Saturday, March 11, 2006

Of Kidneys & Elbows...

Injuries are the worst part of this game they call baseball, as it's the one thing no one can predict. Injuries are why we have Bannister, Soler, Maine and Iriki waiting in the wings for the rotation (not to mention Pelfrey and Gonzalez). However, injuries on the playing field are one thing, a la Carlos Delgado's elbow or Juan Padilla's elbow. Injuries/illnesses that are caused by off-field causes, such as heredity, are another thing entirely.

It was with both great sadness and great hope that I read about Cliff Floyd's kidney problems. You see, both my wife and I suffer from kidney problems, and this is an area that simply doesn't get enough press in a day when other illnesses are more "soup of the day". My kidney produces excessive amounts of kidney stones, and about a year and a half ago I suffered renal failure and nearly died, as 4 stones blocked one of my kidneys. I lost over 25 pounds and was out of work for 3 weeks, and was weakened for about 2 months. I have weakened kidneys that function in the 35% - 38% range, but it's not hereditary in my case. I have been functioning pretty well, and unless my numbers drop down by about 10 points or so, I am okay, as they've been stable at this % for over 4 years (save for the period of renal failure). Worse, my wife suffers from a renal disease that keeps her creatinine levels at 2.0 regularly (1.2 is normal) and it has risen as high as 5.0, which just about brought her to the point of needing dialysis. Again, it wasn't hereditary. Her kidney numbers hover in the mid-20's, and have for a number of years now. She eats a very special diet, and has to watch everything that she does. My doctor told me that the "advantage" of having hereditary kidney disease is that doctor's know to look for it, as they have a parent as a "role model", whereas people who don't have kidney problems as a result of having it passed down from a parent or grandparent are at greater risk because there is no predisposition to look for and one has to wait for the symptoms to occur before knowledge of a problem or treatment can commence. I am happy for Cliff that the doctors have knowledge of his problem, the cause of said problem, and he is in the hands of some of the finest doctors in the renal field. Kidney problems are of the most painful volition, as anyone who has had a kidney stone can attest to (and I had 4 simultaneously-ouch!). I urge anyone in their late 30's to have their kidneys tested via bloodwork when going for their regular physicals, as this is an area where people still do not focus enough attention upon but where major problems can come up ever so swiftly. Cliff still has an excellent chance for a long, healthy life because the numbers that he has, according to what has been posted, are still very livable. He probably is going to have to change his diet substantially, as things such as soda are what we call "trigger" foods, as are painkillers such as ibuprofin, and these hurt your kidneys due to high intake. Hopefully this will keep Cliff on a good diet, he'll remain in good physical condition, and have a long, happy life after baseball. My wife and I worry about it every day, and believe me, every day that I wake up and have any kind of pain in my back, I worry that it might be a reoccurrence. If Cliff's ailment does nothing more than enlighten people to potential kidney problems, and prods them towards having their kidneys checked regularly, his illness will at least stand for something.

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