Friday, July 24, 2009

On Being Diabetic

First of all, I would like to say what I understand diabetes to be. For the majority of people with diabetes, an organ has ceased to perform it's function. Usually, it's the pancreas. What occurs is that foods that are typically high in carbs like bread, pasta, rice, potatoes are improperly processed and become sugar in the blood. With a type II diabetic, a lifetime of eating poorly and/obesity can lead to diabetes. There is a type I diabetic which is also known as juvenile diabetes, prevalent in children. Diabetes is also thought to be hereditary. Actually, I knew that white bread turned to sugar in the stomach long before I knew much about diabetes.

I have diabetes, was diagnosed probably the year or so before I turned 40. My mom found out she was diabetic the year before I did. My grandma, my mother's mother, was diabetic and I believe her mother was also. I also ate the stuff that was cheap and would fill my stomach for most of my life, leaving meat or vegetables for others. I have had many jobs, not all of them, that were sedentary. I was hired for my brains (?) more often than my body's ability to perform. Thus, I sit. A lot.

Since childhood, I have had a food aversion to eggs. My mom says this didn't happen till after I realized where eggs come from. Honestly, to me they smell like rot, which is more intense than the thought that they come from chicken butts.

After I had my daughter, I discovered I had a hiatal hernia. This is a hernia at the opening from the espophagus into the stomach. This problem makes it difficult to enjoy dairy projects. No more milk, cheese, ice cream and problems with dishes that included these items, like pizza or breakfast cereal. I do dream about drinking milk occasionally, but, to drink a glass of milk, while it won't trigger an allergic, life-threatening reaction, makes me feel as if I am choking AND about to vomit.

So, with the foods I need to avoid because of diabetes, I can eat vegetables and meat.

However, diabetes affects more than just what you can eat. All that sugar in the blood causes issues with circulation and makes other organs shut down. It affects eyesight. I can tell that my blood sugar is elevated because it makes my vision blurry. If it's elevated for a while, the vision problems can cause headaches. Not as severe as a migrane, thankfully, but fatiguing, and the patience goes much faster than I find acceptable.

Diabetes affects everything I have to do. I have to be extremely careful when trimming my toenails, because sores tend to take longer to heal. As the diabetes gets worse, they won't heal, until gangrene develops and the toe has to be removed. Or the foot. I actually am in fear of any sores on my feet or lower part of my legs ~ shaving my legs has become delicate sugery. Actually, I'm in fear of any sores I can't see.

I have two dogs, now. But I forget that I'm allergic to them. When they touch me on my legs, the inside of my arms, or my neck if I'm cuddling them, I will develop hives. I have as much hydro-cortisone as I do body lotion, and that I have to be religious about using.

I sleep with my feet off the end of my bed now, because I can't stand stuff touching my feet. I have to wear very loose, old worn-out or hand knitted socks to bed; how sexy! I have taken to wearing men's shoes as they are made looser in the toes, causing fewer issues with crimped up socks or toes. I love having pedicures but have become particular about who touches them. Many of those people who give pedicure have a very gentle touch which drives me crazy. I fear that I will kick one of those caring people someday. My fingernails are so paper then, that they are razor sharp, and developing an itch can create sores, too, even in my sleep, that don't heal and leave scars that never fade.

Eating out has become a pain in the behind. Tonight, we went out to dinner. It wasn't bad enough that I had to create my own meal from the menu, but the food when I got it was so badly cooked, I couldn't eat anything but the overcooked chicken.

The thing that has saved me is walking. Walking, or any excercise I suppose, lowers the blood sugar. This is especially true in my case. My dear husband has had a back injury and really didn't want me to leave the house without him. When my blood gluclose monitor started registering closer and closer to 300 points, he finally relented into letting me walk with a neighbor. That was in early May. It's now below 200, but that's not where I want it. I used to be able to maintain 97, so, I have a long way to go to get back there.

My concern when I hear people are diabetic is when I hear they don't have health insurance. I was that way for many years also. I have health insurance now, but, unfortunately, it does not cover diabetic testing supplies. I feel relief in that if anything catastrophic happens, I have some insurance. I don't have a doctor, and haven't seen one for years, except for my chiropractor. He helps me too, I believe.

I was given a meter about a year and a half ago and it came with two vials of strips. If I was seeing a doctor, he would want me to check my blood sugar three times a day. That amount of test strips for my meter would run about $100 a month. I can't afford that, without the help of insurance. I made those two vials of strips last more than eighteen months. I didn't want to give up that meter because I see that it is considered the most accurate meter on the market, but when the strips were gone, I had to switch to another meter. I started using it this week. I hate it. The strips come individually wrapped. By the time I got the strip out of it's precious packaging, I was so frustrated I was sure that my blood sugar was probably airborne. In fact compared with the next days result, the difference was about thirty points.

A couple of nights ago, we were walking in the park with the dogs. There was one particularly beautiful scene where the evening sun was coming through the trees, so beautifully highlighting the branches that are covered in moss, the dust in the air. I thought, this is the scene I want to remember this when I've lost my toes and feet and lower legs and knees, and I started to cry as I told this to my husband. It was so beautiful and I don't want to forget what I have to lose. I love that I have the dogs to walk, it's good for them and it's good for me to keep moving.

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