Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Phosphorus Again & Dental Issues

Chris' phosphorus was up last time we saw Jen, so she recommended doubling up on the Renvala to 2 with each meal.  Chris thought maybe his increased intake of Kool-Aid was causing the problem and Jen agreed.   Chris is laying off the Kool-Aid for now, and we'll see when his next tests come back whether that was the culprit.   If not, 2 Renvalas per meal it is.

Chris had a big dental check-up and X-rays last week.  Several cavities.  These all must be fixed so he can stay on the transplant list.   His first appointment for fillings is today, and he has his antibiotic to take beforehand.

We're both suffering from dry-mouth.  I think this is due to medications we take.   I purchased Biotene rinse, spray, gel, and toothpaste.   These are supposed to help with dry-mouth.  We didn't realize this, but the dentist told us that dry-mouth is a big factor in cavities!   This may help explain why Chris has several... he has only had ONE up to this point in his whole life.

He's keeping up with cardiac rehab and doing very well.   He does this Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays.  Next kidney appointment is next week.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Caregiver Stress Syndrome

I knew this caregiving stuff was stressful, but I didn't know it was a recognized condition!!   Reading this article today was like looking in a mirror.  It's from Yahoo! news.

The average caregiver in the U.S. is a woman in her late 40s. Many are "sandwichers," looking after both children and aging parents. With little time or opportunity for adequate self-care, they're prone to "caregiving stress syndrome," a condition linked to a medical chart full of health woes, including obesity, diabetes, heart disease, high cholesterol, dementia, and back strain. More than 70 percent of family caregivers show signs of depression.

Men care for loved ones, too, of course. But women tend to have more negative experiences as caregivers than men, who focus more on problem-solving and less on emotional nuances, says I-Fen Lin, a sociologist at Bowling Green State University. Wives caring for husbands report the highest stress load, her research shows.

Emotional eating is a common coping strategy that backfires on health.

Silver lining: When stress is managed with good self-care and time off, many caregivers report a deeply enriching experience. Some caregivers even show improved longevity, better memory, and better physical strength, as well as a sense of meaning and purpose, say Boston University researchers.

Self-care started by accident, with the broken tooth, but now I'm about a month in -- at least with taking blood-pressure meds and going to the dentist.  Have a ways to go with other care topics, but I'm starting.

Please, dear readers, if you see me displaying signs of dementia PLEASE let me or Chris know.  I have all the other symptoms already.

Monday, July 09, 2012

Hot, Hot, Hot!

It's super-hot here today -- a record-breaking 108 degrees!   I'm so glad Chris was able to drive himself to cardiac rehab.   Today they finally changed up his exercise regimen, so he's happy about that.   His last visit to rehab (Thursday) didn't result in any exercise because his blood pressure was too low.  I picked him up early and we went to DaVita to see Jen.

Tomorrow, he's expecting his Baxter dialysis supply delivery between 7 and 10 in the morning.   He's actually hooked up to dialysis now, which is on the early side, so he can be disconnected and ready for the delivery person early.   We're hoping he gets everything he needs.   We're worried because his order wasn't submitted until Friday.   It's also for a whole different scheme of dialysis with daytime fills/drains, so hopefully he & Jennifer calculated everything properly.

Also tomorrow Chris starts collecting fluid.   When we go to DaVita on Wednesday, he'll bring his output for testing again and see if this week's new dialysis schema is an improvement over the last one.

In other news, Chris' incision site from the open-heart surgery has healed to the point where we can start putting Mederma scar-reduction gel on it.   Hopefully he'll see some improvement over time.

Monday, July 02, 2012

Low Average to LOW

Chris has been keeping very busy with his 3/week rehab.   On Thursday 6/28, he also did some labs and got his 26,000 units of iron at DaVita with Jennifer.

Because of the heart surgery, his body's ability to transfer waste products via dialysis has gone from low-average to low.   He's going to have to increase the volume of dialysis from 2000 to 2500 and he's going to have to add a manual fluid exchange in the middle of the day to his 10-hour exchanges via machine at night.

We don't know if it's related to the extra toxins in his body, but Chris has been suffering very bad attacks of hiccups lasting from 30 minutes to over an hour.  None of the doctors we've contacted want to give him any muscle relaxers to fix this... but I think we're going to have to be a little more persistent and keep trying.  The hiccups are causing him quite a bit of pain on his incision site.

We have a dialysis fluid delivery tomorrow, in addition to our regular delivery next Wednesday.  Because Chris' dialysis hasn't been as successful, we've been using a lot more of the higher-concentration fluid.   They're bringing us more "red" bags because Chris will be out before his regular delivery gets here.

I asked him if there was anything else he wanted me to say here and he replied, "I'm miserable!"   So there you have it.