September 26, 2010

Kidney Awareness Walk

Posted in Journal tagged , , , at 11:39 am by Jenn

As a Renal Dietitian I am shocked on a regular basis by the number of people who kidney disease impacts.  Just this past week we had 3 new patients start on dialysis (one only 27 years old)  and waiting for 3 more next week.  Dialysis is end stage renal disease.  At this point the only hope for the patient to stay alive is to begin dialysis treatment.  My clinic is one of the largest in the area with 140 something patients, but there are at least 40 DaVita clinics in the Washington Metropolitan area. 

Did you know that about 31 million American adults  — 1 in 6 — have chronic kidney disease (CKD), and millions more are at increased risk?  Diabetes  nd high blood pressure are the leading causes.  With most people, there are no symptoms until the disease reaches an advanced stage.  If kidney disease is left undetected, it can progress to kidney failure with little or no warning, making this disease a “silent epidemic”. 

It’s time for the annual Kidney Awareness Walk.  I just finished registering to walk again this year.  Last year I raised $125, and this year I’d like to try to beat that and raise $300.  Won’t you consider sponsoring me for this walk and helping to raise awareness about this life altering disease?  Please visit my Fundraising Page to make a donation!  I’d love to have you join me for the walk, but if you can’t you can participate virtually by visiting this link.

February 9, 2010

Here We Snow Again

Posted in Journal tagged , , , at 10:43 pm by Jenn

Guess what?  It’s snowing.  Again.  Another storm is hitting us this evening.  They are calling for “up to 20”.

Needless to say, the dialysis center won’t be open tomorrow so we spent the day attempting to reach tomorrow’s patients to bring them in at the end of the work day today.  If you’ve ever been in, or worked in a dialysis center, you know that it is normally a pretty routine place.  So and so comes in at such and such time, runs for so long and then leaves.  On days when there is a snow emergency and the center will be closed the following day there is the challenge of getting all of the current days patients treated in addition to the patients who would be treated the following day.

Did I mention that many of the patients who come to treatment come by some sort of scheduled transportation…meaning transportation arranged by the state or county?  That’s right….when there is a snow emergency many of these transportation services are shut down, meaning many of these patients can’t get to the center to get their life sustaining treatment.  Many of them are able to get friends, family or neighbors to bring them.  Others can’t.  It’s a  literal nightmare.

Thankfully, the years I spent in the hospital staffing industry paid off today.  I was able to actually be of some assistance.  The Social Worker and I made a great team…handling the scheduling so the nurses could do what they do best….take care of patients.

So the work day is over.  I’m watching LOST.  I honestly don’t know why I continue to watch this show.  I’ve watched EVERY episode and I have NOT A CLUE what is going on.  I’m hoping that I can figure it out soon…you know….before the end of the season.  Given that it is the end of the show I think that would be a good idea.

Scott got his orders yesterday.  We’ll be stateside for the next 3 years.  Stay tuned for more on that tomorrow…LOST just came back on.

December 26, 2007

Losing Patients

Posted in Journal tagged , , , , , , at 10:39 pm by Jenn

One thing I’ve never blogged about are my patients.   Today is the day I change that. 

Last week I logged in to my email and there was a notice that I had a message in my MySpace account.  Since I started blogging I haven’t really been keeping “my space” updated”.  I logged on and there it was titled “RIP”.  The message was from one of my dialysis patients back in NC.  Here it was two days before Christmas Eve and I’m staring at a message titled “RIP”.  I hesitated, then I clicked.

Inside were the simple words “Wilbur Chadburn 1970-2007* .  I cried.   

Wilbur like so many patients had been given the title “Non Compliant”.  Sure he should have come for treatment 3 times per week, but chose to come 1 time if a tech he liked was working to put him on the machine, sometimes he’d go 10-13 days without treatment.  Sure he ate what he wanted regardless of what it was doing to his body.  Sure he would fill his prescriptions once every 18 months even though the prescription should be filled monthly, but does he deserve the brand “Non Compliant”?  I don’t think so. 

Why not “Non Compliant”?  How many of you follow your doctor’s orders word for word?  Do YOU exercise 30 minutes a day, everyday?  Do YOU eat 5-9 serving of fruits and vegetables everyday?  Do YOU brush AND floss your teeth daily?  Do YOU take your antibiotics until they are gone?  Are you “Non Compliant” or are you simply human?

Working with the dialysis patient population is challenging.  These patients follow the most restrictive of any diet.  Limited fluids, limited sodium, limited phosphorus, limited potassium.  Naturally with so many limitations they think they can’t eat anything, and who can blame them.  Truth is that they can eat many things, and they can be tasty.  That’s the role of the Registered Dietitian and that is what I loved about my job…giving someone who had given up hope, the desire to eat and enjoy food again. 

Prior to working with dialysis patients I worked in Oncology.  I found personal satisfaction helping patients manage their symptoms, by altering their dietary intake, I loved helping people to rediscover food during their illness and I loved teaching patients how to feed themselves via a feeding tube so that they could remain nutritionally sound during their chemo/radiation treatment and greatly improve their clinical outcome.  These few minutes a day made all the difference to the patients and their families and that is what is was all about.  Life, and the QUALITY of that life. 

Dialysis patients are often referred to as “the walking dead”.  How horrible!  We are all since the day we are born dying, so why the need for labels.  Why can’t we just accept that some people have more challenges in their lives day to day and be done with it.  Let’s do away with the labels and start caring more for one another.   Now that’s a reason for living.

Someone asked me recently how I could stand working with patients who were so ill … my reply to that person, “wouldn’t you want someone who wanted to work, to care for you in your time of need?” 

SO for all the Wilbur Chadburn’s out there, my wish for you in 2008 is a year of education, health and happiness.  I urge you to partner in your healthcare, ask questions of your provider and most importantly be comfortable with your provider.

To all the doctors, nurses, techs, assistants, out there, STOP, before you label another patient, take a close look at yourself.  Have you given each patient the treatment that you would want given to you?  If you need to resort to labels, perhaps it’s time to refer the patient to a provider who may be able to help them.

I’m going to get off my soapbox now.  I just needed to get that off my chest.  Seeing that death notice really struck a nerve with me and made me realize just how much I miss patient care. 

 *name changed