I’m Glori, graphic designer, illustrator, now blogger, married and mom of 3. In March 2011, I was diagnosed with congestive heart failure and viral cardiomyopathy…out of the blue…SURPRISE! While in the hospital, the doctors found something wrong with my kidneys. After a biopsy, I was diagnosed with stage 4 kidney disease. Needless to say, I was in shock. I didn’t seem to have any of the health factors associated with heart disease or kidney disease. In fact, the day before I went to the hospital, I was working out in a martial arts class. I was tired and felt a little off, but I certainly didn’t feel as if I was dying.
It didn’t really hit me until a few weeks later that I was SO close to death, and that realization is a scary thing. You’d think you’d have some inclination or at least have some red lights blaring with a siren. nope. no lights. no sirens. I feel very blessed that my doctor saw the signs of heart failure in time to save me.
I learned that in order to get my heart back in shape and keep my kidneys stable, I had to reduce my salt intake. This didn’t click because I honestly didn’t think I ate very much salt (most people don’t)…until I had my next meal in the hospital and I could barely taste anything…The nurses laughed at me when I asked for a packet of salt. From now on, I had to stay under 2000 mg of sodium per day. I thought I would be forced to eat bland, rabbit food for the rest of my life…which hopefully would be a long time since I almost died. I guess it also didn’t register that this would be a lifestyle change. It wasn’t just for a few weeks or until I got better. I had to eat a low salt diet FOREVER. and ever.
I LOVE food and I love to cook and after I started to recover, I began altering my recipes to be “heart healthy”. I was determined to eat well and that my taste buds would be satisfied. Over the past 3 years I have been collecting and altering recipes so they are low salt. Let me tell you…these foods are not bland at all! I never feel like I’m missing out. Because I’ve been so careful with my diet and salt intake and adamant about exercising, I’m happy to say that my heart returned back to normal after only a year and a half. My kidneys remained stable for a few years, but in May of 2014 they slowly started to decline. This had nothing to do with what I was doing, I exercised almost everyday and I ate right. Unfortunately, it is just the nature of disease itself. I found myself able to do less and less. It was rather frightening – to feel myself decline or die slowly. My body felt like it was gradually shutting down.
I was listed on the kidney transplant list in October 2014. To be listed, your kidneys have to be functioning under 15%. The wait time to received a kidney is 3-4 years, so I began looking for a living donor. In my family, only my sister was able to test and unfortunately she wasn’t able to be my donor. This was devastating to both of us as we both put so much hope that she would be the “one”. Maybe you can relate. Here’s a pic of me and my sister.
In June 2015, I started peritoneal dialysis. I never wanted to do dialysis, but after only a few treatments, I started feeling better. Not great, but better. And better was awesome. After recovering from surgery, I was slowly able to start working out again and honestly, that was the best feeling ever. I absolutely hated getting hooked up to that machine every night. I felt trapped. But, it gave me back my days.
Out of the blue, one Thursday night, I received a call from a coworker. He had seen a post on Facebook that said there was a family wanting to designate the organs of a relative, do you know anyone with a particular blood type? My coworker immediately thought of me. Amazingly enough, I was the right blood type. I was able to get in contact with the family, who decided to designate a kidney to me. I tried not to get excited. I knew there was much more involved in transplant than just blood type. Over the next whirlwind of a few days, everything fell in place. I received the call Saturday afternoon, telling me that this kidney would be a good fit for me and could I come to the hospital in a few hours? Surgery would be first thing in the morning. Holy crap! Here’s a pic of me post transplant with the IV still in my neck.
Surgery went perfect! My new kidney started working immediately and my numbers dropped rapidly. Currently, I’m a few weeks post transplant. I’m recovering well, slowly but surely. I feel alive again! I have a new lease on life. I’m energized with purpose…I want to help others. I want you to eat well. I want you to be healthy! My goals are this: to give you the tools you need to cook and eat better. I want to raise awareness for organ donation and kidney disease. But first things first…the food.
Maybe you are like me and have had heart or kidney problems and need to eat a low salt diet, but don’t know where to start. Or maybe you just want to make healthier choices…before you have health problems. Here’s more info on the benefits of eating a low salt diet, no matter who you are. Here is some info on kidney disease and the most common symptoms.
My recipes are tried and true, not just by me, but my whole family. Kid and husband tested and approved. Try my recipes & share yours with me too, #losolife or @losolifedotnet on instagram. I would love to hear your story!
On a side note, while most of my recipes are healthy, I have an obsession with dessert and baked goodies. Keep in mind that you need to watch serving sizes! lol
The best advice I can give you, no matter where you are health/diet wise, is to keep a food diary. There are some excellent apps out there that make it super easy. Life is so busy, you just can’t keep an accurate count in your head. Even after a few years, I still can’t (and I’ve tried).
Start making healthier choices and start living this LoSo life today!