Saturday, October 3, 2009

Test results - progress at last!

The test results the new nephrologist ordered show the first significant improvement in kidney I've seen since my initial diagnosis en February. Perhaps the results a just a favorable "blip", just as the previous results were unfavorable "blips", but nonetheless they cheered me up a lot and gave confidence to my belief that improvement is possible.

Serum Creatinine
To put things in context, the results aren't all that different from those of February but after months of serum creatinine levels in the 2.3 to 2.5mg/dl range, it was great to get a 2.0mg/dl result ("normal" is 0.8 to 1.5 mg/dl, and "dialysis" is something like 7mg/dl).

Creatinine Clearance
The Creatinine Clearance Rate (CCR) showed a dramatic improvement. The Creatinine Clearance Rate measures the ability of the kidneys to process creatinine (a substance produced by the muscles) and it is used as an aproximation for overall kidney function as it is fairly easy to measure (just collect all your urine in a bottle for 24 hours - simple!)

In April tests showed a CCR of 33ml/min (normal is 61 to 166), which can roughly be translated as "30% of normal kidney function"

My current test shows a CCR of 52.5ml/min ! I haven't consulted with the nephrologist yet to see what his interpretation of the results is but to me it seems like a big improvement!

Another improvement was in the amount of protein in my urine. The last 24 hour test in April showed leakage of 1485mg of albumin (a protein) into my urine (and the test prior to that showed 1881mg of total proteins). Normal is between 42 and 225mg.

The current test shows 989mg of albumin leakage in 24 hours. This could just be due to less protein consumption, will have to see what the nephrologist says.

The rest of the measurements were pretty much the same as ever, slightly anemic but not too far from normal.

Theories for the improvement
As I said at the beginning, perhaps there is no particular reason for the improvement and it is just a "blip". However, if the improvement came about as a result of my actions it is probably due to one (or more) of the following:

Elimination of Gluten. I completely eliminated gluten from my diet on 15-Jul-09. Although my test on 13-Aug-09 showed no noticable improvement perhaps it is something that took time to have an effect. Ironically I was actually planning to starting eating gluten again if this test showed no improvement. Now I guess I'll stick it out until at least the next test to see if my current results are stable.

Sodium Bicarbonate. On the advice of a couple of people and some studies, I took sodium bicarbonate between 13-Aug-09 and 10-Sep-09. I stopped taking it as I felt that it may be raising my blood pressure (I now think it was actually lack of sleep that was raising my blood pressure). Incidentally, my current blood test showed slightly elevated sodium levels.

Magnetized Water. A month ago, somebody came selling me magnetized water as the perfect solution for regenerating kidney tissue. I don't really believe in such things but thought it was worth a try and so have been drinking it (have drunk 30L so far). Guess I'll keep it up for a while, 'just in case'.

Prayer. About a week ago I read Dale Carnegie's book "How to stop worrying and start living". I enjoyed the book and for some reason found the section on prayer quite compelling (even though I don't follow any organized religion). I believe that chronic is diseased is caused by the brain and that part of me actually wants to be ill (to get sympathy, I guess) and it occurred to me that fervent prayer may be a way of reprogramming the brain with a strong affirmation of a desire NOT to be ill, so I have been trying at night and in the mornings to "pray" to be cured. I actually believe that this prayer is the main reason for my improved results. One cause of doubt is the speed of the change (only a week) but I guess miracles are traditionally reported as being sudden, so why not?!


  1. This is such a nice, detailed accounting of your kidney health. I wish I could inspire my friend Bobby to be as detail oriented as you! I am writing a blog along with him about his health problems, chief among them his kidney failure and dialysis. One remedy that has also worked for him is prayer. It does not alleviate his physical problems necessarily, but it helps him mentally and emotionally to just be in a dialogue with God.

    Anyway, good for you, I hope your careful approach pays off long term.

    Bobby is pretty sick right now, if you have a minute, check out his blog and offer some words of encouragement.

  2. Hey nice blog. I hope you see continued improvement going forward.

    I recently had a 24-hour urine test that showed elevated protein. Where did you get your reference values of 42 to 225mg? Which lab did the test? Mine came back from LabCorp at 195mg/24 hr with a reference range of 30-150.

    Also do you know what the difference is between total protein and 24 hour protein? My total protein was within limits but the 24 hour was elevated. I haven't been able to find anywhere online that explains the difference.

    Thanks and be well!

  3. The reference values are what my lab gives in the results. I forget the name of the lab but I think it's a local, Southeast Mexican, chain anyway.

    I don't know about Total protein -v- 24 hour protein, but perhaps Total protein is measured per volume of urine (e.j. mg/dL)?

  4. Yes I think you are correct about the total protein measurement. I was able to calculate my 24 hour urine protein by multiplying total protein by urine volume in dL. I was just wondering if there's a different interpretation when only one value is elevated rather than both. I really should stop worrying about it and wait to see what the nephrologist says when I go to see him in about a week or so.

    I guess I'm mostly just worried that I could be doing/not doing something right now that would allow my kidneys to heal. Having read a lot of your blog I think we have similar personalities in that respect :) I think it's good to take charge of your health and to try to find solutions on your own because you know your doctors aren't sitting around constantly thinking about your case, and they are too busy to consider alternative therapies.

    What's most perplexing to me is that you have such reduced kidney function yet you seem to feel basically normal aside from problems with medications. I on the other hand have all sorts of weird symptoms and have much less protein in my urine. Also my serum creatinine and bun were just above the low end of their respective ranges which is good and I had a renal ultrasound that turned up nothing. My primary doc has been treating me for what he calls a "hormone imbalance" which is making me effectively hypothryoid, so I don't know if that imbalance is affecting my kidneys, or if my kidneys are causing the imbalance. My research indicates it could be either.