DEAR ABBY: In March of last year, I saw your column about the upcoming World Kidney Day when the National Kidney Foundation would offer free screenings around the country through their Kidney Early Evaluation Program (KEEP). You encouraged your readers to find the location of their local KEEP screenings, so I did -- figuring I had nothing to lose.

Well, my lab tests from the KEEP screening showed that my kidneys had not been properly filtering toxins from my body. Armed with those test results I made an appointment with my doctor. She had never checked my kidney function before. Once she saw the results of my kidney function tests were low, she suggested major diet and exercise changes and took me off two medications she suspected were too much for my kidneys to handle.

Today, I feel great. My blood pressure is normal, my weight is 30 pounds lighter and my kidney function is continually improving. What a blessing that I read your column that day, Abby, and went to the KEEP screening before it was too late. If I hadn't, I could be on dialysis, waiting for a kidney transplant or, worse, not here at all. -- CAROL ANN JOHNSON, INDEPENDENCE, MO.

DEAR CAROL ANN: I am pleased that an item you saw in my column was so helpful. I hope your experience encourages other readers to look for the KEEP screenings in their local areas this year.

Readers, this year World Kidney Day is being held on Thursday, March 11. On that day the National Kidney Foundation will once again hold screenings all over the U.S. for those at risk. This includes anyone who has high blood pressure, diabetes or a family history of those conditions or kidney disease.

Those of you who would like more information regarding kidney disease and free screenings should log onto www.kidney.org.

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DEAR ABBY: I don't think I have a recessive personality, yet I constantly find myself in conversations with people who appear to have no interest in what I have to say. Regardless of the subject, I am never able to finish what I want to say before the other person interrupts with his/her own "more important" story.

An example: I said, "My mother-in-law came to visit last night ..." Before I could get the next word out, someone started talking about an incident she suffered through with her M-I-L. She continued on for more than five minutes.

Another time, during an hour-long lunch with a girlfriend, she spent 45 minutes (I timed her) talking about herself. And then there's my co-worker who spent seven minutes of a conference we had for a project we shared discussing the project, and the rest talking about herself.

Am I expecting too much to be heard, respected, empathized with and supported by people I consider close friends and associates? What can I do to remedy this? -- LET ME FINI ...

DEAR LET ME: Your problem is that you are not assertive enough. A way to remedy the situation would be to interrupt the interrupter by saying immediately, "Excuse me -- I am still talking," and finish your story. And as to a colleague blathering on about herself during the discussion that was supposed to be about your project -- you should have said, "Oh, I'd love to chat. But right now I have too much work to do. Bye!"

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