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The ramblings and observations of a kidney transplant recipient, although not necessarily for that reason.

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Friday, April 28, 2006
Carbonated Water, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Caramel Color, Phosphoric Acid, Natural Flavors, Caffeine

Above is the magical formula for the most delightful potable I know. If you told me as a child this concoction had healing qualities, I would have believed you. This, my friends, is the recipe for the almighty Coca Cola. Not Pepsi or RC or any of those strangely flavored colas like Dr. Pepper or Mr. Pibb, nothing generic, and for Christ's sake, not diet or caffeine free, or Coke-Lite, or whatever they are trying to sell you as cola alternatives these days. GOOD OLD FASHIONED COCA COLA CLASSIC!!!!

OK so I'm a cola snob. I admit it. Now I'm ready to move on. I have to. As a child I drank WAY too much of this stuff and while I don't doubt it may be (althought impossible to prove) the #1 factor in poor state of my health and well being today, I really did believe it made me feel better when I was ill as a child. Stomach ache - a coke will help. Headache - a coke will help. Allergies, common cold, depression, kidney disease???? - a coke will help.

As a adult, I probably cut the cola consumption in half, yet still drank way too much. Then the biggest change in my life happens: I find out my kidneys are well on their way to failure. The kindly Dr. Fred Lui (pronounced Louie) politely introduces himself and gets right to the point of "there's nothing good about what I have to tell you".....so there it is....my kidneys are failing. Soon I will be faced with.....what?......I don't know yet......illness?....death?.....a life of dialysis?......transplant? Everything is surreal....none of it sinks in......and here comes Dr. Lui with "this is how your life will change right now"....in order to preserve my kidney function I need to go on a low protein diet. WHAAAAAT? I just started the Caveman Diet. Maybe you've heard of it? Its the one where you eat all the steak and bacon you want as long as you don't have any wheat bread with it? You see....I'm fat....I need to lose weight....no way I can do this low protein thing.

Fred points out my kidney function is more important than my weight at this point....although both are very important to my overall health and here's the name of a nutritionist that can try to help me with both. Well.....if I'm going off my Caveman/Atkins/Southbeach/Sugarbusters diet....I'm drinking my favorite drink again. Now I have an excuse People who love me, hear this....I can drink coke. The Dr. said it's ok as long as I don't eat too much protein. (that's not what he said). Anyways...go on Dr. Lui.....how else will my life change. Low potassium....fucking great.....my favorite fruit bananas, out the window. Ok....so now I'm crossing steak and bacon and bananas off my list...this is the shits, but at least I have my coke! OK....one last thing and this is the biggest one....you need to stay away from phosphorous.....which is found mainly in legumes....you know...nuts and beans (ok....I'm being reduced to eat lettuce and Coke, but at least there's Coke). Also, phosphorous is prevalent in the dark colas. SSCREEEEECHING HAAAAALLLLLT! Dr.....surely you've been reading my mind and are fucking with me. You can drink orange soda (YUCK) or 7-up (YUCK) or even root beer (YUCK and although its literally a dark brown soda, its got no phosphorous). Pretty much you can drink whatever soda you want except for COLAS! THIS SUCKS MONKEY NUTS!

I know.....its weird when you're sick....yeah, your life expectancy shortens significantly, I'm going to be very ill at some point, and most of my life will be inconvenienced by dialysis or multiple major surgeries, and all I an think of at the time is I can't drink Coke ever again. Believe me, the little things are worse to bear when you're in the moment and its probably better that way. It helps keep your mind of the big things that are really going on.

So onward in life....I manage to work in all these changes.....low protein, low potassium, low phosporus, althought its not easy. Doctors and nutritionists don't really have many answers for you.....they leave it up to you. I went to the nutritionist hoping she would say.....can't eat this, don't eat this, can't eat that, do eat this and this and that....thank you that'll be $100. Instead I got....shouldn't eat this, that's ok once in awhile, eat this sometimes but not all the time, and its really up to you to make the right choices, and thank you that'll be $150. That's bullshit....don't tell me I can have a banana once in awhile or that in the grand scheme of things, a coke won't kill me every now and then.....cause here's what happens. One day, I think.....she said I could have a banana....so i do......the next day, she said I could have some bacon....so I do.....the next day, she said a coke won't kill me once in awhile....so OF COURSE I DO! Now even though indvidually speaking, I am practicing a low potassium, low protein, and low phosphorous diet.....collectively speaking, I am eating a lot of potassium, protein and phosphorous. And its all my fault.....yet I managed to control it for the most part and stretch out the remaining life of my kidneys out over 4 or 5 years.

Now....here I am, a little more than a week from transplant. I'm thinking all this time....once I get my transplant I don't have to be on this restricted diet. I can eat all the potassium, protein, and phosphorous I want. And its true.....after the the transplant the recommended diet is merely low fat and low sodium (that's what they recommend for just about every human on earth, transplant or not). YAY! There were moments over the last 5 years I had almost convinced myself that the only reason I'm getting this transplant is so that I can drink Coke again.

I went to my pre-op meeting with the in-patient coordinator earlier this week. He had several hours of dialogue to give me about what my life would be like just before, during, and long after my surgery. I discovered from this meeting that Coca Cola cursed. For reasons other than the phosphorous, I cannot drink Coke (on a regular basis, spoken much like my nutritionist). Due to the immunosuppressant drugs I'll be taking....I can't have too much caffeine or alcohol. These things dehydrate you and when you lose the water in your bloodstream, the density of the drugs in your blood increases....and this is bad for your kidney(s).

I have figured out that my time to drink Coca Cola is now. A week or so before the surgery. There's no point in saving what little remains of my kidney function as they will be disconnected in a week, so today with lunch....and probably everyday for this next week. I'm having a Coke (and a smile).
posted by othur-me @ 12:00 PM  
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