04 October 2012

2012 Kidney Walk

For the third year in a row, I will be participating in the local National Kidney Foundation Kidney Walk on Sunday October 21. Like other events of this nature, the focus is to raise funds for research, awareness, and to bring sufferers of kidney disease and those who support them together for "the cause." 

So why does the Behr participate?

In 2003, when I joined a gym with a friend, my pre-workout screening revealed that my blood pressure was incredibly high. My friend made me swear to see the doctor...and so I did. My doctor ran some tests, prescribed high blood pressure medication, and - thanks to the blood test - had me do a 24-hour urinalysis. The end result was proteinuria, which means there was too much protein in my urine. My doctor referred me to a nephrologist (Dr. M), who confirmed the diagnosis.

By this time I'd been going to the gym 6 days a week, ingesting protein drinks, and dropping fat and gaining muscle. I thought it was my diet and honestly scoffed at what seemed to be a knee-jerk reaction. It wasn't until Dr. M ordered a kidney biopsy that I started thinking maybe this was something I should pay attention to. The results of that biopsy were inconclusive; the only thing my doctor said was that he thought it was congenital, meaning it is a condition I was born with. In discussing the various symptoms, I realized I have had those symptoms all of my life. Who knew something was off if you don't know anything else?

So for the past 9 years I've been seeing Dr. M fairly exclusively. He's seen my blood pressure be brought under control, a gain in my weight, and a step closer to diabetes. He's not always happy with my weight but honestly that's a whole other Oprah.

Last year Dr. M ordered a second kidney biopsy. Some of my numbers had changed and not for the good. He wanted to see if perhaps this time there would be something more conclusive. Sad to say, there was.

He officially diagnosed me with focal segmental glomerulosclerosis (FSGS). Basically it means that I have scarring in my kidneys and that is what is causing the high amounts of protein to pass through my urine. As you may know, our kidneys filter the bad stuff in our blood and what passes out of the kidney eventually becomes our urine.

I was prescribed an immunosuppressant, one that is generally given to patients who have had an organ transplant. It's a relatively new treatment idea and the hopes is it will reduce the rate at which the scarring occurs. There is no known cure.

We all have something called GFR, or glomerular filtration rate. The higher the number the better. Depending on one's number determines the "stage" of kidney disease. I'm at stage 2, one point from stage 3. Stage 5 represents kidney failure; that means either dialysis or organ transplant. So I'm not doing too badly.

Three years ago I saw the advertisement for the first Los Angeles area walk. I attended alone. Last year my mom joined me despite her own health issues (including arthritis, another 'cause' we support). She plans on attending this year with me unless her health doesn't permit it. While I do the arthritis walk for my mom, this one is for me.

I'm not good at asking people for help. It's the stubborn Taurus in me. But this last year has shown me that I do indeed have a serious condition. I know so many of my followers are also struggling with health issues. Many people live with kidney disease and don't know it. Ironically, I don't fit the usual demographics. But that aside...I'm reaching out to this blogger community. If you feel so inclined and can help, all donations are greatly appreciated. Here's the link to my page:

Mark's Kidney Walk Page

If you cannot give monetarily, then I ask that you have yourself checked. It's a simple blood test and pee in a cup. That simple. It could save your life.

Thank you for the opportunity to share this story. It's been one I've hinted at but not shared. I felt it was time.

Just so you don't feel cheated, here's a pic of a hot daddy:



Rick said...

A great cause indeed. Glad you've got everything in control Mark and giving back.

Stan said...

I can relate. I was in the hospital this past July when my blood work showed my creatinine was around 6 and was told to go to the hospital. My kidney's were "pruning up" from the diuretics I was prescribed for my feet/legs swelling. I was in for 6 days before my kidney's bounced back. Luckly there was never any protein in my urine. It scared the hell out of me. My Mom died of kidney failure due to high blood pressure which I too suffer from.

Good luck in the march. It's a good thing your doing.