Potassium Problems

December 13, 2016

Den had his weekly blood draw yesterday. This morning we are headed to his GP, Dr. Hennecke. She already let me know that she got all the lab results from last week.  Today was all good news. Den’s cholesterol is good and his A1C is 5.7, which is still well below the threshold to put him back on any diabetes meds. The only sore spots with Doc is that Den’s weigh is still climbing. He is up to 268. We discussed how much he is eating and when. She suggested going to smaller meals more often during the day, not just one big meal. Den said that he would work on it, but I am the cook so that was really an empty statement.

I got a call from the LVAD team after we got home. Den’s potassium levels are way to high. They sent in an order for Kayexalate to the pharmacy. Den needed to take it as soon as possible. Den’s kidney function was also off (possibly due to the high potassium level). Additionally, I was to hold 2 of Den’s meds for the next few days until we got his potassium level back to normal. We would need to redraw his labs later in the week.

So, off I went to the pharmacy. The prescription was ready and the pharmacist went over how to give it to Den. It came as a powder in a largish bottle. I needed to mix it with water and then shake the dickens out of it. Den would need to drink all of the bottle for maximum results. I went home and did as instructed. Den drank almost all of the bottle. He said it tasted terrible….couldn’t they at least put some flavoring in it to make it somewhat palatable?

Kayexalate works by exchanging potassium ions with sodium ions. It is then expelled from the body through the digestive tract. Something no one told us until afterward, is that this med can cause severe constipation….and I mean severe! Den didn’t have a bowl movement for 2 1/2 days. After the first day, I started him on a stool softener and then later on a light laxative. I did not want to over do the laxative! I think Den spent more time in the bathroom over those days trying to go than I have ever know him to before….if it wasn’t so scary that he couldn’t go, it would have been a good laugh. When he finally went, we were all relieved.

December 14, 2016

Today we are going to see Dr. Reidy at the Eye Clinic at U of C.

Den’s distance vision is almost perfect. It is so good that he does not need glasses for driving or watching TV. We won’t check his reading vision for a few more weeks, but Den says that it is much better, too! (Mom and Dad gave Den a pair of reading glasses that they use and they work perfectly!) All of the checks and tests came out fine and Dr. Reidy released Den from care. He gave us the OK for Den to start Cardiac Rehab. He said that he would send a letter stating so to the LVAD Team and the Rehab Center.


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