Dialysis, Senior Citizens and ‘The Devil’s Lettuce’ (Marijuana)
Kidney failure is becoming more common as we imbibe in the growing number of genetically modified foods, fluoridated water and toxic drugs the Food and Drug Administration is ‘fast tracking’ into our daily diets. We are simply getting contaminated causing otherwise healthy folks to lose the function of their kidneys and for a senior citizen who is already suffering sarcopenia this can be a death sentence because of the complexities associated with Renal Failure.
Sarcopenia is basically a condition where the body looses muscle mass. It’s a mechanism of Frailty Syndrome and that is basically a part of growing old. I watched as my dad began to wither away after heart surgery for he refused to follow the doctors orders by getting more physical and eat nutritious food. The end result was him wasting away to nothing and only in the end did he admit he should have eaten better food and exercised like the doctor advised. The ole boy literally starved himself to death.
In my mothers case, before she suffered renal failure she was robust and very active. She ate very well and watched her diet like a hawk. It was misdiagnosis and the use of prescription drugs that destroyed her kidneys. Lanoxin was the drug doctors had my mom convinced she needed to take because of her heart, but for 17 years! It was the use of this drug that caused her kidneys to shut down. So buyer beware since she did not need this drug after all according to specialists who reexamine her heart after her kidneys shut down.
In any event my mom, at the age of 87, was forced to begin dialysis treatments 3 times a week to cleanse her blood of contaminants and rid her body or excess water. It is very important that family members of dialysis patients be an active participants in the care and management of a dialysis patient. If you want your loved one to be happy in spite of the need for dialysis you must be proactive and get involved. Learn about kidney failure, the treatments, the critical measurements one must take in order to tell the dialysis technician.
A person usually would not measure the weight of their cloths they wear to dialysis but we do. Measuring food and water intake and output are also points to consider when going to dialysis. It is critical for the dialysis techs so they can determine how much water you have on-board (Wet Weight) before the procedure begins since they have a target weight (Dry Weight) to reach that has been predetermined by the doctor in an attempt to prevent overdialization. It is also very important to disclose if you are constipated and the weight of how much you believe the contents of the colon weighs so the patient does not get over dialyzed. I can calculate within grams of what my mom’s actual weight is.
My mom was being over dialyzed in the beginning and that was the impetus for me to get educated in this particular field of medicine, nephrology. After I was comfortable with the knowledge I gained we went the rounds, the doctor, nurses and me because my figures were not matching the nurses. My mom was a strong vibrant person before she began dialysis so I knew in my heart there was something not right. I educated myself in every possibly facet of kidney failure and patient care to discovered that nephrology was still evolving. The latest studies reveal that dialysis is not a one size fits all treatment like they first thought years ago. Sadly some doctors nurses and clinics still operate under the old theorem so keep your eyes open when selecting a clinic.
I learned there is a need to address dialysis on a patient by patient basis for whats good for the goose is not necessarily good for the gander. For senior citizens special care must be taken and questions must be answered before dialysis begins because their bodies are so frail and it would not take much to damage tissue from overdialization. Older folks don’t like to make waves because they come from a generation that trusted doctors. In this era many doctors are simply pill doctors these day. In their defense one doctor told me they are being pressured or extorted to push drugs or they could lose their DEA license to prescribe drugs.
Lets say you are jumping through all the hoops, taking vitals, doing all the weights and measures for the dialysis tech and generally being proactive in your or your loved ones kidney disease and diet. Folks on dialysis have many restrictions including the foods they must eat and the quantity of water they can drink and sometimes a person gets tired of eating bland food. Though dialysis patients get protein supplements and other nutrients there is nothing better than real food to supplement their diets. But when a person simply stops eating it’s all over.
Sad part is when a patient looses the desire to eat their protein levels drop and this complicates the diagnosis because the liver slows the production of Albumen and without albumen to assist in the removal of water from the body swelling occurs. If a nurse is not aware of this they assume the patient is simply full of water do to their kidney failure and like an orange they squeeze as much juice out of the patient as possible to reduce the swelling of the ankles and feet. In my mom’s case she was dialyzed so hard in the beginning she was reduced to being a humpback granny who could barely walk or speak.
She was so low in protein she also lost the ability to taste her food and lost interest in eating in general for she did not feel hungry anymore. The clinic was giving her double doses of protein in an effort to stem the decline in her protein levels but that was not enough since the body could only assimilate so much protein at any given time. My mom was literally wasting away as time passed. The doctor, dialysis team and I eventually got on the same page and my mom’s treatments were groomed to her specific needs but it was already to late as far as her protein levels were concerned. Then I remembered Alice B. Toklas and the cookies made with ‘The Devil’s Lettuce’, marijuana.
I did not find Alice B. Toklas but I did find a masterful culinary adventurer who cooked up some chocolate chip cookies with that dreaded Devil’s Lettuce oil. I explained to my mother what the cookies had in them and how this was the last option since she would surely die in the long run if she did not start eating more protein rich foods. She agreed to try the cookie but only once since she feared she might get into heroin or other nonsense the media spewed in an effort to stop the legalization process in Colorado.
Just a little history lesson: Marijuana was placed on the schedule 1 drug classification because of the efforts of the Tobacco and Alcohol lobbyists since they feared Mary Jane would be too much competition for them. Of course an army of investors in these industries worked like a well oiled machine with letters to the senators, congressmen and other fellow investors. It cost billions of dollars by today’s standards to demonize pot as a gateway drug but they managed to push pot up the shelf.
In the olden days pot dealers strictly sold pot and the rest was handled by hard drug dealers who sold minnie bennies, ludes, morphine, heroin, reds, whites and a list of other hard drugs. When the fed placed weed on the hard drugs list then all drugs including pot was sold by one dealer since weed was now in league with smack. In reality the Federal Government made pot a gateway drug by changing the way pot was sold exposing pot smokers to the wider array of illegal drugs the drug deal had to offer. It was a marketing success for heroin deals for they now had new ‘fish’ to ply their wears, the pot smoker. Yup, pot became a gateway drug because the feds placed pot on the same store as ‘Black Tar Heroin’ not because pot made a person feel like he/she needed a greater high.
OK, back to the story. As it were, I finally convinced my mum to eat a cookie and she did. A little later my mom began to poke around in the fridge looking for something to eat. I asked her if she was beginning to feel her ‘magic cookie’. She turned to me and said.”Lets go to the Market”. After 2 hours of her running around the market and filling her basket with victuals it was clear she had the munchies. In fact we had to stop for a sandwich on our way home because my mom was starving to death. It was only a matter of time before my mom turned on the radio then we began to tell jokes and hang out. Wow, my mom was acting like one of the dudes.
For all it’s worth the Alice B. Toklas cookies were a smashing hit and has changed the dynamic of my mom’s life in many cool ways. Her dialysis treatments are just a walk in the park and she is actively working on bringing up her protein levels. Her taste buds are coming back online as well as her vision and hearing since she is eating much better. She is working in her garden and stopped acting like some old decrepit geezer who could not get out of her own way. When I take her to the store she is very engaged and I find the need to place a flashing orange light on her head so I can find her since she is boot scooting around like she did when she was in her 60′s.
I can’t say if everyone should have a cookie a day because I don’t know the exact details of their condition. But I can guarantee you that the side effects from one cookie would not come close to even an aspirin when you pay attention to the toxic side effects. Marijuana could replace many drugs because of its diversity in dealing with pain and other neurological issues as well as wasting away diseases. The only real side effect being you tore the handle off your refrigerator door or suddenly have a desire to buy a Jefferson Airplane Album. It’s uses with cancer patients is legendary.
I know people with Parkinson and Multiple Sclerosis who would be totally incapacitated if it were not for a few puffs or a cookie a day to keep them comfortable. I suffer chronic to acute pain from a deadly accident years ago. The meds and morphine pumps I was given almost killed me and turned me into a drooling medical junkie but they did not quell the pain, just strung me out. When I got my medical marijuana card I found instant relief. It did not cure my pain but it did change how my neuroreceptors received the pain signals making my life palpable for a change. In Colorado, crime and murder dropped substantially since legalization came into being but that’s another story.
If you have loved ones on dialysis be proactive and positive with them and learn how you can make their lives easier since there is lots to learn and to be made aware of. By no means do I know it all but you don’t have to be a rocket scientist. It would behoove you to learn everything you can about renal failure so you are educated enough to help yourself or your loved one. It’s all about the quality of life for the patient and if you are engaged with their disease they will be more engaged.
Being positive and normalizing their plight would be the psychological edge needed to carry them through the emotional issue dealing with dialysis. My mom looks forward to dialysis day since we go and eat at a new restaurant or experiment with a new recipe on that day.
So if your loved one loses the desire to eat toss them a cookie or give them a hit from your bong then turn on some vintage ‘Red Bone’ and chill out. “Hey mom, pass me the ‘Devil’s Lettuce!”
Your Devil’s Advocate