A Bit of Random

I spend too much time writing blog posts that simply report what is going on in my medical life. I had this appointment, these symptoms, etc. I really need to get back to actually writing the way I love to and know how to. I need to stop being lazy about my writing.

As an uncontrolled type 1 diabetic I have a butt ton of health issues. Although I’m told time and time again that it is not all my fault, it can happen to even the most well controlled diabetic, I am no fool. I know and do not shy away from the fact that my lifetime of rebellion and self-destructive behavior… purposely not taking care of myself, has earned me these punishments. I do my best to take them in stride and try to be good…better late than never.

I am very prone to staph infection. The only thing I can say is good about this is that these infections are only skin deep. I have never had an internal and life threatening staph infection. But these infections must be treated promptly and aggressively because they are tough and can take awhile to overcome. I must check my body daily to make sure no new infections have popped up. These infections don’t hurt or let off any noticeable symptoms most of the time. They are only noticed by sight; usually a dime sized crater in the skin that is hollow to the touch. If I don’t catch it early it may abscess…that’s when the pain hits.

I have lived with powerful anxiety my entire life, but it has only been this past 3 years that it got severe enough that I finally admitted I need help with it. I have been going to counseling. This started out as group therapy and art therapy, but is now one-on-one. I am very glad to be doing this. It helps to talk to someone who is neutral and not judgemental, and understands how I feel and what I’m struggling with. I am given some homework after each session, something to work on, an exercise, or just something to actively think about. Currently I am writing a personal diary that no one reads but me. In this diary I write about all those things I would never tell a soul (it’s not really that much since I am mostly an open book). It’s just a way to get it out of me, to actively think about it and face my fear, shame, anger, etc. in a manner that is still private. One thing I knew, but had not admitted, that I’ve learned in therapy is that I am agoraphobic (afraid to leave my home). I would say it’s borderline because I do leave my house – when I have no other option – it is just difficult because being around people makes me profoundly uncomfortable (anxious) and I just want to hide in my safe place (home).

What made my anxiety begin to get worse was my broken heart. Call it a near death experience. I more accurately call it a wake-up call. I finally realized exactly what all those warnings really meant. “Take care of your diabetes or you’ll have a heart attack and die.” “Take care of your blood sugar or you’ll go blind.”, etc.. These things actually really do happen! I am living proof. We are not immortal. We are not the exception. It can, and will happen to you if you don’t take care of yourself. I lay in my hospital bed, about to be rolled into open heart surgery, and all I could do was bawl in terror and cry for my mommy.

From that moment on the anxiety was constant and crippling.

As many diabetics do, I suffer with depression as well as the anxiety. Although I never haven’t had anxiety, the depression began at my type 1 diagnosis. Again, I never realized I was depressed. I just thought this was how life was; doesn’t everyone feel this way? It wasn’t until several months ago that I lay in bed in my week old filth, thinking I should get up and do something, but then thinking what’s the point, that I realized I needed help. I’m on happy pills now and the depression is well under control. My smile is actually genuine, no longer a mask. đŸ™‚

I never haven’t struggled with my diabetes. I used to think it was all my fault ( in many ways I still do) but over the past couple of years I’ve learned so much more about this disease than I ever have known. And I’ve learned that I am justified in thinking I’m a bad diabetic, but for different reasons than I first thought. I used to think I was bad because I couldn’t control my blood sugar even when I tried and did everything right. I now know that wasn’t my bad, it’s just the nature of the disease. There’s just too many factors that effect blood sugar. I am a bad diabetic only when I don’t try.

Living with diabetes has made me a much stronger person. I have a high tolerance for pain, hell I had invasive eye surgery (which is done while you are awake) where the nerve block wore off and I remained still -in agonizing pain –  and quiet while the doctor “quickly” finished up. I persevere despite a million setbacks and frustrations over my health and BG’s. I try to make the best of my circumstances and use my experiences to reach out and help other diabetics.

I don’t know about most diabetics, but I love my endocrinologist. We get along great, we understand each other. She lets me talk, and actually listens. She is aware of the stress and emotional toll diabetes takes. She schedules 15 minute appointments because she is required to, but she’ll spend as much time as is necessary with her patient. She knows diabetes inside and out and makes treatment plans for the individual, not the ‘ideal’ or ‘average’ diabetic. She was my endo from age 11 to 19, and then from 21 to 27, and then just this year, at age 37, I started seeing her again. I keep coming back because I have never found a better endo.

There is a condition common among diabetics called gastroperisis. This is basically nerve damage of the stomach  probably caused from years of inflammation from high blood sugar. This nerve damage causes the stomach to become paralyzed and no longer digests and empties properly. This causes a lot of distressing symptoms such as loss of appetite, malnutrition, nausea, vomiting (often hours or days after eating you’ll vomit up undigested food that’s just been sitting in your tummy twiddling it’s thumbs).  This condition is not fun. I found a great way to ease a lot of the symptoms. One probiotic pill every single day.

I’ve had a lot of non-diabetics assume that the symptoms of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) are the same every single time you experience a low. This couldn’t be farther from the truth. There are many, many symptoms of low blood sugar – confusion, aphasia, blurry vision, sweating, random tingling and numbness, weakness, shakiness, panic, lethargy, loss of consciousness, mood swings, nausea….I could go on and on with symptoms. Every time I have a low the symptoms are in a different order, some I have, many I don’t, and they come in different severities depending on the severity of the low.  It’s like drawing a lottery.

Another misconception of diabetes is that the diabetic must follow an extremely strict and restricted diet. Pshh, we can eat whatever the hell we want as long as we are smart about it. And every diabetic is different, unique. What one diabetic has a hard time eating without spiking another diabetic might have no problem with. So, don’t go judging or asking things like, “are you sure you can eat that?”. Watch me…

My most recent struggle has been with my thyroid. You think the symptoms of hypoglycemia are bad…OMG, the symptoms of hyperthyroidism are down right terrifying! I thought my heart was going bad again. But, thank the gods, after a month of terrifically galling symptoms I finally, and quite spontaneously, got better. It wasn’t Grave’s Disease as we feared, it was just a case of thyroiditis, which cures itself.  Whew.

Well, there you go. I’m rusty in my writing, but I’ll get back on track soon.

 

 

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Author: Tamra K. Garcia

Stephen King says to "Write what you know." I know diabetes, I know me; so this is what I write about.

4 thoughts on “A Bit of Random”

  1. Hello, Tamra.

    I can relate to what you shared in that I was born with conditions I cannot fix and that can be hugely damaging to me, my body and to others in the fallout zone.

    If you want to “write about what you know,” it is certainly more than diabetes. Shake the rust off because, in your way, you’re encouraging someone else who might just have agoraphobia, but not diabetes. Counseling carries with it a ‘sneak in the backdoor’ kind of mentality as if it shouldn’t be acknowledged. And anxiety is huge; something like 19 percent of the population of the U.S. suffers somewhere along the spectrum.

    Determinedly pointing out the mistaken beliefs about how you struggle and what is truly frightening to you as a person, a diabetic—priceless. Thanks for posting.

    Like

  2. Tamra, I also underwent a long period of rebellion, (mine was longer than yours I believe) and I have few complications. Diabetes is sometimes a random disease. My mom who worked very hard at managing her diabetes suffered awful complications. So yes there is a randomness to it all.

    I believe that as soon as we are old enough we if we have type 1 we should enter therapy for at least a few sessions. not because something is wrong, rather so we know that therapy is available to us. Diabetes is a marathon, I did not understand that at first. I thnk we both understand that as we have gotten older.

    Liked by 1 person

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