By Larry Blustein, Managing Editor, South Florida Sun Times
In my 30 plus years as a newspaper columnist, I have done so many feel good stories about survivors – and in that time – have never thought about what would happen if one of these stories and causes would affect my family. How would I approach writing about something that is closer to home than ever before?
On June 12, 2004, I was handed the answer to that question when I was told that my kidneys were declining and that some day, I would have to look toward a time-consuming three-day-a-week dialysis that would actually be the only link between life and death. Eventually, I would need a kidney transplant to survive.
For eight years, I changed my diet and my philosophies about life. I realized that there would come a time where my 80-plus hours and four jobs a week would take a backseat to something I had no control over. That time is fast approaching, and shedding all the tears in the world will not stop what lies ahead for my family, friends and for myself.
Just like most who are told this life-altering news, I began to research and see what I could do to make this Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD) slow down. From nutrition to exercise, the only chance that I would have against this disease that fully engulfs your kidneys until you simply have no filtering system left for your blood, was to lower salt, potassium and proteins – and watch my creatinine levels. Never before have I read so many labels – in the small chance that anything I could do would be a positive.
Every so often, I will drop by with information in this BLOG that is first-hand and something that will give all of you an understanding that you are NOT going through this alone. I also encourage feedback. I want you to send me e-mails and share experiences. You will all be just as helpful to me as well.
No matter what anyone tells you, diet is everything. When you are told to cut back on sodium and potassium, it is not a mere suggestion. It is designed to prolong your native kidney, holding off dialysis and giving you time train your body for a new organ.
Just a like when you diet throughout your life and want it to be successful, developing a lifestyle is a must when it comes to battling kidney disease. While staying away from such good things such as tomatoes, bananas, oranges and other high in potassium foods is always tough, there are no options.
As someone who has cooked all of my life, I am now in control of my diet more than ever before. Just be proactive when it comes to what you put in your body. You don’t have to be a trained chef to be healthy. All you have to do is read recipes that the National Kidney Foundation or your nephrologist has, and follow to the letter. I will even share some pretty good tasting recipes that I have come up with as well.
The days of alcohol and other things that may have been part of our lives, will take a backseat now that we are all in this together and looking for a better and more productive life. Remember, we are all in the same situation, and moral support and knowledge always steps to the front.
In the coming weeks, I will also tackle such important topics as “Busting the Top 5 Myths about Kidney Disease (or kidney transplant)”, “Top Tips for Living with Kidney Disease”, “What you need to know if you’re waiting for a kidney and how to live a healthier lifestyle” as well as being “On the Waiting List? Don’t Give Up”.
Have some feeback on anything from today’s BLOG? Drop Larry Blustein a note at LBlustein@aol.com.