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Archive for the ‘diabetes’ Category

Every journey begins with one step. Big steps; little steps; they’re all steps. They all count.

I didn’t write about the bit of positive news that show the first steps in a long journey to finally recover from the storm of health setbacks. At my last appointment with the endocrinologist three weeks ago, I got a glimmer of hope. As you may remember, the insulin I have been taking was causing me to gain ten to twelve pounds per month. I pleaded with the doctors to put me on different medicines. My primary care physician seemed to think I was eating too much. I wasn’t. I’m not. I had been advised by the dietitian to have three to four servings of carbs (one serving is fifteen grams) per meal at minimum. I have only been having one such serving per meal. There was still no change in the weight gain. I even told the doctor which medicine had worked previously and what I wanted her to try. No luck. Finally I got her to go through with a referral to the endocrinologist last January. That doctor listened to me and thought I was right about the medication I wanted to try.

After three months, instead of gaining ten to twelve pounds each month, I had only gained three and a half. Yay! Still a weight gain but so much less. And the biggest news at that check up was that my HA1C, which is a test that shows how high blood sugar has been in the previous three months went from 8.2 to 5.5. That is in the non-diabetic range! So that’s much better.

And the kicker is that because I’m doing so much better, the doctor has reduced the amount of insulin I am taking by half. That means that I should be losing more weight soon. I’m still only having very few carbs and under one thousand calories per day. When I went to the orthopedic doctor eleven days after the endocrinologist appointment, I had lost four pounds! Yay!

Although these are very little steps, I’m pretty sure they are leading me toward a good outcome. It is the encouragement I needed. I am hoping that I will lose enough pounds to make getting around less difficult so I can start getting back to the things I like to do, like taking the kids for hikes or even for a short walk up and down the block.

So let’s hear it for little steps!

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What a question. The obvious answer would be yes, we’re all going to die. However, it was Spencer (4 years old) asking. So not a good answer for him.

It all came about because of his curiosity and my diabetes. Actually, it goes back to my surgery last July. Somehow, he must have heard the grownups discussing the possibility that I might die. They hear everything, those little ones, especially the things they are not supposed to. I was very careful not to discuss anything like that in front of them. But I think my daughter must have discussed it with either her boyfriend or her friends, maybe even on the phone. So he heard it and got it in his head.

Fast forward to now. I am careful not to test or inject my insulin around the boys but because they spend so much time with me, it is sometimes inevitable that they will see me test and/or inject. Spencer asked me what I was doing when I was testing my glucose, which requires a prick of the finger to get a drop of blood for the meter. I explained that I was testing to see how much sugar was in my blood. I went on to tell him, in the simplest of terms, that we all have sugar in our blood but sometimes our body doesn’t work right and we end up with too much sugar in our blood and that can hurt our organs and make us sick. I told him that is what I have and it is called diabetes. That’s why I have to test my blood before every meal and at other times. Then I have to give myself an injection of insulin that helps get rid of the sugar in my blood (again, I had to keep it very simple). He’s very curious now and every time he sees me reach for my meter, he wants to come watch. Then when I am done testing and injecting, he always asks “Nana, are you going to die?” The answer I give him is simple, too. “No, I’m okay. I’m not going to die.”

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Lots

That’s what I have to share. In fact, too much for what must be a quick to write post but if I wait until I have time to write a longer post, that will probably never come.

I’m so busy these days that I am getting all lost in the busyness and not enjoying the holiday season. I want just a couple of days to myself to wrap gifts and make lists and maybe make some tamales to share with the family. Just a couple of days. It seems I can’t catch my breath these days and when I have time I am just so exhausted that I don’t have the energy to focus on relaxing and enjoying and doing for me.

I hope that changes. I am trying to change it. I am starting the new year with a planner/journal. I haven’t done that in a long, long time. This one is called bullet journaling and it is new to me. I got my Happy Planner (mini) and a few (very few) accessories but I won’t start until the new year. In the meantime I want to figure out what sections I will put in it. Well, I think with bullet journaling they call them “collections” not sections or topics. I know I want to have a collection for tarot, gratitude, kids’ stuff, blogging ideas, and a section for my diabetes related stuff. I need to sit and plan it out and get some more refills, although I am thinking it may be more cost effective to get myself the paper punch and put together my own refills. We’ll see.

Diabetes. Several things. First, I got my A1c results back on Thursday and I am at a 7.1 which is super! 7.0 is target range for diabetics so I am excited to have made it to that number. And my insulin is working better now that I have learned to concentrate on the carbs I consume in relation to the insulin I inject. AND a big bonus: I finally got my one on one with the dietitian this past week and she asked me if I would be willing to try something different. It seems she has read a lot of articles that show that taking 1000 to 1200 grams of alpha lupeic acid can lower blood glucose, help with weight loss, AND help the pain from nerve damage. I said I would try it. The pain from the nerve damage is getting worse and if there is a chance that this will help, I will take it. The neat thing is that I only started taking it on Friday night and already it is having an affect on my glucose levels which means less insulin that I need to take which also means less weight gain (yes, insulin makes you gain weight). I had been gaining ten pounds  a month and that has to stop! I think this really might work! Yay!

There’s cute kiddo stuff to tell you about but I have to run again. I think we’re going to a Christmas program in just a bit and I’m not ready!

I hope you are all having a great holiday season and stopping, or at least pausing long enough, to enjoy it!

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When I went to the nutrition nurse a couple of weeks ago, she answered one of my questions before I could even ask it. I had wondered about my bedtime blood sugar reading. I usually eat a snack before I go to bed so my blood sugar won’t get too low overnight. However, sometimes I am just not hungry for a snack and I always wonder how high or low my blood sugar should be before I go to bed. She said, while she was going through a list of dos and don’ts, that I should never go to bed with my blood sugar lower than 100. That’s the magic number. So now I know that when it’s over 100, I don’t need to worry about a snack but if, like tonight, it’s only 81, I need to have a snack. That snack can be a small apple or a low calorie yogurt or something like that. Not a huge snack, just enough to bring my blood sugar back up before I go to sleep.

What happens when it gets low? Well, I’ve had it as low as the upper 50’s and it is not a good feeling. At about 70, I get blind blotches in my eyes so that means I can’t drive or do much of anything that requires eyesight. I also get very hot, like a hot flash, hot enough to make me want to start taking off clothes or turning on the fan. Uncomfortably hot. And I start to shake. That’s really scary to me. I start to shake to the point where I can’t even take my blood sugar reading because I can’t hold the lancing device or the test strip or get my blood onto the test strip. It’s really very scary and it also brings fuzziness. Like mental fuzziness. I can’t concentrate and I can’t even figure out what I am supposed to do.

So obviously, the idea is to not let it get that low. I usually carry hard candy in my purse or pocket. I have also taken to carrying a small juice box with me and putting one next to my bed at night time. I have glucose pills, too. I try to cover all the bases. My daughter is also well versed in what to do if I tell her I am having a low or that I need sugar. If my blood sugar gets too low, I can die. Not a good thing. That’s one of the reasons that it is so scary. You know where you’re headed and if it’s too low, you aren’t able to do much to stop it because when I get that shakiness and weakness, I can’t get to the kitchen to get something to eat or to the fast food place down the street if I am in the car. And if I get that way, I shouldn’t be driving so I need to pull over right away. In fact, I usually drive in the slow lane so that if I have to pull over because of my blood sugar, I’m right there. And there is candy and sugar pills in the car. Just in case.

That’s your diabetes lesson today. And a word: if you are ever out and you see someone having some kind of problem where they are shaky or seem disoriented, try asking them if they are diabetic or if you can get them something, like juice or a piece of fruit. You might be saving someone. That’s your bonus lesson.

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November is Diabetes Awareness Month. Here’s something I wrote on Facebook:

Diabetes is not just having to watch your diet. It’s not just limiting sweet stuff and sugary stuff (because everything you put in your mouth has sugar or turns to sugar). It’s not just having to test your blood sugar four or more times a day. It’s not just having to inject yourself with insulin four times a day. It’s not just the possibility of going blind. It’s not just the increased danger of cardio vascular disease. It’s not just having immune dysfunction. It’s not just a life expectancy that is fifteen years shorter than the average American. It’s not just increased medical costs. It’s not just being dependent on life saving medication for the rest of your life.  It’s not just…

It’s all of these things and so much more.

And here’s a link to an American Diabetes Association post about November and Diabetes Awareness.

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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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