Jenny Schatzle

Carrie Janell Hamner

How This Former Rockette Used Yoga & Ayurveda to Have a Healthy Baby – Even With a Degenerative Disease. Plus: Raising Awareness About PKD (Polycystic Kidney Disease)

EPISODE: 22   |    DATE: December 24, 2020

“We have to take our own health in our own hands. We have to speak with our doctors and get them to teach us how we can take care of ourselves on a daily basis. That’s also what ayurveda is all about.”

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Key Takeaways

  • PKD stands for Polycystic Kidney disease
  • PKD is a genetic degenerative kidney disease. There is no treatment and no cure.
  • The disease doesn’t skip a generation, so every child of a parent with PKD has a 50% chance of developing the disease.
  • About 10% of cases are genetic mutations, which is what Carrie falls into. This means that neither of her parents had the disease and on one else in the family did before her.
  • A healthy kidney is about the size of a fist. 
  • With PKD there is a genetic weakness in the walls. The kidney is made of tubules and they filter the fluid in our body. The kidneys and liver are major cleansing systems. Once pressure builds in the tubules it pops out a cyst and fills with fluid (usually made of urine and sometimes blood). Once that happens, it doesn’t function anymore to filter. 
  • So as PKD progresses, the kidneys get more and more cystic and they enlarge. Kidneys could end up weighing 30 pounds and be the size of footballs. 
  • Most of the complications with PKD arise from the sheer size of the kidneys pushing against everything else. 
  • In the USA, once a patient gets to 20% kidney function, you get on a transplantation list for matching living donors or deceased donors. If function becomes too low before the transplant, you require dialysis. 
  • One of the symptoms of PKD can be high blood pressure, which Carrie had in her early 20’s.
  • The leading cause of death in PKD patients is heart disease, stroke or brain aneurysm.
  • When you approach low kidney function like Carrie is right now, you deal with chronic fatigue, much like how all new moms feel. She also get headaches quite a bit. 
  • And dehydration is also common in PKD patients so drinking plenty of water is very important to help manage the disease.
  • When you approach low kidney function, your body can’t absorb iron or get rid of extra potassium. So anemia is an issue, and Carrie has had to make changes to her diet to accommodate this.
  • Another reality of approaching low kidney function is pain because of the sheer size of the kidneys. Most days, Carrie feels like she’s 5-6 months pregnant, so moving and sleeping is difficult. 
  • The best diet for someone with PKD is a vegetarian one because the kidneys cannot filter out protein very well. But you also need to have low potassium and phosphorus. A vegetarian diet can help to prolong the effectiveness of your native kidneys.
  • Another symptom of PKD is anxiety and depression, and that was magnified when Carrie had her son. This is because the kidneys struggle to maintain hormonal balance, so on top of being postpartum, navigating that part was tricky for Carrie.  
  • Aside from having an amazing nephologist, Dr. Anjay Ristogi, Carrie has found a lot of value in joining support groups like Living With PKD on Facebook.
  • The doctors explained that with each child Carrie would have, she would lose about 30% kidney function. Since getting pregnant with and having her son, Carrie has lost 50% kidney function.
  • She has been able to manage the disease very well, though, and she believes it is her Ayurvedic lifestyle and her yoga practice that has allowed for this to be.  
  • Carrie has to supplement with iron, sodium bicarbonate (helps with alkalinity), vitamin D, and liposomal vitamin C to boost immunity.
  • A lot of the symptoms of PKD are called silent killers. 
  • For example, 9 in 10 adults don’t even know they have high blood pressure in the USA. And that’s associated with chronic kidney disease. 
  • As such, it’s important to maintain awareness of your health. Even if you’ve never been diagnosed with anything and you’re not going to the doctor, Carrie urges people to  go anyway. There might be some underlying conditions that are going to create issues for you in the long run if they continue. 
  • Carrie believes that getting good sleep, and getting to bed before 10pm has made a huge difference in her ability to manage her disease. She was even able to improve her kidney function by 3 points after a few months of getting to bed earlier. 
  • For more information on PKD, check out 

About Carrie

Yoga Teacher & Therapist / Ayurveda Wellness Counselor/ Matteo’s Mama

Originally from San Antonio, TX, I enjoyed my first career in NYC as a Radio City Rockette and actor, singer, dancer before moving to Los Angeles in 2009 to study Ayurveda and Yoga Therapy. At 21, I was diagnosed with the genetic kidney disease, PKD, and the tools and traditions I’ve learned from Yoga and Ayurveda have afforded me an active lifestyle, motherhood, and empowered health. I am passionate about sharing these tools and making radiant health accessible to all. I’ve been practicing movement through dance and Yoga for 29 years, and I’ve been teaching Yoga for 13 years (since 2007). I began practicing Ayurveda in 2011, and have been educating and working in private practice for 8 years while leading 200 and 300 hour Teacher Training in Yoga and Ayurveda. I received my first 200 hour Yoga Teaching certificate from Sonic Yoga NYC, followed by a 200 and 300 hour Yoga and Ayurveda Wellness Counselor Certification with Dancing Shiva Yoga & Ayurveda. I also completed a 300 hour Yoga Teacher Training at Black Dog Yoga in Los Angeles. I believe in cooperation over competition, and that loving kindness and awareness can guide us in creating a new model within the wellness industry that serves the whole while honoring the uniqueness of the individuals that make up our community.



Instagram (personal):

Instagram (All Kind):

Resources in this episode

Living with PKD Facebook support group 

Tatiana Rubio’s Episode 19

Carrie’s New Yoga Co-op, All Kind: 

Carrie’s nephrologist at UCLA, Dr. Anjay Rastogi 

Kidney Disease Awareness You Tube videos from Dr. Rastogi

UCLA Kidney Fair 

PKD Foundation 

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