Health Update – Mom, Grandma, and Me

I have had a lot of reviews on my blog lately, and unfortunately I haven’t had time to do too much other blogging, because as usual our life has been hectic. In my last real post I shared how my mom had been diagnosed with Kidney disease and had to have two different surgeries.

The surgeries were a lot harder on her than we were expecting. She woke up in so much pain that they decided to keep her in the hospital an extra night. When she came home she was still hurting. A few weeks later they took the two stints out of her kidneys and she started feeling better. Not good, but better. So far the test results show that her kidney function has improved a little, now we just have to play the waiting game.

This week she went in for another surgery to fix her hernia. To say she was nervous would be the understatement of the year. After all of the pain she felt from the kidney surgeries, she was really afraid of how bad she would hurt after this surgery.

When she woke up she was relieved. The pain was nowhere near as bad as the other surgery. But as the days have gone by it is very difficult for her to get up and down. Right now we are taking it day by day. With her back hurting from the kidney surgery and her front hurting from the hernia surgery, she is uncomfortable all of the time. Thankfully my aunt was able to stay with us a few days to keep an eye on Grandma and help out. I am not much help right now because my leg and back are getting worse by the day. I did finally get an appointment with another new doctor next week so I am hopeful that she will have some answers.

Daily Life caregiving

How is Grandma doing? She has her good days and bad days. Lately she has been is a better mood, our problem is her sleeping. She tends to be up for 48 hours straight at times and that can be difficult. I am the first to admit that when I am in pain (always) and don’t get enough sleep I am not the nicest person. Some days you will find us sleeping in until noon because Grandma didn’t go to bed until 5 or 6 in the morning. This of course messes up our school schedule, but we are about where I had wanted to be curriculum wise. Grandma has joined in on school a few times recently and even enjoyed writing on the chalkboard. Her favorite subject is our read aloud time.

Merry Christmas

Memory wise Grandma is a little worse. She seems to know us better and even calls us by name at times, but her sense of time is completely off. She tends to think she is about 10 years old. She is happy most of the time though especially this time of year when the house is decorated for Christmas. We have stopped telling her that her parents and husband have died unless she asks directly. We avoid answering as much as possible by using phrases like…. I haven’t seen her today, They won’t be picking you up tonight, and Yeah, your mother knows where you are. Since we made this little change she cries way less. She still has a mouth on her and wants things her way but life is a little easier. Health wise she is good and we are praying she stays that way!

Adding Kidney Disease to the Mix

Life around here has been a little bit crazy to say the least. After over ten years without insurance my mom finally was able to get health insurance. The best part is that she was lucky enough to get a great plan. It was definitely a God send! Now that she has insurance though, there have been a lot of appointments. It seems as if every week we are getting called about another class, test, or doctor that they need her to go to. My grandmother has had numerous tests as well…..sometimes it feels like I am living in the waiting room. Our schoolwork hasn’t suffered too much, we bring what we can and do the rest when we get the chance.

One result from the many tests that they performed showed that my mom has stage 4 kidney disease. Talk about a life changing moment. There were tears, frustration, and a lot of stress. After one appointment with a kidney specialist we were given a DVD all about dialysis and living with kidney disease. After wrapping our head around the diagnosis, we went home to watch the DVD. We were expecting a boring informational DVD about dialysis but what we got was a lot different. The DVD reminded me of a timeshare pitch except they weren’t pitching a vacation spot, they were pitching life with dialysis. They made the whole idea of kidney disease feel like it was no big deal, that life would go on as normal. You just pick one of the two types of dialysis, decide if you want treatment at home or in a facility and live your life. Even though the video was a bit unrealistic, I actually like we could manage this crazy disease after the video. Of course we knew there was more to the disease than dialysis. She didn’t need dialysis yet, and may never. The doctor just wanted us to be prepared and informed for when and if the time comes.

There were a few small changes in the beginning. She can only get blood drawn from her dominant hand in order to save the veins in her non dominant hand, and there are a few medications that she was taking previously that she could no longer take. The biggest change was diet. Her diet Dr. Pepper that she loved had to go. Being diabetic we have always been told to eat more protein and limit carbohydrates. With kidney disease the opposite is true. Protein is very limited. Limiting protein, we could do that. But limiting both carbohydrates and protein, that is a bit difficult. In addition to limiting the protein we were told to limit phosphorus ( I had never even heard of that), sodium, potassium, and calcium. At first I didn’t know what I would be able to cook for her.

After talking with the nutritionist we found out that the main thing my mom had to watch was protein. We went to a few classes, but unfortunately the diabetic diet and the kidney diet basically contradicted each other. The one said to eat more protein and limit the carbs, the other said limit the protein and eat more carbohydrates. Then we were given a diet for diabetics with kidney disease, and it was a joke. What they wanted her to eat would have her blood sugar so high it would be crazy. For breakfast they wanted her to eat three pancakes, one egg, a biscuit, and coffee. Who eats biscuits and pancakes in one meal?

With some adjusting we were able to find a fairly good mix. Not only has her sugar went down, but she has lost over 30 pounds. By following a good diet, some strong will power, and changing a few medications, she was able to go from stage 4 to stage 3 kidney disease.

The tests also showed that she had quite a few kidney stones. One of which had embedded itself into her kidney and was, according to her doctor, slowly killing her kidney.  Today she is having surgery to remove that stone. In theory, once the stone is out her kidney function should improve a little. If that happens then dialysis should be a long time off.

As I sit in the waiting room while she is having surgery I can’t believe that just four months ago we didn’t even know she had kidney disease. It has been a whirlwind to say the least, but I am so thankful that she is on the road to recovery. She will always have kidney disease, but I am hoping that we can manage it and that she is able to thrive and live a great life. If you have a moment please say a prayer that all goes well with the surgery and her recovery.