iku kiriyama (column)By IKU KIRIYAMA

I was told I had chronic kidney disease four years ago and that it is incurable. I was not told any of the ramifications, and I didn’t think to ask.

Last April, I was shocked when the nephrologist told me to go to a dialysis class. Since then, all I know now is a result of my research on the Internet and through Dr. Dean Kujubu (unfortunately, not my nephrologist), brother of Dianne Belli, CAO of Keiro. I talked to Dianne in April and asked her to help me put together a forum about CKD. She set up the entire program, getting the site and the speakers.

In 2005, after my husband died, it was the beginning of informational forums. Five forums were set up with the help of Jack Fujimoto, Lloyd Inui and Dr. Kenji Irie, who enlisted MDs from hospitals where he had privileges. The intent was preventative — BEFORE people contracted illnesses.

From 2007, I began to share my personal experiences of the grieving process — more for emotional information before loss. I wanted to give foresight from my hindsight. It is with this same idea — IF I had known early enough, could I have been in a different place today? — that I want to share with people.

The diet is the most challenging that I know of. I have to monitor my sodium, potassium, phosphorous and protein intake. What is good in one case is bad for the other.

Potassium is found in all fruits and vegetables and is recommended for diabetes and hypertension. For kidney disease, high levels of potassium have to be controlled. I no longer eat bananas, an orange might be once in four months, no OJ, no tomatoes, no artichokes, no cooked spinach, no cooked mushrooms. The list goes on and on.

High levels of phosphorous also affect kidney disease. I have cut out dairy products; I use almond milk. I avoid or extremely limit dried beans for my phosphorous levels. But wait — to watch my animal protein levels (3 oz. per meal), diets suggest dried beans!

Also, to control high phosphorous, the whites, like rice and bread, are recommended over whole grains. But, these carbs raise the blood sugar. This is what I mean about a very challenging diet.

For diabetics on dialysis, I found out the mortality rate is higher than for non-diabetics on dialysis. I am diabetic but not yet on dialysis. When I do go on dialysis, that means my kidneys will be functioning at 10% to 15% of normal.

I will share these challenges and more at a forum on chronic kidney disease on Sunday, March 22, from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Gardena Valley JCI, along with Dean A. Kujubu, MD, staff nephrologists at Kaiser, and Mika Sugano-Isa, MS, RD, renal dietitian at Kaiser.

Please come and learn from my hindsight…..especially for people with pre-diabetes, diabetes, hypertension, kidney disease AND healthy people who want to stay healthy. While my presentations are always specific and personal, the professionals give the big picture that applies to all. My premise is “to be forewarned is to be forearmed.”


“Chronic Kidney Disease: What It Is, What It Means, How to Prevent It,” a program of the Kawana Center for Healthy Living, Keiro, at Veterans Hall, Gardena Valley Japanese Cultural Institute, 1964 W. 162nd St., Gardena. Reservations recommended: Mei Kameda, (213) 873-5710 or mkameda@keiro.org

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