My name's Jim Tetzlaff.
Iím suffering from a degenerative kidney disease known as Glomerular Nephritis. This web page is an attempt at telling people about my predicament, and to encourage organ donation.
Itís a disease that causes your kidneys to shutdown and stop filtering. I was diagnosed with this disease in July 2002. My blood pressure had been high for probably 12 months prior to being diagnosed with this condition. I found out that there was a problem, from a physical for some life insurance. One of the tests came back a little "off", and I was told that they were rejecting me, and that I had to talk to my doctor, so he could tell me what my test results meant!
I'd never had so much as a broken bone before all this...
Side Effects of this Disease
I seem to have good days and bad days. On good days, I can keep up with most people on day-to-day tasks and I work a normal 8 hour day. On bad days, I feel like I'm running in slow motion, and am dragging a large boulder around my waist. I'm also short of breath on bad days as well..
Fluid accumulation in your feet/ankles - mine seem to swell up if I've been on my feet too long. Before I started dialysis, my wrists, arms & hands would swell if I was in the sun too long. Too much fluid raises my blood pressure.
Swings of mood / changes in blood Pressure - I can be cranky/irritable, often interchangeably. My blood pressure has been a real challenge for my Dr.'s to regulate properly, in that it's either too high, or too low. Neither of which is a desirable property.
Restrictive Diet - I have to watch my intake of certain foods that have high quantities of Phosphorus, Potassium & Sodium (dairy products, chocolate, whole grains, nuts, alcohol, certain fruits...) This diet is almost a modified Atkins diet... They'd like me to give up coffee, because of the caffeine, but I enjoy a cup too much to give it up.
Depression - When I was first diagnosed with this disease, I had real problems trying to decide how to handle it all. I was in denial. How could this happen to me? I was just about suicidal at one point. I wanted second opinions, and didn't even want to consider being on dialysis, due to the change in the way I would look. I was depressed a bout the possibility of having a catheter hanging out of my abdomen, and thought I would look like some kind of freak... I wouldn't be here today, if I didn't have my wife around to yank me back into reality sometimes... It's an understatement to say that it's been pretty difficult for her to deal with as well...
Lack of Energy - I found out the hard way that your kidneys produce an enzyme that tells your bone marrow to make more red blood cells. Red Blood cells handle oxygen for your blood, and if you're getting enough oxygen, you feel ok... When your kidneys aren't functioning, this doesn't occur anymore, and you start to feel very tired. To compensate for this "little' problem there's a drug called Epogen. Epogen is a fairly close replacement for the missing enzyme, but takes about 2 weeks for it's results to be felt. I receive shots of this drug every week, as well as blood tests to monitor it's effectiveness.
Periodic Shots/Blood Tests/ Large Amounts of Medications - I get shots every week, as well as blood tests to watch my Hematocrit levels. If Hematocrit is too high, my insurance won't pay for my shots of Epogen, and I'll start to spiral downward. There are also monthly blood tests to check levels of just about everything else. Medication gets pretty difficult to track some days. I have 3 types of blood pressure medicine, two of which are taken twice daily. I have special "kidney-friendly" vitamins, taken once daily, and I have 3 types of phosphorus binders that are taken anytime I eat something.
Weight Gain/Or in my case loss - Initially When I started my dialysis regimen, I was told that I'd have to get used to carrying a little extra weight, and that my shape or frame would get a little more rounded. In reality, I've lost a pretty decent percentage of muscle mass, and am thinner than when I started. I try to exercise as much and as often as I can, but I've not been able to regain the lost muscle mass I used to have.
There are 2 type of Dialysis. The type I'm on is known as Peritoneal Dialysis.
PD (for short) uses the peritoneal cavity in your abdomen as a filter for your blood. I perform my treatments several times per day. At this stage in the game, I'm able to use a machine to perform my dialysis functions at night, while I sleep, for a period of about 8 hours. I'm able to perform my dialysis at home, thanks to a training program and monitoring from my local dialysis unit.
The other type of dialysis is called Hemo Dialysis. I was on this type for about a month, until my abdomen healed from the initial surgery. Hemo (for short) requires the patient to be stationary for about 4 hours, 3 times a week. It actually removes toxins through an external filtering device, and the point of entry is accomplished with 2 needles inserted into an access point or Fistula implanted in your arm. Dialysis generally has to be performed in a clinic setting, but home Hemo is becoming more common. Click here to see an actual Hemo dialysis Treatment.
Please see my Updates Page for new developments!!!!
My Fresenius Cycler
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This page was last updated on 10/15/07.
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