Today I want to talk about my belly; my slightly-larger-than-it-should-be belly. And, in a way, I want to talk about my crazy brain and its way of justifying things that may (or may not) be right or wrong.
First, for those who don’t know, I have a genetic condition called polycystic kidney disease (PKD), which basically means that I have lots and lots of fluid-filled cysts all over my kidneys which will continue to grow and “take over” my kidneys over the course of my lifetime. There is no cure and, eventually, my kidneys will fail. (Find out more from the PKD Foundation!)
As life with PKD goes on and those kidneys grow (mine are called Bob and Dave) they start to take up more and more space in your belly. In fact, the average ‘healthy’ kidney is the size of a fist and about a third of a pound, whilst a PKD kidney can reach the size of a football (and can weigh 20-30 pounds!). And what happens when the storage space hits capacity? Well, things start to spill over. Or, in the case of abdominal storage, things just start to stretch and expand!
Well, that’s all fine and dandy, but we also know that big bellies can be from mismanagement of the “calories in; calories out“* rule (i.e.: if you eat more than you burn, you’ll get fat!) or it can be bloating or “other things” or even a bit of human making going on.
Now, since my husband died nearly four years ago, I’m certain it’s not human making** and I don’t believe it’s bloating or other things.
This leaves me with two potential causes for my big ol’ belly: 1) I’ve reversed my normal “calories in; calories out” regimen or 2) it’s PKD belly taking hold.
And this is where the crazy comes in: You see, I know I’m not fat. I’m nowhere near fat. But when I look at my belly, I can see that it’s no longer flat and trim. It’s a bit, well, bigger than it should be. OK, fair enough.
I’ve not been running and training as hard as I should; I’ve actually had a pretty lazy and calorie-in-laden few months. So it would make sense that my belly would be larger. But we’re talking about a big, bloated-looking belly.
So what do I do? Do I tell myself it’s because I have a genetic disease and let it go, or do I tell myself it’s an issue of weight loss and exercise and start adding in extra sit-ups?
And if it’s one but I think it’s the other, am I making things worse?
And—more importantly—if it actually is PKD, will others believe me or will they just think I’m one of those people who blames their weight on ‘big bones’ whilst eating their third chocolate bar of the day?
Anyhow, I’m not trying to make up excuses for why my belly is no longer trim and slim. I’m just wondering out loud about the “real” cause.
Though if I’m honest, I suppose it’s a combination of my advancing age, my lack of commitment to my running routine, and PKD. And I can only take control over one of those things, so I guess I should start setting my alarm clock for pre-work training runs before bikini season sets in!
(And if there are other PKD sufferers out there who want to “weigh in” on the topic, please do!)
* I know there is more to weight and health levels than ‘calories in; calories out’. But to a certain extent, it’s a rational theory and I use it as part of my lifestyle choices.
** I am well-aware that one doesn’t need a husband to make another human being; I’m not that naïve. It’s just that I’ve not re-entered the world of dating—let alone the world of the birds and the bees—since Paul died.
(That’s a picture of my left kidney, Bob, from 2012. She is about 15 centimetres, which is about twice the average size, and her largest cyst, marked with the yellow crosses, measures 4.5 x 6 centimetres.)