going to be easy for me but here goes:

--I am thankful for my husband's unemployment checks.  I wish he didn't have to receive unemployment checks at all.  But I am thankful for them.

I think that was the longest post I have written in a very long time.  Well, ever.   Maybe this means I have gotten my blogging mojo back.

Sorry if that was too long or boring.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Answers to some Frequently Asked Questions

I get a lot of questions/comments about my husband’s unemployment and the length of time he has been unemployed.

In case there is anyone else wondering, here are some answers to the questions and comments that I hear almost daily:

Yes my husband IS looking for a job (This is by far the most common and stupid question I get).

Yes he has his resume listed on 4 different websites.

Yes he spends hours a day every single day looking for a job. He applies for between 20-40 jobs per week.

No he does not like sitting on the couch at home while I go out every day and work two jobs.

Yes he is applying for jobs outside the teaching profession (of course he is).

Yes he has applied for jobs that pay much less than he was making before. Retail jobs. Restaurant jobs. Grocery store jobs. Sales jobs. Gas station attendant jobs.

Yes we realize he may not be able to be a teacher here in the state of CA for a very long time.

Yes we have seriously looked into moving to another area/State. He has been looking. Without a job that would be pointless.

Yes he has put ads on Craigslist offering his services as a private tutor. So have the hundreds of thousands of other teachers that have been laid off in CA.

Lest you judge us, let me ask you these questions.

Have YOU looked for a job in the area that I live, in the last year and a half?

Do you have the same experience/qualifications that my husband has? If not then please don’t compare your job hunt to his.

He has been a teacher for 15 years (with a short stint in retail). In this job market when he applies for a job that he doesn’t have experience for, chances are they are going to choose a candidate that does over him. We have looked into him taking classes and/or training for another job. The difficulty lies in discovering what career he could pursue education or training in that is actually hiring in the area we live. (He has a Master’s Degree in English).

This has been a long hard week and I am tired of answering these questions.

Comments have been turned off. If you have any more questions please feel free to e-mail me at


Thursday, March 18, 2010

Happy Anniversary To My Sees-ter!

Today my See-ster and her husband Scott celebrate 15 years of wedded bliss.

Congratulations you two!  I hope you have a wonderful day!

Anniversary Graphics

I have a little something for you but I'm a slacker and didn't get it in the mail in time.  I'll try to get it out tomorrow.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Stress Reliever

I have been having a hard time the last week or so.  We have been working through some very heavy stuff around here and it has left me feeling sad and stressed out and at times a little bit gloom and doomish.  As I have written here before, I tend to bottle things up inside until they burst out of me like an explosion. Someone close to me suggested I try to find things to do that will help me deal with some of this stress in an appropriate way so I don't bottle it up like that.  The first thing I did was start exercising again.  This has helped me immensely.  I have walked every day for the last 4 days and I intend to continue.  The physical release of some of those emotions has been cathartic.

The other way I (used to) deal with stress was to be creative.  Scrapbooking, making cards or frames or otherwise using my hands in some way. I haven't been doing much of that lately.

I wanted to make something for some people who have helped us in the last couple of months but I didn't want to spend a lot of money.  Everything I came up with I realized I needed one or more supplies that I was out of.

Then I was cleaning out the freezer and I found a bag of white sugar(we had an ant problem a month or so ago), and a bag of chocolate chips.  A quick search of the fridge and pantry revealed that I had the ingredients to make a batch(or ten)  of cookies.

That's it!(I thought to myself)  Cookies it is.

Now baking probably seems like a perfectly normal thing for most people to do.

It's not normal for me. To begin with, I hate to bake.  Secondly, I don't even particularly  like chocolate chip cookies.  Before you think I'm a freak for not liking chocolate chip cookies, it has something to do with hormones.  After  I had my hysterectomy I couldn't eat chocolate.  I mean I can eat it.  But I just don't enjoy it like I used to and I can only eat it in small amounts or I feel sick to my stomach.  I can't explain it.  It just is.

O.K. that does make me sound like a freak.  I swear I'm not.  :)

Anyway, back to the baking.

 I started some cookies on Friday night.  My first 2 batches I made off of the recipe on the back of the T ol l  h o u s e   bag.

These turned out so-so.  They tasted good, but didn't have the look or feel I was going for.  I wanted them to be like a chocolate chip cookie you buy at the bakery.

I packaged them up and gave them away on Saturday anyway :)

So yesterday I went on the internet searching for the best chocolate chip cookie recipe.

I found a whole bunch and started reading the reviews on each recipe.  After reading twenty a few, I decided on one and hit the kitchen again  to try them out.

Today I made 6 dozen of them.  And they are so much better than the last batches.

As I was baking I noticed something.  I started to feel more relaxed.  Less stressed out.  The more I felt relaxed and less stressed out, the more I started to actually enjoy it.

There was something about measuring out the ingredients and  pouring them into the bowl, mixing the ingredients by hand(I don't have an electric mixer), and lining them up in neat little rows on the cookie sheets that made me start to feel so much better. Like I was in control of something when I feel out of control in so many other parts of my life right now.

It was very therapeutic.

So therapeutic in fact, that I made 6 more dozen cookies.

That brings the total up to 11 dozen cookies people.  We're pretty much drowning in chocolate chip cookies over here.  I don't eat them, so this is a problem.  Because Joe does eat them.  So I have to get them out of the house.

They are being packaged up to be dropped off at different places tomorrow.  I hope they bring a fraction of the joy to the recipients that they did to me when I made them.

I'm going to have to find another way to relieve stress though  :)

If you could send some good thoughts our way regarding the gloom and doom stuff, I would appreciate it.

And also, anyone want some cookies?

I had a couple requests on FB for the recipe, so here it is. I got it off of  I read all of the reviews and used a few suggestions from each one.  They really turned out yummy!

I doubled my recipe.

    •    2 cups all-purpose flour
    •    1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    •    1/2 teaspoon salt
    •    3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
    •    1 cup packed brown sugar
    •    1/2 cup white sugar
    •    1 tablespoon vanilla extract
    •    1 egg
    •    1 egg yolk
    •    2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
    •    Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Grease cookie sheets or line with parchment paper.
    •    Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt; set aside.
    •    In a medium bowl, cream together the melted butter, brown sugar and white sugar until well blended. Beat in the vanilla, egg, and egg yolk until light and creamy. Mix in the sifted ingredients until just blended. Stir in the chocolate chips by hand using a wooden spoon.
    •    Refrigerate dough until chilled. Drop cookie dough 1/4 cup at a time onto the prepared cookie sheets. Cookies should be about 3 inches apart.
    •    Bake for 15 to 17 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the edges are lightly toasted. Cool on baking sheets for a few minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely. 

I have found that these should be taken out when the edges are brown but the middles look not quite done.  Let them cool for a few minutes on the cookie sheet until they set.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Top 10 Reasons to Love Your Kidneys

Top 10 Reasons to Love Your Kidneys

Sometimes the more you know, the more you love. The National Kidney Foundation urges Americans to get to know two humble, hardworking organs: the kidneys. To help raise awareness and appreciation for all the vital functions the kidneys perform, the National Kidney Foundation offers 10 reasons for Americans to love their kidneys and take steps now to preserve kidney health:

1. Filter 200 liters of blood a day, removing two liters of toxins, wastes and water

2. Regulate the body’s water balance

3. Regulate blood pressure by controlling fluid levels and making the hormone that causes blood vessels to constrict

4. Support healthy bones and tissues by producing the active form of vitamin D

5. Produce the hormone that stimulates bone marrow to manufacture red blood cells

6. Keep blood minerals in balance

7. Keep electrolytes in balance

8. Regulate blood acid levels

9. Remove drugs from the blood

10. Retrieve essential nutrients so that the body can reabsorb them

The National Kidney Foundations urges all Americans to love their kidneys. To learn more about CKD risk factors, prevention and treatment, visit

Thursday, March 11, 2010

World Kidney Day

Today is World Kidney Day.

You probably didn't even know there was such a thing.

I didn't either.  But now I do.  

Here are some frequently asked questions pertaining to Kidney Disease(referred to here as CKD or Chronic Kidney Disease).

Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) Can Strike Adults Young and Old

National Kidney Foundation Urges Americans to Love Their Kidneys, Learn the Facts

The National Kidney Foundation urges people to show love for their kidneys by educating themselves about CKD and doing all they can to prevent it. To honor National Kidney Month (March, 2010) and World Kidney Day (March 11), the National Kidney Foundation offers answers to 10 commonly asked questions about CKD.

1: How common is CKD? Some 26 million Americans (13 percent of the U.S. adult population) suffer from CKD—a figure experts predict will rise due to high obesity rates (1/3 of all adults), the link between obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure (all risk factors) and the aging of the Baby Boom generation (since age is another risk factor for CKD). Young and middle-aged adults can also develop CKD.

2: What health problems can CKD cause? Complications include anemia, bone disorders, malnutrition, loss of kidney function, cardiovascular disease and death—more likely from a cardiovascular event than kidney failure.

3: Am I at risk? Primary risk factors include diabetes, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, a family history of kidney disease and age over 60. Secondary risk factors include obesity, autoimmune diseases, urinary tract infections, systemic infections, and kidney loss, damage, injury or infection.

4: Can CKD be prevented? Taking care of overall health helps protect kidney health. Wise practices include exercising regularly, low salt diet, controlling weight, monitoring blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose levels, not smoking, drinking moderately, avoiding non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and getting an annual physical.

5: What are the warning signs of CKD? Most people have no symptoms until CKD is advanced. “If you wait until you have symptoms to be tested, you’ve waited too long,” says Leslie Spry, MD, spokesperson for the National Kidney Foundation. Signs of advancing CKD include swollen ankles, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, decreased appetite, blood in the urine and foamy urine.

6: Should I get tested? If you have any risk factors, yes; otherwise, no. “Right now, most people who are at risk aren’t being screened,” says Dr. Spry, “so we need to focus on them.”

7: If I do need to be tested, which tests should I get? The two most essential are a urine test to measure the ratio of albumin (a protein) to creatinine (a normal waste product) in the urine (presence of albumin indicates CKD); and a blood test to measure glomerular filtration rate (GFR)—how well your kidneys filter creatinine out of the blood. The study of data from the National Kidney Foundation’s KEEP Program found that the urine test is more sensitive to early signs of CKD.

8: What if a test indicates I may have CKD? First, schedule another test. “You need the results of two tests taken more than three months apart to define the condition,” says Dr. Spry. Depending on the results, your doctor may want to monitor your results for a while or schedule other tests. The two of you should also discuss and adjust any medications you’re taking to reduce stress on your kidneys.

9: If CKD is diagnosed, will I need to see a specialist? Not if it’s caught early and you’re otherwise in good health. If it’s advanced or advancing rapidly, however, or you have other health problems as well, your doctor could recommend that you immediately see a specialist.

10: Can CKD be cured? Usually not, says Dr. Spry, which is why early detection is crucial. “If it’s caught early, it allows more time for interventions that can slow its progress.”

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Six Step Primer to Kidney Health

National Kidney Foundation Offers Six–Step Health Primer, Announces Free Screenings on 
World Kidney Day, March 11
Most Americans know that heart disease and cancer can be silent killers and understand that monitoring blood pressure and cholesterol and having regular mammograms are critical to protecting their health. Too few adults—and not enough doctors—realize, however, that chronic kidney disease (CKD) is another common, life—threatening illness that often goes undetected until very advanced when it could be diagnosed early through simple tests.
Recent studies report that 26 million Americans suffer from CKD and millions more are at risk. Worse, today’s epidemics of diabetes and obesity could contribute to even higher rates of CKD in the future. Undiagnosed and untreated, CKD can lead to serious health problems including kidney failure (end-stage renal disease). Caught early, it can often be managed, and kidney damage can be slowed or stopped. That’s why early testing for people at risk is so important.
In preparation for National Kidney Month (March 2010) and World Kidney Day (March 11), the National Kidney Foundation (NKF) offers this 6-step primer for protecting health.

Step 1: Know These Facts

6 Things Healthy Kidneys Do:
    •    Regulate the body’s fluid levels
    •    Filter wastes and toxins from the blood
    •    Release a hormone that regulates blood pressure
    •    Activate Vitamin D to maintain healthy bones
    •    Release the hormone that directs production of red blood cells
    •    Keep blood minerals in balance (sodium, phosphorus, potassium)
8 Problems CKD Can Cause:
    •    Cardiovascular disease
    •    Heart attack and stroke
    •    High blood pressure
    •    Death
    •    Weak bones
    •    Nerve damage (neuropathy)
    •    Kidney failure (end-stage renal disease, or ESRD)
    •    Anemia or low red blood cell count

Step 2: Assess Your Risk

4 Main Risk Factors:
--Diabetes (self or family)
--High blood pressure (self or family)
--Cardiovascular disease (self or family)
--Family history of kidney disease or diabetes or high blood pressure

I obviously don't know my family history but I had NONE of the above risks (that I was aware of)

10 Additional Risk Factors:
    •    African-American heritage
    •    Native American heritage
    •    Hispanic, Asian, Pacific Islander heritage
    •    Age 60 or older
    •    Obesity
    •    Low birth weight
    •    Prolonged use of NSAIDs, a type of painkillers, such as ibuprofen and naproxen
    •    Lupus, other autoimmune disorders
    •    Chronic urinary tract infections
    •    Kidney stones
The only risk factors I had out of this group were autoimmune diseases.  I have low thyroid and endometriosis.  I had used Naproxen on a regular basis to ease the pain of endometriosis but it was determined that wasn't a factor in my type of kidney disease.

Step 3: Recognize Symptoms
Most people with early CKD have no symptoms, which is why early testing is critical. By the time symptoms appear, CKD may be advanced, and symptoms can be misleading. Pay attention to these:
8 Possible Trouble Signs:
    •    Fatigue, weakness
    •    Difficult, painful urination
    •    Foamy urine
    •    Pink, dark urine (blood in urine)
    •    Puffy eyes
    •    Swollen face, hands, abdomen, ankles, feet
    •    Increased thirst
    •    Increased need to urinate
(especially at night)

Looking back, I realize I had most of these symptoms.  Hind sight is 20/20.

Step 4: Get Tested

If you or a loved one belong to a high-risk group, ask your primary-care physician about these tests—and be especially insistent about the last one. Your doctor may want to perform other tests as well.
4 Simple, Life-Saving Tests:
Blood Pressure
High blood pressure can damage small blood vessels (glomeruli) in the kidneys. It is the second-leading cause of kidney failure after diabetes.
Below 140/90 is good for most people. Below 130/80 is better if you have chronic kidney disease. Below 120/80 is best.
Protein in Urine
Traces of a type of protein, albumin in urine (albuminuria) is an early sign of CKD. Persistent amounts of albumin and other proteins in the urine (proteinuria) indicate kidney damage.
Less than 30 mg of albumin per gram of urinary creatinine (a normal waste product)
Creatinine in Blood (Serum Creatinine)
Healthy kidneys filter creatinine (a waste product from muscle activity) out of the blood. When kidney function is reduced, creatinine levels rise.
0.6 to 1.2 mg per deciliter of blood, depending on other variables
Glomerular Filtration Rate (GFR)
This is the most sensitive and accurate gauge of kidney function. Doctors measure blood creatinine levels and perform a calculation based on age, race, and gender.
Over 90 is good. 60-89 should be monitored. Less than 60 for 3 months indicates CKD.

Step 5: Stay Healthy

6 Things People with CKD Should Do:
    •    Lower high blood pressure
    •    Keep blood-sugar levels under control if diabetic
    •    Reduce salt intake
    •    Avoid NSAIDs, a type of painkillers
    •    Moderate protein consumption
    •    Get an annual flu shot

9 Things Everyone Should Do:
    •    Exercise regularly
    •    Control weight
    •    Follow a balanced diet
    •    Quit smoking
    •    Drink only in moderation
    •    Stay hydrated
    •    Monitor cholesterol levels
    •    Get an annual physical
    •    Know your family medical history

Step 6: Learn More

    •    The National Kidney Foundation will offer free kidney screenings through its Kidney Early Evaluation Program (KEEP) for people at risk for CKD in at least 20 cities across the country on World Kidney Day, March 11. For locations and schedules, visit
    •    To learn more about CKD risk factors, prevention and treatment, visit
To learn more about chronic kidney disease, risk factors or to find a free KEEP screening in your area contact the National Kidney Foundation at or (800)622-9010.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Top 5 Kidney Related Myths and Misconceptions

Top 5 Kidney-Related Myths and Misconceptions

Overlooked, overworked and misunderstood. Your wife? No, actually, it’s your kidneys we’re talking about. They’re on call 24/7 filtering toxins from your body, regulating fluids and blood pressure. Yet, most people don’t know where they are, let alone what they or what the warnings signs and risk factors are for kidney disease. Dr. Leslie Spry, National Kidney Foundation spokesperson, sets the record straight on some common kidney-related misconceptions.

1. I have back pain so it must be my kidneys. Pain in the back may come from kidney disease if you have infection or blockage of the kidneys. Other forms of kidney disease rarely cause pain in the back. The most common cause of back pain is disease of the muscles or spine and not kidney disease. The kidney can only feel pain if the covering of the kidney (called the capsule) is stretched. This means swelling of the kidney from either infection or blockage of urine flow (such as a kidney stone) will result in pain that typically radiates from the flank and may come around the side to cause pain down into the groin area.

2. I don’t have any trouble passing my urine so my kidneys must be fine. Even patients who are on dialysis make urine most every day. Damaged kidneys will continue to make urine even if they no longer properly clean your blood. Kidney disease can be completely without symptoms. The only way you can tell if you have kidney disease is to have blood and urine testing as recommended by the National Kidney Foundation.

3. As I age, it is normal for my blood pressure to be higher. While it is true that blood pressure gradually increases with age, many elderly patients still have a normal blood pressure. Normal blood pressure is still 120/80 at any age and if your blood pressure is elevated, you should be evaluated by your physician. Studies have continued to show a benefit of treating even very elderly patients for high blood pressure. High blood pressure is the second most common cause of kidney disease and is the most common cause of kidney disease in the elderly.

4. I can feel my blood sugar and regulate it on the basis of how I feel. Unfortunately, the longer you have diabetes the less likely this is true. Diabetes is the most common cause of kidney disease and patients with chronic kidney disease develop two complications related to diabetes. They are less likely to notice changes in blood sugar the way they used to. This is because diabetes gradually injures the body nerves in exactly the same way as it does the kidney. Hence your ability to “feel” your blood sugar is lost as one develops progressive kidney disease. Second, the kidney helps to break down insulin in the body. As kidney function is lost, insulin tends to last longer in the body. Loss of kidney function can result in very low blood sugars for prolonged periods of time as the insulin lasts longer and longer in the body.

5. If my blood pressure is normal, I don’t need to take my blood pressure pills. Patients with kidney disease need to maintain a normal blood pressure and the use of specific blood pressure agents such as ACE-inhibitors and ARB agents help to protect the kidney against damage. So, in addition to maintaining control of the blood pressure, these agents are kidney-protective and should be taken as prescribed by your doctor.

Monday, March 08, 2010

National Kidney Month

I'll bet you didn't even know there was such a month.

I didn't either.  Until four years ago when the doctor gave me some news that would change my life.

You already know that I have kidney disease.  I was diagnosed during our adoption physicals, after countless(sometimes painful) tests and finally a kidney biopsy.   When the doctor gave us the news we were completely in shock.  Kidney disease was so far off of our radar.

Actually it wasn't even *on* our radar.

At the time of diagnosis the prognosis was not great.  My blood pressure was high(because my kidneys were not functioning properly),  and there was an alarming amount of protein in my urine.  My nephrologist at the time told us that if we couldn't get these main factors under control it was likely I would need to go on dialysis within the next 5 years and have a kidney transplant within the next 8.

There was no treatment.  No cure.

Have ever been in a doctor's office and had them tell you something that would change the course of your life forever?  It is overwhelming.  Confounding. Terrifying.   The doctor is trying to give you all  this information and the only thing that keeps rolling around in your head is "There is no treatment for this.  No cure."

We found out on a Thursday afternoon.  We didn't talk about it much in the car on the way home, which is odd for us.  As soon as we got home I went into my bedroom and went to bed.  It was 5:00 at night.  That was my way of not dealing with it.  If I was asleep then we couldn't talk about it, think about it.  I went to work the next day and tried not to think about it some more. I think I ended up leaving early that day.  That weekend was a blur but I distinctly remember sitting on our couch crying and saying over and over to Joe "But I don't want to have Kidney disease".

At that point we thought our adoption was over.  Our adoption agency had already closed for the weekend so we weren't able to call and find out anymore information until Monday.  It was the longest weekend of our lives.  Finally Monday rolled around and Joe called them first thing. They told us that if we could get a letter from the doctor that was worded very specifically, that it should be fine. As it turned out,  my neprologist refused to write that letter.  It took months and months of explaining and phone calls and finally begging before he finally agreed to write it.

I am no longer seeing that doctor. :)

There were many symptoms that should have tipped us off that something was not right with my health.
Suddenly my blood pressure became high.  I have always had low blood pressure.  Sometimes it even bordered on too low and I would feel faint.  (Did you know that your blood pressure is directly related to your kidney function? I didn't).

About a year before my diagnosis whenever I would go to the doctor they would tell me my blood pressure was slightly on the high side.  I remember thinking that was odd, given my history of low blood pressure  but when I questioned the doctor about it he would tell me "Sometimes people get nervous at the doctor so their blood pressure rises".

This happened over and over again. Every time I would tell Joe in the car on the way home "But I wasn't nervous.  I didn't feel nervous at all in there. Why would my blood pressure be high??"

That should have been my first clue that something was wrong.

The second clue was that there was blood in my urine.  But I didn't know it was blood.  I thought that blood in your urine would look like well, blood.  Red.  Mine consistently looked smoky brown and somewhat like tea or cola.  I thought that it meant I should be drinking more water so that's what I did.  Every time my doctor sent me to have blood work done and a urinalysis, he would call me and ask me if I was menstruating when I had my urine sample taken.  Every time I would call them back and tell them that No, I had not been menstruating when I gave my sample.  He would have me go back for another sample and lo and behold, there would be blood in my urine again.  This happened many, many times over the course of a year.

The third clue was the headaches.  Oh my goodness the headaches.  Like nothing I had ever experienced before in my life.  I had suffered from Migraines my whole life so we(myself and my doctors) figured they had just gotten worse over time.  The strange thing about these headaches is that they would often come on in the middle of the night. I would go to bed fine and one would come on while I was sleeping that would be so bad it would actually wake me up.  Simply awful.

That is one of the main symptoms of high blood pressure. Another piece of the puzzle that hadn't yet clicked into place.

I also experienced a swollen, puffy face, ankles and feet.

The last symptom I had was extreme exhaustion. This was one of the symptoms that probably never would have caught my attention had it not been for the other symptoms.  I mean, everybody's tired, right?  This went beyond tired. I was coming home from work  at 3:00 in the afternoon and going right to my bedroom and taking a two-three hour nap every day only to get up and make dinner and go back to bed at 8:30 or 9:00 at night and sleep through the night. On the weekends I would often sleep until noon, only to go back and take a nap at 3:00.

When I look back on that period of my life now I realize I was missing so much.  People at work would ask me if I had seen a television show that had been on the night before and I would  say "No, I haven't seen it.  Don't tell me what happens.  I'm going to watch it this weekend". (This was before Facebook where every single thing was announced before we can see it on the West coast.)

I was sleeping my life away.

If you have read my blog for any length of time you know that I did a 6 month course of heavy steroids and it amazingly shocked my body into remission.  This happens in only 1-3 percent of the cases. With blood pressure medication,  a diruetic and Fish Oil tablets, I was able to maintain that remission until only recently.

At my last two visits with my nephrologist the protein levels in my urine have come back slightly elevated.  So technically I am not "in remission" any longer, but my condition is "stable" and my doctor believes if we can maintain these levels I won't have to worry about a kidney transplant for another 15-20 years.  This makes all of us(my doctor, Joe, Me) extremely happy.

Even though my kidney disease is stable now,  there was irreversible damage to my kidneys during the time it went undiagnosed(which is basically  my entire life.)  I have symptoms that I will likely have for the rest of my life.

I still feel tired often.  My body needs more rest than a "normal" person.  If I don't get it, I start to feel sick.  Sore throat, body aches, and headaches that  never develop into anything and go away after a couple of days.

Sometimes I have dark circles under my eyes, even if I have gotten plenty of rest.  My eyes are often puffy too, on my eyelids and above, near my eyebrows.

There is often blood in my urine still, although nothing like it was before.

I often have lower back pain, or "flank pain" as they call it.  A dull aching pain in my lower back that will last for several days and then disappear. 

These are things that I will have for the rest of my life.  I have learned to live with them and plan my life accordingly.  If I feel tired, I take a nap.  Without guilt or worrying about all the stuff that needs to be done around the house.  If my body needs rest, I rest.  I can't lift heavy objects.  It can exacerbate flank pain.  So I don't do it.  Ever.  Sometimes standing for long periods of time can cause my back to hurt too.  It's one of the reasons I left my old job.  It was too physically demanding.  If we go somewhere that requires lots of standing(like Disneyland), we take a lot of breaks.  We sit on benches a lot and people watch until I feel good enough to continue.

If you got all the way to the end of that, then you really are a good friend :)

I guess what I would hope for people to get out of this, me telling my story, is to pay attention to your body. Don't ignore signs you might be having.  If something doesn't seem right to you , it probably isn't.  Don't be afraid to question your doctor, to ask for blood work and tests to be done.

I have learned that I have to be an advocate for myself and if I can't get the answers I want from one doctor it's o.k. to go looking for another. It isn't about protecting your doctor's feelings.  It's about protecting yourself.

Over the next month I will be posting some facts about kidney disease. The signs and symptoms and FAQ. Hopefully you won't need any of that information.  :)   But it doesn't hurt to be educated.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Weeekend Walks

A few weeks ago Joe and I made a commitment to each other that on the weekends we would make time to get some exercise.  Thankfully we have some lovely areas that are near to our apartments that we can go to.

We have had rain three weekends in a row but I love to walk in the rain so we haven’t let that stop us.

One of our favorite places to walk is the San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary.  We went there a few weekends ago.





I was able to catch this hummingbird in flight.


We passed this couple on our walk and after we went by Joe turned to me and said “Some day that will be us” and  my heart melted right then and there.


It is also a bird sanctuary

I just love the bare branches of a tree in Winter.

This makes me feel like we are out in the country


We stopped at a local farmer’s stand and they were growing these beauties.  Mmmmmm.

Signs of Spring

This is another of our favorite places to walk.  We went here yesterday, at dusk.  It was raining quite hard by the time we were finished. Loved it.  Some of these were taken with my cell phone, as I can’t seem to get my Dad’s camera to take non-blurry pictures. Frustrating.






At the end of our walk we were pretty much soaked. Gizmo was none too happy about that.

We have been having a good time and getting in some exercise to boot.  Can't beat that!

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Would You Like Some Cheese with your Whine?

Caution:  Whining ahead.

I am miserable.

The kind of miserable that makes you cry in the car on the way home, and then continue crying while you take shower and cry still as you dry off and put on your pajamas at 5:30 at night because you can't wait to crawl into bed and pull the covers over your head and hope to God that the next day is better.

I guess I should backtrack a little bit.

I mentioned in an earlier post that I was having some dental work done.

I think you can guess where I am going with this.

Yesterday I had my very first root canal.   It was a complete and total nightmare, from beginning to end.

I had to have a dentist in the Endodontist department do it, and not my regular dentist.  I went into the procedure a little nervous but not overly worried, as everything I had done up to that point wasn't too terribly painful and I had a "pulp ectomy" two weeks ago and my tooth felt great after that.

I went in, met my endodontist and we talked about the procedure.  I told him I was a little nervous and asked him if it was going to hurt.  He said that the procedure itself shouldn't hurt at all, and that there might be "a little discomfort" later that night.

He is a big, fat, liar. Seriously.  I don't know how his nose didn't grow two feet after saying that to me.

He started out with the injections to administer the Novocain(or Lidocain.  Is there a difference?  I'll have to ask my Dad because don't know).   I knew right away that this experience was going to be different than my others.  When my Dentist gives me my injections, they don't hurt.  He is very gentle and he does them slowly and he asks me if I am o.k. while he is giving them.

These injections hurt.  A lot.  I told him so but he said if I could muster through it I would feel fine in a few minutes.  He didn't do them slowly and he didn't ask me if I was o.k and they hurt.


He sat me up and gave the numbing agents a chance to work.  He asked me if I felt numb.  I told him "sort of".  He seemed puzzled.  He said he would give it a few more minutes but didn't think it was necessary to give another injection.

I should pause the story here and say that I am extremely hard to get numb.  My dentist has to give me 5 or 6 injections before I am completely numb and when he did my pulp ectomy two weeks ago he had to give me 8 before I was completely numb.

Anyway, I'm sitting in the chair and he is asking me if my tongue is numb(yes), is my lip numb(yes), does the side of my cheek feel numb(yes).  How about my tooth?  Did it feel numb?

NO.  It did not feel numb. I could feel the cold water when they rinsed my mouth out.  I told him so.

He looked puzzled again and said he was going to get started and see how I did.

Things started out o.k.  He began removing my temporary filling.  He started to clean out the canals and all of a sudden I practically came flying out of the chair.


He jumps back and looks even more puzzled and immediately calls the attending dentist over to have a look.

The attending dentist takes a look and starts explaining to me that some people have this extra nerve that runs along the bottom of their tooth and I must be one of those people and sometimes it can be hard to numb them and blah, blah, blah.

I don't care!  That hurts and you need to numb me some more!  Right now!

So the attending dentist tells me he is going to have to put some Novocain(Lidocain?) directly into the nerve itself(inside my tooth!) and it's going to be "uncomfortable".

In the words of my co-worker DeAnn, Oh  Hell to the NO!

In lieu of having the rest of the root canal done without any anesthetic at all, I agreed for him to continue on.  I don't know it you have ever had a needle stuck inside your tooth and into the nerve but it hurts.  Like no pain I have ever experienced.  And I have experienced a lot of pain in my life.

Thankfully the needle in the nerve in my tooth worked and soon I was feeling no pain.

The endodontist continues on with his work.  By this time it has been 3 and a half hours and I am literally shaking  because it's so cold in there(why do dental offices have to be as cold as a morgue?) and I just want to be done with this torture already.

He is having a hard time cleaning out one of my canals.  He can't get his file in there because my tooth has some sort of curve to it, blah, blah, blah and Dude I don't care just finish it so I can go out to my car and have a good cry already because I am  DONE.

It was at this point that the anesthetic completely wore off.  As in no pain killers.  At all.  It was one of the most traumatic things I have ever experienced.

He tells me he realizes that I am "uncomfortable" but he is almost finished and if I can just hang in there everything will be fine. I was gripping the arms of the dental chair so hard I was losing feeling in my fingers and shaking so badly that my vision was blurring.

He tells me he needs to take an x-ray to see how much further he needs to go.  I have been laying down for four hours.  When I get up I experience so much dizziness that things actually start to go black.  I thought I was going to pass out.  I had to sit back down on the chair and gather myself before I was able to follow him to the x-ray room.

This is when I lost it.  Tears streaming down my face as he took the x-rays.  He seemed so confused by this.  Maybe he has never made a girl cry before.  Which is surprising to me because he does root canals for a living.

He gets me back to the chair and tells me that he won't be able to finish it today and I'll have to come back another time.  Whatever.  I'll do whatever you say, as long as you just take those "files" out of my tooth and fill it back up and let me get out of here already.

He put the temp filling back in, gave me a few Ibuprofin to take home(are you serious?) and told me to call him if I didn't feel better in the morning.

As soon as I got home I took a Percocet and went to bed.  I slept for four hours before I had to get up and go to work.  I had to have Joe drive me because I was doped up.  I took some of the Ibuprofin he gave me to get me through the night at work and as soon as Joe picked me up I took a Vicodin and went home and straight to bed.

(If you are wondering where I am getting all of these pain pills, they are all left over from various surgeries I have had in the past because I didn't need all of them because none of those surgeries were as painful as this unfinished root canal was!)

This morning when I got up the pain was ten times worse than yesterday.  Unbearable, throbbing pain radiating from the affected tooth.  I couldn't bend over to tie my shoe without severe pain shooting up the left side of my face.  Forget about eating breakfast.  I couldn't even have my teeth touch together at all. I went to work hungry.

I popped some Tylenol to help me get through work and tried to make the best of it.  It didn't help much. It was pretty much a total bust at work today.  I was useless.

I called and left a pretty stern message on his voicemail letting him know how much pain I was in.  I may or may not have told him that I would NOT be going back there to have it finished because they caused me more pain in one visit than any medical procedure I had ever experienced, including my hysterectomy.  I also may or may not have told him that I was slightly angry that he told me I would feel "minimal discomfort" after he procedure instead of the white hot pain I was actually feeling. 

He did return my call this evening.  I won't bore you with the details but he is calling in a prescription for more Vicodin tomorrow and I am going back on Wednesday to "see what they can do".     I can tell you right now, if if doesn't include some Nitrus Oxide or some other sedative they won't be doing anything.  I'm not going through that again.

I'm taking another Vicodin and going to bed early. 

Now I know why people hate the dentist.