This week, Jill answers a listener question about having anxiety after a kidney stone.
Jeff Sarris: Welcome back to the Kidney Stone Diet podcast, the show about reducing your kidney stone risk and living your best life. I’m your host and fellow student, Jeff Sarris.
Jill Harris: And I’m Jill Harris, your kidney stone prevention nurse. That’s who I am.
Jeff Sarris: Yep, that is who you are.
Jill Harris: I’m just known as Kidney Stone Diet. That’s me.
Kidney Stone Diet is more than just a diet
Jeff Sarris: It is always funny because like, how do you start talking? I remember, I think it was Louis C.K. forever ago, just started one of his specials. And he walks out there and he’s just like, “Hey!” and then just goes into a whole thing about, “Isn’t it weird? I’m just walking out here and I’m just going to start talking at all of you. No one’s gonna respond. You might laugh.” But it is such a funny thing because we’re just talking to an audience of people who are listening or watching which we genuinely can’t thank enough so much. But it’s funny, like, how do you start? We’re just talking.
Jill Harris: Yeah, I think you know, it’s funny. People always have comments on what we should do, how we should do it, but until you’re doing something like this, it is a very strange thing. We’re talking into a vacuum, right? So I’m pretending like there’s 5000 people looking at me, but there’s not. So you never quite know–you can’t read how this is going to be. So you just do your best. It’s not it’s not easy to do this, quite frankly and it is totally like talking into a vacuum. That’s why we always ask for feedback. “How is it going?” And I know be careful what you ask for because, you know, there are some people that aren’t always giving the nicest feedback, but whatever, I always welcome it.
There’s some people that are like, you know, you’re a little full of yourself, or you talk too much, and you must like hearing yourself talk. No, that’s not true. We’re also talking about lifestyle. And, also, I can sit here and say “Are lemon rinds high in oxalate or not,” and that would be about a 32 second show for you, so we’re trying to also connect. Our job here at Kidney Stone Diet, it’s much more, so much more, than how much oxalate is in this. It is teaching people, educating people, on how to eat for the best way for them. And that is quite needy, actually. So it’s not just about a bunch of goals. It’s about how do we change people’s habits. How do we change somebody’s lifestyle and undo decades of what they’ve been taught. It’s very difficult, actually.
Lifestyle change is not just about how much oxalate is in something, it requires a lot and that’s why so many patients come to me–I mean, you know, really smart people I work with–and they come to me and they’re like, I don’t know, I just everything I feel like I’ve learned is absolutely wrong. And, so, there’s just so much more to this. So that’s why some of these videos can be lengthy. Yes, I can definitely talk a little bit too much before we get to the subject, but we’re trying to create community here and that’s really important to us.
And then so while I’m on this subject, while we’re creating community, there’s about 65% of you that watch these videos, and we’re thrilled about that, but could you please help us by clicking the subscribe button because it helps people find us faster on YouTube. I wouldn’t ask if it didn’t mean so much for us and it’s just so little for you to do. Just click that button. That would mean so much and that’s all I’m gonna say. I’m done. That’s my words and I really appreciate it if you would click the red button. Our goal is to get 10,000 subscribers. Right now we’re at, how much are we at, Jeff?
Jeff Sarris: Good question. It’s six something I don’t know. We’re approaching 7,000.
Jill Harris: Oh, oh, it’s 6955! We’re gonna hit 7,000 soon! Guys, please, we’re really trying to get to 10,000. So please, help us.
Jeff Sarris: And I just wanted to say on that note, with the connecting and doing something it’s like it’s more than data because if data worked for kidney stones, and you just said, “This number, that number. Do this,” then it would be easy. No one would have kidney stones. It’s so much more than just numbers, oxalate, sugar, all these things. It’s because that’s just–we’re human. We’re all human. We’re dealing with so many things that just a bunch of numbers thrown at us doesn’t get us to where we want to go. So we’re hoping that through this we can connect and also that you can know that there’s so many people going through this and we, and specifically, Jill, we’re here to help get you to the spot that you want to be.
WHy do we keep unhealthy habits?
Jill Harris: Yes, I mean, listen, if throwing the pamphlet at the patient in the doctor’s office worked, I wouldn’t be able to do this for almost 25 years now. It’s not enough. Why do we have such obesity in this country? People understand that eating too many chips will increase their risk for certain diseases or being overweight. It’s not about that. It’s about why we’re eating. What are we trying to cover up? Are we anxious? Are we stressed? Are we pissed? Are we lonely? Are we frustrated? Are we overwhelmed? What coping skills have we used to combat those feelings? So much of it’s food.
So you know, why are we eating, and then how do you undo those habits? Because your habits, your eating habits, they don’t ever go away. They’re right there. It’s why you’ll see a smoker–I use this analogy a lot because people get it–for 20 years they didn’t smoke, then a really tragic thing happens. The first thing they didn’t even think. They pick up a cigarette, They run to the store and get a cigarette. Your habits are always just stuck right here. They never go away, so it’s really easy to channel them. So what do you do in order to not go right there again, and for people who are listening, I’m touching my heart, your habits are right there.
They’re right there in your brain, bad habits, that you spent years to get rid of. They’re not really gone. You can access them in a second. And we use them because we want to feel good. When we feel bad, we human beings don’t like feeling uncomfortable. So we want to soothe ourselves and if we’ve created unhealthy coping skills to make ourselves feel temporarily better, well, we’re going to access those quickly. So what I help teach people to do is, how do you refrain from hitting those bad habits up again, that you’re going to get that instant happiness? How do you learn to get happiness from healthier habits?
So, that’s a big part of my job. It’s not about you know how much salt is in a chip. Turn it around, Buster Brown. You could see for yourself. It’s not just that it’s a lot and that’s why I could do this for so long. I couldn’t talk about that for all this years. It’s learning what makes people do the things they do and each of you is so very different. And then working with somebody so they can come up with new healthy habits, so they access those bad ones less. That’s all. It doesn’t mean you’ll never access them again, but once you get over the perspective of that this is hard–changing your lifestyle–it’s overwhelming. Once you’re doing baby steps, because lifestyle change is not a radical thing–once you get there, there’s no going back, for the most part.
You feel so much better. You don’t realize how bad you feel right now because that’s just where you are. But once you start feeling better, have more energy, get more joy, feel more nourished, feel really proud of yourself, get confident, all that, well, you’ll never want to go back. And one more thing! We don’t change by feeling shitty about ourselves. That’s not motivating. When we are changing our habits, and we start feeling good and confident and proud of ourselves. And, yes, people, take a minute to feel those things because so many people are like “Eh, it’s no big deal.” They don’t want to take that in.
I push back on that to my patients. I tell them, “I am so proud of you.” “Oh Jill, it’s nothing.” It is something! Don’t say that. So you’ve got to feel good. Once you acknowledge how good you feel and how confident and how proud you are, well that’s what keeps prompting change, not eating something crappy and feeling bad about yourself and calling yourself names. You’re going to just sit in that bad state. But when you start feeling good and you’re proud of yourself, I’m telling you, you want to keep hunting that feeling down. And anyway that’s that. I mean I know I go off, but that’s what I do. It’s not about how much how high oxalate isn’t something people if you want to change your lifestyle, there’s a million different ways to get more fluids, low salt, low sugar, you got to learn what’s right for you.
Not just a pamphlet in a doctor’s office, otherwise there’d be no more kidney stones for the most part. We’d get rid of diabetes and obesity and heart disease. I mean, come on, we wouldn’t have all these chronic illnesses, if it were that easy. Look at all the nutritionists and the dietitians in the world all we still got all this stuff. Come on! Somebody has to really sit down with people, hold hands, give out all this free information YouTube, TikTok, all the things that we do. The website kidneystonediet.com is filled with information.
Information is out there for people, all free! But it’s not easy to incorporate it. That’s why people hire me, to get the step-by-step protocol for you, but if you can afford my services, please, this is why we do so much free, please take access, research, learn and step-by-step you can change. That’s it. The end! Did we even start the show? Is there a question?
Jeff Sarris: There is a question. I’m trying to try to decide, do we we still go with it, right?
Jill Harris: Yeah, let’s go with it. Because, I mean, what would we even title this? “Jill’s just going off again!”
Jeff Sarris: No, but this, this listener question is actually right in line with what we’re talking about. So it works out. So let’s dive in there.
How to combat anxiety after a kidney stone
Listener Voicemail: Hi, my name is Jess Lopez. And I just had a couple of questions involving maybe anxiety after having kidney stones. I built up anxiety from having a kidney stone like that. I don’t know. I feel like I’m still having anxiety now after a few days. I’m not an anxiety type of person. So I’m wondering if maybe that you can give me some advice, or you’ve heard of it before? I don’t know.
Jeff Sarris: I’m just going to cut there because the phone number’s afterwards.
Jill Harris: What’s her name? Jess?
Jeff Sarris: Yeah, I believe Jess.
Jill Harris: Okay. Oh, this always breaks my heart. I’ll tell you why. Jess, I want you to know that–did she say she’s usually anxious or no?
Jeff Sarris: No, not normally anxious.
Jill Harris: Okay, Jess. So for all of us with my cancer and your kidney stones, I have a lot of anxiety from being ill. I worry if it’s going to come back. It’s come back a couple times, so I always worry about that. If I had any kind of ailment in my body, I’m like, “Oh, shoot, is there a tumor?” It’s not even rational, but when you’ve been sick, anxiety is part of this. Just as a kidney stone former, most of my kidney stone formers were just living their life and all of a sudden, always around 3am, for whatever reason, or on vacation, whatever. It’s always the worst time ever. It’s never a good time to have this, but it’s always the worst time ever.
They got this pain and they didn’t know anything about kidney stones. A lot of women will say, “I thought this was a man’s disease. No one in my family had a kidney stone. That pain was worse than childbirth, Jill.” Women telling me, “It’s worse than childbirth. My birth was natural. Didn’t even have any drugs. That’s how bad my kidney stone pain was.” So, Jess, it makes perfect sense that you have anxiety with having a kidney stone. Now you didn’t say your history, but if one has a kidney stone, and they had a surgery, and maybe there’s still fragments left or whatever, people with current stones will tell me, “Every time I have a twinge, I panic.”
Because, of course, you’ve been traumatized by that stone. And anybody who has had a stone knows I’m not doing my normal Italian dramatic stuff. They’re like, “She’s right. It was traumatic!” And so people will stop going out to eat, people will stop going on vacation, people stop their lives. They won’t go on a long trip in a car on a road trip because they’re petrified. They can’t get enough water. They don’t want to stop in the bathroom all the time. They have a couple of stones. What if they move? The list goes on and on. And they have a doctor that really doesn’t care too much about it. So they don’t know how to prevent them. And that’s how people find me.
They go on Facebook or my social media and they’re like, “Oh, I can prevent them. I didn’t know.” So just it makes perfect sense to me that you have anxiety. I have articles on my blog that deal with that. There’s other videos on our YouTube channel that deal with anxiety. I could have a call on anxiety every week and I would always want Jeff to keep posting a new video on it because it’s that prevalent. And it would make my heart so sad to think that somebody’s out there struggling with anxiety and thinking something’s wrong with them. It’s very normal because of how kidney stone attacks come on. And, again, if you do you have current stones, you’re just petrified that they can move at any time.
And there will be people with current stones that the doctor says, “Look, Trixie, you got some stones. They’re not moving. They’re in a fine place. We will just watch and see. That means you’re gonna have imaging every what however many months.” Typically, it’s every six months. The doctor is going to make sure that it’s still the size it is. It’s not growing aand it’s still an okay place. That’s fine. People will leave the the earth with kidney stones. There’s nothing wrong with that. Typically, if a doctor sees a stone, he’s going to say, “Hey, this needs to come out!” Most of the surgeons will say, “It’s fine, just leave it. We’ll just watch and see.”
80% of recurrent kidney stones can be prevented by doing this
If that’s the case, that will leave a lot of anxiety for patients because they’re worried that it’s going to move at anytime. I say this: instead of worrying about it, turn it around in your head and say, “I know I’ve got something. It’s going to make me even more compliant to the Kidney Stone Diet because I want to make sure that little critter doesn’t grow.” So I’ve had patients for my whole time in practice, and they’ll still send me a Christmas card and they’ll say, “Dear old lady, stone hasn’t moved, hasn’t grown. Love, Sam. Merry Christmas.”
And so what that’s telling me is the patient is being compliant with the Kidney Stone Diet, it’s not getting bigger that stone. Every time I find myself going a little off the wagon, I’m like, “Oh, yeah, get that water.” And they get right back on track because they have that negative motivator. Just like people with diabetes. They’re going to see their blood sugar’s way up. It’s a negative motivator to cut down on the carbs again. So when you’re monitoring something, when you have a current, something, whatever it is, diabetes, a kidney stone, for me cancer, you don’t want those things to come back. It really makes you compliant.
So I like to think if you don’t need a surgery, and your surgeon says it’s okay to let that stone ride and you’re watching and wait, that’s fine. Just think of it as a little negative motivator in your body that you want to stay compliant to the Kidney Stone Diet. So, think of it that way. Like I said, I have many patients, their stones don’t grow, and they don’t move, and they’ll leave the earth with those stones. Some patients, they will pass their stone. And that’s okay, too. I know that that’s scary, but you know, there is that you may just have to pass the stone. But as far as anxiety goes, I find that it helps, at least for me, that if I know I’m doing everything I can on most days to keep to get enough sleep, to get my fluids in, to do a low salt, low sugar diet, to get all my foods within moderation, eat plenty of fruits and plants.
When I find myself doing all the right things for my body exercising, that’s one of the ways I’m able to stay in control of my medical stuff. It’s not going to guarantee my cancer will never come back. I can’t guarantee a stone will never form, but we do know up to 80% of recurrent stones can be reduced. That’s a huge number if you stay on your treatment plan. So on the days where you’re feeling a little anxious–this is what I do when I feel a little anxious. I calm myself down by saying I’m doing everything I possibly can to keep my disease at bay. And with that it does bring me some kind of control back. It does bring me some kind of comfort back to know that I’m doing what I can.
Sometimes we still get sick anyway, but the best thing I can tell you is you’re not alone. Many of my kidney stone patients feel exactly like you do. Do the things that are going to keep you from making that stone grow and also from getting new ones. You are in control. And by following the Kidney Stone Diet and making sure you get follow-ups with your doctor–also a huge thing: get a 24 hour urine collection ordered, please. A lot of patients will tell me their doctor said let’s wait for the second stone. And again I’ll say that’s like my doctor telling me–my oncologist–saying let’s wait for a second tumor before we do chemo. That’s ridiculous.
Do not wait for a second stone. Why are we going to wait for disease to happen before we do testing. So just please make sure you get a 24 hour urine collection order so you can see why you formed the stone and do the treatment plan to prevent it from happening and preventing that stone from growing bigger. Twenty-four hour urine collections, people. If you learn one thing from me before I leave this earth, please get those ordered. If your doctor says you don’t need it, push back, push back.
Obviously, that doctor hasn’t had a kidney stone, okay? So, a 24 hour urine collection. That will make you see, too, that, “Hey, look, my stone risk on this day is actually low. I’m doing okay.” So that will also help the anxiety. So I hope that helps, but please, please, please know that you’re not alone. So many people feel that way and I do have an article on my blog that addresses anxiety. And there’s some other videos on this channel, too, that do, too, because it’s very prevalent. So I’ll be thinking about you and sending you love. There’s nothing worse than having something and also having anxiety accompany it. I live that life myself, so I understand.
Jeff Sarris: Yeah, thank you so much for that question because the things–more than the data, like the actual the feelings and the things that we go through, when we have such traumatic experiences, we’re not alone with that.
Jill Harris: Yes, being sick–and this is why the Facebook group is so big, and this YouTube channel keeps growing, and growing, and growing. Click the subscribe button. But this is why because when we’re facing illness of any kind, any kind of illness, first of all, we don’t realize how important living a healthier life is. On most days, of course, you’re going to have your fun foods here and there. Of course, get right back on track. But until something goes wrong with your body, like, if you stub a toe, you haven’t thought about your toe your whole life. Now, all of a sudden, it’s the most important thing in your world, that toe.
So, until you have something that hurts or aches or is failing, you don’t think about this, unfortunately, we human beings really have to be hit over the head with stuff before we make some real changes. Because, you know, weight loss to look adorable in jeans. It ain’t enough, okay, because food tastes really good. But when you get diabetes, kidney stones, heart failure, all those things, cancer, you start changing some shit around. That’s lifestyle. That’s relationships. That’s everything. You start looking at your life, and you’re like, “Damn, I guess I’m not 12 no more. I better get it together.”
And so with all that, though, comes your mortality, comes anxiety. When we are sick, it’s a traumatic event. Many patients suffer and I don’t have data on this, but anxiety–a lot of people tell me, and I know this word gets thrown out a lot, I have PTSD from it. I feel very much that way from all my cancer treatments and surgeries. And being ill is really hard. No matter what it is. It’s scary and isolating and lonely and it’s all of that. By the way, it’s really friggin’ expensive.
And this is why we keep our services on the lower side. My private services are more expensive, but those other services, we keep those really cheap. The Kidney Stone Prevention course, the meal plans, all the things that we do and all this free stuff is because I’m a patient, too. I’ve had hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical bills and time, loss, work, all of it. So I know. And that’s why we keep our prices the way we do and we do so much free stuff because when you’re sick, you’re also getting sicker when you get the medical bills. It’s ridiculous. So anyway, I’m done.
Jeff Sarris: So thank you so much for that question. And for everyone else out there who has a question, the number again is 773-789-8763. We’d love to have your voice on a future episode. And, again, you can find all the resources, the course, the meal plan, everything Jill’s mentioned, at kidneystonediet.com. You can also, from there, get the free email newsletter. You can connect to the Facebook group, which is a thriving community of people who are going through exactly what you’re going through.
It’s just a supportive group of people, but also there’s the group calls, the accountability calls that you have when you sign up for the Kidney Stone Diet Prevention course. So much is out there, but also hundreds of episodes of this show. So we just want to help you in any way that that we can and we appreciate each and every one of you who’s subscribed, you’ve liked, you’ve commented. It means the world. It helps us reach more people and I think, with that, we will wrap for this week, so we will see you next time.
Jill Harris: Jess, I’ll be thinking about you here. We’ll be thinking about you. Take care, take care. Thank you for your call.