I've always loved beans. Pinto, Garbanzo, Wax, Lima...Yum. My Friend used to make a 15-bean soup, and she'd bring it to our Circle potlucks. I actually sang a song to that soup. Out loud, and in good company.  I love beans, and my very most favorite bean has always been and will likely always be the Red Kidney Bean. That's a bean for bean lovers. Big but not too big.  Beautiful without being snobby about it.  Substantial. You know? You KNOW you're eating a bean when you eat a Red Kidney Bean. I love them SO MUCH.  My Mom used to make her own version on goulash; it was a just-her-and-me meal, and who was the star? You guessed it. That lovely, reddish-purple bean.

But this isn't about beans.

It's about kidneys.  

I've honestly never given much thought to my kidneys, which is weird considering how anxious I've been about every other organ in my body over the past several years. My kidneys always seemed to be doing their job just fine. You know? I peed. My pee always appeared to be the right color and never had anything strange about it.  Smelled right, you know? 


While I've been taking my little beans for granted, they've been struggling, and I didn't know it. Didn't suspect it. Not even a little. I haven't been feeling particularly great for a while, but I put all my energy into worrying about ovaries, cervix, stomach, large intestine, colon, liver, lungs, even spleen now and then, oh, and always my brain. Always.  

My kidneys? Nah.  They were back there kickin' ass and takin' names - I thought.

Until last week.  

Earlier in September I'd had my labs done, and I had my annual go-talk-to-another-new-nurse-practitioner appointment a week later.  She pulled out my labs and went over them with a ballpoint pen.  When she came to EFGR, she said, "this is low."  I asked what that meant, and she said, "your kidneys aren't filtering right."  


And it gets better.  

She started by saying she wanted me back for labs in 3 months. Then she decided she should check my previous labs. As I was checking out (after getting my first Shingles shot and a flu shot (the pain that came later from that is a story for another time), she came to get me. She said, "your EFGR has been under 60 since 2017. I am referring you to a nephrologist."

Um. Ok.  What?

And that was it.  I never went to see a nephrologist.  Instead, I received a report in the mail saying that I was diagnosed with CKD-3A, which amounts to Stage 3 Chronic Kidney Disease.  The recommendation was to avoid NSAIDs (which I have eaten like candy at certain points in my life), have a renal ultrasound (which I've heard nothing about since), and get my labs done in 6 months.  The report also included a link to the VA medical library so that I could research my new disease on my own if I was interested.

I am not going to go very far into how I'm feeling about this. Not VERY far. I am pissed off.  I have been in front of a medical professional after every trip to get labs done, and nobody has ever mentioned my EFGR numbers or what they mean. Would it have changed anything? I don't know, maybe not - except that I might have stopped taking Aleve a while ago. I am also sad and anxious. I'm sad that I didn't love my Kidneys. I'm sad that they are suffering. And I'm anxious.  I'm anxious that even if I try to do everything right, this might progress faster rather than slower.  I might not be able to stop this train.

The truth is unless there's some weird underlying thing going on, the prognosis for me is really pretty good. You can live a long time in stage 3A and 3B without too much disruption as long as you watch a few things and take extra loving care of your body.  It's fortunate that I'm not a terrible eater as it is. Making the adjustments to "really healthy eater" isn't going to be as difficult for me as it might be for some other folks.  So all in least right now, things aren't terrible. I CAN alter my diet, I CAN drink more water, I CAN avoid NSAIDs (though pain is a feature of my life, so this one will take a little doing), and I can add more safe exercise.  I'm happily partnered with somebody who doesn't mind reading bread labels and likes whole, vegan food.  Hooray.

But I have to get through a bit of an emotional shitstorm about this.  Not gonna lie.

I wish I'd loved my kidneys as much as I loved Red Kidney Beans, but I didn't.  I guess I can start now. Maybe I'll sing them a song.


In case you're wondering about Chronic Kidney Disease, here's some information:

According to the CDC:

  • More than 37 million adults in the United States have Chronic Kidney Disease
  • As many as 9 in 10 adults with Chronic Kidney Disease DON'T KNOW THEY HAVE IT
  • About 2 in 5 adults with SEVERE kidney disease don't know they have it
  • Kidney Disease is the 8th leading cause of death in the United States


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