Saturday, March 29, 2014

Diabetes Update: Moving in the Right Direction

On March 4th I went to see my primary care physician (first time I've met her face to face) to go over my quarterly hemoglobin a1c test results. For those of you who don't know, it's a blood test that tells you what your average blood sugar levels have been for the last three months or so. For people with type 2 diabetes, it's the most important report card you get.

This was my first one since diagnosis, so I was nervous that even more bad news was on the way. You see, I test my blood first thing in the morning, and I had been getting perfectly acceptable results for quite a long time, but there are always the dire warnings that your blood sugar might be spiking later in the day even if it's OK when you wake up.

The test results had been available to me for a couple days via the Group Health web site, but I had decided not too look at them until I had a qualified medical professional to help me understand their implications. I didn't want a repeat of the week after getting my diagnosis results imagining the worst and torturing myself with images of blindness and amputations.

I had prepared a long bulleted list of everything that was going horribly wrong with my body which I attributed to the medications, and my doctor was happy to go through them all, but first she wanted to share the a1c results: They were great. The a1c number was 4.9 (my diagnosis test was 9.9) and the calculated average blood glucose level was 94, which is in the lower half of the normal range.

She said it was the most dramatic improvement she had ever seen (admittedly, she's about 12, but still). She said I could stop taking the metformin, but we decided together to cut the dose in half instead and watch the results to be sure. The last thing I wanted was to go off that horrible medication only to have to start it again.

We did go through my list of horribly bad things, and some of them she attributed to how suddenly I had lowered my blood sugars. Some of them were likely due to the cholesterol medication. I left there feeling optimistic.

Weeks later, the body aches and fatigue had only gotten worse. I missed work on two occasions and spent the days curled up in a ball on the couch whimpering. I just couldn't take it anymore, so I decided to stop the statin pills and make an appointment to discuss other options for managing cholesterol, as well as my growing skepticism about its importance. (paging Dr. Gagne, paging Dr. Gagne)

So, I'm heading back in next week. Blood sugars have maintained in an acceptable range, so I'm going to talk about a further reduction in metformin and let her know that I refuse to take those cholesterol / torture pills ever again.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Project 32: Skirting the Issue - Continued

These are the fourth and fifth in the series of skirts I'm making for my beloved friend K, who has trouble shopping off the rack due to decades of courageous struggle against Cushing's Disease. You can see the first three skirts here: Project 32: Skirting the Issue

Each of the pieces is inspired by a different aspect of my friend's life and story as I understand it. Number four is my comment on her history as a child of missionaries in the Andes mountains of South America.
Continuing within my triptych framework, I selected three prints again, but decided to piece together the first and second panels to suggest the peaks of the mountains against the night sky.

The print around the bottom should look familiar. It's the same one I used in the Seattleite design to suggest the perpetual clouds we all enjoy so much. This time, though, the clouds represent the ground of the composition with the mountain peaks and stars rising high above.

The fifth was a request from K for a warmer skirt made from knit fabric. Luckily I was on my way to the Sewing and Stitchery Expo in Puyallup when her message came in. There was an exceptional fabric vendor there from Evanston, Illinois called Vogue Fabrics and they had an excellent selection of textiles at prices I have not seen outside of Manhattan before.

I selected two colors of double-knit cotton jersey that had a beautiful hand and a lovely sheen to them. The photograph really doesn't do the colors justice. They really evoke the green and blue of crocus leaves and flowers. Of all the pieces, this one has the least narrative / editorial content, but it will serve its purpose and keep her boo-boos warm and toasty until the weather here starts to cooperate.

I used a two-thread flat lock stitch on my Babylock Imagine serger to join the upper and lower sections together. As promised, it produced a slender join with the needle threads visible easing the transition between the colors. If you click on the photo you might be able to see what I'm writing about.

The layers around the bottom edge were supposed to be more lettuce-edged than they turned out. Live and learn, I suppose! I do like the piece, but am starting to feel ready to move on to the final skirt, since it promises to be the most theatrical.