Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Attack of the Killer Kidneys

I've had kidney involvement with lupus since 1992. Or as the docs say, Lupus Nephritis. What it means is the lupus (immune system gone awry) is attacking the kidneys. Not so long ago, say 40-50 years ago, this was a death sentence.

But nowadays, this attack can be halted, and even reversed, with drugs. I've had my kidney function go down to somewhere around 25-30%, told it would never improve, and to be expecting a transplant/ dialysis within 5 years (that was 6 years ago).

In fact, my function has gone this low 3 times (with each lupus flare), and has always returned to normal after getting the lupus under control. The first time we used just prednisone. I also got chelation therapy from an alternative practitioner and went natural with my diet, avoiding gluten and making my own juices. I was on prednisone for about a year, starting at a high dose.

The second time I got sick (lupus flare as they say), I had prednisone, 4 blood pressure meds, chemotherapy (cytoxan) and some other drugs that were for other problems (no fun drugs like marijuana though- gotta move to California!), as well as chelation therapy, diet change (candida diet), herbs, and lots of acupuncture. Again on prednisone for about a year, the other drugs for 1-2 years.

the 3rd time, i refused the cytoxan because it made me so sick, and it has been controlled this time with prednisone (for about a year), cellcept (on this indefinitely- about 18 months so far. it can be very expensive, by the way, depending on your insurance), another blood pressure med, a few other unrelated drugs and acupuncture and diet change (low sugar, low salt, eliminate nutrasweet, avoid gluten). I always go back to my crappy diet. Will i ever learn?

I've had this disease since 1992, and I haven't had to go on diaysis or get a transplant yet.

I do know someone who had lupus, got a kidney transplant, is on some drugs to keep her from rejecting the organ, and hasn't had a recurrence of the lupus for over a decade! so, a transplant is not the worst thing that can happen to you. it was a new lease on life for her. meanwhile, I'm doing OK. I don't have the verve I did when i was completely healthy, but i've found a balance between doing stuff and resting, and hopefully will avoid a 4th "episode" as long as possible- maybe forever? It's possible (must not eat crap. must not eat crap.)

A note on the transplants, and this is really messed up. If you use medical marijuana, you may be refused for an organ transplant, even though the marijuana was prescribed by an M.D. The federal law trumps the state laws in this area. So, if you're in pain and also a candidate for an organ transplant, you're better off using Percocet (even though is causes constipation and is cut with Tylenol, which is toxic to your liver). SO, pop all the pills you want just don't smoke and plants.

So, anyway, if you've got lupus, and lupus nephritis, you'll be OK if you can get your hands on some prednisone (which believe me, they're happy to hand out. My cat and I were on prednisone at the same time once. His was cherry flavored. mine tasted like rat poison. or what i imagine rat poison would taste like). Prednisone sucks, but it works, and it's cheap, and you'll live to tell the tale.
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