In this episode of the Kidney Stone Diet Podcast we learn about Jill Harris, how she became the Kidney Stone Prevention Expert, and how she helps people …
So welcome to the Kidney Stone
Diet, a show about reducing your
kidney stone risk and living
your best life. I'm your host
and fellow student, Jeff Sarris,
and I am here with the Kidney
Stone Prevention Expert, Jill
Harris.
So, Jill, how are you doing
today?
Jeff, I'm so happy to be here. I
can barely sit in my chair. Hi.
It's good to see you. So let's
just dive right in. Who is Jill
and how did you become the
Kidney Stone Prevention Expert?
Right. Why should you trust this
middle age broad sitting here
with her curly fuzzy hair? Well,
I will tell you. I started this
journey right about 1998/1999,
about 21 years ago, and I was
working at University of
Chicago.
I honestly came out of nursing
school thinking that I would be
patting heads and holding hands
and telling people it's going to
be okay and being right by their
bedside. And that wasn't the
case.
It's very stressful working in a
hospital and to all my brothers
and sisters that are nurses in a
hospital setting. Boy, you're
pretty amazing.
So after two years of doing
that, I got recruited to work at
a laboratory called Litholink,
and they did 24 hour urine
collections. It was founded by
Dr. Fred Coe, who became my
mentor.
I worked there for many years
and while I was working there
doctors started sending patients
to me through the phone.
Patients would get their urine
collections done, and then they
would go back to their doctors
and say, "here's my results,
Doc, what do I do?" and the
doctor would give them a
treatment plan. And then the
patient would say, "Well, what
is that? What is in a low
oxalate diet or how do I lower
my sodium?" So the doctor would
say, "you know, there's a nurse
at Litholink, why don't you call
her?"
So it started like that a couple
decades ago. And Dr. Coe, like I
said, was my mentor and I ran
the customer service team. But
that also became a pretty big
job of mine, taking care of all
the patients there, through the
phone.
So I'd get a call from a New
York patient and I'd be on the
phone with somebody from
California and managing all
these different personalities
just by a phone call. But I
loved it. And one of the reasons
I loved it so much, well,
there's a couple, you know,
kidney stone patients tend not
to get the help they need. So
that is extremely important to
me to make sure they get the
help they need and to put it in
bite sized pieces so people can
understand exactly what they're
supposed to do to prevent kidney
stones.
And the other thing is, I've
been passionate about nutrition
my entire life. Nothing makes me
happier. One of the best things
about the Kidney Stone Diet is
it's all encompassing, so that
really engaged me too.
After I left Litholink, I was
there for about 12 years,
Labcorp bought it out. Dr. Coe
sold it. And so there was nobody
to take care of these patients
and people from Litholink, the
people that still worked there,
would say, "you know, my doctor
said to call the nurse over
here." And then they would say,
"well, that nurse left but she's
working from home and doing this
at home. So you can call her in
her office at home."
So then it just started going
like that. And, you know,
doctors from Duke, doctors from
NYU, doctors from University of
California, San Francisco, Mayo
Clinic, people from all over
just got word and doctors would
send their patients to me. You
know, doctors don't have time to
talk to patients about
nutrition, nor do they have the
education to do that. So here
you go.
That's how this was born. And
I've been doing it for a really
long time. And I talk to
patients today, just as I did 21
years ago with the same passion,
the same compassion, the same
empathy. I love it. I love what
I do.
Yeah, how do you how do you keep
that excitement then over all
these years over all these
calls, all these patients?
Yeah, you know, I've dealt with
thousands and thousands and
thousands of people and there
are some days I'm like, whew,
there's a lot of patients I'm
doing today. But you know, every
time I get on the phone, here's
what I hear: I hear a heart that
is scared. Anxious. They've had
numerous stones. They've now
lost their kidney. They have one
kidney left. They have chronic
Kidney Disease, or they have
diabetes, and they're managing
stones. They have bowel disease,
and they're managing stones.
They got a gastric bypass, now
they're making stones. So I get
to hear people's stories every
single day. And it's those
stories that make me continue to
be so passionate about what I
do.
So I'm listening to people say,
"I'm scared, I'm afraid I'm
really sick now." And I want to
do everything I can to prevent
these things. And also, "I'm not
getting the help, I need to do
it." So that's exactly why I
became a nurse. So I get to do
exactly what I want to do.
And I love talking about diets.
And not only that, but okay, you
could tell somebody low salt,
but what the hell does that
mean? How do you do that? What
happens if someone's a pilot and
they are in and out of airports
all day long and a doctor's
saying you're going to have to
cook your meals at home? How do
you really help people make
lifestyle changes for the long
haul? Not for six months and
then they're back in the same
position again, but for the long
haul. And specific to them.
So I guess one of the reasons
why I stay so passionate is I'm
talking to different people all
day long. Nobody has the same
medical conditions. They all
have different stories. It's my
job to put their treatment plan
that has been based upon what
their doctor has told them into
place, specific for them, their
medical conditions, their
allergies, and their lifestyle.
That's not easy to do. But I
love it.
It's like I'm dealing with a
bunch of little puzzles to each
certain person and I it makes me
very happy. I'm a nerd. What can
I tell you?
Yeah, and I mean, you're a
problem solver. At your core,
you're solving all of these
these really dramatic problems
and issues that people are
dealing with, but you're able to
do it on a one-on-one basis and
even a one-to-many basis through
through the Kidney Stone Diet,
your website.
Just to rewind just a little
bit. Tell me a little more about
your work with Dr. Coe and
exactly who Dr. Coe. He's a
University of Chicago and a
nephrologist, correct?
Dr. Coe is a world famous
nephrologist from University of
Chicago. He has been there for
decades and decades and decades.
And if you search his name, if
you Googled him, you would find,
he's done all the papers.
He's a scientist, and he's like
the granddaddy. You know, I
don't know if he likes the I say
that, but he's the granddaddy of
Kidney Stone Prevention.
He has spent his entire career
doing science based medicine,
telling the world, look these
things can be prevented. Up to
80% of kidney stones can
actually be prevented with the
right lifestyle changes and also
sometimes medication. So meds
are here. Meds can also be used.
But, typically, the meds don't
even work that well, unless
there's lifestyle changes. So
you never get rid of the
lifestyle change part.
I mean, look, I wouldn't have
the career I have if it weren't
for Dr. Coe, and that's C-O-E in
case you do want to Google him,
Fred Coe. He really took me
under his wing. And even though
I talk in a very downhome kind
of way, everything I talk about
is drenched in science on his
website, which can be found at
kidneystones.uchicago.edu. You
can also find me on that website
too.
So we're a very interesting pair
because he, again, is very
scientific and I am who I am. So
what we do so great together is
he has taught me all the science
behind the diets, but you know,
I'm really good at bringing home
these meaty, lofty subjects to
doable lifestyle changes for
patients.
So you can talk to a patient
like, you know, the New England
Journal of Medicine, science
based research, but they're
never going to understand what
the heck you're talking about.
And in order to get real change
from people, it has to be
attainable for them and the
education has to be brought to
them in a way that each and
every person can understand.
So Dr. Coe is the brain behind
all things Kidney Stone
Prevention, so if you go on his
website, be prepared. He truly
is a genius. And he's amazing.
So everything he talks about is
all science. And, you know, like
I said, he's taught me
everything I know. And I'd not
be half the person I am in the
kidney stone industry without
him, I can assure you that's
true.
Yeah, and I love how you then
condense all of that very dense
information down to be
consumable. I mean that in
itself is a huge offering that
you have. But on top of that,
too, then you have coined the
term Kidney Stone Diet, you've
created this entire program and
course around improving
someone's health and reducing
their risk for kidney stones.
Let's talk a little bit about
what's in the course and what
people could expect.
Well, the Kidney Stone
Prevention Course, actually was
something Dr. Coe said to me,
"you must do." So what the
Kidney Stone Prevention Courses
is, it's a series of videos and
they're each broken down into
the Kidney Stone Diet with a
couple extras.
The first video you would get,
it's a little over four hours
worth of videos of me teaching
you what exactly the Kidney
Stone Diet is, and how to
implement it. It also talks
about testing. So many patients
never get testing ordered to
figure out why they're forming
stones.
And so these videos you get
lifetime access to. They're also
fun too, I'm not going to make
it if you know, you know me for
five minutes, they're not going
to be dry and sciency, they're
going to be very doable goals
for you to attain.
So you get that, you'll always
have lifetime access to those
videos. Many of my patients say
they go over them over and over.
They fall off the wagon with
their lifestyle changes, and
they're like, oh, let me get
back to that video and see what
she said. I forgot. So they use
them over and over.
But I think the best part of the
Kidney Stone Prevention Course,
is that you get to work with me
for an entire month, Monday
through Friday. I have office
hours each day, and two of those
days during the week are
nighttime calls. And they're
very busy. They're great. It's a
group call where everybody gets
on and everybody gets to ask me
the questions based upon, you
know, low salt, what does that
mean for you and what other
medical conditions you have.
And so you'll get very specific
help in figuring out how to make
the lifestyle changes. It's not
only just to learn how to do it
specifically for you, we have a
great time. You learn a lot from
other patients, you get to see
that you're not alone. And it's
a way in which to keep
accountable.
How many times have patients or
people, all of us are people
too, how many times have has
one, started a diet, did a great
job, lost their 25 pounds and
then gained 30 back some months
later? So it's a great way to
stay accountable.
A lot of people keep enrolled in
it, and it's only $19 a month to
do that. It's really cheap for
the five days a week. And you
get to, you know, come in even
if you don't say anything. A lot
of people just use it to hear
me, you know, keep them
accountable. And I love
motivating people.
I'm a coach, I'm a health coach
too. So I really, really enjoy
motivating people. So even
though the videos are great, I
mean that's where you're gonna
learn everything. The daily
office hours that you come in
and out of maybe you only come
once a week or whatever, maybe
you only come once a month. A
lot of people come every day,
because they like to get a kick
in the tush from me, keep
motivated, and talk about what
they're going through.
Because, listen, if lifestyle
changes were easy, nobody would
be overweight, and our country
is getting larger and larger.
And with those obesity rates
increasing, we get more
diabetes, cardiovascular
disease, you name it. So t's not
Yeah, I think accountability is
highly underrated because it's
just Kidney Stone Prevention.
Here you're going to learn how
to lose weight. You're going to
learn how to keep it off. You're
going to learn how to eat
healthy for you based upon what
you have going on – and not
Tammy, not Clyde, you. That's
why it's so great. And nobody
does this. So, you know, I love
it.
so hard to have that intrinsic
motivation just on our own
without someone there in our
corner supporting us and really
helping us along the journey.
It is very difficult to do by
yourself, look, again, if one
could do it by themself we
wouldn't have the obesity
problems we have. We just
wouldn't.
So, and we've got to be honest,
and one of my jobs too, is
always to push back a little. I
hear you, Tammy, it's hard right
now with COVID and this and that
and this, but look, I got the
same things you do. Could be a
little bit more, a little bit
less. I'm an old lady. It's not
like I'm 20 and I'm pushing
through every day. So I also
have medical conditions that I
deal with, so I get it. I hear
you.
I know it's annoying to cook,
but look at some point in your
life and you'll hear me say this
throughout, throughout,
throughout. You've got two
choices: unhealthy or healthy?
Do you want to live your best
life? The only way you can enjoy
your life is if you feel good
emotionally and physically. Lots
of times when we don't feel good
physically, it's a catch-22.
Maybe our mind isn't doing well,
so we eat poorly. Maybe we're
eating poorly, and then that
causes our mind and emotional
state to dip. I mean, this all
goes hand in hand.
Without your health, we all know
this, but honestly people,
without your health, what do you
have? And I've been sick in my
life. So I understand. And you
know, it's scary when you're
Yeah, and not to dive too deep.
But do you want to share a
sick.
And every stone former that
comes to me, they're scared.
They're afraid. They're anxious.
So not only were they sick, but
now they don't know how to make
sure they don't get sick again.
So it's very important to take
these these lifestyle changes
seriously, no matter what you're
combating. What you're combatin
at the moment.
little bit about your health and
what you've dealt with?
Absolutely. I love sharing my
story, number one, because
people are like, "Oh, she's
pretty fit for an old broad,
look at how lucky she is. She's
probably never known what it is
to be sick."
Well, I have stage four rectal
cancer, not a pretty one, I
know. In 2015 I was diagnosed
with rectal cancer and I had
chemo and radiation and I've had
half of my colon removed.
I had an ileostomy for a time,
which is definitely a precursor
for stones. Went through all
that, more chemo couple months
after that, so itwas like the
end of 2015 it came back to my
liver, three spots. And so at
the end of 2015, I had a liver
resection, was shipped off to
Sloan Kettering. I'm in Chicago.
Had my care here. But, you know,
when you get stage four cancer,
you get other doctors involved,
so I was shipped off to Sloan
Kettering.
I had a liver resection there. I
have a pump inside my body that
they put chemo through. It was
cutting edge cutting edge stuff
they were doing. And so I have
an oncologist here in Chicago
and an oncologist in Sloan
Kettering. And so I've had my
bouts with stuff, I will tell
you, and so I've been in
remission for the last, nearly
four years, which is pretty
remarkable. And I understand
what it's like to be sick.
And so when I became sick, and
I'm sitting around being sick
there's so much I learned. So
I'm the kind of person to that,
you know, I can sit here and go
"boy, this sucks being sick,"
and it did. Or I can say, "Okay,
what can I do? What can I do
right now? I can't work out. How
can I continue to make a
difference?" Because really
honestly, that's why I'm here.
I know this sounds hokey,
believe me, I know what I sound
like. I know it sounds like,
"whatever, girl." But the reason
I'm here is to make people feel
better. Whether it's to motivate
somebody or to make them feel a
little bit special. It's really
my one trick pony.
I don't got a lot. I'm pretty
good mother, great friend, I
think good family member. But
other than that, I'm just people
stuff. Other than that math and
everything else. Jeff, you know,
me – technology, I don't know.
But this stuff I'm good at.
So when I was sitting at home,
I'm like, you know, let me go on
Facebook and see who's doing
what with kidney stones. I saw a
couple Facebook pages. I thought
they were kind of negative. So
I'm like, you know what, I could
sit here in my bed being sick,
or I could open up a Facebook
page. And I did and it's called
Kidney Stone Prevention Diet.
And so I opened up that page,
and things just started coming
alive and there were a lot of
people that were starting to
find help. And so I give away
all kinds of free stuff on
Facebook, because sometimes
people can't afford my services,
even though they're super cheap.
But I wanted also to have a
platform where everybody could
get help.
And so I'll go on there and do
Facebook Lives, I love doing it.
And it's a great support
platform for people.
The other thing about being sick
that I learned is I always have
had a lot of compassion for what
I do. But boy, when you're sick,
and you go in a doctor's office,
and, here's the thing: people
are like, "well you got cancer?
So what, at least you're a
nurse, you know what to do."
Yeah, I've done kidney stones.
It's not like you ask the
plumber to fix the lights. We do
what we do.
So I don't know anything about
cancer. So now not only do I
have stage four cancer and all
these surgeries and all this
terrible stuff, but I'm in
doctor's office, flying back and
forth to New York and dealing
with all this to get my care
while I'm on chemo. And I go
into a doctor's office, and
they're so busy and so in and
out, you're so scared. You don't
even know what you don't know.
So you don't know the questions
to ask until you've already left
the office.
So I wanted to build a platform
where patients could get
educated, whether on Facebook,
or at the Kidney Stone
Prevention Course, or at my
website kidneystonediet.com.
Where they could get educated,
so when they do have a doctor's
appointment, they know what to
expect. They know how to
navigate that doctor's
appointment, they know what
tests to ask for, because we
need to get the help we need and
our healthcare system is not set
up. We don't have 15, 20, 30
minutes, 40 minutes, an hour
with the doctor. So we've got to
really be prepared.
So me being sick, opened my eyes
even more to what the heck was
going on. So I get to put all
that into my into my practice
too, so it even makes me even
happier. I couldn't be any
happier. So I don't know if I
answered your question, but
there you go.
Absolutely. You wonderfully
illustrated, I mean, this is who
you are. This is your life.
You're so giving. You're giving
your life to so many people to
really help them overcome what
they're dealing with. And just
along those lines of having the
Facebook group and things for
people who maybe are not going
to buy the course, but need
help.
That's the same reason we're
doing this podcast, the same
reason we're going to release it
on YouTube. Really, this is
going to break down everything
about kidney stones, everything
about prevention and lifestyle.
And over the course of many
episodes, we're gonna dive into
the nitty gritty, all the
details of what it looks like to
do this for those of you who
maybe aren't going to be able to
dive into the course right away
So you could tell by my cheeks,
I get excited, I really do I get
hot under the collar. Did I
mentioned I'm also going to be
57? So you're gonna see a lot of
red cheeks throughout. But
that's okay because my
demographic typically is right
around my age so that they
understand.
Oh, yeah, so I think this was a
great intro episodes, getting to
know who you are and, and what's
to come from this podcast. And
if anyone wants to dive deeper,
they can go to
kidneystonediet.com, learn more
about Jill, more about the
Kidney Stone Diet and check out
the course.
So this has been great. I think
we will end right here and next
week, I'm thinking we're gonna
dive into, what's on the slate?
We're gonna dive into the causes
of kidney stones next time, so
be sure to subscribe to this
podcast if you enjoyed it. It's
on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or
wherever you're listening right
now. And also you can check it
out on YouTube at Kidney Stone
Diet.
So again, thanks, Jill. And we
will talk again next time.
I'm super excited, Jeff. Thank
you so much. I hope you have a
great day.
Oh yeah, you too.
I will, bye.

Leave A Comment

Your email address will not be published
*