Friday, 17 June 2016

Side Effects of CKD

One of the funny things about CKD is that until you get down to the final stages it has little in the way of external symptoms, this is one of the reason why early warning signs weren't pieced together in the development of my own CKD.
Around fourteen years ago I had an ultrasound scan to investigate a stomach problem and the technician noted my right kidney was very small, which wasn't actually as big a surprise as it might have been given my Mum had one kidney removed as a child and my brother was born with only one kidney (albeit his one kidney is apparently larger than typical). But that comment was tangential to what the scan was actually for.
Then around ten years ago a routine check at my GP's surgery had picked up that I was suffering from mild hypertension (higher than normal blood pressure), but it wasn't considered significant enough to treat because there was no link to my kidneys. Then a little while later I failed a medical due to protein being detected in a urine test, my GP investigated further but the conclusion was that there was nothing to worry about. These disparate pieces of information did not link together and therefore no steps were taken early that might have prevented some of the deterioration that followed.
It was only after I had a procedure to treat two bulging discs in my back and the hospital flagged concerns about my blood pressure that the problem was uncovered, unfortunately by that time I'd also experienced significant weight gain due to the back problems (there is a whole other story for another time about that).
The only direct physical symptoms of my CKD is the sporadic gout, which has been getting worse as my kidneys get worse. But whilst gout is linked to CKD plenty of people with gout don't have CKD, especially overweight men such as myself. The only other physical sign of my CKD is actually a reaction to the Ramipril medication which has left me prone to sudden bursts of cramp in my calf muscles, something a previous consultant confirmed was a not uncommon side effect. I have trained my body through force of habit to avoid stretching too quickly in a morning, instead I gently work my way into stretches, I'm careful not to bend over too quickly in certain ways or to spend too long sitting in certain positions. Of course sometimes it cannot be avoided, sometimes I'll turn a certain way in my sleep and wake up screaming as the pain shoots through my legs and I have to get up and stretch my calves or I'll end up in pain the next day. It's not something my wife impresses my wife who gets woken up a stupid o'clock in the morning.
But I consider myself lucky so far, there may come a time when I'll look back in fondness to the days when gout and cramp were the only side effects.

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