Today is (I think) the second anniversary of learning of my diagnosis as a Type Two diabetics. (I told that story here.)
I can't say that I'm grateful to be diabetic, but I am grateful to have been diagnosed. Many Type Two folks are only diagnosed only when they develop complications. So, it's definitely a blessing to have the opportunity to minimize the likelihood of those complications.
Is my life different since diagnosis? Well, I certainly eat better. And I think I feel better physically than I did before, even if that's not true every day. I think my health future may be brighter, too: I was on a pretty bad path before I started making changes, so it's likely something would have come up even if diabetes didn't.
Two years is just a beginning, I know: there's a lot of life to life yet. I look forward to learning to live it ever more fully.
I don't know if other people do this. But for me, the strangest things can take on symbolic importance.
I have a cheap little plastic three-drawer storage unit in my bathroom. One of the things that lives in the top drawer thereof is a glass pint jar. I don't know what it originally held, but it LOOKS like a jelly jar, so I'll call it the jelly jar. The lid's been gone for years. It's functioned as my bathroom glass for when I need to brush my teeth, take pills, or just get a drink.
The jelly jar and I have been through a lot together. The jelly jar did hard time in the months before my diagnosis, when I would drink it dry three or four times in a row, multiple times a day and sometimes multiple times a night. So, the jelly jar has been my friend.
But the jelly jar has also been my enemy. Well, not enemy, exactly, but a potential danger. My bathroom floor is hard tile. I realized very shortly after my diagnosis two years ago that keeping a readily-breakable glass object in a room where I'm often barefoot was not a good plan, and that I should replace the jelly jar with something plastic. It took me eighteen months (just how crazy does that sound?????), but I finally did get a small plastic container that works well. But the jelly jar has remained in its drawer, both an old friend and a symbol of an extremely simple thing I could do for my health but which I haven't done.
This morning, I threw away the jelly jar.
Three questions, two unanswered:
Question One: Where do I go to get a lab report framed?
I met with my doctor today to get lab results from last week's blood draw. I was very anxious about this last night: I even tweeted about it. (Bless those who responded.) In conjunction with stress over some other issues, the worry was enough to keep me up most of the night. The reason for the worry was that I was absolutely convinced that my A1c was going to be way up. I even spent part of today's wait reading up on the meds used in conjunction with Metformin when the Met is no longer enough, assessed by their proclivities to produce weight gain or hypos.
Why was I so convinced of a bad result? Well, DUH - my diet is horrible, and I don't exercise enough.
The results? A1c 6.0, down .9 from a year ago. Total cholesterol, LDL, and triglycerides within desirable ranges, HDL a wee bit low. The most amazing part was my doctor telling me, "You're doing everything right. Don't change a thing."
I have NEVER had a doctor tell me anything like that. Not anything within a hundred miles of that. The last doctor I saw more than once seemed to despair of my ever being able to make good choices.
Question Two: So why did my expectations very so far from reality?
Well, certainly my inborn tendency to expect disaster is part of it. But I really, truly, believed that my choices, along with my upward-creeping fasting numbers, reasonably led me to expect a pretty big jump.
Here's what I think accounts for it: I think of "perfect" diet and exercise as my goal, with suboptimal choices (and there are plenty of these, sometimes plenty bad) being viewed as damaging, moving me towards complications and heart disease. Perhaps the reality is that good choices (and there are plenty of these as well) represent not a baseline but as actively moving me towards wellness.
Question Three: Is it really possibly that I'm not slowly getting ever sicker, day by day?
Boy, do I feel good.
I've previously addressed various frustrations with health/diabetes news feeds -- you know, the ones that constantly tell me that something I've got probably caused something else I've got or puts me at dire risk for something I don't yet have. There are other traps, too -- over the last couple of days, I've seen a number of things about the Dire Awfulness of something I do that I'd regarded as pretty dang benign. Oh, joy.
I want a new feed -- a custom Bob Health News Service.
In order for this service to work, I'd daily post a few things that I did well in the health area, or at least failed to do wrong. The service would respond with a drizzle of stories about the wonderful benefits of what I'd done. For example, tonight I cooked unbreaded chicken wings, put about half of them away for tomorrow, and also had some spinach. When I went to look at my feed, there would be stories proclaiming the virtues of small changes, how much fat is saved by not breading fried food, and the wonderous benefits of green leafy vegetables. On a day when the best I can say is that I didn't eat barbecued ribs with my pizza, the stories would be along the lines of "Continued Respiration Proven to Delay Death!"
Doesn't that sound like fun?
Today, I had an appointment with a doctor that I'd not seen before. I was pretty nervous: I blogged about this last week, and last night asked on Twitter for thoughts and prayers about it. (Many thanks for those of you who did this for me.)
Since arriving in Kansas City about 15 years ago, almost all of my doctors have been interns in Family Practice clinics. I'd see the same intern as long as they were here, then they'd leave and I'd be assigned a new one. This was okay, though I had anxieties each time I had a new one, but since my diagnosis I was coming to feel that I'd like a longer term relationship. I decided to try a clinic that's so close to my work that I don't actually have to go outside to get there, although it's probably easier to do so.
I like her a lot. She's somewhere in the 35-45 range, I'd guess, so at least we're approximately the same generation. The phrase "efficient but unhurried" from my earlier post fits perfectly -- I certainly didn't feel invited to chat, but I also felt that I could ask my questions.
One, thing, though -- she wants to schedule me for The Test Which Must Not Be Named. Aaaaaauuuuugggghhhhh!!!!! I have no desire to have any tubes put there!
I'll be meeting with her again in a week to go over test results.
Today's topic was to discuss what I would do should there be a cure.
My first response, I confess, was silly. Find a good Italian restaurant. Order angel hair pasta with olive oil, garlic, and good parmesan. Tell 'em to keep it coming until I cried "Uncle!".
But then I thought more about it.
If I could take a pill....
If I could take a pill that would not only make my insulin resistance go away but undo any damage that has been done to my pancreas....
If, further, this wonderful little pill also magically cured the whole cluster of maladies that like to hang out with Type 2, such as high cholesterol, hypertension, sleep apnea, and depression....
If all these things were true, if all these symptoms went away....
Wow. What would it be like?
What it would be like to not worry every time I eat, every time I fail to exercise, every time I forget my meds, if I've just made the "last straw" mistake that will doom my pancreas, my feet, my kidneys, my heart, my ability to recognize my friends, or my ability to face the day?
That would be a new day, indeed. And I'm unable to imagine what it would be like.
I've spent a fair amount of time thinking about what word I would use for the "Word in the Hand" project done over at Tudiabetes.org. About a month ago, I came up with my word, and thought I would share it with you today.
My word is "waiting", and it seems to me to be a good word for my stage of Type 2 diabetes, at least as seen through my personality. Right now, my health is okay. My fasting BGs are normally pretty good, and beyond feet that sometimes tingle, no signs of any complications. (As far as that goes, my circulation could be iffy for completely non-diabetes-related reasons. )
But, how long is that going to last? I'm waiting for something to go wrong: a significant decrease in pancreatic function requiring more aggressive treatment, the onset of complications, maybe even a cardiovascular event.
Yes, I know: I should be optimistically and with self-empowerment and faith making those changes that might well help me prevent or long delay any of those things. Yet one more healthy habit I don't seem able to pull off.
Exercise. It's important. I know it is.
When I exercise regularly, my fasting numbers are lower and my post-meal numbers don't appear to go as high and come down faster.
Exercise is good for, well, everything.
I saw a headline on a podcast the other day (I haven't listened to it, yet) about how exercise may help prevent Alzheimer's disease. My dad has Alzheimer's disease.
I walk to and from work essentially every weekday. That forms a basis of about 25 minutes a day of moderate walking.
But more than that? Well, crud.
1960 -- I, and my eyebrows, are born. Hordes of researchers have failed to produce any contemporary notice of my eyebrows whatsoever. We must then assume that they differed in no way from the eyebrows one would expect on an infant that resembled Winston Churchill.
1960-1995 -- My eyebrows show no expansionist tendencies. They lie waiting. And plotting.
1995 -- I mention to my sister that I am on my way to get my haircut. She suggests I ask to have my eyebrows trimmed. I shrug it off, deeming it ridiculous. When I arrive for my haircut, I am asked if I would like my eyebrows trimmed.
2000 -- I begin trimming my own hair, doing so roughly monthly. I trim my eyebrows first occasionally, then about every other time, then almost every time.
2010 -- Circa May 9 of this year, it becomes clear to me that my eyebrows require trimming, although my hair does not.
Where is this going? Are my eyebrows in on Siah Sausage's plot for world domination? I have fear.
I'm seeing a new doctor on Monday, one I've never seen before.
Throughout my time in Kansas City, I've always gotten my medical care at Family Practice clinics, where I would be seen by interns. They'd assign the same intern to see me every time, but after a year or two the intern would go on to the rest of their career. Some of these folks I've liked, some I haven't.
So, on Monday, I'm taking my care to a new clinic, one so near my workplace that I don't technically go outside if I don't want to.
And, I'm feeling some anxiety. So, I thought I'd summarize what I want from my new doctor:
- I want her to have experience with Type 2, but not the sort that leads her to think that we're hopeless.
- I want her to be receptive, though not necessarily agree, when I ask about Byetta sometime in the next couple of appointments.
- If she needs to explain risks I face, she needn't phrase those risks as threats. ("If you don't lose weight, I'm going to raise your dosage.")
- I want her to be kind.
- I want her to be efficient but unrushed. I want to not have the feeling that her most important patient is the next one.
- I want her to check my feet. They don't NEED checking, especially, but I need her to be attentive to the basics. In the two years since diagnosis, my feet have never been checked, despite all appointments having taken place in rooms with posters reading "Diabetics - Show Us Your Feet!"
- Finally, if I like her, if she's what I need, I want her to be available to me for a long time.