This Leg of My Journey

This was originally posted to my old blog on September 16, 2014

We all live one life; but in this one life is sprouted many journeys. Many different paths that we travel all at once. Allow me to tell you the story of one such journey in my life.

I suppose it all started when I was nine years old.  It was Easter and I was enjoying all the spoils of my Easter basket, like any chocoholic child, I was in heaven. I had fallen asleep on the couch and was woken up by my parents futilely trying to check my blood-sugar without waking me up.  You see, my father was a type I diabetic and as of late both my parents had noticed key symptoms in me. I had been moody, sleeping a lot, drinking tons of water, losing weight, etc.. So, now I wake to my parents trying to prick my finger. I struggle and cry, afraid of a tiny little lancet.

My parents won that little scrimmage and found my sugar very high ( back then there were no numbers, just a color chart). After a couple of doctor visits and lab tests, I was diagnosed with type I diabetes…and never got to finish my Easter candy.

Me, a little over 6 months after diagnosis.
My dad taught me how to check my blood-sugar and take my shots, and how to live healthy with diabetes. He knew this was going to be a life-long journey for me so he refused to do it for me. He wanted me to be strong and independent.  I’ve always loved and thanked him for that.  The only problem was me..I didn’t want to be a diabetic.  I rebelled.
So the years passed and I continued to rebel. I never once did as I was taught, I never once did as my parents begged of me.  I never once took my doctor’s warnings to heart. Boy was I in for it.
The time came when it all caught up with me. I was twenty-eight and was hired on at the Fresno Chaffee Zoological Gardens.  I was stoked. This was a dream job for me. It involved a ton of walking and physical labor. I was just fine with that, I loved moving and using my body. It was outdoors and I got to work with wild animals! So cool!

Within a couple of days I started to experience excruciating pain in my calves. I thought I was just out of shape and needed to wait it out and it would go away.  It didn’t, it got progressively worse and every evening my ankles would swell up.

After a month of terrific pain, I finally went to the doctor.  I was examined and informed that I had poor circulation.  I was also informed quite bluntly by this doctor that if I didn’t straighten up and get my numbers under control, I’d lose mt legs by time I was forty. Thanks, Mrs. Obvious, I really needed that pep talk right now. She prescribed a medication and told me it could take months before I saw any improvement.

I ended up quiting my dream job because the pain was unbearable and there was no end in sight. About this time I also lost my health insurance, so I never took the medication because I was told once I was on it, I had to step down gradually to get off it. I knew I wouldn’t be able to do this without a doctors guidance.

For the next seven years I lived with no insurance.  I lived with this terrible, worsening pain and swelling.  I developed new symptoms like numbness in my toes, and burning on the pads of my feet and mild discoloration of the skin on my lower extremities (like being sunburned).  But with no insurance, there was no help.

In June of 2013 I finally got insurance again and immediately went to the doctor.  At this time in my life I was more concerned with my chronic chest pain than with my leg pain.  Over the next year I would deal with heart surgery and eye surgery and wait rather impatiently to deal with the leg pain. I did, however, at every opportunity, tell my doctors about the pain only to have the issue put aside once more.

Finally the pain became so unbearable that I said “no more!”. I have to walk a lot these days. I have no driver license due to eye issues so I have to walk a lot of places. I also have to walk a lot at work, and I try to get as much exercise as I can for overall health.  So I pushed the issue with a new doctor. This doctor listened and took my pain seriously.  He ordered an ultrasound of my legs and put me on a medication to lessen the pain.

According to this doctor I probably have a combination of neuropathy and claudication. We’ll see how the medication works out, and what the ultrasound reveals.

This particular journey of mine is just beginning.  Hopefully it ends pain free and with my legs still a part of my body.

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