Where We Are Now
It's been 3 years since Jim's kidney diagnosis and I figured it was time for an update. During these 3 years, we continue to learn and evolve. We've managed to find a good rotation of plant-based meals that the whole family can enjoy, well, with minor occasional complaints from the kids. I still can't get one of my kids to like black beans;) I can even dupe the kids' friends into eating cookies and french toast without ever knowing it's vegan.
I've also connected with people from different parts of the world, from India to Australia. They contact me just to share their story or often, to ask questions. Do we use oil? Did my husband ever take steroid medication? I've come up with a few meal plans to help them get started on their newfound plant-based journey. Even though it's often unfortunate circumstances bringing us together, I can't express how much I enjoy this "work". I learn as much from them as I hope they can learn from us and our experience. There really is strength in community.
So, where is Jim's health now? Well, he's maintaining an eGFR of around 70 which puts him into "normal" range and into remission. He's maintained this for 2 years. This is a far cry from his initial eGFR of 40. He's now in maintenance and consults with his nephrologist in Toronto once per year. I tagged along with him to his last appointment in December. The doctor used the words "prognosis is good" which was very encouraging. Even though I know we're doing the best we can for his health, it's nice to hear reassurances from the medical community. Jim continues to stay off statins. He's never been on steroids which nephrologists will sometimes recommend to kidney patients. He is on a low dose of an ACE inhibitor. At his last appointment, they reduced the dosage again. I'm optimistic that, with optimal diet and regular exercise, he can someday be medication free. For him, the diet has really become second nature. It's stress, exercise and weight control that are a conscious effort and sometimes struggle for him. As important as the food is, the other factors have to play a part too. It has to be whole body healing.
In an effort to see if we can improve his kidney function even more, we're experimenting with incorporating more raw plant-based foods. We've ditched oil and we're eating less processed breads and flours. Really, when we're at our best, we try to stick to whole foods as much as possible. They're the foods we humans are supposed to eat and they're the most healing.
These past 3 years haven't been perfect. Jim over-indulges or eats the occasional processed food (like the new beyond beef sausage patty!). We go on vacation or work stress creeps in and he gets off course. Ultimately, he sees the weight come back on and he doesn't feel great, so we course correct. I kind of feel like that's how it's been for us - a lot of course corrections. I will always be thankful though for where we are now compared to where we were. In a way, I'm grateful for the experience. It opened up a whole new lifestyle for ourselves and our family that I know, in the long run, will make us live a healthier, longer, more compassionate life. It has opened up an awareness and gratitude that I didn't have before. Even when I speak with those who are grappling with chronic disease or whose kidney function is low - stage 1 or stage 2 - I try to remind them not to dwell on past choices and to find hope. They're still here! No matter where you are now, there's always something, even if it's a small thing, to be thankful for to keep you moving forward.