Archive for March, 2012

A Dietitian’s World

Well this is not Jennifer or Jason blogging today.  This is Jennifer’s sister, Stephanie Gossett writing for the blog today.  I am a renal dietitian and have worked in dialysis for the past 12 years.  I received my undergraduate degree in Dietetics from Jacksonville State University and my Masters in Human Nutrition from the University of Alabama.  While completing my graduate program, Jennifer had to begin dialysis for a second time.  After graduating, I felt a strong pull to work in dialysis to help these patients. There are many aspects to dialysis that the general population has no comprehension of.  Besides the doctor, there are nurse practitioners, nurses, patient technicians, water treatment technicians, social workers, and dietitians who work together to make life “as normal as possible” for the patients. Most people ask me, “Why in the world does a dialysis patient need a dietitian?”  Well, I am about to tell you.

Each month, I review the lab work for the 120 patients in my clinics. When the kidneys stop working, labs “get out of whack”, not a medical term but easily understood.  There are several lab values that are tied to what the patient does or does not eat.  The Dietary Labs that have the most impact on dialysis patients are: Albumin or protein, Phosphorus, and Potassium.  During this blog session, I will concentrate on ALBUMIN.

Albumin is a major protein made in the liver and found in the blood. It’s function is to help with 1)growth and maintenance of body tissue, 2)prevention of anemia, 3)prevention of  loss of muscle mass, 4)helping to  fight off infection, 5)helps with healing of wounds, 6)providing a source of energy, 7)helping keep body fluids in balance.  When a dialysis patient does not eat enough calories or protein, the liver does not have enough protein to make new albumin which causes lower albumin levels in the blood.  Research has shown that patients with a low albumin levels over time have a higher risk of death.

The best source of food to for the liver to use to make albumin is PROTEIN.  Protein from animals is the best source of protein.  If a patient does not eat enough protein, the body will start destroying muscles to get protein it needs. Therefore, the patient is even weaker than the dialysis treatments make them.  Although eating enough “meat” seems to be an EASY for most of us, it is difficult for dialysis patients.  Their sense of taste is altered due to toxins in the body, they are tired from treatments, they may not be able to afford meat, or they have gastrointestinal problems in addition to kidney failure.

It is a challenge for both the patient and dietitian to find ways to increase protein intake to help improve the patient’s overall nutritional status and health.  I try to encourage my patients to eat 8-10 oz of meat per day (3 ounces is about the size of a woman’s palm).  Most of the time, this would require eating meat at all 3 meals.  I also usually do not restrict any type of meat they want to eat.  They may choose a higher sodium meat such as a hotdog or process sandwich meat.  Although this may not be the optimal choice, it may be all they can afford.   In addition to meat consumption to help the “albumin level”, there are nutritional protein supplements available.  Boost, Ensure, Nepro-for dialysis patients are liquid supplements patients can purchase but these are usually expensive ($45.00 for case of 24).  The most economical choice of protein supplement is whey protein powder.  A container will last approximately 3 months and is about $14.  One scoop of this powder has the amount of protein as 3 oz of meat.  It can be sprinkled on food or mixed with juice or other foods, and can be found in the supplement sections of drugstores or large chain retailers.  My patients have found it is an easy way to add protein to their daily protein intake if they don’t feel like eating meat at each meal.

I could go on and on about the need for dialysis patients to eat plenty of meat. Many times, I have been called the “Albumin Queen”, because that is all I talk about to the patients.  They see me coming and say, “I know, Eat More Meat”.  There have also been several occasions when they tell me, “You know, I ate more protein like you said, and you know what? I feel better!”  Those are the days and times that I know what I am doing matters, and this is the job God has called me to do.

So, until my next guest blogging (where I will talk about Potassium), when you meet a dialysis patient, ask them, “Did you eat enough meat today?” I bet they will know why you are asking!




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Put that mask on boy!

I’m not sure how many followers we have out of the state of Alabama or the South for that matter, but this time of the year is awful for pollen. My white car took on a new color due to the pollen…..it was yellow, yuck! I have been blessed with having to take two different heavy-duty antibiotics since the transplant, so I am completely healthy. Jason, Anna, and, Chloe have all had their share of being sick, however they are all doing well now. Jason was none to happy when he was sick, and I didn’t help much when I made him wear a hospital mask to work in the yard. I thoroughly enjoyed keeping him on a tight leash while he was sick, since he has it down to an art form with me. Hehe!

How could anyone not believe?

I can’t help but notice since the rain has started how beautiful everything is blooming. Ralph Waldo Emerson once said “All I have seen teaches me to trust the Creator for all I have not seen“. How can anyone see all of nature and not believe in the Creator?  When I look around and see the splendor of His creation I realize how small I am and how big He is. Some days I have trouble holding my schedule together for one day, but God holds all creation together every day, WOW! Colossians 1:17 says “And He is before all things, and by Him all things hold together” that one scripture gives me peace, because it isn’t up to me to control all that goes on in my world. God holds everything in His hands and if we are seeking His will we can rest by knowing that one tidbit of information.

My first ever garden

Ok, I’m going out on a limb with this adventure. I have asked Jason to prepare a place for me to have my “own” little garden. Jason usually plants one each year and has a green thumb, but this year I want one all by myself. Jason thought it was comical that I would even think about it. Lets just say in the past when Jason was out-of-town and it was my responsibility to water his garden….ummm I don’t think I have to say any more. I think the plants would have rather Jason poisoned them before he left because it would have been a much faster less painful death than lack of water. So you know I have something to prove here! I can do this !!  Who is with me on this? Support please!

live from the crazy farm,


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$50,000 or $5,000


I recently read a story about Henry Ford, not sure if it’s a true story are not, but brings an interesting view to sacrifice. As the story goes, Henry was once asked to donate money for the construction of a new medical facility. The billionaire pledged to donate $5,000. The next day in the newspaper, the headline read, “Henry Ford contributes $50,000 to the local hospital.” Henry Ford was irate. He got on the phone immediately to complain to the fund-raiser that he had been misunderstood. The fund-raiser replied that he would print a retraction in the newspaper the following day to read, “Henry Ford reduces his donation by $45,000.” Realizing the poor publicity that would result from that, Henry Ford agreed to the $50,000 contribution in return for the following: Above the entrance to the hospital was to be carved these words from the Bible: “I was a stranger and you took me in.” Even at $50,000 I’m sure this was not a huge sacrifice for this great American industrialist.


Cost or a Blessing?


When we are making a decision to give our time, gifts, or finances to others what are the deciding factors? Do we consider how much it will cost us or do we look to see how much can we bless someone else? Better yet do we consider being a blessing to a stranger? Have you ever experienced the joy of blessing a complete stranger? If so please share that experience by commenting on this post. I find greater joy when I step out of “Jason’s” comfort zone and in tho the zone of a complete stranger and find a way to bless them. The stranger knows there is no strings attached, just someone loving them through Christ.


I will not offer to the Lord that which cost me nothing. 2 Samuel 24:24


This passage in 2 Samuel is a great reminder of what it means to really serve. I’m not saying my life is always a perfect reflection of this passage. But it is a great tool to honestly identify my relationship with Christ. What’s it costing me to serve Christ? This verse can help me when it comes to serving others too. I often ask myself the same question when thinking of others, am I really serving others if it’s not costing me something. People are hurting all around us but so few are willing to make a sacrifice that really cost them something. Jennifer and I have experienced what it means for someone to care enough even when it cost a great deal.


Understanding my point


The bottom line of today’s post is to understand Mr.Ford could have given $ 50,000 in the first place. For me plenty of times the $25 could have been $50, 2hrs of my time could have been 8hrs, the phone call I made should have been a visit, the email should have been a card. Do you see my point? We bless others through our convenience. Blessing others is not always convenient, but always worth the extra time or costs it may bring you. Find someone you don’t know, discover their need and be a blessing to them! You will find no greater joy! Your experience would make a great guest post!!!


Pressing on,


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Dylan is doing great

We posted  on March 14th about a teenage boy from Jacksonville who received a kidney transplant. We had asked all our blog followers to pray for his recovery, I’m excited to share with you he will be coming home tomorrow.  Jennifer and I went to visit Dylan on Saturday morning at Children’s Hospital in Birmingham, Dylan was doing great! Dylan had a tough two-weeks after the transplant. Only a day or two after the transplant protein began to show up in Dylan’s urine and the kidney was still sleepy and was not functioning properly. The doctors began a series of treatments called plasmapheresis four times a week and now down to three times a week. On Saturday Dylan’s Creatine level was down ( which is great) and no protein in his urine, which this indicates the kidney is now working as planned. Jennifer and I told Dylan and his mom we had asked people to pray for him through our blog, they were very grateful of all the payers.

Dylan will have to go back to Children’s on Friday for a treatment. They hope to reduce the treatments soon, but for now he will go three times a week, then the treatments will slowly taper off until they stop. So please continue to pray for Dylan and his family while the treatments continue.

Take a Meal

If you live locally here in Jacksonville you will have an opportunity next week to sign up to take dinner to Dylan and his family. I will provide a link later in the week where you can sign up to provide dinner. This will be a great help to Dylan’s mom as she will be working long hours and transporting Dylan back to B’ham several times a week.

All Smiles

It was such a joy to see the big smiles on Dylan and his moms face. It will soon be a year since he was diagnosed with kidney disease.  Dylan is one less person who is on dialysis today because someone else made a decision to give life. Dylan and his family’s life will forever be changed because the selfless act of another person who grasp the fact that “Life is Greater Than Self”

Pressing on,


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I want it now

Today I wanted to give an update with the nonprofit. We continue to edge our way closer to be officially a nonprofit, however its a slow process. I finally had to tell myself to stop and take a breath and not try to rush the process because it was not going to be something that could happen quickly. My personality is to be full steam ahead with any task at hand, but this task can knock the steam out of you, LOL! We have submitted our incorporation with the state of Alabama, now we wait to hear back on our status. In the mean time I’m finalizing the by-laws and trying to understand what all I have to send to the IRS. I do have some smart people assisting me or I would be lost. Uh, lets just tell the truth……. I am really lost on the IRS part and if I did not have an intelligent friend I would be at a stand still.  So pray for me to have the patience to allow the system to work.

Starting next week

On next Friday March 30th we will have our first guest post. A guest post is where we invite someone else to write a post on or blog. I think you will enjoy reading what the guest write. Our guest will range from, patients, donors, physician and medical staff, family members, friends, other non profits, etc. Fridays will be called “Friday Friends”. So with that said if you would like to be a guest on our blog please contact us at 2givelife@gmail.com.

Website coming soon

I continue to work on the website, however I’m  not quiet ready to make it public yet. Its drives me crazy to be given an address to a website and when I get there it’s not set up yet . Most of the time there is a message that says Under Construction try back soon. I’m trying to save you the pain of seeing it incomplete. Through the website we hope to create a network with information to answer all your questions about kidney disease, organ donation, and ways to prevent kidney disease. We want to share stories of individuals and families whose lives has been affected by kidney disease or organ donation. It’s through the lives of those who have lived through these events that will help change the status quo of kidney disease. Jennifer and I were silent for over 20 years about her life with kidney disease, how many opportunities over the years have been missed because we simply remained silent.

Your prayers our coveted

Jennifer and I still request your prayers for God to open doors and send people into our lives and  in our pathways to minister to. We want opportunities to be a blessing to others and to encourage those who are experiencing life with kidney disease and encourage/support  those who have the ability to be a donor.

Pressing on,


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Hump day

We made it though hump day and the weekend is now fast approaching and spring break in our town is only days away. It seems to be all our girls have on their mind…….a week out of school! I can remember those days when I would be excited school was out, it did not mater if it was one day, a week, or out for the summer I was always ready. Now years later for me it’s the weekend that I look forward to.

Far away from home.

When I think about different times in my life or special occasions I look forward to they all had a specific meaning to me. For instance, like the day I got home from Iraq back in 2010. I would lay in my bed at night and think the day was never going to get there. As the days drew near for me to redeploy back home I could not get my family off my mind. I would think about what it would be like to simply be able to do the normal things in life. What would it be like to see my family for the first time, to tell them I loved them without having to use Skype. During those days my mind would constantly be exploring what all I was missing back home , but I knew I would soon be home.

Wondering when that day will come

But for many what they look forward to is much different from most, over 90,000 people to be exact. Over 90,000 people are waiting for a kidney. These people are waiting on the opportunity for their life to be changed. To be normal again, like you and me. Stop and put yourself in their shoes. How would we feel about waiting on an organ knowing someone else had to lose their life so we could have a better life. It has to be stressful to the patient, yet joyful but humbling at the same time. Jennifer has been blessed by all three of her transplants being from living donors. For me I can’t wait for the weekend, my girls can’t wait until spring break. However it was only 8 weeks ago that we were waiting on something of much greater significance, a new kidney for our mom and wife.  By being a living donor you can change a person life! And the success rate of kidney transplants from a living donor is around 97%. Cadaver kidneys are great, but a living kidney is even better.  I will post later on why living donor kidneys are better. But please don’t take me wrong, every one needs to be a donor after death!!!!!!!

Did you say kidney disease.

If you have not know anyone personally who has been on dialysis then you may not understand exactly what a life on dialysis is like. Don’t feel bad if you don’t, it perfectly ok. I will be honest with you, if Jennifer had not dealt with kidney failure I would still be blind to this subject . My ignorance of kidney disease still existed years after I was married to someone who had kidney disease. Then it was like a voice in my head shouted “HELLO YOU DUMB DUMB” you need to be making people aware of kidney disease. I’m still not sure if was thinking of the what I could do to make others aware of kidney disease and someone in my family actually shouted out the dub dumb part, either way I discovered something that would change my life. I discovered if I was unaware  how many people were suffering from kidney disease and my wife had it, then 99% of the world did not know either. There is an obligation for me to make others aware of kidney disease and how we can end dialysis being the status quo for kidney disease and replace it with transplants and prevention of kidney disease.

What ‘s your thoughts?

If I may, I would like to encourage you to comment on this post. I would like to hear from those who are following our blog, even if you just discovered us. Jennifer and I enjoy hearing your take on our post and the stories that have occurred in your life and what’s happening in the present. How much do you know about kidney disease, organ donation, kidney transplants? How much has our blog made you aware of kidney disease, organ donation, kidney transplants?  Has our blog been helpful to you? We look forward to reading your comments.

Pressing on,


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J.R. Tolkien once said “All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.” I don’t know about you but every time I read that quote I  wonder am I doing  the best with the time God has given me. I seem to be running around like a chicken with my head cut off, and I can’t see any end in sight. I don’t think that God intended on this type of living, and I really hate this is what our lives consist of. Tonight my little family after having dinner went for a walk in our neighborhood, and it was so peaceful. We had nowhere to be or anything to do, so I wonder why we don’t do this kind of thing every night. Now don’t get me wrong I love being busy, and having my children involved in things I just wonder if we are on the right course.

I never thought I would be jealous of Little House on the Prairie, but I find myself feeling that way often. It is so easy for me to get caught up in all the worldly things, and wanting more. My question is where does it end? When did we start buying into the idea of needing more. I want for God to be proud of how I spent my time, and I also want to be proud of myself also. I want to look back at the end of my life and be satisfied with what I was given. One day we will give an account of what we have done with the opportunities God gave us. I really want to be able to stand and say I didn’t waste time and energy on things that didn’t add to the kingdom.

Matthew36-40 says “I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me,I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me. Then the righteous will answer will answer him saying , Lord when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick and or in prison and visit you? And the king will answer them,Truly I say to you, as you did to the least of these you did to me.” This scripture is straight out of Jesus mouth, so what can you say to argue with that? I am trying to keep this scripture in my head when it comes to what I do with my time and my resources. Jason and I want to be the ones he can say that statement to,and that we  have spent our days serving others.

I know I have a long way to go, but I hope to get there soon. I know that God has plans for each of us and it’s just up to us whether or not to follow His plan.

live from the crazy farm,


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