Managing Kidney Disease From Diagnosis to Transplant
Total years in practice: 20
My diagnosis of kidney disease came as a total surprise. No one in my family has a history of kidney problems. A routine urinalysis revealed that I had high levels of protein in my urine (proteinuria) and my blood pressure had started to creep up, both of which are strong indicators of kidney disease. A kidney biopsy confirmed that I have IgA Nephropathy, a type of glomerulonephritis, or inflammation of the kidneys.
Since IgA Nephropathy causes end-stage kidney failure in about half of those who are diagnosed, I started adhering strictly to a kidney-friendly diet right away. I wanted to take every step I could to avoid dialysis and transplant if at all possible. Unfortunately, since my kidneys were already so damaged, my disease did progress to end-stage failure. I spent four months on dialysis until I was given the most precious gift anyone could ever receive: a kidney transplant from a living donor.
It’s important to me to take care of my new kidney for two reasons. I want it to last as long as possible so that I can enjoy a happy, healthy life. I also want to make my donor proud so that she doesn’t regret the decision to give me a kidney.
I love this food or dish: Salmon, stir fried vegetables, and brown rice. It’s delicious, filling, and healthy.
While I will have to take anti-rejection medications for the rest of my life, I know I can take other steps to maintain my own health. Making the right food choices and adhering to an exercise regimen can help me remain healthier overall.
I’ve been trying to lose weight ever since I was put on Prednisone, which caused me to gain weight. I try to workout at least 30-45 minutes 5-6 days per week. Since intense workouts such as P90X can put additional strain on the kidneys, I try to stick to moderate cardio exercise. I like to walk or jog on the treadmill, use the elliptical, or do dance workouts. While it’s recommended that people with kidney disease avoid heavy weightlifting, my doctor has given me approval to lift lightweights.
Throughout the course of my disease, my diet has gone through several changes. One thing that has stayed the same is that I watch my sodium intake to keep my blood pressure under control. I also take fish oil supplements because they are believed to help reduce kidney inflammation.
While I was on dialysis, I needed to limit my fluid intake and be conscious of the phosphorous in my diet, which meant avoiding foods like dairy and beans. Most people who require dialysis tend to have high potassium and need to monitor their potassium intake as well, but my potassium was on the lower side so I was still able to continue eating foods like broccoli and tomatoes.
Now that I’m post-transplant, I have to avoid pomegranate, grapefruit, and starfruit because they can interact with my anti-rejection medicines. Since my immune system is suppressed, I also need to be very conscious about avoiding bacteria in my diet. That means cleaning fruits and vegetables with vinegar and water, ensuring that all meats are well-cooked, avoiding well water, and staying away from foods that aren’t pasteurized, such as dairy from a farm, apple cider, and honey. I also need to remain well hydrated. Although these have been big changes, they are easy in comparison to life on a machine.