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Archive for the ‘diabetes’ Category

That’s about four inches and it’s the size of the tumor that yesterday’s CT scan found growing outside of my gall bladder. From what the doctor says, the CT scan shows that it is “acting like it is cancerous.” The next step is a needle biopsy which should happen within the week and the gastroenterologist has already put in a referral to the oncologist. Approval for oncologist consult should take a couple of weeks, at least.

I’m sort of in shock. The doctor says it will have to come out, whatever it is, because it is protruding into the colon. So best case scenario is that it only has to be removed. But it is very likely that there will be a need for “follow up treatment.”

I managed to hold it together enough to call my three kids and tell them, and then my mother. I learned that hearing bad news is bad but having to relay the bad news to someone you love is far worse. So I guess we all have some more waiting to do. I wish the wait to be as short as possible.

I want to digest this news so that I can let my mind think about other things. Right now it’s kind of tough to think of anything. I’m sort of numb.

With luck, I can distract myself in a day or two so I can write and post here. I have a lot of ideas for posts.

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Diabetes. If you can prevent yourself from getting it, do. It’s not a nice thing and not always easy to manage.

After being diagnosed in 1999, I managed my diabetes with oral medications then later, when I had no insurance, I watched what I ate and exercised. It wasn’t under control but for  someone with no insurance and no financial resources to see a doctor for medication, it was “not bad.” Then last Christmas I turned 61 and all hell let loose. I started getting symptoms, which when combined, I knew it meant my diabetes was no longer going to let me take care of it on my own. It reared it’s ugly head and asked for professionals. I was able to find a free clinic that approved me and was immediately put on oral medication. My HA1c test (a test that tells the doctors the amount of sugar in my blood for the past three months) came in at 14.4. It should be 7 for diabetics and 5 for non diabetics. Mine was obviously whacked! After two weeks on oral medication, I was no better so they determined that my body had stopped producing any insulin at all, which means that the oral medications had nothing to work with, and I needed insulin.

Thus began this journey. About a week later, I was approved for the Oregon Health Plan (state medical insurance for low/no income). I got in to see a doctor right away because the insulin needed to be adjusted as the free clinic had started me on the lowest dose of long acting insulin. So the new doctor doubled the dose and added meal time fast-acting insulin injections that I take just before eating. They help maintain my sugar level low so it never gets super high in any 24 hour period. It’s still not as it should be but it’s getting there. (A fasting of 175 is much better than what I had before insulin, which was in the 590s.)

So I am learning to deal with the fast-acting meal time insulin. It has been just under a week and in that time I’ve had three “low episodes.” A low episode is when you don’t have enough sugar in your blood. And it will kill you. Quickly. I was able to handle the first two which were both in the 70s. Then today, I got to where I could only see blotches of color and I was sweating so much my clothes were soaked, like dripping wet, within about two minutes. How low was it? 59. What do you do for it? Eat Life Savers or other kind of sugar source, eat sugar right out of the bowl, drink juice, put icing from tube icing inside your cheek. There are also sugar pills but I didn’t have any. So I used Life Savers and fruit juice. It almost didn’t budge. I repeated the juice and candy and it was still only at 64 a full forty minutes later. I ended up eating a whole personal size watermelon. Finally, I got it to 90 and I knew I was out of the woods. But that was a scary hour. I thought I was going to die…from low blood sugar.

I need to talk to the doctor and show her my numbers. I need to know the cutoff number. When I take my blood sugar before insulin, what number should tell me “don’t take any insulin?” So until I figure that out, I’ll be a little scared of injecting myself again.

So yeah, don’t get diabetes.

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The Scoop

It has been a while. Since my last post, I have been to the free clinic and gotten an excellent exam. I was there for four hours, every bit of it was with a nurse or doctor or lab tech. Not much sitting and waiting.

I got a prescription for my diabetes medicine. I did tell them that my diabetes does not respond to only one medication. I need to take a combination of two medications. However, in an effort to save me money on medication, they decided to start me out with a high dose of metformin only. It’s not working. My fasting blood sugar (which should be about 100 to 120) has ranged from 302 to 600. It’s not only depressing but when it is that high it makes me feel really sick, and very sluggish. I was so desperate yesterday that while I was in the clinic neighborhood, I stopped in, almost in tears. There wasn’t a doctor to see me but they gave me an appointment for this afternoon. I’m hoping that they will either prescribe a second medication or try a third dose of the metformin in the middle of the day. Currently I am taking 1000 mg twice a day.

On another note regarding the free clinic, I also walked out of there last week with an order for a mammogram, a colonoscopy, a hearing test, and an eye test. All completely free. I am really surprised at the services that professionals have donated so that people like me can get medical attention.

It has been quiet, as I can’t do too much with such low energy. However, our weather has graced us with a few semi-sunny days in the past week so I did get out for a hike with the boys. Actually a half a hike because the trail we took was longer than we thought and I couldn’t make it all the way so we turned around. Still, I think we managed about 1.5 miles, at least, maybe more. It was also Spencer’s birthday. We spent the day at Chuck E. Cheese. The boys loved it and it was in the middle of the day on a weekday so at times we were the only ones there. I think we were there for about six hours! We had a food problem. The buffet had a total of four slices of two different kinds of pizza and no salad. It took them over 45 minutes to bring out more. They eventually brought it out and the manager also sent over a large combo pizza just for us and then they refunded the original purchase and gave the kids a bunch of game tokens. So the afternoon was free! Yay. The kids loved it and we loved watching them play the games and have fun. Win win.

Anyway, with luck I will get the prescription thing sorted and I will be feeling better in days. I’ve missed blogging but just have not been up to it.

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Sometimes Life Sucks

Just when we think things are going well, life throws us a curve ball.

I spent the day sick in bed and very worried about my own health.  I woke up extremely dizzy and unable to get around the house without hanging on to the walls.  It became apparent to me that it was, most likely, a blood sugar problem.  While my sister was visiting me, I didn’t take care of myself and didn’t monitor my blood sugar like I should have.  She left Sunday and today things came to a screeching halt.  I was so ill that I couldn’t even stay out of bed long enough to find my medicine and my glucometer.  I was in pretty bad shape.

I was eventually able to, through sheer will power, get to my medicine and my meter.  Sure enough, my blood sugar was at 364…way too high.  I managed to take my medicine after I made myself drink some juice and eat a piece of toast so my stomach would tolerate the glucophage and glyburide.  The whole process of taking a reading of my blood sugar level and eating something so I could take my medicine, took about an hour because of the poor shape I was in.

Luckily, I was able to contact the neighbor across the street and she spent theday checking on me and running to the store to get me some 7 Up and some soup.  By the time she came over, I had progressed to the “barfs” and a low grade fever.  So I think that I must have picked up a bit of a bug and it was aggravated by my diabetes which in turn was aggravated by the bug.

Not a fun day.  I am feeling better now but am still weak.  I’m heading for bed as soon as I take my medicines (diabetes meds).  The neighbor has the key and will be checking on me.  I hate to be a burden on anyone but I think this time it is/was necessary.

Anyway, just checking in and urging you all to take care of yourselves.  Life has a way of knocking us off our feet once in a while.  Be prepared with neighbor’s phone numbers, etc.

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I eat a lot of yogurt. Sometimes up to three of those little cup-ish packages from the store. However, like the price of everything else, the price of those little individual servings has gone way up. I am paying about 69 cents a piece (if I use 3 per day, this makes it over $14 per week. I know I can get the larger size (I think it’s a quart). The store brand in that size is about $4.89, but then I get stuck with one flavor. If I get extra things (fruit) to put into it, then I end up paying even more because I can’t usually buy just four strawberries or just 1/8 cup of blueberries. You get it, right?

Years ago, when I was first married, okay DECADES ago, my ex used to make his own yogurt and taught me. We’d make it a couple of times a week and add our own flavors or toppings to it. I could also use it for other recipes when I was cooking. We used to make it on the stove, with no “maker” just the milk and the yogurt starter, then we’d put it inside our gas oven and it would grow and set. Later, when times were a little better, we got an electric yogurt maker. By the time the kids came along, we were doing better financially and our lives got busier so making our own yogurt became a thing of the past. I had all but forgotten about it.

I’ve really been trying to eat healthy. I’m diabetic and at the last check up, my cholesterol was too high. Two weeks after the doctor told me I needed to reduce my cholesterol level, I gave up eating eggs. A week after that, I gave up eating meat. Well I almost gave up. My youngest daughter hasn’t eaten meat of any kind (not even fish) in about six years. Now when she is near meat, the smell of it upsets her stomach. If she wanted to start eating meat again, it would cause great physical discomfort. She would have to introduce it very gradually. According to articles I have read, when a person stops eating meat, their body will no longer produce the enzyme that breaks down the meat into nutrients and by-products. With this knowledge, when I gave up eating meat (in January of 2007), I decided to allow myself to eat meat once per week. After about six or seven months of that, I lost the appetite for meat so now I have it occasionally, perhaps once or twice a month. I do eat fish. That’s what keeps me going. One can only eat so much soy products! (Soy by the way, is great for menopausal women. Daily intake of soy does away with the need to take hormones!)

And so I get back to my yogurt. I decided that I would make my own yogurt so that I can use skim milk and no sugar or other flavors, adding only fresh fruit or granola when I eat it. By making my own, I would be eating healthier and cutting cost at the same time. Perfect. I had forgotten the exact amounts of milk and yogurt starter to use but I remembered the process. I seemed to remember that we used about a tablespoon of starter but I wasn’t sure. I looked it up online. I got the information I needed and also read that I had to heat the milk to at least 185 degrees then let it cool to 110. I was supposed to use a candy thermometer to insure that I had the temperatures right. Then came the incubation period. How was I going to maintain the 90 to 110 degrees for ten to twelve hours? My oven is electric, not gas, so there is no pilot light to keep it at the right temperature. The websites I looked at recommended a few set ups, all of which were way too complicated and I didn’t have the right equipment anyway. I would have to go out and get several things. Now we were back to the money issues. (I recently moved to a different state and am still recovering from the moving expenses so money is scarce at the moment.)

Freecycle. Have you ever heard of it? I’ve been using it for about five years. I decided to list the items I needed for making my own yogurt, hoping that someone would have the little individual jars or even larger wide mouth jars with lids. I also needed a candy thermometer. I also listed an electric yogurt maker as an alternative, thinking someone might have one lying around that they didn’t use any more. You know, like when someone gives you something as a gift and you have no use for it but you still keep it, stuck away in a closet or the garage for years and years! I posted the ad and waited. Nothing happened. No one had anything I needed. I waited some more. Then I got restless and decided to go out and buy an electric yogurt maker. I searched Target, Walmart, K-mart, Fred Meyer, and several other places. No one had one. They all list them on their websites but the stores near me (okay, within 100 miles of me) do not carry them. I never buy stuff online because of the added shipping so that was out. Plus I wanted it NOW!

So I did the next best thing. I started going to all the Goodwill stores, Salvation Army shops, and any other thrift shop I could find. The area I live in has a lot of thrift shops. I went every day. For two weeks I went everyday. Nothing. Nada. Zip. Zilch.

On Saturday I didn’t feel well. I stayed in bed most of the day. I never went out of the house. My stomach was upset. This underscored the need for having yogurt. I hadn’t had any in over a week. Sunday came around and I dragged myself out of bed. I couldn’t stay in bed again because I could already feel myself getting depressed and that’s the last thing I need. So I pulled myself together and headed to the Goodwill Outlet, also known as the Bins. You must see this place. It’s a huge warehouse building with long bins full of stuff. Everything you can think of is there, mostly in pieces, but it’s there. One of the neat things is that they sell things by weight. For example, if you buy one to ten pounds of items, you pay $1.69 a pound. The more you buy, the lower the per pound price. They weight glass separately because it weighs so much more and they have a much lower price per pound for that (I think it’s about 39 cents per pound). It’s a fun thing to do. Even if you don’t need anything, a trip to the Bins is distracting and fun and some times will yield something neat for very little money. When my son was here a couple of weeks ago, he didn’t bring a jacket because he came here from 100+ degree weather. Here, he needed a jacket. We went to the Bins and he found a jacket exactly like the one he has at home that he paid $35 for. The Bin price? Less than $3! What a deal.

So as I walked into the Goodwill Outlet yesterday, I walked to one bin. The first bin. Yup. Guess what was there?! A yogurt maker. Brand new. In the box. Sealed. Yippee! I quickly grabbed it. Then I noticed that almost right next to it, in the same bin, there was a brand new candy thermometer. Yup, still in the package! I grabbed that too and headed for the register, paid less than $3 for the two items and walked out with the most hugest grin on my face! (Okay, I know that is horrible English but at the moment I don’t care.)

I’m now making my first batch of yogurt. I have a feeling it will be the best tasting yogurt I have had in a long, long time.

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[This is another story that shows how Mother Nature steps in to slow us down. This happened about three years ago.]

Susie was doubled over crossing her legs in that “I gotta go pee!” dance and inhaling shrieks of laughter. Not sure whether to be mad at her for laughing at me or join her in her obvious enjoyment of the moment, I paused long enough for her to be able to mutter, “I’m not laughing at you,” then as she squirmed for the bathroom, she added, “Mommie, really I’m not. Wait. Wait,” and she closed the bathroom door. Minutes later, she came out of the bathroom, took one look at me and started convulsing with laughter once again. “I’m not, really mommy, I’m not laughing at you. I’m laughing at the situation!” That’s when I couldn’t hold it in any longer and we both writhed with laughter. (more…)

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[This story is about something that happened several years ago. It’s true. It’s proof that even I make mistakes. Just don’t tell my kids! ]

It started as one of those absolutely marvelous days, only to turn quite bad!

After a delicious morning of incredibly well-behaved and productive students, at lunch time the Principal complimented me on the day’s writing lesson which she and the Superintendent had observed. Everyone in the faculty room heard her compliments and they gave me a thumbs up! I was feeling very successful, even blissful. After lunch my students brought me sweet notes and pictures they had made for me, along with the healthy parts of their lunches they hadn’t eaten. At dismissal, I let them all go and had a short parent conference then packed my bag with the papers I would have to correct that night. Watching the clock, I headed for my car. (more…)

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