Category Archives: Kidneys

Life is a highway. I wanna ride it all night long!

Wow… ok, so much for my New Year’s resolution about sticking to a more consistent blogging schedule!  LOL!  Maybe my new resolution should be to work on better resolutions!  I’ll add that to this year’s list.  Jot that down.

So, I am going to justify my “leave” by saying that a ton of stuff has been going on this year that has kept me insanely busy – to the point that I have not stopped to give you the time you deserve!  So, let’s take a break, grab a Pumpkin Spice Latte, and curl up on the couch to catch up.  Actually, my couch doesn’t fit that many people, and I’m not a fan of PSLs, so how about I just blog about it?  😉

In order to not overwhelm you with the many new updates of my increasingly ceaseless lifestyle (yes, I’m being totally sarcastic…kind of… it HAS been busy), today, I’m only going to focus on the biggest recent change – travel.  I say “change”, but really, it’s a return to my life pre-transplant/sick-time…just different.  On one hand, I’m absolutely LOVING being “on the road again”, however, the highway is less straight and wide open than it used to be, it’s now filled with twists and bumps!  Before I got sick, I used to travel a lot for work.  I loved it!  I was adventurous and fearless trying new foods, meeting new people, dancing till my feet would literally throb… anything that created the most fun and crazy stories and memories!  These days, my travel has a completely different feel.  I’ve become this overly cautious grandma!  What???  What happened to me?  Who am I?

shocked-grandmother

Wait…what?

Well, I’ll tell you what happened… my “new life” happened.  I once had a panic attack in the middle of one trip fearing what would happen if I got sick while in a “strange” city.  Who would know what all my “issues” are if I couldn’t speak for myself?  Where is the nearest hospital/ER?  Would they be able to treat me?  (In one case, they even admitted they couldn’t!)  No one knows me or would even know what to do to help!

I am still going through a lot of changes post-transplant that require adjustment.  And that’s how I’m regarding this… an adjustment.  It’s all about being a boy scout.  (Not literally… I have no desire to be a 7 year-old boy!)  I have to be prepared.  I have to think 10 steps ahead of everything I do, and I’m learning more with each trip I take.

When I fly now, I have to be very careful of the recycled air and germy, nasty fold-down tables in the plane b/c of my low immune system (yes, I pack clorox wipes for this reason).  I have to take into consideration where I travel – no 3rd world countries – so even some work trips are a no-go.  When I am in a new city, I have to do extensive research on where I can eat due to the Celiac disease (there’s an awesome app for that – Find Me Gluten Free).  When I’m in large crowds, I have to be aware of who’s coughing, what I’m touching, where the nearest “exit” is in case I get glutened, and so on and so on.  It’s exhausting, but I’m learning to adjust to this “new life” one step at a time (as are my very patient friends – God bless them!).

Now, back to my resolutions… with this blog, I thee vow that I am making progress on my “accepting my new self” resolution.  I am no longer the same carefree Cameron Diaz character I once liked to believe I was, but I’m able to go out and see the world again and if that means I have to be more Howie Mandel with my actions so I can do so, I’ll gladly take it!  🙂

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Things I’m thankful for today:

1.  Getting to spend an amazing weekend in Nashville with my Jersey girls – Jen and Carm!  It’s so glad to see that sometimes some things don’t change.  🙂

2. Luck!  After accidentally taking a big bite of a panko-covered fried banana (I thought it was a GF cheese bread ball), I did NOT get sick from being glutened!

3.  Virgin Airlines – they have a fun and modern take on the flying experience, AND they offer safe GF food/snack options in-flight!  Woohoo!

4.  All beef hot dogs – for when there is nothing else in an all-fried/deli-filled food court to eat that’s safe to eat.

5.  That my mom’s foot is healing better after her 3rd foot surgery within the last few months.  Mom, your new toe will be something to show off in sandals for our Hawaii trip!  🙂

6.  My new gray sweater/cardigan – definitely the most comfy, squishy, warm sweater I’ve ever bought!  It’s like the perfect blanket for all those freezing planes (and meeting rooms).

7.  Shout out to my friends Elissa and Nick – they are going to have their first baby this Christmas!  Congrats to you both!  🙂

 

This is the New Year!

Dallas New Years skyline 2016

Happy New Year 2016!!!!

I have said this once, and I’ll continue to say it until I’m blue in the face, but I LOVE the holiday season!  No, I’m not saying “holiday” to be all PC and such…I say “holiday season” because I include New Years Day in this beautiful package.  Not only have I been able to spend some good quality time with my favorite people, watching as they thoroughly enjoy their blessings, and personally benefiting from the amazing sales this month (75% off???  Hello new wardrobe!), but I’m also able to take the past year and relish in what I’ve gained…I’m able to look back over the year and see exactly what I have to be thankful for and how I’ve grown.  New Years Day is also a huge inspiration and symbol of hope for me.  It’s a new beginning and a way to start fresh with anything and pretty much everything.

So, using the lyrics of Great Big World’s awesome anthem to New Years, (go ahead and listen to it while reading…give it a sec, it’ll put a smile on your face!) I’m going to breakdown my resolutions for this year!

“Say everything you’ve always wanted”

This year, I vow to be a bit more strong in my message.  I have always been very careful when talking about things I’d like to promote for fear that it would offend someone or put some sort of label on me.  (Then again, you can’t post ANYTHING these days without offending someone!)  I don’t usually post any of my support for JDRF, American Heart Association, Celiac Disease Foundation, and many others on social media because I fear becoming a “poster child” or “that girl” who’s always pushing her health agenda.  I have no intention of being a poster child pushing any type of agenda, but I should not fear being supportive and helping when/where I can!  From now on, I won’t hide and instead will be more openly vocal about my involvement.  After all, how else does awareness work if you don’t say a word?

On that note, here’s my first step… Jan 5th marks my 2-year kidney-versary!!!  Kirby will have been living strongly within me for two years and I plan on celebrating this every single year in honor of his/the transplant team’s success and the life of my precious donor.  This year, my mom, my sister and I all had our nails done to celebrate Kirby and my donor, and when anyone asks me what the green ribbon is for, I will gladly tell them.  🙂

Kidney ribbon nails 2016

Lucky for me, the green ribbon has many meanings, three of which pertain to me – Organ Donation Awareness, Kidney Disease Awareness, and Celiac Disease Awareness. Kirby, this time, this one’s for you!

“Be not afraid of who you really are”

Part of my resolution above fits this piece of the puzzle.  However there is another shallow part of me that also needs some work.  I had dinner with a very good friend the other night, and as we talked, I was reminded of my flawed self-perception.  I always believed that I was a pretty strong person with a good sense of self, however with every word that came out of my mouth, I realized I still have many improvements to make (don’t we all???).  He helped me see that most of my insecurities were things that are unimportant.  I speak of vanity and my self-confidence.  I have many reasons…no, I rephrase…”excuses” that would justify why I feel the way I do about myself, but I have THOUSANDS more reasons to squash those excuses into dust.  I have so much more to offer than a few wrinkles on my face, some chubby cheeks that show up at odd angles, or a few years that have crept up on me all too quickly.  I have fought some pretty big battles and won them (health and otherwise).  I have made my career my own.  I have never stopped going for what I believe in and have always (eventually) come out on both feet.  Why should I feel bad about those few shallow things I see in the mirror when everything else is so much cooler than that?  2016 will be my year to finally accept myself as the “me” I am now and not the “me” I used to be (who I kept striving to be again).  There is nothing wrong with a smarter, wiser, healthier, and albeit a few years older Nachomama!  🙂   I won’t lie, I will still be attempting to improve my fitness routine in order to look better at an upcoming beach trip, but I also plan on focusing more on the health benefits this time rather than the vanity.  Baby steps…

“‘Cause in the end we have each other…and that’s at least one thing worth living for.”

This resolution is a bit different, and it’s something that has been bothering me for awhile.  Yes, I try to volunteer for various organizations because I believe in their goals.  However, there are times when I still feel as if I can do more.  How can I make a more direct impact?  What do I have to offer?  All I have is what I know, and I believe that we are all encouraged to help others using even just that.  This year, to further my pursuit in philanthropy, I plan on using what I’ve learned via my experiences and knowledge to research how I can further help make a difference.  I will post more on this as I figure it out!

And that, my friends, is my list of resolutions for 2016.  Wait, I have a few more smaller goals (I have to publish them so that you will all hold me to them!):

  • to learn a new culture (I kind of already do this whenever I choose a new book to read, however, it’s fascinating and I plan to do more via travel as well)
  • to lower my A1C score to below 7
  •  to be on a more consistent schedule with my blog…hee!  (maybe I’ll even take off the “snow” that has been falling on this blog continuously for two years!  hahaha… after winter is over, though, of course.)

So, to summarize this exciting initial blog post for the year, I’ll again quote lyrics from this post’s song:

“Another year you made a promise
Another chance to turn it all around
And do not save this for tomorrow
Embrace the past and you can live for now”

Truer words never spoken.  🙂  Can’t wait to hear what your resolutions are!

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Things I’m thankful for today:

1.  My kitchen is starting to finally feel like a REAL kitchen!  Santa brought me some amazing foodie-gadgets that I’ve been eyeing, and one of them was a Kitchen-Aid mixer!!!  WOOHOOO!  If you have ever tried to bake anything from scratch using a mediocre hand mixer and/or spoon, you will understand the excitement.  Thank you Santa!  🙂

2.  A very dear family friend of ours has generously blessed us with the use of their vacation home in Hawaii, so my family is going on its first trip to Hawaii this year!  I’m so excited I could spit!  (I won’t… I’m not a camel…)  However, you can absolutely guarantee I’ll be on the search for Alex O’Loughlin the entire time I’m there!  😛

3.  Vacation time.  For the first time ever, I took off work for the week between Christmas and New Years.  WHY have I never done this before???  Sleeping in, cooking all my meals (ie. not having to eat out all the time), getting errands done… finally, relaxing, binge-watching all my shows on Netflix/DVR… yes, I believe I have finally learned the appreciation of true vacation time.  Now, I’ve got to retrain my sleeping schedule so that I can get up for work next week.  Ugh…

4.  Christmas decorations.  I think I post this every year, but this year was the first time in 4 years I’ve been able to pull out all of my OWN Christmas stuff to decorate my apartment.  I love evenings with the Christmas tree lights on, the fireplace all done up with our stockings, the goofy elf feet and Santa hats I have all over the place!  It’s impossible to come home and NOT feel happy!

5.  My dad has finally found a doctor who could help him with his ankle.  He’s been in tons of pain and has not had an easy time getting around due to injuries that were caused years ago.  Now, hopefully, he’ll be able to walk without pain or a limp!  Yaay!!!  Mom, you’re next!  😀  #TakingCareOfBusiness  #TakingCareOfFamily

 

 

 

Sugar… oh honey honey!

Roller coaster

As always, I am late.  I’ve been told (on NUMEROUS occasions) that I will be late to my own funeral!   However, this time there are no annoyed people waiting for the star of the show to arrive!  😉  Just kidding.   *Enter every single one of my friends and family members slapping me upside the head and rolling their eyes*

I am one day late to celebrate National Diabetes Awareness Month (November).  I didn’t want it to go by without some sort of mention, so to give everyone a glimpse into life with Type 1 Diabetes, I thought I’d share something we experience many times a day – our roller coaster.

The other day, I was making some brownies for a work event, and as I was mixing the chocolate mix in the bowl, the aroma took over.  My stomach started grumbling.  (I hadn’t eaten yet…big mistake!)  Then my mouth started watering.  So, by the time I finally poured the last amount of mix into the pan, I went to TOWN on that bowl, licking it spotless and eating every tiny spec of brownie mix left on the mixer blades!  Followed by a nice ice-cold glass of milk, of course.  Culinary nirvana in my mouth!

fireworks

Mmmmmmm… but then I’m instantly slapped back to reality as I remembered, oh crap, I didn’t measure how much I ate!  How much sugar was in that amount?  How much insulin should I take to cover that?  I should’ve taken my shot BEFORE pigging out on the scraps!  Now my sugars are going to fly through the roof and damage my precious Kirby (and all my other organs I shamefully haven’t named)!

crazy monkey

Yeah, the satisfactory “moment” was very short-lived, and ironically, this type of guilt and fear is very common for anyone who has diabetes when indulging in even the smallest amount of food we “shouldn’t have”.

I’m not perfect.  No one is.  We all partake in those small (or sometimes big) “treats” to ourselves… our fave pizza, an extra beer… because it TASTES SO GOOD!  Who could blame us?  I mean, this is what living is about, right???  Don’t you hate it, then, when that little angel wearing the doctors’ wings on your shoulder starts shaking his head in disappointment?  I hate that angel.  Such a killjoy (does anyone ever say that word anymore, or is that a total 50’s thing?  LOL!).  I have to give it to him, though, he sets me straight.  I know it’s a treat I can’t eat too often because, while those treats could have the same effect on everyone regarding the extra poundage we might gain, the sugar has the added effect of tearing up my organs to pieces… in a very slow and drawn out process that only us lucky diabetics get to enjoy.  Weeeeee!

As I grudgingly pulled out my glucose monitor to check my sugars and see what kind of damage was done by my brownie mix tear-down, I got angry.  First at myself for being stupid enough to go hog-wild on something that I knew could be bad for me.  Then I start to get angry because I SHOULDN’T be getting angry at myself.  I’m human!  We only live once and I don’t want to live with regrets!  It’s just a freakin’ brownie for Pete’s sake!

Then I start getting cocky… why am I so worried?  It’s not going to cause any immediate damage to me NOW.  It’ll take YEARS and bathtubs full of brownie mix before I ever start seeing any kind of damage!  Right?  Then I get a bit scared… wait… Um, hello?!  I’ve ALREADY been seeing those damages.  What the hell brought me to my current situation in the first place!?!   Will I lose my kidney again?  What if I go blind overnight?  I’ve heard that happens!  Why did I eat that brownie mix!?!  And why did I follow it up with a stupid glass of milk (added carbs)!?!  I’m going to lose my foot now!!!

Then the guilt sets in.  I can’t believe I allowed myself to place myself in such danger… I don’t want to be an amputee!  I don’t want to go blind!  I don’t want to damage and possibly lose Kirby (whom I’ve fought SO HARD for)!  I’m never going to eat another brownie again!  NEVER!

guilt free brownies

If only…

All over a few stupid fingerfuls of brownie mix.

Ok, so seriously, I don’t bust into an all-out panic attack with every bite I take, but there is always a quick 5-minute wave of the entire process above that shoves it’s way through my mind when I veer from my usual, approved meal plan.  Most of that, I know is due to the years of fear tactics my doctors have shoved down my throat.  (They have to.  We wouldn’t take them seriously if they didn’t, especially when we never see immediate damages!)

I’ve been lucky enough to manage these feelings of guilt and fear by educating myself with the facts.  I’ve been taught how to correct these sugar overloads, which aren’t “mistakes”, they’re “human”.  I’ve learned to discipline myself and not go overboard with any of the foods that can badly affect me.  I’ve learned it’s OK to have the occasional “treat” if I cover it with enough insulin (note – “occasional” is key word here).

So the next time you grab a donut (or two…or three) at the office this Friday, or stop at an ice cream shop just because you have the craving for a double-dip vanilla cone, stop and observe what your thoughts are when you eat it.  I’m not asking you to feel guilty because you can more easily eat these items, I’m simply asking that you understand the difference of what the thought process is behind your treat and ours.  And please don’t ever guilt us into something by saying “oh, a bite or two won’t kill you” because, again, you’re setting off that entire emotional process above that shouldn’t have to go with enjoying a bite or two…

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Things I’m thankful for today:

1.  If you’ve gotten to this point of today’s post, I’m thankful you actually took the time to stick around and read this whole thing!  Whew…

2.  Sooooo thankful that my first Thanksgiving turkey dinner went off without a hitch!  Everything turned out so yummy and I had a blast cooking it all!  (I should also be thankful that my family actually liked it all! hee… )

3.  Manini’s GF All Purpose Flour – the Cadillac of GF flours!  This flour allowed me to make the best, fluffiest, softest dinner rolls I’ve had since being diagnosed with Celiac!  SOOOO good!  No brick breads for me!

4.  That I was able to spend fun quality time with my closest friends and family during the holidays!  (Shout out:  Steve, Nick, Elissa, Kim, Matt, Mom, Dad, Barbara, Ladonna, A.Kathy)  😀

5.  I’m thankful that my Aussie kidney friend, Maria, has a chance to share her experience via a possible book deal!  Check out her website here!  Good luck Maria – we’re rooting for you!

 

 

 

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