The Kidney Conundrum

3 05 2015

A couple of months ago, I started going to this Chinese Doctor.  My wrist hurt, and I wanted acupuncture, but also I’ve been struggling with my weight for a couple of years.  Thought, screw it, can’t hurt right?  I mean I’ve been super frustrated, I’ve exercised, I’ve eaten well, and nothing, plus I’ve had this annoying feet swelling, leg cramps, and a lot of general aches etc.

While I’m at the doctor, he says that my kidneys are not working properly and that why I can’t lose weight, and that my main problem is water retention.  I’m like, sure, sure.  Whatever, I take my medicine and life goes on.  Well after 3 or 4 weeks of seeing the Chinese doctor, and every time he mentions my reduced kidney function, I think.. hu.  I wonder if he’s full of shit?  I mean how could your kidneys keep you from losing weight?  So I go online, and I find these lists about symptoms of kidney disease and failure.

(✓)puffy eyes, hands, and feet (called edema)

(✓)high blood pressure

(✓)fatigue

(✓)shortness of breath

(X)loss of appetite (I wish)

(✓/X)nausea and vomiting (dunno, don’t think so)

(✓)thirst

(✓)a bad taste in the mouth or bad breath (off and on)

(X)weight loss (I never get the good symptoms!!!)

(✓)(✓)generalized, persistent itchy skin

muscle twitching or cramping

(✓/X)a yellowish-brown tint to the skin (hard to say… my skin tone doesn’t really help)

(✓/X)urine that is cloudy or tea-coloured (sometimes)

Holy shit…. SERIOUSLY?  That’s way too many solid yeses…  What the fuck.  Is there something wrong with my kidneys?  I just chalked the fatigue and the aches, cramps, swelling … pretty much all of that stuff to getting older.  I mean, Some of you may even remember my commenting in the past year or so, that does everyone get achey young but just doesn’t complain about it until they are a lot older?  Turns out, from the sort of horrified response of a couple of colleagues and friends when we got into this (as in beyond my vague comments, and details of my issues),That  no.. in fact it’s not normal.  I’m not nearly old enough for all of this to be chalked up to getting older.  I didn’t know, I just figured it was normal, sucks but buck up.

I figure I should probably go to the hospital and have it checked out or something but I had a class coming up, I was super busy.. meh I’d get to it later.  Well the two friends I had talked about it to, flipped out.  AREYOU INSANE you don’t fuck with kidneys, damage is permanent, they don’t heal, if they get fucked up your fucked… so I do more research and get really scared.  All the web stuff uses scary words, like disease and failure and death.. um.  But let’s be honest, I hate doctors, and hospitals and the only thing that was going to get me to go short of being dragged was fear of death.  I finally broke down and made an appointment for the Nephrologist (yeah that’s not a scary sounding specialty) at the hospital near my house a couple of weeks back, and took the morning off work.

I thought to myself..  do I tell people or no?  I thought about telling my sisters, and mom.. but the morning I was going for tests there was that wedding Crisis (you may or maynot have heard about it, in the end everything was ok).  Then I posted that thing on fb asking people about their opinions on sharing vs not, I was genuinely curious what people thought about it.  I had been thinking about the subject long before any of this came up, and then I thought hey lol lemmi posts this and the people who want to know will make themselves apparent. <- ha litmus test

It was really genuinely interested in thinking about and hearing all the different perspectives, and honestly, I , personally, still prefer people tell me.  I don’t get stressed out and scared about that stuff for other people so it’s not a burden to me, and I know for me I freak out in my own head so I’m all about spreading it around a little and self counseling so I can handle my own omigod.  But then I don’t want to be burdening others… shit’s complicated.  Anyway I did my best to help with the wedding crisis, and went in to see the doctor.

I head in, and wait.. they tell me it’s going to be ages till my number comes up, and I can go home and come back in a couple of hours.  Sweet, I can work on my homework for class!

I get back and it’s like ha no, nowhere near your number.  Fuck.  Ok, good thing I brought my laptop, so I sit on the floor and wait.  I’m getting worried I’m even going to get in, I have to get back to work for the afternoon and It’s still ages till my number, I ask the nurse and she says they will see everyone but it might go into the afternoon.  Crap, Ok well I might just have to call in, not coming, to work.  Then, not even, 10 minutes later the nurse grabs me and says, come now.  Hu? Ok, cool, I figure she just talked to the doctor and they are trying to do me a solid, I sit down and he tells the nurse I’m his daughter’s favourite teacher and he says to me.  OH my god, how long have you been waiting out there?? Why didn’t you tell me that you were coming?  I would have brought you in much earlier.  I’m super confused, because he’s wearing a mask and lab coat, he looks like.. well a doctor.  He takes off his mask and says ‘I’m Peggy’s Dad’.  My Jaw hits the floor!.  One of my kids from last year, I actually knew her dad relatively well, I even knew he was a doctor I just didn’t know what specialty or where.  What are the odds that one of my favourite student’s dad would be the random doctor out of 4 that I picked.  Wild.

Anyway I tell him the whole story, the Chinese doctor, the internet stuff, the symptoms, everything.  And I’m kinda freaked out, but trying to stay chill.  They took my blood pressure, and it was through the roof (stress).  While I’m talking, he’s typing the symptoms, and looking at the screen he begins to talk, and he says ‘”yup, well that sounds like some kind of kidney failure so we’ll order some tests… oh my god no no don’t cry, sorry, sorry it’s mild it’s certainly mild it’s ok!”  Because I’ve started to weep, I’ve got dialysis machines and kidney transplants swimming through my mind.  I calm down a little and explain that I’m just really scared, because these symptoms have been going on for well over a year closer to two maybe even three, and everything says you need to catch this early.. or there will be irreversible damage.

Well it turns out, that ‘early’ is in the many years category.. like 2 years IS catching it early, it’s more like don’t let it go one for 10 years.  Oh.  and by the by, FUCK YOU internet, like that wouldn’t have been a good thing to include in your scare mongering?  He orders tests and sets up an appointment the next week for the results.  I go back the next morning to give the urine and blood sample, and that was an unexpected gong show, but I got it done, and made it to work.  I honestly felt a lot better, shit was being handled and one way or another I’d have some answers and a plan of action. Plus I was pretty enthused by the idea that the exhaustion and other issues had a name and a cause.

A week later, I went back for the results.  And mostly yay.  Let’s be honest here I didn’t want it to be BAD, but I did want there to be something.  Because if it’s nothing then why the fuck do I have all these other problems??  I had checked my blood pressure a few times in the week and it was fine and on that day it was totally fine, so I was right I was just ouber stressed that first day (you know I always kinda thought that “you’re stressing me out and raising my blood pressure” Thing was just something people say.. hu turns out no, it’s a real thing.)

The results:  I do have lowered kidney function, my kidneys are working at 88% of capacity so not the end of the world but indicative of a problem.  All my numbers are high, but not dangerously high, salt is fine (thank god I would have cried if I had to take salt away).  Blood sugar was too high, which worried me because of the Diabetes in the family but he said it’s not high enough to be worried about that yet but we’ll keep an eye on it.  My liver function is lower than normal.  My Cholesterol is too high. And I’m super dehydrated, according to the tests.  But, nothing is high enough to warrant medicine even.  Basically, just keep doing what I’m doing (exercising a few times a week, and eating reasonable food) and try to up the exercise a little if I can.  The only real change I need/ed to make  is I need to drastically increase my water intake.  Um, but I generally drink 1-2 liters most days it’s closer to two.. how much do I need to drink?  Bare minimum, 3-4 liters.  OOF do you know how much water that is?  Let’s be honest though, having to drink stupid amounts of water is like nothing compared to how bad it could have been.  (Note, I have actually been really good about it and have been drinking on average 3.5-4.5 liters every day for more than a week)
There it is, there’s my story :).  Some of you already know, but here’s a bit more detail and the results.  Those of you who didn’t know, look, yay all good.  I just need to go back in tomorrow, for a sonogram of my liver and kidneys to see if there is any damage, liver whatever it will heal even if there is damage, and kidneys he’s hopeful that it’s just reduced function and no damage which means it should all go back to tickity boo as long as I take care of myself.  He did deliver that news about the possible damage with a keen eye on me to make sure I didn’t burst into tears again, lol I guess we can’t break the daughter’s beloved teacher, chuckle at least I know he’s invested in keeping me well!

Worst case, is there is damage, and my kidneys will not go back to 100% function, but even if they stay where they are as long as I drink copious amounts of water, and take care of myself it’s nothing.  Will be going back in, in 3 months to do the tests again, but I’m pretty confident that everything will be fine, even good.  I already am feeling a bunch better, less fatigued, the Chinese medicine has been helping with the water retention, and weight loss (I’ve lost about 5 kg in the past 3 months).  I just need to pee every 15 minutes and I hate, nah loath the water.. I call it names.  It’s agony trying to get all the water drinking in, but I power through because, let’s be honest as far as medical treatments go, it’s pretty much nothing.

Any questions?  I leave anything out?  Ask away 🙂

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