It was once said you can lie to everyone but yourself. Well, I am a living witness to the fact that this statement, in itself, is a lie. Going back and forth to the doctor and taking tests, I heard him as he kept warning me that I was heading towards chronic kidney disease. But for some reason I chose not to believe it or accept it to be true. Lie No. 1.
I don’t know why I have always been the type to get burned before believing the stove is HOT. I was still going on with my life being in “de-Nile,” like I live in Egypt, until one day my doctor called and urgently said, “Sir, get to the hospital NOW. Your potassium level is high, and you’re headed for a heart attack!” I went to the emergency room. They ran tests. The next day I got a chest catheter, followed directly by my first dialysis treatment. As I lay there on the machine, I told myself I would change my eating habits and mindset. Lie No. 2.
I’ve been eating the right way for someone with CKD for about a year now. I’ve lost weight and I’m enjoying some really great meals.
As I left the hospital with instructions to start my three-times-a-week treatments, I went back to my destructive ways. That is until I happened upon what I like to call “The Wake-Up Week.” I remember it vividly because it was the week after the Super Bowl last year, in which my team was playing. Excited, I had sent out emails and memos to my friends and family that read, ”Party at my house, bring nothing.”
The day of the Super Bowl I had anything and everything that was unhealthy—greasy, high phosphorus and absolutely high-calorie choices. While the game was on, I laughed, drank, and feasted like I was Henry the Eighth. The next day, I waddled into the dialysis center and found I was 5 kilograms over my dry weight and had extremely high blood pressure.
My nurse said, “You must have had a good weekend.”
I laughed, and nonchalantly said no, not really. Lie No. 3.
He sighed, and said, “I can’t take all this off you at once, but I can see what I can do.” After three hours on the machine, I yelled out, “cramp, CRAMP, CRAMP!” He rushed over to my machine and informed me I had too much fluid and would need to do an extra day of treatment. Angry, I reluctantly agreed. The night after my second day of treatment I itched like nobody’s business. Thinking it was something I ate, I took a laxative and a sleeping pill to get me through the night.
The next day my dietitian approached me with what I call “That tattle-tailing monthly blood report.” I looked at it as she asked, “Sir, can I ask you a question? Why are you so mad at yourself? This report shows me you do everything a person with CKD shouldn’t do.” Angry with myself for having to dialyze an extra day, and after itching all night, I asked for her help. She smiled, and said, “I’ll tell you what to do, but doing it is totally up to you.” Before going home, I stopped at the grocery store to purchase something to eat that night. I had protein, a slice of white bread and some spinach with a cup of pineapple juice. To my surprise I was satisfied. The next day, my breakfast consisted of two hard-boiled eggs, half of an English muffin and half of an apple, as opposed to my normal bacon, French fries and eggs with cheese.
Long story short, I’ve been eating the right way for someone with CKD for about a year now. I’ve lost weight and I’m enjoying some really great meals. I always eat a lot of protein and vegetables, a slice of white bread and usually a piece of fruit. It’s a good, warm feeling when my wife smiles and says she’s proud of me. I love seeing stars and smiley faces on that tattle-tailing monthly blood report. I’ve started a 20-minute daily walk. No, I’m not perfect but I do diligently make a strong effort to stay on track. When I do get a strong desire, my motto is “satisfy the temptations, relieve the frustration, and STOP.” I even found a way to enjoy cheese-less French fries by soaking them all night and air-frying them the next day. Above all, I feel better. No more itching, and no more C R A M P S!
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