Monday, January 21, 2019

Thinking . . .

Been thinking about a lot of things lately - mostly about how my life is changing because I have a cranky kidney.  I finally connected with Dr. Coe's nurse, and I spent an hour or so yesterday building a timeline so he will have the full picture of this journey.  It's possible he will want another set of back-to-back 24-hour urine collections as well as some blood work done before I even get a chance to see him.  I got all my CT and Ultrasound films from both hospitals, so I'll take those with me to my first appointment.  So this process is in motion and I will know more as I go along.

Hungry today - not sure if it's actual hunger or emotional anxiety (which leads to emotional eating for me), but it could have been worse - tracked and onward.

I finished Man's Search for Meaning, by Viktor Frankl.  This was a difficult book to read - in subject matter and also in content because the second part of the book is extremely technical in nature with regard to psychiatric terminology and theory.  I felt like I was back in school.  But it's an important book - one of the most important of the 20th century - and I'm glad I finally read it.

Next up for The Book Project is one on my Kindle that I apparently started and left . . . It's called In Farleigh Field.  I'll pick it back up and see if it's worth finishing.  When I get those First Reads emails from Amazon Prime, if one of the books has anything to do with WWII, it's nearly always the book I pick, and this one is something about or shortly after the war.  I will be surprised if it doesn't capture my attention.

Something else I did last weekend was to actually look at all the books on my to-read shelves.  I ended up with about nine books that I either bought on a whim or bought for reasons no longer known, but it was clear to me that I was never going to read them.  They no longer held any interest for me.  And so, I popped them into the book drop to donate them rather than cramming them in The Little Free Library.  It freed up about a foot of shelf space - which I promptly filled with some other to-read books that were resting out on the shelves in the kitchen  ;-D  So it goes.  At least I'm making progress, and I'm happy to be reading more in these past few weeks.

And finally - some knitting content!  Yay!!  :-D

I finished the 2018 Project Peace Cowl from The Healthy Knitter.  It is not yet blocked in this photo.  The yarn is Socks That Rock Mediumweight, in the "It's All About The Bark" colorway - A sock club yarn from the club in 2014.





It seems quite tall for a cowl - I am hoping it will block out a little wider.  The I-Cord edging might preclude that - we'll see.  The triangle sections represent geese - I really like how the grey in the yarn looks like geese flying.  At least to me it does  :-)

In process is The Minimalist Shawl.  I'm using a gradient yarn from River's Edge Fiber Arts that I picked up last year at YarnCon.  It seems small to me . . . I'm hoping it will block larger.  In the meantime, I am anxiously awaiting the first major color change.  It's hard to tell how it's knitting up because it looks sort of knobbly because the gradient must have been a blank that was then un-knitted, so the yarn itself is kinked up.  Crossing my fingers that this will block out.


We had a dump of snow here on Saturday night and now the temps are in the single digits, so today was a jams day.  Caught up on telly and worked on this shawl for most of the day!  Winter might finally be here - we've had it pretty easy so far, but it's cold now for real.

Winter is here and I'm thinking about being warm . . .


Thursday, January 17, 2019

A Field Report . . .

The Book Project

I'm definitely on a roll where books are concerned.  If I keep up like this I will make my entire year's goal by the end of May  :-D

The book I picked up after I finished the Larry Cole series was Falling Leaves: The Memoir of an Unwanted Chinese Daughter, by Adeline Yen Mah.  Difficult to read but compelling - I blasted through it in a couple of days and then returned it to The Little Free Library, where I had picked it up.  Next up is a book that I had started in 2017.  I was close to halfway through, but it's not a long book and I decided to start over.  It's Viktor Frankl's Man's Search for Meaning.  It's an important book.  Not easy to read, but I'm not putting it down.  After these two, I think I will pick up something light-hearted on my Kindle app.  There is at least one there that I started but haven't finished!

In addition, I've been wanting to actually read Sarah Ban Breathnach's Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy for some years.  I've started it multiple times and never gotten very far.  I hurried through the first two weeks of entries and caught up last night.  I pulled my gratitude journal out and am giving it a go.  And with a friend I'm also working through her The Simple Abundance Companion: Following Your Authentic Path to Something More.  This will take a year - it's structured with 12 chapters, one to work through each month.

My Kidney and other Stuff . . . 

So, I went for my follow up with the urologist this week regarding my pre-Christmas stone.  The results of my most recent CT were excellent.  All clear!  Yay!  And I'm working with my Kidney Stone Prevention Coach.  Yay!  WW is going really well!  Yay!  I figured I was going to get a pat on the back and get told to come back in six months.

I certainly did not go in expecting what I heard.

Not at all . . .

It's not really bad news - just startling.  Really, in the grand scheme of things, it all could have been a lot worse.

The urologist told me - in no uncertain terms - that I need to see a nephrologist - that I'm a very unusual case.  I have made three stones of two different types in less than two years.  That's not OK.  He said I need a team.  My urologist is a surgeon and he said for your average stone former, it's not a problem - he works with them all the time.  But I'm not average, and not your run of the mill stoner, so to speak.  I need a team to figure out what's going on and why, and who can craft a strong, personalized plan of attack so that I never make any more of these.

I will say that he referred me to the very best and that can only be good.  I'm going across town to the University of Chicago Hospitals where I will be seeing Dr. Fredric Coe.  I've mentioned him a couple of times here on the blog.  He is (and I'm not kidding) the foremost expert in the country (probably the world) on kidney stone prevention.  There is an entire section of the University of Chicago website devoted exclusively to his work.  Jill, my coach works with him.

He's really quite famous in the world of kidney stones.  I'm actually pretty excited to see him, because if anyone can help me with this, he can.  I've even asked him a few questions on his website and he's answered me!  Now I just need to get through to his office to get an appointment set up.  So far they are not returning my call.  But they will, I'm sure.  My urologist also told me that my current BMI is a huge risk factor for making more stones.  Well, I already figured that out on my own, which is why I went back to WW on 13 Dec 2018.  When I told him how much I was down all he said was, "keep going."   Alrighty then.  I am.

Then, as I was getting ready to leave, the urologist poked his head back in and said, "Oh - there's a spot on your lung.   I talked to your primary care doc, he's going to call you about it.  Don't worry about it."  And he was out the door.

What the hell?!   A spot on my lung?!

What the hell???  No, What the Fuck????

Let me reassure you - it's probably nothing, but man, he could have handled that better.  Apparently it was seen on a CT scan I had in June 2017 where it was exactly the same size it is now.  That means that, whatever it is, it's not growing.  No one has ever mentioned it until this most recent CT.  The written report from back then in 2017 doesn't even mention it, but the radiologist compared the latest one with that old one and saw the exact same spot, still the exact same size, so I'm guessing it's not all that important.  After a consultation with my primary care doc, the upshot is that I have to go this July and have a CT of my chest so they can really look at everything and know for sure.  But my primary care doc says not to worry.  So I'm not.  Well, I worried for a day.  Now I'm not worried.  you shouldn't worry either  :-)

WW

This is a long Field Report.  :-D  I forgot to check in last week.  I was down 0.4, and today I was down another 3.0 for a total so far of 15.4 down.  So, there is a pattern emerging, a larger loss one week followed by a small one the next.  I'm cool with that.  :-)

This goofy song has been in my head for a few days.  A little blast from the 80s.



Saturday, January 12, 2019

Another Book Read . . .

Yay!  I've finished a book!!  One that I started on 7 January 2019 and finished on 12 January 2019.  Yay Me!!

It was the last in the late Hugh Holton's Larry Cole mystery series, Revenge.  Unfortunately he did not live to complete it himself.  Here is the review I shared on Goodreads:
This was published a number of years after Holton's death, and wow, it was SO clear that someone other than Hugh Holton finished this book. I suspected as much the moment I saw that an "and" instead of a "/" had been placed between Detective Judy Daniels' moniker. And whoever finished it was clearly NOT a Chicagoan - references to the subway and midtown as well as a "fight-end" makes me think it was a New Yorker with no sports knowledge. The pacing was off and the end was not wrapped up well at all. I wanted to read this because I wanted to read all of Holton's books. Such a shame that he died at such a young age. I don't recommend this one, and can only imagine how different it would have been had he lived to finish it himself. 
 So, a bit of a disappointment, but I did finish it.

This week also saw me taking the first book from my to-read shelves to the Little Free Library .  It was called The Celtic Year.  It had a bookmark in it, which should have been my first clue that it hadn't grabbed me the last time I attempted to read it.  It's actually a day book, and as I looked as some of the entries, I remembered why I had put it down.  It's rare for me to walk away from a book that embraces the Celtic world.  But I knew I was never going to read this one, so as I toddled off to the train one very early morning, I left it in the Little Free Library. 

I'm not sure what I'm going to pick next.  Might be time for a self-help/self-discovery type of book.  Or maybe time to finish one of the unfinished ones in my Goodreads listing.  I'll let you know what I decide.

I had a CT scan on Friday and the tech's name was Clair.  I immediately thought of this song, and then this morning it was on the radio!



Tuesday, January 8, 2019

More Progress . . .

I finally finished Criminal Element by the late Hugh Holton.  Sadly, because he passed away in 2001, there is only one more book in his Larry Cole series, Revenge, and I started it last night.

I was so embroiled in kidney craziness that I forgot to share one of my intentions for 2019.  It is to read more.  My entire life I was always the kid with the book, and I discovered that I hadn't really read anything in probably a year . . . that's very hard for me to believe, but there it is.

My first step was to get caught up with the year's worth of Guideposts magazines that I had in a stack in the sunroom.  I have always liked this magazine.  It's uplifting, and I used to sit down and read it cover to cover as soon as it arrived, but I found myself with a year of back issues.  It takes about an hour or so to read one completely.  I started while I was sick, and I got through them all.  (Of course the January issue just came  :-D  but I'm nearly finished with it).

Then, I realized that I had at least 40 books on my to-read shelf, and this doesn't even count the ones on my Kindle app . . . How did that happen???

So, I decided that I would not participate in my library book club this year, and much the way I am participating in "cold sheep" and knitting from my stash, I would read from my own shelves.  I would like to read 12 books this year.  I realize that doesn't seem like many to someone who might read much more, but it seemed like a manageable goal for me.

I started with finishing Criminal Element.  Sort of like a knitting WIP, I have a number of books on my shelves that I started and somehow never finished.  So - I will be finishing some books as well as reading new ones.  I also have a lot of books that were bought on a whim.  I've already made the decision that if something doesn't grab me within the first 2-3 chapters, I will not continue.  I'll donate it and move on to the next book.

Some of the books are in Goodreads, but not all.  In fact, Goodreads says that I have NINE books in progress.  This is goofy, so those will be some of the ones that I will be finishing (or not) first.

I'm keeping track over on the sidebar.

More Rundgren for you today from an episode of Live from Daryl's House . . .


Friday, January 4, 2019

Progress . . .

Just a quick check-in.  Yesterday was my "weigh day" and I was down another 5.8.  I guess all those vegetables I've been eating are helping.

:-D


Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Happy New Year 2019!

If you've been hanging out with me here for any length of time, you know that I have kidney stone disease and have made two different types of kidney stones in the past almost two years.

From mid-October until yesterday, I dealt with a kidney infection (left kidney - it's always the left one) that required a visit to the ER; a 7mm uric acid stone the following week that required another ER jaunt, admission to the hospital, and a surgery; a stone fragment that was left inside me after surgery; and then another 4mm uric acid stone that I was, thankfully, able to pass on the Thursday before Christmas. I was left with a forniceal rupture and elevated kidney function that required more blood work last Friday. 

Yesterday I got the results of last Friday's blood work - my kidney function is back to normal (huge sigh of relief - can't even tell you how happy I am about this), and the levels of uric acid in my blood are in the normal range (I believe that means this is dietary).  The rupture was explained to me as something that sometimes happens in situations where this is a blockage - it's one of the body's ways of protecting the kidney when something like this occurs - and as long as I was feeling OK it was nothing to worry about.  I feel OK  :-) In other good news of the day, my latest CT scan - from that last wee beastie before Christmas - showed that it was the final stone.  There is no more calculus (stones) in my kidney (even bigger sigh of relief). 

Now it's up to me to not make any more.

I think I told you guys that I decided to rejoin WW in mid-December.  I'm a lifetime member returning to goal.  The return journey will take some time, if you get my drift . . .  ;-) 

Thankfully, I have the help of a super-great kidney stone prevention coach.  After I was given the all-clear from the fragment (and before the last stone shook itself loose), I was finally able to do my next 24-hour urine collection.  My results were nowhere near as bad as they might have been.  Lowering salt again, and more water are always givens.  My urine pH has been all over the board - it was OK on test day, but it was low shortly thereafter again.  My dose of potassium citrate has been raised from 15mg 2x/day up to 20 twice a day.

Preventing more stones of either of the two types I've made so far (calcium oxalate and uric acid) is all dietary for me, and getting back to a healthy weight is very much part of preventing more uric acid stones.  I had already made the decision to return to WW (online only), and did so on 13 December 2018 and am down just over 6 pounds for December.  I felt that I would be able to work with my kidney stone diet within the framework of WW and create my own "food rules" with the help of my coach.  It's working very well.  Yay! 

This is, indeed, a Happy New Year for me.  I'm well again after months of kidney craziness.  My left kidney is finally calculus-free, and my kidney function has returned to normal. 

And now, I'm headed out for a walk around the Retention Pond  :-)


Monday, December 24, 2018

A Rerun . . .

Sorry to share here that I had another kidney stone.

I knew there was a 4mm one hanging out in my left kidney.  They saw it when they originally found the 7mm one back in mid-October that required surgery on October 26th.  Wednesday night the 4mm decided to take a ride down my ureter.  I knew it was either a stone or another infection, I was pretty sure it was a stone, though, and I prayed that its journey would be quick and I would be able to pass it.

I spent all of Thursday at Northwestern, going from the doctor's office (where my BP was 165/82 from the pain, but they would not give me any pain meds until they knew what was going on) to have an ultrasound (where they said they saw a stone in my kidney but nothing in my ureter) and then another CT scan (which was successful), all the while carrying a bucket to dry heave into.  All fricking day.

It was really the no-fun plan, but the pain was not as bad as my first two stones, otherwise I would have gone to the ER.  When they called me back upstairs to the doctor's office after the CT, they said that yes, the stone was in my lower ureter near my bladder.  They also said that they wouldn't do anything for it - they wanted me to try to pass it on my own.  My choices were to go to the ER, stay in a hotel near the hospital overnight, or go home.

I got some Tylenol down me around 4 in the afternoon in the doctor's office, and I managed to keep it down.  It helped enough that I decided that I would go home.  It was a relatively easy decision - there were 100 people ahead of me in the ER at Northwestern . . .

They did, ultimately give me some pain medication, and when I got home, I took my potassium citrate and a torodol.  The pain was subsiding and I was able to eat some toast to take my meds.  Everything stayed down.

Thankfully - and for the first time - during the night when I got up to pee I was successful at passing a stone.  I had been peeing in a "top hat" and straining my urine since Wednesday night.  When I got up on Friday morning, there was the stone in the top hat.  It made it to my bladder and I hadn't even felt it as I pee'd it out in the night.

Based on its color, it's most likely another uric acid stone.  It was 3-4mm wide and about 5mm long.


Here's a close up.


Wicked wee beast, isn't it?

It's out for analysis now, and my BP was 122/70 at the doc's on Friday.  Amazing what that kind of pain does, huh?  Anyway, I think it was the final stone.  I am concerned, though, because although the ultrasound was wrong about it being in my ureter, they did say they saw a stone in my kidney.  I don't think that the CT showed another stone in my kidney, but we were so focused on the one making its way down my ureter that I didn't get a clear answer.  I'm hoping that this was the last one - the 4mm one that was identified back in October.  I think that the physician's assistant said it was the 4mm stone that was identified in October - I will be sad if there is still another stone in there.  The results of the CT should be in my record where I can access it by Thursday or Friday - I'll know for sure then.

I have another ultrasound in January - even though they got the stone wrong they could see that my kidney was swollen again and we have to make sure the swelling goes away and I can't have any more CT scans for awhile - I've had too many in too short a period of time.  I also have to have blood work done to see what what the level of uric acid is in my blood.  It's possible that this is hereditary in some respect and I might be put on a drug called allopurinol.  I'm hoping not - I really want to control this with dietary changes and I know I can.  This is my second chance to prove it.

For now I'm going with the ultrasound being inaccurate and setting the intention that this was the last stone.  I have an appointment on Thursday with Jill Harris, my kidney stone prevention coach.  She will be able to help me figure out how best to eat going forward.  Now that I'm an equal opportunity stoner (I've made two different types of stones: calcium oxalate and uric acid) everything is a little more complicated. 

I'm seriously considering buying some loose pearls and having some jewelry made . . . I've have two 4mm stones, a 7mm stone, and a 5mm fragment.  Might make a nice ring, don't you think?

Christmas Eve/Sarajevo.  You hear it a lot, but you don't see the video very often.

Happy Christmas Eve . . .