Crutches & Creatinine: From 3% to 5% Kidney Function

“There are no shortcuts to any place worth going.”
Beverly Sills

As we have been reporting, since December 2015, Nicole’s blood tests have shown a steady improvement in kidney function. Considering that my wife has had type-1 diabetes for 38 years and stage-five kidney disease for six years, this appears very hopeful.

The amount of creatinine in the blood serves as the chief marker for determining kidney function. The less creatinine, the better the kidney function. Up until July 2015, Nicole’s creatinine level has been decreasing.

The July 7th blood test, unfortunately, broke this pattern. Her creatinine rose 13 μmol/L (0.14 mg/dL). Nicole’s July 30th blood test, however, more than made up for that small disappointment. You can see what I mean here:

  • 1,110 μmol/L (12.6 mg/dL) on December 4, 2014
  • 999 μmol/L (11.3 mg/dL) on January 8, 2015
  • 922 μmol/L (10.4 mg/dL) on February 15, 2015
  • 869 μmol/L (9.8 mg/dL) on March 3, 2015
  • 828 μmol/L (9.4 mg/dL) on June 10, 2015
  • 841  μmol/L (9.5 mg/dL) on July 7, 2015
  • 745 μmol/L (8.4 mg/dL) on July 30, 2015

Now, it’s worth mentioning that previous to that last blood test, Nicole tripped and fell. Unfortunately, a rock garden broke her fall. She hobbled around on crutches for a week. She didn’t break any bones, but the injury decreased her mobility. The decrease use of her muscles might have lowered her creatinine levels.

Of course, using crutches involved Nicole straining muscles unaccustomed to carrying her body weight around. This might have caused her creatinine level to be higher than it normally would have been.

So it’s hard to say whether being on crutches had an overall positive, negative or neutral effect on Nicole’s creatinine level.

Nonetheless, using DaVita’s GFR calculator and a creatinine conversion tool I determined Nicole’s estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) based on her current creatinine score. eGFR lets you know how much blood is flowing through the kidneys.s

In December 2014, Nicole started with an eGFR of 3 ml/min – or 3% kidney function. By March she had  moved to 4%. As of the July 30th she has now well cleared the 5% mark (as I predicted last month).

That’s a 2% increase in kidney function in nine months. At this rate it would take 35 years before Nicole reached full kidney function. Yet, as Nicole’s kidneys improve and her body gets healthier, I would expect the speed at which her kidneys regenerate will increase.

While another 95% seems like a large climb; Nicole only needs to reach 15% kidney function to live without dialysis. A eGFR of 15 ml/min would mean she has moved from stage five kidney disease to stage four.

“Celebrate any progress,” says Ann McGee Cooper. “Don’t wait to get perfect.”


Creatinine levels are not a perfect means of evaluating kidney function. Nonetheless, we’ve seen a steady decline over a nine month period. I think this is arguably a good sign. Especially when you consider that Nicole’s BUN levels have also decreased. Hair mineral analysis and targeted supplementation with Pam Killeen has been a big part of Nicole’s healing journey. For more information on Pam Killeen’s program, you can visit her website.

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