Renal Diet Headquarters Podcast 008 - Interview with Gail Rae Garwood

Renal Diet Headquarters Podcast 008 – Interview With Gail Rae GarwoodWelcome to the Renal Diet Headquarters Podcast, Episode #8.
We are publishing this on February 12, 2014.


Welcome to the Renal Diet Headquarters podcast with your host, Mathea Ford, CEO of Renal Diet Headquarters. This is our weekly talk about how you can succeed with a kidney diet. Brought to you by, a website whose mission is to be the most valued resource on kidney disease that people can use to improve their health.

This week, I spoke with Gail Rae Garwood of She tells me about how devastating her diagnosis was of chronic kidney disease and what she did about it. She also shows that you can do a lot if you set your mind to it. I hope you enjoy the interview.

Welcome to the Renal Diet Headquarters podcast, and this week, I am interviewing Gail, and she is going to talk to us about her journey with chronic kidney disease and how she has found an outlet for helping other people through her program called Slow it Down. So, Gail, first I wanted to ask you to tell us a little bit about yourself.

Well, I am originally a New Yorker. Now I live in Arizona. I have two biological children, two stepdaughters and their significant others. I was married in April and left. I retired from college teaching, before that I taught high school for many years, and I also retired from acting in March of last year. And now I write and I am a chronic kidney disease awareness activist, which is my passion. When I was diagnosed at age 60, which was seven years ago, I didn't know what the doctor was talking about when she said she thought I had chronic kidney disease. And this is how I got the title of my book. My first question was, what is that and how do I get it? And she said, early stage chronic kidney disease. So, that's where the title came from. And she got me to an nephrologist the very next day. Now, you know, if you get to see especially the next day, there's something wrong. I went and spoke with him, and he explained, and I was so shocked that all I could think of was, he wants me to ask him questions. I think I'm going to die.

I need to find out more about this. And he was really trying to tell me more about it, but I was just too shocked to hear a thing he was saying. But I've been a nonfiction writer for about 20 years, probably more by now, and that requires a lot of research. So, I started researching, and I learned more. And the more I learned, the better I felt about being stuck with this particular disease and understanding that I'm not going to die right away. I'll die like everybody else is dying and that I could slow it down and that there was so much I could do for this disease. And then I became angry when I realized that if I had been diagnosed earlier, I could have started slowing it down earlier. And that's when I made the decision that I was going to take all my research and turn it into a book and publish it and put it on for sale and talk about it everywhere I could. But then I got a call from a doctor in India who explained to me that his patients can't afford my book, even the electronic version, which is under $10.

So, I talked with him a little bit, and he explained that they don't even have the money to get to the clinic half the time, they're so poor. So what we worked out is that I would start a blog, and I would publish each chapter of the book as a blog entry. He would download it, translate it, and put it in his waiting room. And then I got to thinking about other people who might not be able to afford the book. And I started working with Arizona Kidney and Hypertension Control Centers a Clinic rather and we worked out a deal where there were flyers in every single one of their offices. And then I realized that people were taking the book because I put a copy of the book in each office too. And the doctors were getting dismayed about that, or I should say the office desk. But my response was, no, you have the wrong idea. If they take a book, I will just replace it. You just let me know. They got tired of letting me know. So then I said, okay, this really isn't working. I got to find another way of getting this information out there.

So, that's when I continued the blog and continued the blog and continued the blog, which is still going today. And I started using Facebook and I started using Twitter to post tidbits about chronic kidney disease and related diseases because I still felt it wasn't enough, and I didn't know what to do with it. And then I took a class in leadership, and it got me to thinking. One of the parts of the class was you had to do a project. So, I started thinking about, okay, well, what do I want to do for project? Well, I live in Arizona. There are many, many Native American tribes here, and they have a higher risk for CKD. I contacted a bunch of kidney educators who were trained and were willing to work for free, and we got them on the Salt River Pima Maricopa reservation for a series of classes. And then we started doing, I guess I called medical fairs and exposing people to chronic kidney disease in that way. And I'm always looking for outlets like, where can I find a community to bring this education? Who needs this education? And you know yourself as a renal dietitian that blacks or high risk Native Americans, as I mentioned, Hispanics, and now people over 60.

So everywhere you look, there's 59% of United States people are at risk for this disease. Almost nobody's ever heard of it. I consider myself an educated person, and as I said, my reaction when the doctor talked to me about this was literally if I'd been less polite, it would have been, what are you talking about? I never heard of that before.

That is a wonderful story of kind of how you took that frustration and turned it into something that's useful. It's so funny because that is the experience, I think, of so many people that they just are so angry that they had the lab tests done before they had the information. The doctor had the information that could have told them they were in stage two or stage one, and they never knew. And then they get that first feeling, is that anger? That, why didn't they tell me that I was getting this? And here I am, all of a sudden, i'm in stage three or I'm in stage four, and I feel like at that point, they feel like it's a snowball rolling down a hill, right? It doesn't have to be, but that's how you feel initially, I think. Oh, yeah.

And at this time, one of my children was living in upstate New York, and the other one was living in Staten Island, and I'm here in Arizona, and I hadn't met my husband yet, and I figured, okay, so how long do I have to hide my impending death from the kids? I really had so little information that I thought I was going to die right away.

So, I want to go back and try to think about how some of your history kind of fits into what you decided to do with your knowledge base. So, you said you were a teacher in college. What did you teach in college?

I taught everything from writing to American literature to research writing to ancient history, literature, always in the literature and the language arts.

So how do you think that that obviously how long were you teacher?

I started teaching high school when I was 22, I believe I was, and I retired from that at 55 and started teaching college and taught college until I was 66. So, that's a long time of teaching. That's always English.

Yeah. So it was just a natural outlet for you to write, to research, and to write to go to that.

Well, when I was teaching in a vocational technical high school in Staten Island, well, my children were fairly little ones, probably ten, the youngest. I was asked to write study guides for the school, so I did that. Then they asked me to write for the in house borough high school newspapers, so I did that. And then my English supervisor asked me if I would like to write study guides, so I started doing that for a publishing company, and then there were study guides for the state tests, and then they were how to and then my students got word that I was writing educational text, and they told me what they wanted. So I thought, that's my publisher. And we started doing things that they wanted, like what are the literary terms mean and why they used humanistic psychology series. It just kept snowballing. It's like, oh, you want something written, you need it, research, call Gail. She'll do it.


And I was a single parent, so I would do it. I needed the money.

Oh, I love research and stuff and just finding out more and digging in deeper so that's absolutely, I totally understand that. And especially when I know that it's going to help somebody to be able to explain it. I went into deep depth about this. I kept getting questions about grapefruit and why I couldn't have grapefruit on my diet and or can I have grapefruit and why couldn't I? And then there was this thing that came out where they put a bunch more drugs on the list of things you shouldn't have with grapefruit. And so I went into this whole extensive article on what it is about grapefruit that causes you, that affects these medications. And actually, it's probably the opposite of what a lot of people think. People think it probably makes it less available in your system. But what it actually does is it makes you absorb more, so it can affect your dosage. So, you may get too much of the drug most of the time anyway. I know what you mean.

So careful as CKD patients, because our kidneys are slowed down and we don't have as much function and some drug that somebody else can take, you have to adjust the dosage for us because it stays in the body longer, and that means that it's working harder in our bodies, which may not be what we need at all.

Right. You have to be very careful with telling your doctor, hey, is this going to affect my kidneys? Because sometimes I think they don't even remember all of it.

Yeah, I can remember. Usually I was hospitalized. Not hospitalized, in the emergency room for a bladder infection that I didn't know that I had, I just knew I was feeling really bad. And I couldn't get to any doctors at all because, of course, it was Friday at 07:00 at night. And they gave me sulfur drugs. And I said, wait, I can't take sulfur drugs. Speak to my nephrologist, I can't take sulfur drugs. And they absolutely refused to believe me. Finally, got to my nephrologist, who said, no, she can't take sulfur drugs. And as of that point, I started wearing a medical alert bracelet that says, I have chronic kidney disease.

Oh okay, that's a good idea. Excellent idea.

There's a blog about that one, too. I have covered any and every topic that comes to my mind. Like, oh, gosh, I was talking about sleep apnea and the effects of sleep apnea on CKD and why it could be life threatening. I am so enjoying blogging, I am so enjoying researching. I started writing a fiction, must be five or six years ago, and I pick it up periodically. And it suddenly came to me that what I'm enjoying about this is the research more than the writing.

So, tell me about your acting career.

That was a lot of fun. I was very shy, painfully shy in high school and then in college, I seemed to work it out because I was studying to be a teacher. And you have to student teach, which means getting up in front of classes, and you have to practice teaching your classroom. And then when I got to grad school, I realized that I'm still shy. Even though I'm a teacher, I'm still shy. So I took a couple of acting courses and I absolutely loved it. And I started going on auditions. I was in New York then, so I started going on auditions for the small off of Broadway theaters. And I remember one of my classmates being outraged, what is your right? Who do you think you are? And I just turned around and said to her, they have the ability to say no to me. It's not such a big deal. And they didn't say no. I got roll after roll after roll, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. And I remember one time I was standing at the ticket booth on Broadway, and this fellow comes running up to me and he says, at that time, my name was Gail Horn.

He says, Gail Horn, Gail Horn, I want your autograph. And I looked behind me to see who he was talking to because I didn't realize that I was that well known. So I had a lot of success in that. And as I got older and I found that it was really hard to keep the whole play in my head, the whole script. I started doing movies because with movies, you shoot one scene at a time. So, you memorize one scene, you shoot it, and then when they're done, you memorize another scene, you shoot that. But now I'm tired. I don't know if it's age or the chronic kidney disease or who knows what.

Well, I see how you being a teacher and you having done some acting kind of lends to your, some of the things that you talked about, like putting your flyers in offices and talking to these groups and the projects and not being afraid of going out there and feeling like this is really a cause that needs to be fought for. Which is something I absolutely believe in too. I think the statistics are that about 10% of people in the United States have some stage of chronic kidney disease, and yet, like you said, very few people even know. And it seems to be just this hidden disease, I think. But, it seems to me that the acting and the teaching kind of go hand in hand, and obviously they did. But it just seems really clear to me why you're doing what you do because you're so in love with it and you're excited about doing it, but you also have that little bit of boldness that it takes to stand up in front of an audience and say, I'm not afraid.

I'll be perfectly honest, I am passionate about chronic kidney disease awareness. But, when I became this kind of bold that you're talking about was as a single parent. It suddenly occurred to me that I am in charge of these children that I brought into the world and I need to protect them and I need to promote them to themselves and that kind of belief in themselves. Both my daughters have it. My biological daughters, the ones I raised, they both feel the same. One of them is a blogger for her causes, and the other one is she's got a straight job during the day and at night, on weekend, she teaches dance because she's just passionate about that. So, they each have their passions. And I think it's the passion that gives you the freedom to go ahead and do these things more than the training. They are passionate, and that's what I see is the big difference. Although I have to agree with you, that my training helps a lot. It made it easy for me to just fall that into the role without saying, would I be a success? I don't really care. I just went in and did it.

And you're 100% right when you say you don't have to be trained and it doesn't matter if you were a teacher or you were a stay at home mom or you were worked behind the counter your whole life or something like that. The minute you get passion for something, there's very little that stands in your way. You're going to make it happen.

I use parents because that's my best example, having been a single parent, dealing how important it was that I played both roles, the father and the mother, and taking on 100% responsibility for everything I taught my children. Not whether Gail is teaching this, but 100% responsibility.


I can see just how passionate you can become. And I'm sure that there are people who have no children, but they have a cause or they have a thought or they have an invention or they have a new way of doing something that can better the earth. I'm sure that they are just as passionate as parents are.

Oh, absolutely.


But that's a good example, I understand. So, Gail, tell me a little bit about what you find to be your struggles with kidney disease. And I know you write about them on your blog, and I did read your one about sleep apnea, and I read about how you wrote this week that I'm tired. But tell us a little bit about your struggles because I'm sure there are struggles that other people feel, but sometimes we think that we're the only ones.

Well, I think as a renal dietitian, you'll understand this one. People always come to me with food advice, if you'll only eat a healthy diet, only eat fresh, only eat organic. Oh, you got to have meat. 5oz is nothing. What do you mean, you can't have this, you can't have that? It's somewhat healthy. I actually wrote a blog called a Healthy Diet is Not Necessarily a Renal Diet. Okay? Sometimes I get tired of explaining over and over again, which I know is not very generous because I'm not always explaining to the same people. But, it's sort of like you eat another person eats the way that's healthy for you. As a renal patient, there are certain things I can do and certain things I can't do, and who I find the most patient are the waiters. When I go out to eat, I quiz them on mercifully, and they are wonderfully patient. One of them kidding around, said to me, is this is a math test? They are adorable. And the other one, obviously, is being tired. I'm pretty much high powered. I mean, you can tell as a single parent, I had a full time job as a high school teacher, and I had five rotating part time jobs, and I had my children, one who required medical attention and one who just wanted to live a normal life.

So, this took a lot of energy, and I did it. And then when the kids were grown and on their own, I still had four jobs. I had the acting, the teaching, the writing. One, two, three. Something's missing. Oh, the chronic kidney disease activism, which is not really a job, but it requires a lot of time input. And I was doing fine until I started noticing I'm getting more and more tired. And I realized I'm also getting more and more older. Yeah, little things like, I know I have to exercise 30 minutes a day. Well, as an older person, there are bones hurting that were never there before, and they get in the way. Like, somebody said to me, Why don't you just one of the kids said to me, well, why don't you just walk? I used to love walking. Come on, you can't be that lazy. I said no, I'm not lazy. My foot hurts. And then she said, Go have it taken care of. Well, her father, who is my husband, unfortunately, and I shouldn't laugh about this, he had surgery three months ago to have three fractures and a tendon repaired in his foot.

And we knew it was going to be a six month recovery. It was going to be painful. So, I just looked at her and I said, we thought it would be a good idea if one of us could walk. Right. Exactly.

One of us has to be able to drive the car and take the other one around.

Yeah, but thank goodness they're all healthy, they're all doing well, and there's no reason they should have to understand the problems of chronic illnesses or older age. They'll get there in their own good time.

Yeah, they'll get there. Yeah. They're probably tired because do they have children?

No, grandkids. Just grand animals.

Okay, well, I'm tired because I have two children and they just take up a lot of energy, so I figured I always blame them for being tired. But what part of kidney disease and I would agree with the food advice thing with kidney disease, fat is actually in some ways your friend, because it doesn't have potassium, it doesn't have phosphorus. It doesn't have protein, it has calories.

It has calories. But sometimes it's so funny because sometimes you can add a little bit of that and it will help. But people say, oh, that's not healthy. But I know what you mean. You have the fruits and vegetables that you have to limit or try to limit.

Yeah, I would be perfectly happy living on fruits, vegetables, and grains, but I can't. I mean, three servings of fruit and three vegetables, each with different sizes of the servings, is not enough to get you through the day.

So, tell us what part of kidney disease that you find or chronic kidney disease that you find the most frustrating.

Well, we talked about diet, we talked about tiredness. I would say the numbers. I'm not really a numbers person, and as I described in the book, I actually made myself a little chart because I couldn't keep it straight of everything that I ate until I got a pretty good idea in my head of what it was worth. I would write down the sodium in it, the potassium, the protein, and the phosphorus and the calories, and then I would also watch my fats and my coffee. My saving grace is 16oz of coffee a day. And when I drink my coffee, I feel like I'm having an ice cream sundae with whipped cream and a cherry on top. I don't do any sweets. I don't do any fried. Rather, I don't consume any sweets or frieds. I don't make myself crazy looking for hidden sugar because I have this number problem. And I do find that as I get older and continually get older and older, I'm generating much more to the fruits and vegetables, which surprises me because I'm the granddaughter of Russian miller and bread is my staple, my elixir, the staff of life for me.

So, numbers are frustrating for you, really? What's working well for you right now with your kidney disease, besides your coffee kind of being your saving grace?

The exercise had been working well for me until I started, as I said, injuring this and that the other thing, and I still managed to get in half an hour most days of the week. I had been a dancer going dancing several times a week, east coast swing dancing. And I was very sad to find that I couldn't do that anymore because of the bones. First, my daughter, who teaches dance, teaches something called the blues. And the weight of your body is pretty much on the toes of your feet during the blues. And I find that I can dance that without any pain. So, every Sunday night I go down to where she teaches and there's an hour and a half lesson and then the regulars dance with the new people and dance with the other regulars. I'm usually there for about simple 2 hours and this is half an hour away. But it's wonderful. It's so chilling. That's working for me, that kind of exercise. Absolutely love I would love to get back to walking and I'm pretty sure that after my husband heals, I will have my foot looked at because I used to take my dog and we would go into the hallway and just walk and I'd listen to music and we just walked and walked and walked and it was such fun.

So, you said that type of dance is called blues? Blues, yes. Okay.

Yeah, it's wonderful. Oh yes, look it up. If there's blue dancing in your area and usually people say, oh, the blues. Well, that's not sexy dance. I can't do that. Well, I am 67, my daughter is the teacher, and I'm dancing the blues. I'm loving dancing the blues. It's fun, it's pretty easy and you get a lot of exercise. I come out sop and wet, so I know I'm getting a really good workout. And it's a heck of a lot more than fun than doing my walking tapes, which are not bad. And I do that rather than walking because I do it on an inch pad, foam rubber, riding the bike, which is actually getting to be painful, not just for the heels, but the knees and the hips.


So, I kind of knew things might go awry as I got older, but I didn't expect it to happen all at once.

Well, and you got to watch like your Advil and your Insaves, your nonsteroidal inflammatories, because those hurt your kidneys.

I remember when I was first diagnosed, the nephrologist, who I never met before kept insisting that it was because I took too many Advil. Just looked at him, I kept saying, I don't take pills if I can avoid it. And he was really adamant. Somehow he magically disappeared from the practice. I wonder why.


So, basically without the pills, you have to be careful about not injuring yourself because even now these bones, bone spurs, should not hurt. I mean, they're in places that are difficult, but I really shouldn't be feeling them. But I can't take that Advil. There's one bone spur on my back that hits nerves that go all around to my ribs. So, I'll walk around with rib pain and there's not much I can do about it except learn to live with it.

Well, something you said earlier kind of triggered me to I made a little note to remind me to ask you about it. You said a couple of times like you were trying to hide your impending death or you were researching how you were going to keep from dying right now, and then you realize you're not going to die right now. Do you think that that's a common feeling?

Yes, I do. I think that people are absolutely shocked by the news when they get it. And I think that many people don't ask questions and don't do the research and are so disturbed that they don't really listen to the nephrologists, and they do believe that they're going to die. And I don't mean the fatalistic, I have a disease, I'm going to die. Right. They honestly believe they're going to die right away. And that's another reason that I feel it is so important to educate people about what they can do to slow down the decline of the kidney function. There's one fellow who is not a friend, I have not met him personally. He's my childhood best friend, and he has chronic kidney disease, and he does nothing that I do or that I recommend in the book. And my friend has given him the book and read to him from the blog, and she says he's just not about that. He can barely breathe, he can barely walk. And I'm saying to myself, this is a man of all age. One thing I have is vitality. I may be slower than I used to be, and I may not be able to exercise as much, but I sure have vitality.

I have the will, the life force, and he's snuffing his out. It's not necessary.

Yeah, sometimes I think getting diagnosed with a chronic disease can make you go through those stages of grief. You just have to hopefully get past them, because you do feel that anger, you feel that depression, you feel that bargaining. Okay? What if I do my diet perfect? Can we make this go away? I know what you mean, but I agree. That's a feeling that I think a lot of people feel they don't understand, and they get they go to see doctors, and they're afraid to ask because they're afraid that they're going to look stupid. I don't know if that's the right word, but they're afraid they're going to look like they don't know, which they don't want the answers. Not knowing that's possible.

If you don't know, then maybe you don't have to deal with it.

I have to agree with you about the seven steps, agree five steps on it. But I also feel that there's nothing wrong with helping people through it. Now, if they don't want to help, okay, you can't. Oh, absolutely. But why not? It's not what we're here for to help each other.

Yeah, we have to help each other. Yeah, absolutely.

I feel it's really important and deep down inside if you scratch my surface really, really deep. I do believe that we're here to help each other, because if we're not, what are we here for? So, this is my way of helping other people.

That's what I was just getting ready to ask you about. So tell me about your Slow it Down program, because you've talked a little bit about your book and kind of how you've made it available via your blog, and people can get it that way. But what about your Slow it Down programs where you're going out and are you have kidney educators that are going out? Tell me about that.

Okay, I just this afternoon made myself a nut job by deciding that I had to update the website so that I could do the address, so people could take a look at the website and contact us about getting these trained chronic kidney disease educators into their neighborhoods and their communities for free. And when I say communities, I don't mean like geographic communities. I mean like the Native American community, the Burmese community, the Christian community, the Geriatric community, whatever your particular community is. Before we go any further, I want to give you the website so that my afternoon was well spent. And that is

Okay, I'll put that in the show notes too.

Okay, it's not perfect yet, but at least you can navigate and you can figure out there's lots of ways to get in touch with us. So, what I did was I was taking this leadership class, and the idea of the class for me was I thought it wasn't doing enough with the chronic kidney disease awareness. I wanted to somehow find more ways, better ways, more effective ways of getting this education out there. And as I mentioned in the class, you have to do a project. So the project that I did was Slow it Down, and I kept thinking, they ask, what's the name of the project? I didn't have a name. I really didn't know what I was going to do. And I thought about the kidney disease and I said, Slow it Down. And then I figured we could really use that as a name, just use it as one word and put the capitals in there. So, that's what I did. Now what I did as my project is I contacted oh boy, I went through everybody. I went through the CDC, I went through the NIH, I went through NIKKD, I went through American Kidney Fund, I went through National Kidney Foundation, and I found people who didn't know me from a hole in the wall, who directed me to other people that might be helpful.

And if these other people weren't helpful, then they suggest even other people. So it was a lot of figuring out what I was doing and how I was doing it, and a lot of people helping people who didn't even know me. So I'm really thankful for that. And then I contacted I was looking for kidney educators because I know about it, but I'm not trained to educate. Yes, I'm a teacher, and yes, I have chronic kidney disease, but there's so much I don't know. So I called this group and that group and the other group and the other group, and they just absolutely were not interested. And then I called Annette Fomer from the local Arrowhead Davida Center, which is actually a dialysis center. And I said, I know you're a dialysis center, but I have this idea. What do you think? And her reaction was, Your timing couldn't have been better because Davida now wants to go into community outreach. We want to teach people how to prevent themselves from going on dialysis. In other words, how to slow down the chronic kidney disease and how to recognize it. So, that worked perfectly. And she has been on the reservation with me several times, and we've gone to health fairs, and she's been instrumental in organizing her trainer.

She does the training a lot of times. She's brought her nurse Cheryl with her, and we're getting good work out there as best as we can. It seems to develop that she is the education component and I'm the locator. I find the groups that need our help or want our help or we think should know about our help. And it's unfortunate that I keep banging on doors and getting no response or very little response because there are so many groups out there. But that's not going to deter me. I'm just going to keep knocking on doors. And by that I'm being figurative. I mean, I do most of this through the telephone and the computer.

Yeah, no, I know you do.

I have a vision of me knocking on doors with my little charts saying, okay, do you know about CKD?

Yeah. So people can contact you and it doesn't matter the community, they don't have to be in Arizona or what.

No, this is national. I tried for international, and she explained to me that they don't have trainers in other countries, only here in the United States. And then I got an email from a reader in Germany who said he was having a really hard time locating any kind of kidney education. And he looked up kidney education, free kidney, not free. He looked up kidney education, chronic kidney disease education in his country. My book came up.

Oh, wow.

And then the Indian doctor I told you about the same thing. So I'm gratified, but I wish it was more. I mean, there are people all over the world that need more. Somebody said to me, Aren't you a famous author? Aren't you rich now? And I said, yeah, I'm rich in telephone numbers. I'm rich in people to contact on the computer. I'm rich in people who would like a complimentary copy of the book. I'm retired, and this is my retirement job. And every cent that I get from the book goes right back into publicizing chronic kidney awareness. So I'm kind of in the hole, but I felt like, so what? It's like when I can do what I want with it, and this is what I want to do with it.

Retirement is just an opportunity to do something that you love. I'm sure you loved being a teacher and you loved acting too, but you obviously have a passion for this teaching people, making them aware about chronic kidney disease.

Yeah, it's a little dramatic here. But if we can save a bunch of people from having to go through dialysis or even having to go through the latter stages of kidney disease by simple prevention and simple identifying via the blood test and the urine tests who has a disease and who doesn't. Well, in a way, the world is going to be a better place because you're going to have fewer sick people in it. I keep telling people, I am not going to progress to dialysis, and it's not because I'm going to die. It's going to be because I'm one of the 80% of people with chronic kidney disease who have learned to manage it. So, I can slow down the progression.

Okay, well, thanks, Gail, for talking to me today, and I really appreciate what you're doing and your message. And I'm glad that you took the time to come on to the podcast because I think it's a very important message. And the more people, just like you said, people getting blood tests, people asking their doctor, can I see my results? A lot of people, the doctor says, oh, your cholesterol labs were fine. And they don't even know what all blood tests their doctor did, and they don't know all the different numbers that might be just slightly out of whack. It's one of those things where the awareness is very important.

Yeah. And A1C?. How many people with chronic kidney disease know to look for that? Diabetes is a huge contributor. Yeah, it's the leading cause of chronic kidney disease. And if you already have chronic kidney disease and your A1C goes up, indicating diabetes, then you got CKD and diabetes and high blood pressure. Do you know that 42% of the black population has high blood pressure? That blew me away. And that's the second leading cause of chronic kidney disease.

The problem with having diabetes and chronic kidney disease is that it's already hard enough to follow a diabetic diet. And then you add some of the restrictions of a chronic kidney disease, and it just feels difficult, feels very difficult to manage. I'm not going to say it's impossible because it's not, because there's lots of people that do it, but it makes it difficult. I went to my renal dietitian and she's got me on the renal diet, the Northern Arizona Council renal diet. And I told her that I am prediabetic and I wanted to go on a diet for that and I wanted to go gluten free. And she laughed. So I said, why are you laughing? She said, there's nothing left for you to eat, Gail.

Well, there you have it. Gail, thank you very much for coming on the show today, and I want to thank you for listening. Thanks a lot for being here this week. I look forward to talking to you again next week. And next week we're going to talk about healthy heart and high cholesterol, high blood pressure issues. So I want to sign off with that. And if you would like to get notifications of new podcasts, go on over to our website at and you can sign up for our email list, and get a notification.

Thanks, have a good day. Bye.


This week I spent some time talking about some personal tragedy and triumph related to heart disease. And how you can improve your chances of survival.

This week, I interviewed Gail Rae Garwood, from and talked about her chronic kidney disease. Gail describes how her history let to her developing a unique program that helps people recognize and work to slow down the progression of kidney failure. She talks alot about her personal experiences, and how they shape her future.

She has a great story about how you can do anything if you are passionate about it. If you felt angry about your diagnosis or worried about when you might die, Gail's story will help you to understand why you felt that way.

This week I talked about my book on Heart Healthy Living with Kidney Disease:

Email me at [email protected] with suggestions, and if you know someone who you would love me to interview.  Let me know.

RDHQ 008 Transcript.

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One Comment

  1. Kathleen Brady says:

    Stage 3 kidney disease due to a birth defect and resultant nephrectomy..looking for more information!