Forgiving myself, again

How unhappy is he who cannot forgive himself.

–Publilius Syrus

I thought about self-forgiveness today, on my way home from the nephrologist.  In my life, self-forgiveness has come in stages.  I remembered this today, when I visited the doctor.  She was full of good news — the result of this month’s lab tests was excellent, and all my numbers were within limits, although some were on the ragged edge of high or low. Continue reading


Medical Challenges

I am wracking my brain, to come up with a different way to refer to Kidney Failure.  With many thanks to Sister S., I am doing my utmost to eliminate words like disease and failure from my vocabulary altogether.  I am not going for a Pollyanna attitude — “If I ignore it, it doesn’t exist!”  Rather, I am building more positive, emotionally uplifting, or at least emotionally neutral language into my lexicon.  The word failure is not an option,

From Houston Control, during the Apollo 13 mission
“Failure is not an option” — Gene Kranz
Image courtesy:

to misquote Gene Kranz, NASA Flight Director for Apollo 13.

I made a decision a while ago to change the way I express myself as regards my many medical challenges and opportunities, and this effort is part of that transformation.

When I was diagnosed with Diabetes Type I, at the age of fourteen, I knew of one person who was undergoing dialysis, and it seemed like a fast lane trip to the end of life.  Over all these decades, I continued to feel this way, until 2006, when my niece got married.  A school friend, whom I hadn’t seen in ages, was a guest there, and I learned that he had been on dialysis for years, not due to diabetes, but some other condition that affected his kidneys.

He told me of the process of dialysis he could perform on his own, and obviously, as he was 3,000 miles from home, he could also perform dialysis while traveling.  All of this was new information for me — at the time I still carried the image of that dialysis patient from 1974, who was really just marking time until death.  As my old friend and I danced at the reception, I got a new feeling of hope that, if I came to dialysis, it might not mean the end of any kind of meaningful life.  I am so grateful for that new picture in my head!

I saw my nephrologist on Wednesday, and as I’d feared, the extra diuretic I was directed to take for my swollen legs only succeeded in moving my kidneys a few steps closer to that stage 5 dialysis condition.  We don’t know for sure that I will stay where I am now; I may have some improvement, now that we have lowered the diuretic dose.  Nevertheless, the nephrologist has scheduled me for dialysis education, so that I won’t be caught off guard if or when I get to that point.  Smart, I believe, but also a little frightening.

Still, I can face it with more hope now than I ever thought I’d have; also, I recently set a goal for myself of living at peace with my diabetes, which includes diet, keeping records, getting enough sleep and exercise, and strengthening my spiritual grounding with a rejuvenated daily ritual.  All of these steps will assist me in maintaining my overall health, even in the face of lessened kidney function.

I guess the new term will come to me — for now, as I concentrate on getting the basics of my diabetes into some form of control, I know I am getting closer to optimizing my chances for no dialysis, or for as healthy a run of dialysis as is possible.  And I’m still alive — not ready to give up in the least.  And that counts for something, I know.

My Gratitude List — 09/22/2012

My favorite post of the week — my Gratitude List — is once again full of instances of good fortune; some challenges, for which I have help from all sides; and people all around me, for whom I give thanks.  Today, 09/22/2012, I am thankful for:

The beginning of Autumn — This has been an excellent summer, with lots of hot, sunny days and long lazy times sitting in the sun.  But Maine, in Autumn, has a beauty I believe is unmatched in the world.  The fall colors on the trees are spectacular, but fall is also full of cool clear blue skies, lovely northwest breezes, and the littlest hint of winter in the air.  I am grateful for each season in Maine, and for living in a place where seasons are still so clearly separated.

The beginning of a new dream team, and a new goal to pursue, learning to live with my diabetes in peace, at least relatively speaking.  My friend Darreby is still and always a beacon of strength, who lives the nature of grace all the time.  She has already helped me map out my approach to record-keeping, exercise, and spiritual fulfillment.  I have yet to map out my eating plan, but that tasks waits for today.

My friend F. has really stepped up to drive me to appointments — out of the goodness of his heart.  I have arranged to get him a meager $0.21 per mile, which is what Coastal Trans offers to friends and family willing to drive.  We continue to run errands together, with him providing transportation, and me doing the leg work.  This is fun for both of us, and benefits us both.

I haven’t been in touch with my family this week; nowhere near as often as usual.  But I love knowing that they are close by, in spirit if not in body.  Each is only a phone call away, and as far as I know, all is well throughout the family.

I received a real challenge this week, in the wake of my swollen calves and the over-prescription of diuretics:  I have moved into stage 4 Chronic Kidney Failure, and my nephrologist is sending me to dialysis education.  Hard to believe that I’ve expected this for so long, and suddenly, there it is, on the horizon.  But I don’t feel alone in this fear and sadness — I will do the best I can to avoid advancing to dialysis and stage 5, but by preparing for it now, I won’t be caught be surprise, and I have a great support system of friends, both here and in the blogoverse, and an incredibly wonderful family, as well as a terrific nephrologist.

So, even the saddest event this week has a component of gratitude, and I’ve had many happy events.  I am so very grateful.

Good News

I saw my nephrologist today.  I am seeing her once every 4 months, now, and so today was a nice visit.  In addition, while the doc didn’t have any blood test results from today, she is pleased with the way my numbers have been looking, (my bun and creatinine seem to be rock solid,) and I remain in stage 3 of Chronic Kidney Failure.  She is also very happy at how I am sticking to the low potassium regimen —  quite carefully.

Dr. C. and I discussed record-keeping, and my ongoing frustration and disinterest.  She gave me a very simple suggestion:  for the remainder of this week, and until next Tuesday, I will only be recording breakfast numbers.  This feels like it might be successful!  Yay!!!

My friend F. drove me to this appointment, and I was very pleased to see him — we always have lovely conversations, and today was no exception.  Thank you, F.  I truly appreciate you jumping in to save me — if I’d cancelled this appointment, I would have waited months for another.  😎