Over the last year I have been going through some difficult health issues which has hindered severely what I have been able to do physically. For those who do not know about the issues please allow me to just summarize: Diagnosed with Diabetes, Stage III Kidney Disease, Atrial Fibrillation, Heart Failure, and most recently cirrhosis of the Liver. All of these things together makes one tired, (very tired), have a low heart rate, unable to do hardly any physical activity (I mean you have to rest for 15 minutes after changing clothes or sit on a stool to take a shower and/or shortness of breath after walking as little as 200 feet) and simply feel like a tired, sleep deprived limp washcloth. In addition to all this I had gained weight (up to around 255 pounds – most ever weighed). Kidney, liver, Atrial fibrillation, Diabetes all seem to work against each other. To help one problem causes the other problem to get worse. So what do you do?
After the cirrhosis of the liver diagnosis in January the doc said “We have got to get that fluid away from your middle. Your liver can repair itself if you give it some help… you have got to get rid of the fluid.” He put me on a less than 2 grams of sodium per day diet. I have got to tell you this is the hardest type of diet I have ever experienced. Sodium is what restaurants use to increase the taste in their food. I challenge you to look at the nutritional facts of the restaurants you frequent. You will be surprised and in some cases you will be shocked. We all love the good old healthy veggies at K&W, right? If you look at the sodium in their veggies alone you will notice the high sodium counts. If you go to Olive Garden and have spaghetti w/meat balls and sauce, two bread sticks, and salad you will ingest almost 5000mg of sodium for that one meal. That is almost three days allotment for sodium.
Baked Stuffed Squash 1830 Mg: Cabbage Wedges 1356 Mg: Corn on the Cob 1077 Mg: Green bean Casserole 1021Mg: Squash Casserole 1117Mg: Turnips 1336Mg: Vegetable Casserole, Chinese 1019: Baked Macaroni 1838Mg: Stir Fried Beef 3665Mg: The reason this is important is that this represents one menu item you eat at one meal. If you eat two other meals you may be approaching 4000 or 5000 mg of sodium, not to mention the caloric consumption. Choose wisely. Choose smaller portion sizes. Pay attention to what you are actually eating and what it may be doing to your quality of life just a few years down the road. Make the change now before you have a diagnosis that forces you to do something – or worse.
The diagnosis of cirrhosis of the liver… on the way to liver failure… was a real wake up call. So I put together a little journal to help me track my calories, sodium, sugar and carbohydrates for each item I eat. I look up each item, record them, and tally them at the end of the day. More than that I fax a summary of each days intake, blood pressure and weight to my doctor each Sunday night. I do this so he can see that I am continuing to be faithful to this diet and for him to notice if any of my numbers suggest some special attention.
Over the last 12 weeks I have gone from 250 to 206 (at this writing). My goal is 190 or less. Some days I lose a couple pounds while I gain a couple other days. But I am staying on top of this thing. If things don’t go well it will not be because I didn’t try. I have lost this weight and come down two pant sizes. But more than that, as great as it is, as needed as it is medically, I am beginning to feel better than I have in over a year. I am more active now than I have been in over a year. Very soon I will add exercise to my daily healthy living routine. Things are LOOKING UP!
That is important for my health, for my living to have better quality, and that I can do some of the things I haven’t been able to do in a while. I just got off the phone with the Visitation Scheduler at Piedmont Correctional Institute in Salisbury. I am scheduled to see Mark Mercer next Thursday morning at 9:30. I have really missed being able to see him, to let him know the church has not failed or forgotten him, and that I haven’t forgotten him either. Now I should be able to be there on a monthly basis and hopefully able to help Mark in his time of need.
I hope you are continuing to send Mark notes, cards and letters… words of care, grace and love. We all need that word no matter what situation we find ourselves. I hope that we all can join together to help our circle of friends to know that THINGS ARE LOOKING UP!!!!
Grace and Peace