National High Potassium Awareness Day: Patient Story, Chardae “Prima” Sanders

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Patient Story: Chardae "Prima" Sanders, AAKP Ambassador

AAKP Ambassador, Chardae “Prima” Sanders knows the devastating effects of having high potassium.  While on dialysis, Prima says that she did not watch her diet.  She admits, “I was a chip eater!  I would over-eat on chips.  I also ate bananas as a comfort food.  I never thought about the impact; I just thought that the machine would remove all the extra nutrients out of me.” 

Unfortunately, Prima started having an irregular heartbeat and went to the hospital multiple times.  At the hospital, they would give her Kayexalate, a medication to clean the potassium out of her system through diarrhea.  Her unhealthy eating habits had affected her heart.  In 2016 at the age of 27 years, while on dialysis, she had open heart surgery. 

The surgery was a wakeup call for Prima.  She realized she needed to change her eating habits and start exercising.  She was on dialysis another year and a half before she received a kidney transplant.  During that time, she stuck to a kidney-friendly diet.

Today, Prima says that even with her transplant, she continues to monitor her potassium levels closely at her monthly lab tests.  She continues to watch her diet and exercise.  She says she still eats chips and bananas, but in small portions.  She wants patients to know; “Be cognitive of your diet choices, exercise based on your mobility, and know your lab numbers and what they mean.”

Learn more about National High Potassium Awareness Day at www.areyouok.org 

Follow us on Twitter at @areyouok5point1 and Facebook at @areyouok5point1

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Easy Ways to Eliminate the Stress of Traveling for Dialysis Patients

Travel, whether for vacation or business, always seems to involve a degree of stress but there are extra considerations for kidney patients living with dialysis. Here’s a checklist to help with travel planning to help things run more smoothly before you leave home, After all, vacations are supposed to be enjoyable and promote a feeling of calm serenity!

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Travel, whether for vacation or business, always seems to involve a degree of stress but there are extra considerations for kidney patients living with dialysis. Here’s a checklist to help with travel planning to help things run more smoothly before you leave home, After all, vacations are supposed to be enjoyable and promote a feeling of calm serenity!
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Dialysis Technicians – an important part of your health care team!

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AAKP is celebrating National Dialysis Technician Recognition Week October 14 – 19, 2019.  Let’s learn more about the types of dialysis technicians, how they are educated to better help you throughout your care and how you can celebrate this week with YOUR special dialysis technician.

Kidney Disease by the Numbers

  • Kidney disease is the 9th leading cause of death in adults
  • More than 40 million Americans are living with kidney disease
  • More than 700,000 Americans have kidney failure and need dialysis or a kidney transplant to live
  • Approximately 850 million people worldwide have kidney disease

 

Hemodialysis is the far more common type of dialysis—about 90% of all dialysis patients.  During this process, as a patient, you likely got to know your dialysis technician as the individual who spends a great deal of time with you before, during and after each treatment.

There are two types of technicians in your dialysis clinic: the Biomedical Nephrology Technologist (BNT) is the individual responsible for maintaining the equipment used during your dialysis treatment.  A well-functioning dialysis machine is a key component of a successful dialysis treatment.  BNTs have specific training on the hemodialysis machines and water treatment and often have national certification that validates their grasp of a specific body of knowledge and best practices.

The Clinical Nephrology Technician (CNT) is the individual who stands watch over your treatment to ensure it stays on track.   Your CNT knows how to set the dialysis machine to meet the prescription your nephrologist has provided, mix the dialysate and ensure the water has been properly treated. The CNT is constantly monitoring treatments, recording your health information every 30 minutes and double and triple checking the safety measures during your treatment.  If there is a concern, the CNT will notify a nurse to further assess the treatment.  Even if you fall asleep during dialysis, your CNT remains on full alert.

Most in-center hemodialysis patients receive treatments at least three times a week for at least four hours a day.  Working with the same CNT means that s/he learns what best works for your care.  That means anomalies in your treatment can be spotted easily. Your CNT can see changes that indicate you need further assistance from other members of your health care team – and can make sure you get that care.

Your CNT knows that compassion is often the best medicine. Kidney disease is a chronic battle that touches many aspects of your life.  Your CNT has seen the worst aspects of kidney disease and how it can impact a patient physically, emotionally and psychologically.  Your CNT knows how to listen, understand and validate your concerns – all designed to help you have a better treatment.

Since 2012, CNTs are federally mandated to earn a nationally recognized dialysis technician certification.  Your CNT may have one of the following set of initials after their name: CHT, CCHT, CNCT, CCHT-A are some of the more common certification designations.  To earn the certification, a CNT must have a certain number of hours in training and successfully complete a comprehensive multiple-choice question exam.  Every three years, your CNT must be re-certified every 3 or 4 years by completing at least 30 hours of continuing education directly related to dialysis technology.  Technicians who do not re-certify are no longer allowed to work in a dialysis unit.

National Dialysis Technician Recognition Week is a great time to give thanks for those special technicians in your dialysis unit.  Here are some ideas of how you can show your gratitude:

  • Find out about which certification they hold – they worked hard for it and would enjoy sharing with you what they learned!
  • Ask if they are a member of the National Association of Nephrology Technicians/Technologists (NANT) – some technicians don’t yet know about how NANT can help them.  It’s easy to join – just go to www.DialysisTech.NET to learn more about it. NANT promotes education and advances the professional role of the multidisciplinary team in delivering the highest quality of care to the CKD patient. It provides educational opportunities, represents the nephrology technology professionals in the regulatory and legislative arena, encourages the development of nephrology professionals in leadership roles, and achieves recognition for the contribution of the nephrology technology practitioners to the total care of the CKD patient.
  • Give them a shout-out on Twitter.  Use one of these hashtags: #LoveMyNCTWeek / #LoveMyNBTWeek / #LoveMyDialysisTechWeek – let everyone know how happy you are that they help you keep healthy.

Want to know more?  Check out www.DialysisTech.NET to see all that NANT offers dialysis technicians.  NANT supports all dialysis technicians as a vital part of YOUR healthcare team.

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AAKP Innovator Series: Third Kidney, Inc. CEO Ray Keller, DO


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Third Kidney Inc. is focused on utilizing the human body’s skin sweat glands for purposeful, measurable, replicable renal function. The low-risk, sauna-based procedure Third Kidney has developed is built upon a large body of prior medical work, as well as numerous holistic cross-cultural health practices from around the world. Third Kidney has completed animal testing and is now certified to begin human testing. If successful, this sweat-based therapy will greatly improve renal replacement the...

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Kidneys and Food. How Are the Two Related?


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Written By: Nancy K. Uhland, DNP, FNP-C Kidneys are an important organ and perform several functions in order to keep our bodies healthy. Food is an important substance we consume in order to provide our bodies with the fuel and energy it needs to maintain life. But, just how are our food choices related to the well-being of our kidneys? One of the functions of the kidneys is to remove waste materials from the food we eat. By doing this, the kidneys help regulate important nutrients such as sodi...

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Patient Profile: Priscila Kilgour


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Written by Priscila Kilgour In 2018, I reached two milestones in my life: I celebrated my 80th birthday and the 26th anniversary of my kidney transplant. I am a registered nurse who worked most of my professional life in the operating room. I retired in 1998 to spend my time doing what my husband Bill and I enjoyed best: traveling, going to the theater, attending concerts and especially attending live performances of my favorite musical experience, the opera. In 1966 I received a diagnosis of su...

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Get Connected: The Benefits of Chronic Care Management Services


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Beth Chalick-Kaplan, PhD is an Outreach Specialist for Region 3 at CMS Managing your health while living with Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) can be overwhelming. Taking multiple medications, following a special diet, and keeping appointments with different specialists while caring for your family and/or working can be difficult. Healthcare providers can also feel challenged in caring for patients with multiple chronic conditions.

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Patient Profile: Ray Harris 1-2-3 Strikes and Still Swinging at CKD


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My story starts in early spring 1998 in Baltimore, Maryland to be exact, my hometown. My career was soaring as a recent graduate and police officer for the state of Maryland. My personal life was also fruitful as I was dating my lovely wife, Lauren. I knew I was winning at life and I could only see good getting better. During my early career, as a rookie officer, I was required to work extended hours. I experienced swelling in my hands, legs and feet. I was not alarmed though, thinking back to m...

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