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Posted by wmmbb in Life Experience.

In preparation for my visit with my kidney specialist it is standard to undergo blood tests. Hyperkalemia is a condition of abnormally high potassium readings.

Most foods it seems contain potassium, and some medications tend to produce the same effect, so it is necessary for me to take Sodium Polystyrene Sulfonate, more commonly known as Rosonium. I am living to a budget (sometimes) and the asking price for medications is noticeable, and Rosonium is far cheaper to purchase from the Hospital Pharmacy than the local Chemist. Then I am careful about what I eat, so I think that I am managing my potassium levels.

Of course, my blood potassium level was measured at 7.2 which is way outside the normal range. As soon as they had this reading the pathology lab contacted my local GP and my specialist, who subsequently called me. Sometimes there are readings in the readings because of the way in which the samples are treated. My GP suggested that I immediately have another sample taken. My specialist, on the other hand, told me to go to the emergency ward for observations.

I suppose there is a precautionary principle involved here. I should mention that I actually received treatment for my condition, which reduced the potassium reading. Hospitals are the only places where patients can be confined and subject to medical observation over a period of time. Medical practices, for example, do not have the space, the full range of resources, and are too busy, other than to recycle appointments.

Different people have different issues, for example, the elderly that live on their own. Hospitals are social and working environments, and I find that one of the benefits of staying in them is that you can learn about other people’s problems. At the same time, I learn how unprepared I am for staying in them for any length of time. There are whole issues of mutual dependence that have to be managed, for example, I had to lock the dogs indoors because of Dexter’s propensity to scale the fence, despite my efforts to forestall him.


1. Judith Ellis - October 22, 2008

Many blessings to you, wmmbb. My mother was in and out of the hospital with kidney failure and I found that the staff as well as the patients were without a doubt a study in human interaction.

Our family, including my mother who was often very ill, was given high marks by the hospital staff for the ability to be patient and loving in spite of the situation. This is a decision one makes and follows.

It is very important to consider others; perhaps it is more important to consider others when you or your loved ones are going through difficulties. I was particularly conscious of being loving, kind and thankful to eveyone around me each and every time I entered the hospital. It makes a difference for you and them.

Thank you for this post, wmmbb. My thoughts are with you and yours.

2. wmmbb - October 22, 2008

Thank you for your comments Judith.

Sickness and disease, as you observe, are great dramas, more intense for those most involved, and perhaps it is too easy to overlook the people we depend upon working in the hospital.

I will do my best to weather the 360 degree storm about non compliance with medication.

3. Judith Ellis - October 23, 2008

Advocacy remains crucial. One can advocate in love and insistence. We were such advocates for our beloved mom.

4. wmmbb - October 23, 2008

You are completely correct, Judith, to highlight the potential importance of advocacy and advocacy skills for hospital patients.

In this case, i was just there for five hours or so, but still I had to hooked up to heart and blood pressure monitors, so I was confined. I major focus is to get out as soon as possible. I feel reasonably confident that I can get my needs met, and negotiate outcomes.

At the same time, it is necessary to appreciate the situations for patients can be very different. I am not a person who uses the standard of my experience as the measure for everybody else.

5. oorvi - October 23, 2008

Hi Mr. wmmbb,

Please take care of yourself…there’s no point suffering for something as tasteless(!) as potassium – just keep away from all that has it (I don’t have it:-)

Mercury’s mom has been through a lot of problems – first the doctors didn’t detect her problem properly and she was treated for what she didn’t have (a muscle-pull instead of a hip joint problem) so she suffered for a two months before another Doctor discovered it and operated her hip to replace the joint. Her recuperation was much slower (she’s still not recuperated completely) because she had wasted her muscles for two months while she underwent the wrong treatment!

You take care of yourself and of course, prevention is always a better bet! We’ll pray that your potassium levels decrease soon.

Licks n Wags,

6. wmmbb - October 23, 2008

Thank you very much Oorvi.

I hope Mercury’s mum recovers fully.

I am not sure what the answer is to wrong diagnosis, which presumably must happen from time to time. I suppose the logic is that the more the patient knows about their condition and the more they can take responsibility to treatment the better. Still the problem remains.

7. Judith Ellis - October 24, 2008

“I am not a person who uses the standard of my experience as the measure for everybody else.”

This statement is so beautiful, wmmbb, as many do the exact opposite which causes many problems and great disharmony.


8. Colleen - October 25, 2008

wmmbb, I am so sorry to learn of your recent need to be hospitalized, even if it was only for a short time. High potassium levels are concerning and I am very glad that you had the problem treated. I realize that this is most likely a situation that will need to be managed. I wish you well in your efforts to do so.

I am a nurse by profession. This past spring I too spent some time as a hospitalized patient. The experience allowed me to view my hospital and all that happens in those halls through new eyes. Upon discharge I had a new understanding of what it was like to be a patient, especially the lack of personal control the hospital environment just naturally perpetuates.

Now I am long back to work, and on difficult days and with difficult patients I try to remember that time and those feelings when I was one of them and just what that meant.

9. wmmbb - October 25, 2008

Thank you Judith and Colleen.

I hope that I am not a difficult patient, but sometimes it is just difficult being a patient, for example people who have been traumatized by the experience of their injury.

As always, my focus is to get home as soon as possible. I had a follow up blood test yesterday, so it be of interest to me to see how that goes.

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