Oct. 26, 2009
Welcome to Dave's Kidney.
After writing a tell-all article about my need for a kidney transplant, I went galumphing into the Post-Gazette lunchroom where a lady spotted me and felt compelled to react to my newly revealed situation.
"Boy, you're one sick puppy," she said.
Sick puppy? Me?
First time I'd ever been called a puppy, sick or otherwise. Dog, cur and mutt, for sure. But never "puppy."
And it made me wonder if I'd given people the wrong idea with my first-person account about fighting type 1 diabetes for 43 years and how I now face the prospects of a kidney transplant. I don't think I gave the wrong impression.
Hey, guys, I'm healthy. The heart is STRONG AS BULL. My puppy is not sick. No cancer. No infections. No syndromes, conditions, disorders, symptoms or psychoses. Although wife Suellen might disagree on the latter.
For that reason, I came up with this comparison: I'm like a road-worthy car that needs just one replacement part. Once the medical mechanics install the new part and make sure it works, I will get my inspection sticker and be back on the highway of life.
And so begins the blog.
I'm open to questions, comments and discussions, frank or otherwise, about diabetes, diabetes lifestyle, kidney function, supplements and kidney transplantation, and variations on those important themes.
I've long fielded complaints from people with diabetes that there are lots of experts, but few who provide advice about living daily with the disease. Doctors and diabetes educators offer medical and lifestyle advice, and everyone with diabetes or kidney disease certainly should heed that advice. But those of us who've lived with diabetes and kidney disease for years, decades and, in the case of my diabetes, nearly a half century, we can help people get through the day, overcome the obstacles, maintain control and remain healthy.
First, listen to doctors and health officials. That will be the common mantra in this blog.
But we can discuss insulin injections, blood-sugar testing, maintaining normal or near-normal blood-sugar levels and living happily and successfully with diabetes. My goal is reach my 50-year anniversary with diabetes and earn my Joslin medal, then proceed to 60 and, I hope, 70 years. With my track record, I have plenty of adventures to share.
Points to stress: Follow doctors' advice.
Test your blood sugar.
React with medication or exercise if the number is too high or sugar if it's too low.
And have a healthy day.
It's human nature to make extra effort to protect the weak, and that idea applies to my approach to protecting what little kidney function I still have. I need to maintain my kidneys for at least three years to prevent the need for dialysis while awaiting a transplant. My kidney beans must be protected.
Wife Suellen and I moved last year to a 12-acre family farm in Washington County that features a brick farmhouse built circa 1835. The beautiful property features trees and fields with plenty of grass to cut and leaves to rake.
Each summer we also care for eight to 10 Holstein heifers destined to become milk cows on the dairy farm that my brother-in-law, Bill Paxton, operates in Chartiers.
I name the cows each year - Comma, Trident, Eyebrow, Chicken Foot and Ribeye, to name a few - with this year's favorites being Chocolate Chip (white with black dots) and Woolly-Mammoth (what with her curly brown calf hair she sported most of the summer before it matured into classic black and white).
Woolly almost has become a pet. Before she eats the cow feed I pour twice a day into a trough, we have a meet and greet.
But she began to worry me. After I dump the feed into the trough and begin walking away, she follows, and if I don't acknowledge her presence, she butts her big head into the small of my back, sometimes shoving me to the point of stumbling and falling.
So I have to watch her carefully, especially now. I cannot afford a cheap shot to the kidneys from an otherwise affectionate Woolly-Mammoth. I have to protect my weak friends.
It explains why I walk backwards each day back to the fence, which makes it difficult to avoid the cow pies. In short, I've chosen to protect my kidneys rather than my shoes.