Last year I did the Paleo diet for 4 months, hoping that it would help me control my steadily decreasing kidney function. I decided to discontinue the diet because of the recommendation of my dietician and also because my lab results indicated that my kidneys were still failing. Fast-forward to one year later after going back to my regular diet and I am probably far worse off. At my latest specialist appointment I was told that my kidney function is sitting at around 18% and that it is time to start asking friends and family whether they would be willing to be tested for a kidney match. Ouch. I don’t think I can do it just now. I just can’t imagine how the conversation would go. “Hey, how do you feel about donating a kidney?” It’s not like I want to borrow a sweater or something – it’s the gift of life – a big ask, even if you can live a perfectly normal life with only one kidney. I’m going to work on educating myself first in what’s involved in a live transplant and dialysis.
Last year I thought I would do anything to help my kidney function get better but now I know that I’ve hit rock bottom. It’s definitely looking like it will get worse before it gets better. I’m starting to feel some pain in my kidneys, and I’ve got 10% more to go before I qualify for dialysis (and at that time I’ll be added to the waiting list for a cadaver kidney). Knowing how itchy, exhausted and pained I feel now I can only imagine how it will feel in the meantime before I am allowed to dialyse.
Oh boy, this is a bit of a downer! Now, on to some positives. I’m not giving up. I’ve recruited the help of a naturopath named Samantha Bulloch from the Alchemist’s Tree in the Gold Coast. I’ve only just had my first appointment with her today, but I’m already feeling more positive, and that I can at least feel like I have some control over my health. Something she said about conventional medicine really struck me: that the focus of conventional medicine is on crisis intervention. Basically, the management of my IgA nephropathy is blood tests every 3 months to see if I am in crisis. I pay top dollar to see a kidney specialist and that is basically what happens. He says: ‘you’re not in crisis yet. Keep taking your blood pressure medicine,’ and then I go home and wait for 3 months before checking again to see if my kidneys have failed. Other than blood pressure medicine I have not been given any treatment plan for my kidney disease. This is one of the reasons that I have turned to naturopathic medicine. I need to feel like I am doing something proactive for my health.
The first step I’m taking towards taking better care of myself is to cut out wheat and dairy. I’ve been told they are pro-inflammatory, so it is a good idea to cut them out, at least for a little while. I know this looks a lot like the Paleo diet! I’m ok with that. I know that when I was eating Paleo I was probably eating the healthiest I had ever eaten in my life, even though my kidney function continued to decline. Samantha suggested that 4 months may have not been enough time to definitively see a difference in my kidney function, so I’m going to try it again. I’m thinking where I went wrong was all of the almonds and coconut I was eating. I think I was trying to still eat conventional food in a “paleo” way, and this just can’t be done. At least for the next 30 days I’m going to cut out wheat, dairy, and almonds. I’m going to eat as many fresh and cooked vegetables as possible and limit the animal protein. I think starting out this way should be a bit easier than the last time – a way to ease into healthy eating. I may cut out more grains after 30 days, but we’ll see how I feel. The biggest problem I’ll have is probably cutting out the sweets and desserts. Ever since I stopped doing the Paleo diet the last time I have had uncontrollable cravings for sugar. Once I start eating it I just can’t stop! So don’t tell me it’s all about moderation – moderation doesn’t exist for me! I can’t just stop at one cookie – I have to eat the whole darn packet! So that’s it. 30 days of no sweets/treats/refined sugar as well. I just can’t afford a slip-up.
I’ve already partially started today. I’m no gourmet chef by any means, but I’ll post my photo of my dinner anyways. Salmon with roasted cabbage, pumpkin and steamed asparagus. Audrey (my 2 year old) absolutely loves this kind of meal. She has learned how to say “my favourite!” Apparently ‘salmon” is ‘ham’ to her no matter how many times we correct her, but it is definitely her favourite along with the pumpkin! I’ve looked up a lot of paleo meals on Pinterest, and I’m just not into the complicated stuff at the moment, so I’m going to start posting some photos of easy meals that you don’t need a recipe for.
For this meal, the best part was actually the roasted cabbage.
- Just mix up some garlic with some olive oil.
- Slice the cabbage and put it on a tray.
- Drizzle the garlic/olive oil mix over it and then season with pepper (and salt, if wanted).
- Bake at 190 degrees for around 20 minutes.