Thursday, August 31, 2006

End of August

Another week has gone by, and it is time to update my blog again. It’s been a pretty good week, and I’d love to tell you about it.

I got some e-mail this week from a reader in Saint Louis, MO. She asked me about my gall bladder and about blogging in general. I gave her all the information that I knew about my gall bladder problem (based on what she asked). I also pointed her to and told her how easy it was to get everything set up and then to pass out the link to the ATOM feed to your family and friends so that they could get your updates.

It’s always good to hear from new people who are reading my blog. In fact, today, I got an e-mail from a lady in South Africa. She nominated my blog for BlogDay 2006. I’m not normally the kind of person that participates in things like that, but I am glad to be nominated. If you would like to read her post, it is here:

Now, it is time for the updates on my health. On my last post, I mentioned that I had been getting treated at 400 ml/ min. Well, I haven’t been quite as lucky this week. I went in for my treatment earlier on Saturday, and they only got the machine to run at 350 ml/min (which isn’t that bad, but not that great either). On Tuesday, my needles went in great, but for some reason, we could not get the machine to run faster than 300 ml/min. It was having problems with the arterial pressure. I am guessing that the needle was too close to the wall of the fistula. Hopefully, that will be corrected this afternoon at my treatment.

Last week, I was supposed to have a fasting lipid panel on Tuesday. They did not draw my blood for the test because they did not know if I had fasted or not (despite the fact that I told them that I had). So, they said they would do the test another day, and I advised that they do it Tuesday. So, I had my blood drawn on the 29th for my lipid panel. Maybe they will have the results back today and I can ask about them. If I find anything out, I will let you know.

Other than that, there’s not too much going on. I have some blood work to get back (too see how my cholesterol is doing). I have not yet heard from my friend that is being tested for transplant. Perhaps I will send him an e-mail today and see what is going on.

Please pray:
  • That my machine will be able to run at 400 ml/min for the best possible treatment

  • That my friend Josh will get tested and that we can find out if he is a match for donation

  • That my next few dialysis treatments will be uneventful

Thanks for coming by to read today!

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

400 ml/min

It’s been another week, so it’s time for a blog update. I got an instant message from a friend today telling me that they hadn’t seen any blog updates in a while, so this is for you (thanks for the prompting).

The last you heard from me was on Wednesday the 16th. I’ve had two more treatments since then, and they both went well. I got two sticks on Thursday and two sticks on Saturday, and the machine was able to run at 400 ml/min on both days. 400 is the speed that is preferred. It is as fast as they dialysis center prefers to go, and gives you the best possible treatment. The faster your blood can be pulled, then the more blood that can be processed in four hours (that makes sense, right?).

Thank you to everyone that has been praying for good sticks and good treatments. Please keep it up. I would love to have a couple of good weeks in a row (for starters). And, I’d like to see my next flow rate test be just as high as the first one (they take an average to set your baseline).

I saw my cardiologist on Friday. She said that I am doing well, and she wants to see my lipid results to see I still need to be taking Lipitor. She also swapped my beta blocker for a different beta blocker, hoping to change some of the side effects. She said that as long as my blood pressure and heart rate stay in the “healthy” range, then I shouldn’t need to change my medication again soon. The only problem would be if my blood pressure drops again and my heart rate goes up. Then she would have to recommend a more invasive procedure. I did not have her explain as I hope that my current medication will continue to keep my numbers in check.

So, I have a treatment this afternoon, and I have been fasting all day for my lipid panel. Jenny is going to bring me dinner, so that will work out. I just hope that they are able to get a good stick without having the needle primed with saline to start. I’ll have to tell the technician to stick, draw blood, flush with saline, and to then stick the second needle. I think that will work and should satisfy any problems that I might have with clotting. I haven’t seen any clotting during the last two treatments, which is always nice.

Please continue to pray for:
  • good, easy sticks for each treatment (only two sticks is preferred)

  • that the machine can continue to run at 400 ml/min each treatment

  • that my lipid panel will have good results

Thanks for coming by to read! It’s short because it’s full of good news

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Saturday and Tuesday

So, I have been chronicling my experiences with extra sticks recently. It seems my fistula is not working the way that I would prefer it to. Last week, I had 4 sticks on Tuesday and 3 sticks on Thursday (just to bring you up to speed).

On Saturday, I was lucky and only had to be stuck with two needles. This seemed to be a good thing, since they wanted to run an “access flow” check on my fistula. This is a quarterly test that they run at the dialysis clinic to see how well the blood is flowing inside your fistula. They tell me that a rate over 400 ml/min is preferred for an AV Fistula. My previous fistula never scored much over 300, and it eventually died. I was hoping for a better score with this one. Unfortunately, there was a problem, and they couldn’t run the test on Saturday. I guess one of the needles was not quite in the right place, because it kind of leaked a little bit the rest of the night. They stopped the bleeding, but I don’t think it was quite right.

On Tuesday, they had to use three needles before they could get me. Keep in mind that the same technician has been sticking me for about 7 straight treatments at this point. But, the needles went in and we were ready to try the access flow again. This time, it ran just fine, and the machine reported an access flow around 640 ml/min (or close to that). That is a wonderful number. I am very thankful that my fistula is flowing well, even if it is not sticking well. The extra needle this week was due to clotting again.

I received my monthly lab reports on Tuesday as well. Here they go:

Albumin: Protein in the blood that helps fight infections and aids in healing

August 2006 - 4.5 (goal is 3.8 to 4.5)

Your albumin (blood protein) is normal

enPCR: Protein Catabolic Rate; suggest if I am eating enough fish, chicken, beef, and other protein foods to meet my daily needs

August 2006 - 0.59 (goal is greater than or equal to 0.8)

Your protein catabolic rate (protein intake) is low

The dietician suggested that I try eating eggs for breakfast, so I will.

eKdrt/V: Tells how well my dialysis treatment is working and if I am receiving enough dialysis to clean my blood

August 2006 - 1.26 (goal is greater than or equal to 1.2) – this is up a tiny bit from last month

Your eKdrt/V is in the goal range.

Potassium: A mineral needed for normal heart rhythm and muscle function. High potassium can make my heart stop!

August 2006 - 3.8 (goal is 3.5 to 6)

Your potassium level is normal

Corrected Calcium: A mineral needed for healthy bones and muscles

August 2006 – 9.4 (goal is 8.4 to 9.5)

Your corrected calcium is normal

Phosphorus: A mineral needed for healthy bones. High phosphorus can damage my heart and blood vessels by making them stiff, and can weaken my bones.

August 2006 – 2.9 (goal is 3.5 to 5.5)

Your phosphorus is low.

This is the lowest I’ve ever seen my phosphorus. The dietician said it is still within normal range as long as it is above 2.5.


August 2006 – 9.6 (goal is 11 to 12)

Your hemoglobin is low. This is called anemia. You may need your EPO or iron changed.

The dietician did raise my EPO levels.

There was also a new chart showing my average fluid weight gains for the last six months. My overall average was less than 3.0 liters per month. The weekend fluid gains were between 3.0 and 3.5 liters on a monthly basis. This was well within my goal of staying under 3.5 liters (since that is about all my body can tolerate having removed in one treatment).

I hope the new format of the lab report wasn’t too confusing. If you have any questions, please feel free to comment or e-mail. I have to go now. Jenny hasn’t seen much of me all week and is jealous of my blog getting all this attention.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

4 Needles, and then 3

I am here at dialysis tonight, and I have a few minutes, so I think I”m going to update my blog. It is Thursday, August 10, and I have been to two treatments since I wrote to you last. Let me tell you how it's going.

Tuesday night, it took four sticks to get my treatment started. The technician, who does a great job, got the first needle in with no problems. She stuck it easily, and got “the flash” right away. But, because they were drawing labs that night, she did not dilute the line with saline. She spent about five minutes trying to get in the next needle, and it ended up that the area was clotted. She had to pull the needle out and find a new location. She spent another five minutes or so looking for a spot, and finally got a replacement needle in place. Unfortunately, by this time, the first needle that was inserted had become clotted. So, she had to remove it and find a new location. She went ahead and drew my labs, and then put in saline to dilute the line so it would not get clotted, too. The fourth needle was successful, and we were able to do the treatment. The machine ran at 300 for a while, but they had to turn it down to 270 after an hour or so.

So, now let me bring you to Thursday. Tonight was only three needles. The first went in easily, and was diluted with saline right away. The second needle went in easily, but pulled a clot. I think there must be several clots hiding under my skin just waiting to get out on a nice friendly dialysis needle. So, it only took about 30 minutes to get me ready, and then we got started. The machine was started at 300, and we bumped it up to 350 after an hour. It has been running successfully at 350 for about an hour now, which is great. If the stick goes well on Saturday, then I will go to 400 (which is the fastest that they like to run the machine). 400 ml/min helps you get the best possible treatment available.

They drew labs on Tuesday, so I should have the report next week. I think I have been doing well on my diet, so I want to see if all of my numbers are in range. The one that causes me the most problems is the phosphorus. Last month, it was a little low. So, maybe this month, I will be back in the middle of the range.

I had a friend ask me about Josh. He is the guy that has volunteered to be tested as a kidney donor for me. As of today, I have not heard anything new. It took about two weeks after my dad was called before he got his packet of test information. So, I am guessing that they are processing a pile of paper work for Josh, and that he will have his packet in the next week or so. I'm looking forward to his test results.

Please pray that God will prepare the kidney that he has for me, from whomever it may come. Pray that Josh's testing will go quickly and easily. And, please pray that my fistula will behave and not have so many clots (that require re-sticks).

I've got 45 minutes left on the machine. I'm going to watch “Who Wants to be a Superhero?” on the SciFi channel. So, you guys have a good night, and I'll give you more information as I get it!

Monday, August 07, 2006

Three Sticks

Well, I had a few more sticks than I would have preferred this weekend. I normally go to dialysis every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday evening from 4:30 – 8:30 pm (or there about). Unfortunately, I had a minor problem this most recent weekend. I went in for my normal treatment on Thursday, the 3rd. I arrived at the clinic around 4:15pm (which is normal for me) and headed over to my chair for dialysis. I requested my usual technician (who has had several good sticks with my new upper arm fistula). She had some trouble getting in the first needle, though that is not unusual. It finally flashed (which is what dialysis people call it when the blood pulses in the needle). So, she taped the needle down and began working on the other side.

The second needle was a bit more of a problem. She poked around, but it seemed that all she was able to find was a sticky mess of clotted blood. So, she thought she would try a third location. This was not altogether pleasant, but I wanted to have dialysis, so I let her continue to look for a spot to stick my fistula. Sadly, by the time this needle was properly placed (and only barely at that), the first needle had become clotted. By this time, it was about 5:30. I told them that I would just prefer to go home and come back to try again tomorrow. They charge nurse scheduled me for a 4:30 appointment on Friday afternoon and I went home to ice my arm. It did not bruise, though it still is sore today (Monday).

So, I had 3 needles on Thursday, but they just didn’t work. I went in on Friday, and had a different technician. She tried an entirely new area of my fistula and was able to get the needle to flash right away. Since the area was new, there was not any fear of coming up with clots. She is still using the same place on the lower half of the fistula, so it is at least a little more scarred over (which makes the needle stick slightly less noticeable). The treatment ran Friday night at about 250 ml/min to start, and then up to 300 ml/min for the rest of the treatment (I think).

I came back for dialysis again on Saturday (even though I had only gained about 1.5 kilos). The same technician from Thursday was there again, so she stuck me again. She put the needles in about the same places as she had used on Friday night, and they both stuck. The upper needle gave her a little trouble, and she had to move it around inside the fistula a little bit to get it right down the middle of the lane. The treatment on Saturday ran at 300 ml/min for the entire time, which is better. The best treatment that they give at our clinic runs at 400 ml/min using the 15-gauge needles. So, I just have to let my fistula grow its way up to 400 ml/min, and I should be okay. That, and I need the fistula to start accepting needles better.

Here are some prayer requests for this week, if you don’t mind:
  • Pray for my friend Josh. He has volunteered to have his kidney tested as a possible donor. He has also told me that he’d be willing to go in for an experimental treatment. You can read about that here:

  • Pray for the technicians at dialysis. Please pray that they will be able to find two good spots on my fistula to stick in the needles.

  • Pray that in addition to the good sticking, that we will be able to run the machine at 400 ml/min for an optimal treatment.

I’m hoping for two good weeks worth of treatments in a row. Thank you for coming by to read today. If you look over the ABC news article, don’t panic. I have not talked to any doctors about this, and I do not even know if they are testing it in the Dallas area. If they are, I will talk to the transplant team and see if they would recommend something like that for me. I know I would enjoy the possibility of no drugs (and keeping the kidney longer).

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Thursday Blogging

It’s Thursday, and it’s time to blog again. I haven’t filled anyone in since last week, so I need to keep the information up-to-date. As I told you last time, I found out my blood type is A Positive.

I got my thyroid function test results, and everything was normal. Everything has been normal for four or five months now, so the endocrinologist’s nurse said that if I would get tested again in October and in January, that I will not have to come back to see them. She told me to monitor my symptoms, and to be sure to call if I notice any problems.

My machine ran at 400 ml/min last Thursday using the 15-gauge needles. They tried to use them again on Saturday, but I had a slight infiltration. So, they had to use a 17-gauge needle for the upper needle in my arm, which meant that the machine could only run at 270 ml/min. Also, it left my arm kind of sore. Luckily, it has not bruised (as of almost a week later). It is still sore, but I can move it fully.

When I got home, I had low blood pressure and high heart rate, along with a fever of around 99.4. I felt bad for about an hour, and then decided to go to bed after it did not seem to get any worse. When I got up, I was feeling better, but I did not feel well most of the day at church. That’s probably due to the slower running of the machine.

Tuesday, they were able to use two 15-gauge needles again. The machine ran at 400 for the entire treatment without any problems. The only issue was that my heart rate was over 140 at the end of my treatment (when I stood up). The nurse had wanted to give me a hepatitis shot, but she decided not to, given my vital signs. They made me call Jenny to pick me up, though by the time she got there, I was fine enough to drive myself home.

I am hoping that today (Thursday) I will not have any problems. Maybe they will give me the hepatitis shot at the beginning of the treatment. Hopefully they will not have any problems sticking me with the 15-gauge needles. Hopefully I will not have any arterial or venous pressure alarms that make the machine have to slow down. And, hopefully at the end of my treatment, I will have a decent blood pressure and a decent heart rate when I stand up.

Well, I’ve got to go get stuck now. You all have a great day, and thanks for coming by!