Easy Flow Chart for High BG Management

This is PERFECT!! Show this to those people, in- and outside the medical field, who think managing diabetes is just a matter of following a particular method…
In case you need to print it out and show it to someone who might not understand just how incredibly easy it is to manage diabetes on a daily basis. (I can’t even type it without laughing.) I…

Source: Easy Flow Chart for High BG Management

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soon and very soon…

I’ll be launching my new website!! Sorry if you thought I had busted out with a gospel hymn…

I’m just EXCITED!!

yay

And scared!

As you might recall, I want to make this new place “work”, “earn its keep”… at least generate a little income.

It better because it’s gonna cost a bit to get this started right. 🙂

So what will the new place consist of? Pretty much the same thing it does now, only Lord willing, more cohesive and more of it!

I’ll be posting about my experiences in homeschooling,

homeschool-house

my various and sundry medical issues (type 1 diabetes, thyroid disease, migraines, old age (LOL!))

health-wellness

I’ll also post about my faith

faith

and I HOPE there will be lots of people who will come alongside and discuss things! I miss that the most, I think.

comment

The blog I had years ago that was so active had several regular readers and they were not only readers, but COMMENTERS!! We had lots of great discussions about all kinds of topics, so that’s what I’m looking forward to most.

I hope that I might be able to do some reviews and possibly some freelance writing too. That pesky book I’ve been thinking about for years and finally sorta-kinda started…

writing the first chapter

….well, maybe I’ll be able to flesh it out to the end here, who knows?!

Anyhow… stay tuned and if you think of it, pray with me that this will be a success! THANKS!

*mwah!*

Blessings,
G~

dirty low down

Okie dokie, folks. For the one or two of you that read here… if you read my last post about all the allergy and sinus meds I was put on last week, this is a weird and wacky update to that.

The very next day after starting all those meds, I began to have repeated severe hypoglycemic episodes.  (that just means “really low blood sugar“)
fading face
Since I’ve had type 1 diabetes for over 40 years now, I tend to not always know when my sugar goes low.  My body simply doesn’t show signs or symptoms of a hypo, which is bad.  It’s REALLY bad.
23316310372_7dff9163ef
Usually, the body gives you some clear and strong signals that the blood sugar is getting too low.  The above chart shows some of those. Over time, however, your body starts going,

“Meh, low-shmow…I don’t have time to process that crap!”
Sincerely,
Your Body

and doesn’t tell you that your sugar is or has dropped.  That means you’re left walking around, feeling normal (or as close to it as you get) with no idea that you’re in danger of passing out or dying because your sugar is way too low.

That’s what started happening to me last week.  I mean, I’ve been quite hypoglycemia-unaware for many years now, but last week, the lows just kept coming in quick succession!  (you can click the link in this paragraph to learn more about hypoglycemia unawareness)

I haven’t had any lows like this, (under 30) in quite awhile, so it was shocking when I saw that first one in this Episode Of Lows that was 27!  Keep in mind that the brain needs sugar/glucose to function (thus the confusion often experienced during a hypo) and since a normal level is between 70-100 (possibly up to 150 after a meal), getting that low means your brain is not functioning properly.   We all know the brain runs all our automatic systems such as the lungs, heart, and circulation therefore, if the brain stops working, we are not far from death.  Zero (0) blood sugar doesn’t necessarily mean instant death, but you would be close enough to it that your chances of getting out without at least coma are slim-to-none.
blood-sugar-range
Here’s the thing, though…I had helped my husband load a heavy-ish, awkward piece of exercise equipment to take to my mom’s, then helped him unload it and chatted briefly with Mom before returning home and beginning to show the first signs of fatigue and slight confusion.  I felt absolutely no symptoms up to that point.

That was the beginning of my almost-week-long roller coaster ride. I had many more of those severe, scary, unrecognized lows. I was testing my blood sugar about 10 times a day at this point. I called my endocrinologist to ask what to do by the time I had struggled through 3 days of this. Obviously, you don’t call the doc every time you have a low, but these were beyond my ability to pinpoint, explain or control, so we had to get some help!

I spoke with the DNE (diabetes nurse educator) who happens to be my doc’s wife, and she had me lower all of my basal rates (I have five rates set currently) .05 units each. So that would have been a total of 1.2 units per 24-hour period. Not much. But she told me that I should do it again if I was still having lows the next day. I was, so I did. That was now 2.4 units/24 hours lower. After another day of struggling, I lowered the basals another .025 each. That put me at 3 units/24 hours lower.

Like I said, by this time, I was testing what seemed like constantly. My low-lows were always 50 and below, with most of the being in the 30’s.
glucometer reading 38
I finally broke down and called again after I had such an awful low that I thought I was dying.

Hubby and I had run a couple of errands…our baby son and his wife were asked to go back to Haiti and needed so much that the church raised the funds to send them, so they had left the day after Thanksgiving. We went to pick up Baby Son’s truck so it wasn’t sitting in the church parking lot all week and to pick up a few things at Lowe’s. My sugar was 53 when we left, so I was nursing a can of Coke to raise it. I sat in the truck while Hubbs ran into the store. Mom was calling wanting us to come up and eat leftovers for supper, so I explained what we were doing and told her we’d be there when we got back.

We drove out to pick up the truck, I moved over to the driver’s side and we started home. I was feeling really tired, but that’s not at all unusual. It was dark and I hate driving in the dark, so I didn’t dilly-dally around. I drove straight up to Mom’s, which is the drive just before ours and is also where the Baby Kids live in a basement apartment. For some reason, I thought we were taking his truck up there. When I realized Hubby had driven home, I turned around and drove back down the hill to pick him up. We got to Mom’s and started filling plates to heat in the microwave.

My dad was sitting in the next room watching TV and peeling something or other for Mom while she, Hubby and I were in the kitchen.

I got my plate out of the micro and started to eat when Hubby insisted that I test again. *sigh* So I did, and lo and behold, it was 32!! GAH!

He went to garage to get a single-serve bottle of Coke for me, Mom put ice in a cup, poured it full and slid it to me. I drank a bit of it down and started eating the dumplings, broccoli casserole and dressing on my plate (fairly carb-laden foods) when I started to feel just weird.
fainted
Of course, I didn’t pause to think about it, I just kept trying to eat. Kept trying to appear “normal”, like I was okay…and I really thought I was at that point. I don’t know if I was really participating in the conversation or not at this time. I had drunk almost the whole glass of Coke when a wave of dizziness hit me and I got that panicky feeling of knowing my sugar is really bad low. I remember sort of grabbing at the glass and downing the last bit of Coke in it. I then tried to go back to eating, then I placed my fork back on the plate. (I dunno why those things seem so clear to me) I can remember the thought that I needed to stop acting so out of it flashing through my mind and for some reason, I took off my glasses and laid them on the bar in front of me. I remember Mom telling me I needed to chew. (??–Yeah, that’s something I might forget to do, but why she thought telling me was going to help, I dunno)
fading woman
That’s when things got really weird, really scary… I got extremely aware that something was seriously wrong with me, but couldn’t formulate what it was. I guess I knew it was a low, but I couldn’t complete a thought unless it raced 90 miles a minute through my brain. I recall thinking, I need help. and then realizing that Mom and Hubby were with me. I guess that was a relief to me, and then I noticed that they weren’t talking. Like, at all.
invisible-girl
I looked over at the two of them, both sitting to my left and there was no expression of acknowledgement. Just silence. I recall thinking, They can’t see me!! What’s happened? Where am I if they can’t see me? Am I already dead? Then the thought that, no, I think surely Hubby would be a bit more emotional if I was really dead on Mom’s kitchen floor. (it’s amazing what the glucose-starved mind will come up with) I heard Mom in the other room saying something about checking my blood pressure, so I thought, Maybe I’m in the hospital already?
vortex
About that time, I got this bizarre sensation of being sucked into nothing…like I was being pulled out of the room, but not to another place, just OUT. The thought that I was actually dying at that very moment was beginning to stir up a panic when my dad walked up on my right site and plopped his blood pressure monitor on the bar and said, “Are you gonna let me do this?” I think then I realized that I wasn’t gone, dead, or invisible and so I stuck my arm out. After that, I slowly returned to normal, Hubby and Mom started talking to me, I ate a little more of my food and BOOM! I was ‘back’.

But the feeling that I had been dying hasn’t left me yet.

Contrary to what people say, my life didn’t flash, I didn’t instantly think of my children or loved ones. That makes me feel like a turd because, c’mon, I didn’t think about who I was leaving behind? Maybe that’s because, thank my gracious God, I wasn’t actually dying? I hope that’s it. My brain was obviously WAY busy trying to figure out what the heck was wrong with me and how to fix it.

Anyway, I’m happy to report that the past couple days have been severe-low free!! After the above incident, we called my doc again that night. He happened to be on call, so we got to talk directly to him. He had me lower the basals another .125 each. That made a total of 6 units per day that I lowered my insulin use. He confirmed what we suspected, this is very rare. He said it seemed as if I had become more sensitive to the insulin, which is awesome. less insulin saves money and makes it easier to lose or maintain weight.

I’m thrilled. Puzzled as to why it happened, but thrilled that it has. I had asked my friends and family to pray because it was getting really scary. Who knows how low my sugar was on that drive up to Mom’s the evening after Thanksgiving? Even after treating a moderate low! That’s the reason why, when my boys were much younger, I would keep my blood sugars a bit high…I couldn’t stand the thought that I might go low when I was in the car with them. I mentioned to a few people the thought that God might be healing me.

That’s a frightening thing to say “out loud” (or in a text). Because, what if He isn’t? And then, I felt like a failure as a Christian for doubting. But it wasn’t that I doubted He could, because for a short period of time after a traumatic accident, He DID take away my need for insulin altogether! So I know He can, I guess it’s scary to hope He will when He might not, ya know?

Anyhow, my belief is that God is healing us all…it just may not happen here in this life. Ultimately, every child of God will be in perfect health with no pain or worry.

Ahhhh, I am eager for that!

Hebrew 7:11“Now if perfection had been attainable through the Levitical priesthood (for under it the people received the law), what further need would there have been for another priest to arise after the order of Melchizedek, rather than one named after the order of Aaron?”

EDIT::: I feel like I need to clarify a bit. Sorry to expand an already long post, but for those who want to know more, read on…

So when I say, “BOOM! I was ‘back’.” it isn’t quite like that normally. Maybe I seemed to bounce back a little quicker because I was at my parents’ house because I fret a lot about making them worry about me/the diabetes.

Case in point: the other day, right in the middle of this whole “too many severe lows” situation, Mom and I were supposed to go out for breakfast with my mother-in-law and one of Hubby’s aunts who was in town visiting. So all four of us had planned to meet that morning at a restaurant. I don’t know if she called just to remind me or if it was some other reason, but apparently, she called and all I would say to her is, “I’m alright. I’m alright. I’m alright.” over and over. Obviously, I was NOT alright because I have absolutely no recollection of even answering the phone. She ended up having to come to the house and get me out of bed and nurse me out of a low. Apparently I worry SO much about making her worry that I’ll lie even when I’m all-but unconscious! So, that COULD be why I “came back” so fast the other night.

The thing is that lows are not always the same. Obviously, I no longer always even feel them. In the early years of my diabetes, I could count on getting shaky and sweaty and nervous. Then later, those became intermittent with numbness around my lips and tongue. Then there were the “sleep lows”…when I went low in my sleep and would wake up or be awakened soaking wet from sweat. Sometimes I still do that and I don’t always wake up. But later, I’ll recall rolling over or half-waking and noticing that I’m sweaty. I’ll think to myself that the house seems really hot and usually just toss off the cover and go back to sleep. Sometimes Hubby will wake up and find me like that. Other times, I recoup from minor lows on my own.

One thing that’s become habit for my hubbs is to feel my face whenever he wakes in the night. Sometimes it’s less than gentle and irritates me but I try not to get really mad. It’s not fun to wake from a dead sleep with someone pawing your face while they aren’t fully awake either. Ha. But I know he’s just checking on me. Poor guy, I can’t count the number of times he’s gotten up in the wee hours to coax food and drink down my throat, sometimes with me fighting him. Then changing my soaked bed clothes, occasionally putting me in the tub and then even switching sides with me so I don’t have to sleep on the damp sheets til morning. He is my greatest support and caregiver.

Some people want their moms when they are sick, but I want my husband.

The other weird thing that’s stayed fairly constant is the bone-chilling freeze that I get after a super-low with mega-sweating. Once my sugar starts to normalize, I will feel as if my insides have turned to ice and I’ll be so cold that I want every source of warmth available on me. How many times has Hubby wrapped me in his arms to warm me up during The Freeze? I can’t even guess. How many times has he pulled blankets out of the closet to pile on me? Thank God, that doesn’t last long, but while it’s happening, it feels like I’ll never be warm again!

So, don’t think that lows just happen and then are over all at once. No two lows are the same and no two diabetics will have the same symptoms or react the same to treatment. That’s the insidious nature of type 1 diabetes. It tends to have a mind of its own and does whatever it darn well pleases.

My hope, in taking the time to write this stuff out, is that it might help someone understand more about diabetes and the diabetics in their life. Or perhaps it will make other T1D’s feel less alone in the daily battle that is our lives. Whatever else you deal with, however hard the days and weeks and years get, always know there’s hope. Don’t ever lose hope. ❤

mega X meds

Oh my goodness!  I came back from the recheck at my doc with a buttload of new or changed prescriptions and OTC meds.

Normally, I wouldn’t be very pleased about being prescribed a ton of meds for something, but I’m going on 3 (that’s THREE) months with this hacking, coughing, can’t-get-a-breath crud.

The allergist, as I’ve said, tells me it’s all allergies and asthma, but daggone!

Asthma

How come I can’t tell or don’t notice when something sets me off?  If it’s “seasonal” allergies, how come I have sinus problems (just milder) all year round?

Allergies word cloud

Understand, I take allergy medication year-round.  If I don’t, my sinuses become enraged snot factories wherein the snot is more like glue.  (sorry, you know I’m gonna be perfectly frank with you here!)  
green-slime1-500x357

I have a wad of said glue that will sit just behind my tonsils, being moved neither up nor down, no matter how hard or how many times I swallow.  It cannot be gargled out, nor dissolved with fizzy beverages.  Sometimes it’s hard to eat because I can’t swallow my food easily.  It’s an absolute pain in my neck, literally and figuratively!

I discovered about ten years ago that drinking milk made the glue factory worse.  And even that was gradual.  First it was just a slight increase in mucus, but eventually, it was like the milk turned to gelatin by the time it reached my tonsils.  Just YUCK, okay?  So, I stopped drinking milk completely.

no more milk

That helped a lot, but in the past couple years now, I have been noticing other dairy products doing the same thing.  So I gave up my beloved sour cream completely.  That was ROUGH!  I used sour cream ALL the time!

Processed cheeses didn’t seem to bother me and cream cheese wasn’t too hard on me.  I don’t know why, but so far, so good with those.  I don’t know WHAT I’ll do if I have to give up those too, so I’m praying it doesn’t happen!

So I’ve been taking a 24-hour anti-histamine for years. I started on plain ol’ Sudafed eons ago, but after I got married, I started using Claratin (rinatadine), then the -D formula, then when that stopped working, I used Zyrtec (cetirizine) and soon that stopped working, and now I take Allergra (fexofenadine). This week, the doc switched me from that to Xyzal (levocetirizine dihydrochloride).
xyzal
I’d never even heard of it before, so it’s new to me. I hope it will work though.

For the past year or so, I’ve been taking Singulair (montelukast) to help with the asthma.
singulair

When I saw an ear, nose & throat doctor a couple years ago, she told me to use a netti pot to help keep my ears from getting repeated infections. She said it’d keep my eustachian tubes open and the fluid from collecting in there.
netti pot in use
Okay, so if you don’t know about netti pots, you can just click & learn about these little oddities. This was one of the most ‘tasteful’ images I found. Ha ha ha! Except for the fact that she’s way too upright, this is how you do it. You dissolve fine salt in warm purified water then pour it into one nostril so that it runs out the other. Yes, it feels as awkward as it looks, but the effects are worth it.
netti pot song
Well, Doc has been insisting that I get a nasal saline mist instead. I figured it was just like those bottles you squeeze to splatter saline solution up your nose, which is really gross. This is more like an aerosol so it is a little better, but I couldn’t figure out how that was supposed to be better than the netti. She explained that with the spray, I could use it anywhere and even if I wanted to use it “20 times a day” that was okay. She said to use it any time I was around something that triggered the coughing, like cigarette smoke or heavy perfume. She said that washed out the irritants to slow the histamine release.
A&H simple saline
I hadn’t even thought about that. I will still use the netti when I’m really congested or getting cold. It does a much more ‘heavy duty’ job of rinsing stuff out of there. But she suggested I keep several cans of the saline: in the car, my purse, by the bed, in the shower… so that way I can use it as often as needed.

Something else I was prescribed by another doctor years ago is Flonase (fluticasone propionate),
flonase
but it tasted nasty when it would run down the back of my throat and I didn’t notice that it helped much. Could be because I didn’t use it consistently since it was so nasty. Then that doc showed me to spray it pointed toward my ears, and that helped, plus not using two sprays in each nostril at once. But I would still forget to use it more often than not because I didn’t understand what it was for.

My current doc explained that it was a steroid and would decrease inflammation in my nasal passages. So now, I am making a concerted effort to use that stuff.

Okay, on to the rest of the stuff she has me using…
Of all things, she wants me on Sudafed D (pseudoephedrine) for awhile. So…
sudafed

And then Mucinex (dextromethorphan guaifenesin), which I hadn’t used before.
mucinex dm
She has me taking 1200 mg right now and says I need a maintenance dose after I get better. Says it’s to “thin that snot”. Bahaha..and yes, she uses those exact words. I just love how down-to-earth and plain spoken she is.

The allergist has had me on this Qvar inhaler (beclomethasone dipropionate HFA) for asthma maintenance for about 3 weeks now.
Qvar 80
I will not complain about it because the first stuff they gave me tasted waaaay nasty and my insurance wouldn’t cover it, so now I have the Qvar, which doesn’t taste bad at all compared to the Aerospan. *blech*

The allergist also has me using my nebulizer
nebulizer
with an albuterol/atrovent (ipratropium) mix.
albuterol
I was using it twice a day while the coughing was so bad, but now I’m just doing it as needed.

I also got my first-ever B12 shot. I hope it helps up my energy as much as people say it does!

So I know this has been terribly boring, but I’m hoping if I put this out here, dated and with all the generic names and such, maybe I can remember what I’ve taken and what works in the future. If you don’t take a lot of meds, you have no idea how easy it is to forget the names of medicines and doctors and the dates you used and saw them… By this point in my life, I scarcely remember those kinds of things unless I see or use them for years at a time.

I am hoping the jittery-ness will decrease soon. Not including the nebulizer treatments, these meds make me SO jittery it’s not even funny. I need to check my blood pressure, now that it’s crossed my mind. That’s something else the doctor gave me…catapres (clonidine), a blood pressure medicine to take if mine ever gets above 160/90 since many of the meds she’s got me on right now can cause the blood pressure to rise.

Oh, I hope I don’t have to take it! *reaching for the bp cuff*

Stay healthy, y’all!

slowly but surely

This is an update to my last “health” post sick again, naturally.

I made it to the allergist in one piece. Turns out this was the same office I’d been to in another town. This doc has offices in a couple other towns, and I couldn’t remember the name of the doctor to save my life! So anyhow, that meant they had my last scratch test results and other info. It wasn’t quite three years ago since that last visit, so they didn’t redo the scratch test again. I was VERY thankful for that!

I saw the PA, who I liked very well. She said it sounded like I just really needed some maintenance meds for the asthma. She gave me a steroid inhaler and a refill for the albuterol for my nebulizer. I’m supposed to take it twice a day along with another similar medicine, iprapropium. Boy, does it make me jittery! I’d never had much of a reaction with albuterol alone, but the two of them together make my heart race and feel like I’m gonna crawl out of my skin. I hate it!

The steroid is the nastiest thing I’ve ever tasted! She gave me a sample of it so I’m stuck with it for awhile, but my insurance won’t cover it so I’ll have to get some other similar inhaler after this runs out.

I’m not sure if she’s planning to keep me on that one for maintenance or not. Not sure what kind of affects inhaled steroids have so I need to research that.

She also gave me antibiotics, my usual after I told her it’s the only one that seems to work for me…Keflex. It seems to be doing the job. I still have plenty of coughing, but not the violent fits where I can’t get a breath.

So…for my own benefit, there’s the update. Finally doing better and I’m SO thankful!

sick again, naturally

Sorry. That old song “Alone Again Naturally” came to mind when I started writing. Maybe that’s not the name of it, but the chorus says that. And that’s how I feel.
Sick and tired
You know those memory apps that show what you posted or took photos of however many years ago? I have been seeing them for a good week talking about being really sick. Like, year after year, I am sick this time of year.

Why does it always seem like I’m surprised by it? I just don’t get that. Apparently I’m a lot more forgetful than I realize. Heh.

So yep, I’m sick again. I’ve been doing the hacking sporadic coughing fits thing for over a month. I got this new doctor as I mentioned and she’s really intent on getting me into better health. Bless her heart, I don’t think she knows what’s she’s getting herself into, but more power to her, I say! At least she is willing to try. She’s got me set up to see an allergist in a few days and that meant going off my allergy meds.

I don’t think that’s where my problem started at all. It sure didn’t help things though. And that’s kinda weird too because obviously the meds weren’t doing all they should have, so why am I so much worse now?

Who knows? I seldom stick to the medical books.

I was supposed to go to the dentist this morning to get one of the three trouble-makers fixed, but I was coughing so bad there was no way. I didn’t sleep much and I have a pounding headache that’s constant now instead of just when I cough. Feels like my skull’s gonna pop open.

I really can’t imagine that I’ll hear anything much different from this doctor. I mean, I’ve been to an allergist before a few years ago. They confirmed I have asthma and was allergic to some random things that I don’t really have that much contact with and put me on allergy shots.

I finished out those and saw no change in symptoms. I am just really hoping this guy doesn’t suggest that again. For one, I detest driving to get those stupid shots, then sitting in the sick room (waiting room) until the time’s up.

For two, I am REALLY not interested in doing it when they don’t “fix” me, ya know?
too awesome for sick
My concern today is that I’m setting up a chest infection. If that’s the case, I don’t think I can wait for another three days. I’ve called my new doc, first thing this morning actually. I haven’t heard anything yet. Strike one, I guess.

*sigh* I had high hopes for this one. I’m not counting her out yet, but she really needs to get in touch with me.

UPDATE: I finally heard from the doctor’s office. As I feared, there’s really nothing to be done since nothing is yellow or green, thus probably no infection. I was advised to just hang in with the saline and use steam and then call if anything DOES turn color. I’m just trying to be thankful that there IS no infection, but when I get to that allergist dude better break out the steroids once those tests are over. Chick is dyin’ here!

how blessed

To The Husband of the Wife Living with Chronic Illness

Almost perfectly describes my life.

step into my shoes …

I often struggle to explain my “medical stuff” to people. Not that I go around dumping the whole morbid story on everyone I meet. But for those I am around often, they kinda need to know I have diabetes. For others, it just comes up in conversation.
Type 1 Diabetes

I don’t mind telling people and I appreciate folks who want to know and will allow me to educate them about diabetes. But it can be really hard to explain. It’s one of those things you can’t actually understand unless you’ve dealt with it. Sometimes it just takes having someone who knows explain it to them. Other people just won’t ever understand because they don’t have the ability to sympathize or put themselves in someone else’s shoes.
education
There are also the times you have to go to a new doctor. Then dumping the whole mess is pretty crucial, but there’s no real rhyme or reason to it so it comes out a big, jumbled pile of bits and pieces of my medical history. I start telling them one thing that relates to the reason I have come to them in the first place (ie: a sinus infection, etc) then they’ll ask another question or it will lead to needing to explain background. It’s just hard to relate 40-plus years of medical history in a few minutes, no matter how much training the “doctor” has, it just doesn’t happen quickly or easily.

    Let me stick an aside in here for anyone who happens to read this and has an inkling of what this is like, if you have a good way of doing this, could you please share? I’ve thought of trying to list everything on paper, but it’s not easy, especially at this point when I can’t even remember many of the doctors’ names or what they tested or diagnosed. I can’t remember what year things happened in unless it was major like the 2 weeks in the hospital with Stevens-Johnson Syndrome in 1994. That I can remember since I spent another 2 years recovering from it. But the many, MANY times I’ve been to an allergist or ENT for ear and sinus infections and the various tests they ran and treatments they prescribed? Um, no. Sorry. My mind can’t hang onto that much stuff!

So yeah, in case I’ve never said before, I hate going to new doctors. I feel like I need a moving van to haul all my medical ‘baggage’ into the exam room. I have felt like the doctor was thinking, “What the heck? How many different diseases or medical procedures can one person have?” or “She has GOT to be making this up.” or “This lady and her ton of medical problems are more than I want to deal with.” Now, perhaps NO doctor has ever had those thoughts about me, however, if I were a betting person, I’d bet you that some of them did.
Insulin
Does that make me paranoid? Maybe, but here’s the thing that you won’t be able to understand if you don’t have a chronic auto-immune disease…going to a doctor, and I’m talking a general practitioner not a specialist, with more than a couple different complaints or health issues is like being an alien. Many doctors don’t want to deal with you. You are too complicated. Others immediately decide that you are somehow non-compliant, in other words, you’re not doing all you can to take care of yourself. You aren’t “trying hard enough”.

For instance, this new doc I went to see this week… well, she’s an ARNP but I really liked her. My mom and my youngest son had recommended her to me because she was so thorough and took her time with them. She did the same with me, but because I was there for a persistent cough, she started with that then started looking through the lab work I had in August. She was telling me everything looked good and asking me if I was on any meds for cholesterol since those labs were good, etc.. then she flipped a page and asked me if I was taking Metformin. Of course, I was puzzled about why she’d ask me if I was taking an oral medication for Type 2 diabetes when I’m on insulin and have Type 1 diabetes. I said no, thinking in the back of my mind that maybe there’s some other use for Metformin that she was going to suggest. Then she mentioned that I should be on it to help with my sugars. That’s when it dawned on me that she didn’t realize so I said, “That’s why I take insulin.”
real bad. really?
She flipped another couple pages and then began to profusely apologize. She is a really great, down-to-earth person who has a thick “southern” accent and talks really fast because, or so it seemed to me, her mind is going so fast her mouth can’t quite keep up. *smile* She made a “total fail” comment and just kept apologizing til I said, “Don’t worry about it. I come with a lot of baggage to go through.” and she said, “Well I sure appreciate all the grace you are giving me.”

However, when she then backed up to my lab work and began to retract all the “good job” comments she’d made to me just seconds ago, I felt myself getting really frustrated. And don’t get me wrong, I STILL really like this lady. I think she’s on the right track, is very thorough and wants to help me feel better and be healthier. But this is one of those things that has always just ticked me off so bad. Where she’d thought I had good lab results because they were all within normal range like for cholesterol and blood pressure and such…those were “normal people” parameters. Not diabetic ones. No, a diabetic has to have even lower levels, even better “scores” on these tests.

Yes, I have to test my blood sugar multiple times a day. I have to take shots and count every carbohydrate that I put in my mouth and dose medication for them. I can deal with that. But tell me that I have to have a cholesterol level that is 10-30 points lower than everyone else? That runs all over me and frustrates me more than the unfairness of my daily must-do’s to live.
math-bolus
Is that weird? Am I the only T1D who gets madder than a wet hen about this kind of thing? I dunno, but I left there feeling so conflicted.

This doc is sending me to an allergist she trusts to reevaluate my allergies and asthma issues. She suggested I see my chiropractor to help with the tightness (that she noticed while feeling my lymph nodes, by the way) in my neck and shoulders. She also suggested a $60/hour massage therapist…not gonna be affording that any time soon. When she looked at my feet, which many doctors don’t even do, she got pretty disturbed and told me I needed to wear tennis shoes and not my comfy Chacos and that I needed to go to a podiatrist and “get that skin off there”. I didn’t tell her that what she was seeing was much better than normal! My feet are always really dry with thick callouses and crevasses/folds. And I also didn’t tell her I’ve worn nothing but my Chacos all summer long and I’m not sure what I’ll wear when it gets too cold for them because they are THE MOST comfy shoes I’ve had in years! I’ve worn them hiking through the woods and in the river while kayaking. They are my favorites and I’m not giving them up for some less-than-comfy tennis shoes. So there.

Actually, her response to my diabetes was pretty much the usual for a GP who doesn’t deal solely with diabetics. The idea that all my labs and sugars should be perfect and that I should always maintain a perfect A1c is unrealistic at best and I’ll let her in on that when I go back in two weeks. Is it possible to attain perfect numbers? Yes, it is. Is it feasible to maintain them always? Nope.
perfect bg
Okay, so this has been a long rambly post about how I feel living my life with type 1 diabetes and all its lovely friends…Graves Disease, Neuropathy, Kidney Damage, Early Cataracts, Retina Degeneration. Those are the just a few of the ones who have already showed up to the party.

I don’t want pity. But understanding? That I will take with gusto and gratitude.

Thanks.

taking on the taboo

I’ve had a couple of discussions about it in the past couple days. I saw several posts and vlogs about it lately. I know many people who suffer with, from and through it. Heaven knows I have dealt with it enough myself.

So let’s just discuss it. I feel like maybe I’m supposed to speak about it.

Maybe you’ve figured out by now I’m talking about depression. Sadly, even in the 21st century, it’s still a taboo subject. It’s still cause for shame or at least embarrassment in America.

depressed2

I’ve shared here and other places online about my own struggles with depression. I have had discussions publicly and via private message with people about it.

[DISCLAIMER: I’m not dispensing clinical advice to you or recommending you do a particular thing. I am just sharing MY experiences, MY “what works for me”, MY findings while researching the problem. You do what’s best for you, seek professional advice first and BE WELL!]

My motives are pretty simple and very straightforward. I think it’s important for people to be aware of depression…of the signs and symptoms, of the treatments, of the facts that there are many of us who suffer with it and how it would surprise you to find out how many of your friends, family and acquaintances are living with it right now.

First let’s look at what depression actually is and what it isn’t. What I have is referred to as “clinical depression” and it’s what many of the folks who have reached out to me also deal with.

    [NOTE: Please make use of the many links I have put in this post. (the first one is in the previous paragraph!) If you don’t live with depression yourself, at least be educated enough to understand and help those around you who are living with it. I guarantee you there are more than you’d think.]

Clinical depression is that “black cloud” that sticks with you. It’s a “sadness” that you can’t explain or shake. I find that the best way to explain it to those who don’t understand is that I KNOW without a doubt I have MUCH to be thankful for,
I K-N-O-W it. But I can’t make myself be happy. And it’s not that I’m overtly sad or anxious. It’s just an indescribable inertness, if you will. A complete lack of energy, or perhaps an inability, to feel joy.

Depression

If you read all through the link for clinical (or major) depression (and I urge you to!) then you’ll see it lists the symptoms and then states “when it’s not caused by a medical condition or medication” and that’s where I depart from the medical book, as I usually do. (ha) I DO have medical conditions that can cause those symptoms. I even have a chronic disease which makes me much more susceptible to being depressed. (diabetes, to name just one) so I don’t fit “neatly” into a particular diagnosis. Lots of us don’t and that’s okay as long as you have a medical professional who can deal with that.

There are currently several types of depression recognized by the medical community. Some of these you’ve probably heard of, like “clinical depression”, “major depression”, “postpartum depression”, even PMS has its own depression called “Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder”! That last link will take you to webmd.com’s list of these with links to more info on each of them. I’m not sure how valid some of these are, but perhaps medicine is just trying to give a name to the things we deal with all the time but never know what to call it. (for instance, on the list is “situational depression”…who on this earth hasn’t experienced that before? I’m not sure the emotions tied to various temporary events deserves a medical diagnosis, but that’s fodder for another post, right?–HA!)

Let me say that I don’t want to “push” depression and make it like so many things these days, cool or in any way desirable or something to be envied. That doesn’t make much sense I guess, but stick with me while I try to explain… Like so many things in our society, people try to put labels on various people and behaviors. Sometimes to make them ‘hip’ or whatever, sometimes to make them seem acceptable. (first thing that comes to mind is how ADD became a buzz-diagnosis so quickly and then, even though it can be a genuine problem for some people, it soon became the go-to excuse for not doing your work, not being dependable or responsible, etc., etc.) I don’t want to do that here. Depression is serious. It can be life-threatening at its worst, debilitating or at its very best, it can make living feel like a burden. So it’s not something to be trifled with in any way. I guess I just don’t want to come across as if I’m just tossing the word around and diminish the real significance of the disease.

Okay, so here, I want to share with you a video by a pastor I’ve met a time or two that I really admire. For one, he’s now an avid cyclist. (Seriously, the man’s a beast on a bike!) For two, he’s an honest-to-goodness Bible-believing man of God who isn’t afraid to speak truth. For three, he’s a loving husband and father and he also suffers from depression. I already like him, but after he posted this video on Facebook, I admired him even more. See for yourself as someone with a position of leadership and somewhat notoriety goes very public with how he struggled with and then overcame the monster that is depression: Pastor Greg Locke on Overcoming Depression

As you might guess, one of the reasons I so love this video is that he says cycling helped with his depression. Of course, not everyone can jump into this the way he did. Since I’ve been watching him for years now, I can tell you that he first got “into” bike riding when he went to the Goodwill and got a bike to ride in a charity ride. From there, apparently, he was hooked. He has since done a 3,000+ mile ride (IN TEN, that’s 10, one-zero, T-E-N DAYS!!) to the Pacific shore and also the Tour Divide, an unsupported mountain bike ride from Canada to Mexico! He’s a beast, I tell you!

I don’t foresee myself ever doing such amazing bike rides, and that’s okay. I have impressed myself enough with the longer rides I have been able to do. I’m just happy to be getting out and being active because before cycling, I was pretty much a couch potato. A long day of errands was about as much activity as this ol’ gal ever got! So, praise God that I have this activity to get me moving and inching toward better health!

Okay, back to the topic at hand. I hope you watched Greg’s video. Part of what was SO encouraging to me was the discovery that someone who seemed so alive, so interactive, so “with it” would have a problem with depression. It was like LIFE-GIVING to realize that he KNEW what it felt like, knew how it felt when someone says to you, “Just snap out of it. Just trust the Lord. Just read your Bible more.” When it was all you could do just to get out of bed in the morning, IF you even did that!

And I guess that’s the most important thing I want to do with this post. I want YOU to know that *I* KNOW. If you never meet another soul who understands depression, know this… you’ve stumbled across this minuscule spot on the web, this unknown web address to this post because God wanted you to know that you are not alone. Let’s face it, that’s the only way you’d have ended up here! Ha!

Maybe, if you happen to know me in real-life or you’ve read other posts here, maybe you never imagined that I have depression. Once you start being open about it, researching and talking to others, you will find that many of us who suffer from chronic clinical depression can be the funniest, goofiest, seemingly-up-beatest (Ha!) people you know. Here’s the thing.. it’s easy to fake it for a few hours. At least most of the time. So don’t assume that someone who’s always cracking jokes and smiling could never understand depression. Often, it’s a way to cope. That doesn’t mean we’re not genuinely funny or goofy, it’s just that that part of us isn’t the strongest during the dark-cloud times and so we relish our time of being able to laugh and make others laugh, because once that’s over, the cloud is back. At least that’s how depression is for me.

Y’know, you’d think that for those of us who cope that way, since it does feel so much better to be with a few people laughing it up we would seek that out, but in reality it finally becomes too hard. It gets to be too much effort to drag myself out to be with people, to even want to be with people. The devil and my own dark place will start to tell me no one really wants to be with me. They will just wonder what’s wrong with me…why am I so pale, why don’t I have any makeup on, why am I not talking as much, etc. Then there’s the whole monologue that goes, “You’d need to shower and fix your hair. You don’t have the energy for that. It’ll be too hard to smile enough or to ‘be your usual self’ and they’ll know something’s wrong. They will think you’re weird or sick or they’ll just wish you hadn’t come. What if it gets too hard to try and you burst out in tears. You can’t let them see you cry, and you’ll probably cry. No, just stay home. It’s easier that way.”

Only a few short months ago, that conversation played routinely in my head. I stopped going to the get-togethers with some of the most dear friends I have. I’m sure they knew something was up, but I couldn’t bring myself to just say, “Hey guys? I’m hurting. I’m in a bad spot. Nothing physical, no one in my family is terminal or has died, I just feel like crud and I can’t smile anymore. Pray for me. Tolerate me if I come around– encourage me to come around because it’s entirely too easy to convince myself not to!!”

I finally just had to come clean with them. Some of the reasons were deeply personal, so it was hard to even speak them out loud. Secrets in my marriage that were decades old, but they had contributed hugely to the massive black hole I was in and at that time, I had decided to confront and seek help for that and it had stirred up all kinds of ugly. It was HARD to tell my closest friends where I was and how bad I was hurting. They still probably don’t entirely understand, but at least they have an idea now and when I say that I’m feeling “dark” and need some prayer, they are on it. They don’t hesitate to check on me and encourage me, to ask questions which are not comfortable, not convenient to ask.

So I guess my next suggestion or bit of advice for you is this…get, find or make yourself some good friends. At least one. They don’t have to be people you talk to every day or even every week. It doesn’t have to be the person you do everything with (when you DO go do something)… It just needs to be someone you can count on to see through your hiding, your coping methods. Someone who will confront you when you have slipped into dark mode.
don't give up
One last thing, there’s something even more taboo than depression and that’s suicide and having suicidal thoughts during a deeply depressed cycle. I won’t lie to you. I have been there. I’ve said before, I’m thankful to have my faith in God because I truly believe that’s the only thing that kept me from attempting to end myself years ago when the idea came to me often.

I now know that a permanent solution to a temporary problem is never the answer. It took growing in my faith and becoming solidly convinced that I am worth something to God and even when I feel I’m not worth anything to anyone, not even myself, I have to trust that God’s got a purpose for me being here. A lot of the lies I tell myself are that my family would be better off, my husband could find someone without my problems, who he wouldn’t have to worry about or care for, take to countless doctors or wake from a dead sleep to feed through a low blood sugar, who wasn’t so self-doubting that I paralyze myself and need him to make the simplest decisions… I think my kids could live without wondering if their mother is crazy, without her words that come out so carelessly unintentionally causing pain to them and the ones they love. Even when those quite loud thoughts are going through my mind every single day repeatedly, I can remind myself that God has a purpose. I don’t have to know what it is because He does. I just have to trust Him.
suicide
That kinda takes the pressure off me. *ha* So if you don’t know Jesus, I urge you to learn about Him and trust Him with your life. He will keep you safe if you will just trust Him. He’s the best friend and ally against depression I can recommend to you. He may not choose to deliver you out of the dark hole, but He will be with you in it and make you strong enough to endure it.

Hebrews 13:5“…for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.””

recouping, but slowly…

I am used to being sick. I mean, I do have type 1 diabetes. That is a moment-to-moment adventure of a roller coaster ride way to live. But I do it. I am not bitter about having to do it. God gave this to me for some reason that is meant to glorify Him, so it’s all good. Hear me when I say that I do not believe I am cursed by having this disease.

This isn’t about diabetes, though. I have been dealing with a massive, monstrous sinus infection and asthma flare for over a month now. I’M TIRED of it!! Argh!

After FINALLY getting the doctor to give me a Rocephin shot and a different oral antibiotic, I at last started to get over the horrendous throat and ear pain I’d dealt with for over a week, but it took much longer to get over this mess…and I’m still trying to do that. I have the (apparently) obligatory lingering hacking cough hanging on.

For clarity, I was put on blood pressure medicine at least 10 years ago. Not because I had high blood pressure. Not by “normal people” standards. You see, if you are a diabetic the standard limits and tables for determining an acceptable blood pressure (or cholesterol or ANYthing else) do not apply. No, what would be an acceptable bp level for you will be considered much too high for me. In order to protect my kidneys, when my bp was within “acceptable” levels for you, I was put on the meds. T1D’s are much more susceptible to kidney disease and failure, so protecting them while they’re still healthy is a big deal. However, the bp medicine they put me on, an ACE inhibitor, a very mainstream one, over about a 7-year period caused an awful hacking cough to develop. Ever since then, I’ve had problems with my lungs. *sigh*

I was taken off that medicine and put on a different type of bp med… this happened over and over. A couple of times, because I get tired of trying to keep up with all the different medicines I’ve been on AND because the names of the drugs are changed, after going to a new doctor, I have been put back on an ACE inhibitor…and shortly thereafter, the coughing would resume.

Realize this isn’t your garden-variety coughing I’m talking about. This is hacking til you can’t breathe then you choke and throw up type of coughing. I was sent to an allergist at one point who did a lot of tests and told me (of course) that I was allergic to a ton of things and diagnosed me with asthma.

I’ve said for years that I have asthma, but I don’t really wheeze. I cough my brains &/or lungs out unless I get completely out of breath, THEN the sort-of wheezing starts, but it’s more of a squeal when I try to inhale. Yeah, I do EVERYthing differently. Ha ha…

And so, that’s where I am right now. I have FINALLY gotten well enough to attempt riding my bike again. I have been trying to build up for the past week and a half. I could only do a few miles the first time before I just gave out. The next time, I got in about 9 miles. Then 12, then 14… I had a really bad (stubborn) low blood sugar once and had to wait for Hubby to ride back and come get me in the truck (more on that in another post…it was a really weird experience)

So this past Friday, Hubby and I went out on our own and I was able to get 17 miles in without dying. (ha!) Then on Sunday afternoon, between attending/working as altar counselors both services at church, eating lunch and going back at 6 pm for a meeting, I was able to do 20 miles. Granted, I almost hawked up a lung doing it, but I did it.

It was nice to even FEEL like working hard to get those miles in. Praise God! But now I’m getting concerned about my stinking lungs. I’m now on amlodipine, a ccb drug (calcium channel blocker) that helps widen blood vessels to lower blood pressure. It’s one of the few blood pressure meds that don’t have coughing as a side effect, and if I take it at night, it doesn’t seem to bother me at all, thank God, because now that I’ve had to take these things for so long, I can’t seem to go off them without my blood pressure going up to what is considered high for even “normal” people. Great. 😦

I realized last week that I’d not been taking a medicine for both allergies and asthma. I know, I KNOW!! Shame on me. But it’s hard to keep up with them all. I’d run out just before Hubby and I left for his last century ride in Elizabethtown and in the chaos of packing (we took puppy with) and making sure we knew where we were going, packing all his cycling paraphernalia, gassing the truck, making a hotel reservation, etc.. I just forgot about it by the time we got back. That and my blood pressure medicine are the only ones I take at night and *blush* I don’t take my bp med consistently (don’t judge…I DO keep an eye on my bp, I just don’t take it every night… more like about 3-4 times a week or so) and so, after realizing the cough was just not getting better, it dawned on me that I wasn’t taking the montelukast (Singulair), I went right out and picked it up. But it’s not like a “rescue” inhaler or whatever, it doesn’t work immediately. Hopefully I’ve learned another lesson about sticking with one of my meds (like the Wellbutrin!) and will stay on top of it better now that I’ve proven how much it helps.

Speaking of Wellbutrin, did I report that I am now getting the brand name (not the generic bupropion) FOR FREE??!!! I had to go back and see the ARNP at the place I’d first gone to for talk therapy so I could continue getting the prescription (hassle since I had to drive almost 50 miles to get there, but…) When I walked into the room the first thing she said was she’d just learned about a program for people with commercial insurance policies that would help pay for the brand name! I had told her how way back years ago when I’d first been put on Wellbutrin (before it became a generic) it worked very well for me, then once the generic came out (and of course, I had to use it because of insurance/cost!) I didn’t feel like it worked as well for me. I had been taking the generic ever since she put me back on it a few months ago at a higher dose, but in generic. Every time I picked up the prescription (which still cost me $30 each time!) it would be a different brand. Nice, when it seems that how effective it was had to do with the “other” ingredients used. We had looked into getting the brand, but it was going to cost me over $200 each month and with another 5-7 prescriptions to buy just for me each month, plus insulin pump supplies?? No way. We just couldn’t do that, so I had to stick with generic.

She gave me a number to call and sent in my info. Later that same day the company called me to verify all the info and in about 3 days, I had a bottle of brand name Wellbutrin XL with no out of pocket cost!! Talk about a blessing!! I haven’t noticed a huge difference, but it will be SO nice not to worry that this different brand generic each month is going to cause a problem. (it has in the past) After realizing how much Wellbutrin helps me, even when I don’t feel like it is/was, I won’t try to go off it again. And now, same goes for the Singulair/montelukast. If it keeps me from having this awful coughing stuff, I’ll make sure to stay on it.

And yeah, I’ll just pray God will spare me the side effects. *bleh*

Okay, then, I guess that’s about it. I will leave you with this though…some notes from a recent sermon:::

“The Bible is like an apple tree. You have to shake it (READ!) to get the fruit to fall!”