Paging Dr. Google…

While waiting for these appointments, of course I hit the googles to see if I could come up with any ideas as to what was causing the kidney issues. I didn’t have untreated high blood pressure, and I wasn’t diabetic. Those are always the two things at the top of the list. My grandfather had been on dialysis for the last several years of his life, but he was a very sickly man for two decades. Surprisingly, the one thing he didn’t have was diabetes, but apparently he had crap kidneys. Maybe it was hereditary?

Then I read about lupus nephritis. Hmm. My mother has lupus. Her deceased sister had lupus. Maybe I had lupus! I had been tested for autoimmune disease a few years back and it was negative, but maybe my status had changed. I made a note to ask the nephrologist about this.

In this google “research,” I started to get a better understanding of what the kidneys actually do. I thought they just filtered stuff, and if you had bad kidneys you peed a lot. I didn’t realize the role they play in making red blood cells. And that if your kidneys aren’t working properly, you might become anemic. Ah. Some of this stuff was starting to make sense. But just a little. I added more questions to my list for the nephrologist.

My anal-retentive nature prompted me to gather ALL the lab work I could find on myself. I went through all the papers in my “health” file and pulled everything I could from patient portals for various health care providers. (Man, some of those medical groups here change names like the wind. I’m looking at you ABQ Health Partners. I mean Davita. I mean Optum.) Not only did I pull everything I could, I put it all into a spreadsheet. My GFR (a measure of kidney health) was NORMAL in December 2018 but had tanked to stage 3 renal failure by April 2019. What the hell causes the kidneys to lose half their function in four months? The hematologist had asked about any recent surgeries (none) or any acute illnesses (none) or hospitalizations (none). She said they really don’t see a drop like this unless the kidney has been physically injured. But I’d had none of that, and the ultrasound was normal. It was quite the mystery.

Hemoglobin (Oct 2019): 8.2

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