Monday, December 30, 2013

A New Challenge: Diabetes

I went to see my doctor on December 2nd expecting to be diagnosed with arthritis in my achy, tingly toe joints, but that's not how things turned out. She decided to do some blood tests to rule out other possibilities. The test results started to roll into my secure message inbox late the same night.

Thyroid looked OK.
Kidney function looked within parameters.
Cholesterol didn't look so hot, but I'm a cholesterol skeptic, so that didn't worry me much.
Blood sugars. Not OK. Not even close to OK.

There's no known history of diabetes in my family, so I didn't know what to think other than that complications include blindness and losing your feet. Being me, that's the conclusion I leapt to immediately: that I would have to test my blood sugars a dozen times a day and jab a needle in my stomach before each bite of food and would eventually go blind anyway and that my feet would fall off.

I spent most of that week in a state of panic and despair. I stopped eating. I stopped drinking. Doug came down on his mid-week days off to help me back in off the ledge, but by the time I got back in for my counseling and education appointment on the next Friday I was a wreck.

High-tech glucometer and my sexy
new pill minder.
Reality was less catastrophically bad, I'm happy to say. I have to test my blood once a day, and the process isn't painful or even much of a nuisance. My prescription count has gone from one to four, and I don't really like that, but there's a chance that if I manage diet and exercise well that I can get off most or all of the new medications.

The sensations, at least the tingly ones, are probably from diabetic nerve damage and are likely permanent. Luckily they aren't too bad, and haven't progressed to numbness.

So, I'm learning to eat again, and cutting out most carbohydrates. I've already lost a few pounds and I'm going to go back to walking around Greenlake two or three times a week. My beloved recording engineer friend has proposed that we join a gym together, since he wants to get more active also to avoid this fate for himself.

And Doug, my hero, has been an angel through all of this. In his professional life he works one-on-one with deaf blind adults and has experience helping care for a fragile diabetic, so was ready to help right away.

A new challenge. A new phase of life, but not the end.