Friday, August 29, 2008

A Pain In The...

I got a call from my sister on Wednesday afternoon. “I’m in the emergency room.”

“What, who?” I jumped all over it.

Evidently my 15-year-old niece K. was having really strong abdominal pain and had come home early from her first day of school. The nurse warned my sister it could be something serious and an hour later they were in the ER, with K. unable to walk or move.

Since abdominal pain could be caused by any number of things, they had to run a million tests to rule things out and confirm others. When the results came back around 7 o’clock that night, the verdict was appendicitis. Her appendix wasn’t perforated, but her white blood cell count was ridiculous and the surgeon on call decided the appendix had to go that very night. When they took it out, it was twice the size it’s supposed to be.

The doctor told K. that with all of this, she had to have felt some pain earlier than that day, and had probably had some form of pain for at least a week. She said she had, but didn’t really think much of it until it became bad.

She’s home now, recovering in her own bed with her mom and dad serving her hand and foot, and a gaggle of new messages on her Facebook page.

But lesson learned, at least for me. Take the pain seriously. Give it some thought, consider what it may or may not be, and if you can’t make a judgment call on what it might or might not be, ask the doctor. You can’t be brave and “not a wuss” when you’re laid up in the hospital…or worse.

As always, more to come (but not from the hospital, please)…

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

I'm A Busy Girl

I am, I am. I'm a busy girl. I've got a project at work I really like doing, so I'm actually working at work. I've been keeping my house in order, so that takes up a little time (I'm determined not to have to do any work over the Labor Day weekend (laundry included), so I'm trying to catch up on everything before the weekend.

Then there's the Facebook thing. I signed on a few months ago, but never put up a page. I was hoping just to be able to check in on my 15-year-old niece here and there, but it didn't work. Then I got an invite to be "friends" with my cousin. Then one from a friend in Las Vegas. Then my niece figured out I had a log in, but not a page and I was told I needed to be on there. So last week I created my Facebook page and accepted everyone's friend invitations. Then I got hooked, looking up old friends and writing on people's walls. I find it fascinating and addictive—at least for the next couple of weeks, when I'll undoubtedly emerge from the infatuation cloud. I'm proud to say I now have nine friends (this is actually a little pathetic, given that my nice has 834 or some obnoxiously high number, but it works for me). The best part is that I have almost daily contact with the niece, which is very nice.

My numbers are okay. The freakish low day continued straight through until two in the morning, when I set my alarm to check and came in with a 125; finally a number I felt comfortable with. The next day I ate a bagel (a big no-no for me) and that seemed to be the last carb boost I needed to gain control again. I went grocery shopping this weekend and stocked up on all sorts of fun 1-carb-unit foods and refilled my supplies at work and home.

Life is okay. I like okay.

As always, more to come...

Friday, August 22, 2008

This Is What I Ate:

1 small tube of red writing icing (1 carb unit)
2 yogurt Nutrigrain bars (4 carb units total)
1 Pringles snack stick pack (1 carb unit)
1 Snickers bar (2 carb units)

This is what my sugar finally climbed to when the dust settled and the crumbs cleared:


I have absolutely no explanation for why I went low and could not get high no matter what I ate during the last five hours. It’s just one of those frickin’ freaky diabetes episodes that can neither be explained or denied.

This is what I’m doing right now:

Waiting for the giant mountain of carbohydrates I ate to come out of wherever they’ve been hiding in my body and not showing up on my meter to enter my bloodstream. And give me a reading that’s through the roof. For which I will simply sigh and continue watching TV.

As always, more to come (but no more food, please—I’m quite full)…

Thursday, August 21, 2008

All You Have To Do Is Try

All my life, I’ve been a people-pleaser. I do what I can to make other people happy, make sure they have what they need, offer favors and services to make their lives easier. It’s a role I don’t mind; I’ve never really felt taken advantage of and I like when the people around me are content and I’ve had something to do with that.

Most of my adult life, actually from about the mid-teens on, I’ve also felt the need for control. I’m fairly organized, I like to plan things. I write appointments on calendars. I have a to-do list at work. I have a house projects binder at home. I have a grocery list on my computer that I created based on how my grocery store is set up (really). I like being able to cross things off and know that I’m going to get done what needs to be done. Or if I need a piece of Scotch tape, I know which clear plastic bin it resides in among the other many clear plastic bins containing a variety of objects (tissue paper, ribbon, glue, markers, mosaic tiles, glitter, nylon wire, etc., etc., etc.).

So imagine my world coming to a screeching halt when I got the big diabetes diagnosis. Not only did I have to learn a whole new set of rules regarding eating, testing, shots and all that good stuff, but I had to learn a whole new way to deal with my ingrained behaviours.

I made a valiant attempt for several months—there was so much to learn that my mind didn’t have an extra second to process anything else. When it finally did, it went a little crazy.

At first, it was just random thoughts that would niggle at my brain and keep me up for hours. I obsessed for weeks about the water in my outside garden hose. I turned the nozzle off, but what if there was a build-up of water behind the nozzle. Where does the water go? Will it explode under my house?

Then the thoughts started doing more than keeping me up at night—they started to give me panic attacks. Minor hyperventilation, wringing of hands, the inescapable feeling that something was going to go horribly wrong even though logically, intelligently, I knew it was impossible.

Enter a brand-new therapist and Lora’s first exposure to psychology as more than a class to pass. The therapist explained to me that my panic attacks were a backlash of my behaviors trying to adjust. Control freak? Can’t be that all the time when you’re a diabetic—diabetes does what it wants and there’s just no way you can have total control over it. People-pleaser? While I could still fill my traditional role some of the time, I now had to put myself first with the diabetes—make sure I was eating when I needed to, testing when I needed to, exercising and anything else that was vital to my health.

Better living through chemistry. A phrase that I believe has been bandied about and one I came to understand after my therapist prescribed anti-anxiety meds. At first, I was reluctant to take anything. I’m a big “mind over matter” type of person and I thought I could talk myself through the panic attacks and give them less power, eventually gain control (I do love that word) over my mind. I figured out that my panic attacks were triggered by a completely illogical element—vibrations and the idea of some sort of crash or ruination happening because of them. Being completely illogical, I should be able to overcome them. Right?

At first, it was actual vibrations that got to me. If I was in the living room, and my husband was on the treadmill in the next room, I could feel the vibrations on the floor and, bam, I’d be in panic mode. Then it moved to the thought or inference of vibrations. I was watching the movie Footloose, and in the prom scene at the end, everyone stomps on the floor. The husband was watching with me when I softly said, “Oh.” He looked at me and said, “The floor on the TV is shaking.” And I said, “You got it. Panic mode.”

I tried a little self-motivation. I printed out signs on my computer that said “All you have to do is try.” I picked pretty fonts. Inspiring fonts. I printed about ten of them and hung them in various places around my house where I would continually see them. All I had to do was try to make it through the next panic attack. It didn’t work.

The final straw came when we got a new washer and dryer. I really wanted them, but had deep-seated, hidden fears that they might really bother me. The old ones were so worn out, they didn’t really cause much of a commotion.

I was sitting in the living room when the high speed spin cycle on the washing machine kicked in for the first time. It was loud (I still think the installation is a little off), and the machine shook so hard, the box of dryer sheets on top of it fell off. I’ve never had a panic attack that bad before or since then. I was sweating profusely, I was hyperventilating, my hands were raw from wringing them, my heart was beating so fast I thought it would stop, my brain was swirling and spiraling and I couldn’t quell anything. I finally had to leave the house, shut the door and sit on my back deck, crying and trying to catch my breath until the machine finished.

My next visit to the therapist, I asked for drugs.

I don’t take much—just enough to keep everything at bay. It’s not so much medication that I can’t still have a panic attack, they’re just slower to come. And if I can’t stop it through my own willpower—which I’ve gotten better at—then I have an extra special pill I can take.

I used to have a panic attack two or three times a week. Now I have one maybe once every two or three months. The last tingle of one came when the window-unit air conditioner in my bedroom made a funny noise and I jumped to the conclusion that it was about to crash two stories down into the gangway. I was already in bed, but I got up and paced back and forth in front of the air conditioner until I was sure it wasn’t making any more weird noises, and that the window was securely holding it in place. My husband also assured me that he had “really stuck that thing in there” and there was no chance it was going anywhere. I made it through without having to take the special pill and eventually fell asleep—without having to turn the air conditioner off.

I have learned how to give up some control, and to take the time I need for me, even if it means telling someone no, or doing for myself instead of for someone else. I still have my moments, but that’s what my therapist is for. (I’ve also stacked several heavy books on top of the washing machine in an effort to hold it down, and I make a serious effort to avoid the laundry room altogether after I've thrown the clothes in; I just wait until I hear the ding and enter when I know it’s safe).

I’ve taken my “All you have to do is try” signs down from around the house, except for one. I left the one hanging on the cabinet above the washer and dryer taped up. When I come downstairs in the morning, it’s the first thing I see as I hit the first floor. It’s a good reminder, a pleasant little piece of encouragement for anything I might be facing that minute, hour or day. Because no matter what’s going on, all I really have to do is try.

As always, more to come (but hopefully no panic attacks in the near future)…

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

I Like Them A Lot

I craved peanut butter this weekend. When I crave peanut butter, I have two choices: I can either eat peanut butter, or I can eat everything else in sight first, trying to avoid the peanut butter, then eat the peanut butter anyway. I chose to cut out the middleman (by the way, highly amusing show on ABC Family channel, The Middleman) and just go with the peanut butter right away.

I could have just had a spoonful, but that wasn’t the peanut butter I was craving. I wanted sweet peanut butter. I went with peanut butter Rice Krispie treats (yes, I made them with brand-name Rice Krispies, so I’m allowed to use the name here without fear of copyright infringement).

These are good. I like them a lot. Unfortunately, my husband is not so fond of them, so I wind up eating them all myself.

I eat them for breakfast after I exercise (it’s cereal, right?), then I eat one for lunch, then I eat a couple for dinner and go with non-carb real food for the rest of my meal. Last night I ate feta cheese and olives, then tuna mixed with Neufchatel in half a yellow pepper—and about five peanut butter Rice Krispie treats. I knew I had gone too far when I hit the third one, but just kept going, half hoping to make myself sick on them so I’d throw the rest of the container away (didn’t work). To completely avoid sugar/carb overload, I jumped on my trampoline during the commercials while I watched The Closer.

When I went to bed last night, I was 136. This is not a completely accurate number. I had just finished my last round on the trampoline, so I knew my sugar would go lower. It also hadn’t been a full two hours after my last peanut butter Rice Krispie treat, so I knew my sugar would go higher. I figured I let my body duke itself out during the night. It must’ve worked, because when I woke up, I was 86. A good number, a normal number for my morning reading.

I only have about six more peanut butter Rice Krispie treats left (I keep them in the fridge; they’re very good when they’re cold and I like them a lot. Did I mention that?), and I’m going to try to use my willpower and only eat two tonight. This may take some pro-active activity on my part; I may have to call the husband before I get home from work and have him hide the container. And, if my day goes well and is fairly annoyance and stress-free, I may just leave the container hid. If it goes badly, I may have to use the water-squirter attachment on my kitchen sink as a form of torture so he tells me where he hid the peanut butter Rice Krispie treats. (I’m still working on that whole “comfort eating” issue…).

As always, more to come (but only two more peanut butter Rice Krispie treats tonight)…

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Cruise Control

I'm not ignoring my blog, diabetes, or the world in general. I'm basically on cruise control right now--sugars are good, I'm avoiding exercise by cleaning my house and my niece is due in from the 'burbs for some serious back-to-school shopping so I'm conserving and reserving my energy.

I'm sure I'll have to hit the brake or the gas soon, though, and the cruise control will shut off, so...

As always, more to come...

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Graves' Disease

I’ve mentioned it here before, but just in case there are a few of you out there who don’t know what Graves’ Disease is, I thought I’d share. (Just like in first grade when I had to bring something in for show-and-tell and I completely forgot until the morning of. My mom quickly ripped out a sales flyer for kites and thus began my fear of public speaking… I digress.)

I thought I’d share because Graves’ Disease is one of those things that can go hand-in-hand with diabetes, but you don’t always hear a lot about it.

Graves’ Disease is the most common form of hyperthyroidism. It occurs “when your immune system mistakenly attacks your thyroid gland” (I quote from the Web site, because they’re so gosh-darned eloquent—and I don’t want to get any of the facts wrong).

My Graves’ Disease was discovered very shortly after my diabetes diagnosis. After the whole hospital thing and I was back living in my own life with the added bonus of insulin, I found me a regular doctor. The first thing she did was run a whole panel of bloodwork to see what else might be wrong. She noticed my levels of the hormone thyroxine were high (that’s what the thyroid gland produces) and she sent me to an endocrinologist.

Now, not only does Graves’ Disease go well with diabetes, it’s also hereditary. While no one in my immediate family has diabetes, my father does have Graves’ Disease. I was an easy mark.

The endocrinologist confirmed I was on my way to full-blown Graves’ Disease, but hadn’t arrived there yet. Before anything could be done, my thyroxine levels had to be sky-high. And this is where the fun part comes in.

I had to have blood drawn every three weeks to test what my levels were doing. This went on for five months. In the meantime, the symptoms of Graves’ Disease starting appearing. Basically, it makes your metabolism speed up like a frickin’ freight train (Footloose, anyone?). I started losing a lot of weight (even more than with the diabetes), my heartrate was going through the roof (they gave me meds to slow it down), I had an endless supply of energy and the appetite of a large Canadian moose (maybe American, I don’t know for sure).

When my levels had finally reached a place my endocrinologist declared appropriate, I drank a radiation cocktail that’s purpose was to destroy my thyroid gland. (I had to avoid babies and small animals for 24 hours because I was so radiant (note how I turned that into a positive. I was radiant, not radioactive.)) Then the fun continued.

I had to wait until my thyroxine levels dropped to nothing before they could give me meds. Again, another round of blood tests every three weeks. This time around, I was experiencing the opposite symptoms: rapid weight gain, feeling incredibly tired all of the time, no energy. I basically sat on my couch feeling crappier and crappier until about the fourth month when it was finally declared I could start on synthetic thyroxine (brand name: Synthroid). The fun continued.

They have to start you on a low dosage and gradually increase it so they can get your levels to just the right point without going too far over. Another round of blood tests, this time every four weeks. I went through three dosages before they settled on one that seemed to be working.

Now, I take a pill every single day, and will continue to take a pill every single day for the rest of my life. The thing with Synthroid (although I use the generic version, which is much, much cheaper, but I don’t happen to know its name, so I’m using “Synthroid” to make my life easier), the thing with Synthroid is that in order for it to work the most effectively, it has to be taken at the same time every day. It also has to be taken on an empty stomach, and you can’t eat for at least an hour, preferably two, after you’ve taken it. It can also mess with birth control pills.

So, given all that, and throwing diabetes into the mix, I have my alarm set for 4am in the morning. I wake up, throw back the pill, then go back to sleep. I do it this early in the morning because when I wake up, I exercise right away. If my sugar is too low, I have to eat. I can’t eat if I’ve just taken the pill, so waking up earlier allows me to eat when I’m ready to exercise. I take my birth control at night to solve that issue.

I’m down to having the thyroxine levels checked once a year, but if I’m feeling really crappy and sluggish and gaining weight without being able to lose it, then I ask for the test. It’s only happened once in the last five years and they did raise my dosage. (The dosages are color-coated and I’m now in the purple zone. It’s a pretty pill.)

So that’s my Graves’ Disease. Exciting, no? Just one of the many reasons Lora has a pharmacy permanently attached to her hip… But hey, at least I got to say I was radioactive (or radiant, depending on my mood).

As always, more to come…

Monday, August 4, 2008

Body Talk

For some reason, I couldn’t stop eating yesterday. I ate cereal right out of the box. I ate cheese sticks. I ate potato chips. I ate caramel Hershey Kisses. I ate skinny breadsticks. I ate things I don’t even remember eating—all before 1 o’clock in the afternoon.

I wasn’t particularly hungry, but I just kept gravitating toward the refrigerator and the pantry. I never ate a whole bunch of what I ate (a handful of the chips, four or five Kisses), but I just kept consistently eating.

When my husband suggested lunch at around 1, I told him I didn’t think my sugar would be anywhere near low enough to eat, given what I had already consumed. I was almost afraid to test, but I did it anyway. The result: 105.

Say what? I thought for sure I was somewhere in the 145-150 range.

I ate a few salsa chips with guacamole for lunch, about a carb’s worth. I then did a project in which I sat on the floor and sorted paper from boxes into neat little piles—not exactly hardcore aerobics, or even requiring me to lift my butt off the floor more than an inch. Two hours later: 73.

Evidently, I was running low yesterday.

Somehow, without my actually having a low reaction, or even hitting low numbers, my body knew it needed constant fueling. Only when I ignored that instinct did I actually hit bottom.

I ate dinner that night, ate a few more carbs than I might normally. Before bed: 90. Normally I like when I get to eat an extra snack before bed—it’s like a treat for me. Unfortunately, though, because I had already feasted on everything in my house that day, nothing looked appealing. I force-fed myself a granola bar and vowed to go grocery shopping.

Another lesson learned, taught by the amazing, miraculous, mysterious, sometimes-annoying human body.

As always, more to come…