Friday, April 25, 2014

Greatest. Feelings. Ever.

Just a list of my top 30 best feelings in the world.  In no particular order.

1. Back someone else.
2. Massage...of any body part...or all of it at once.
3. Taking off your bra after a long day.
4. Walking into a cold room from the hot outdoors.
5. Walking into a warm room from the cold outdoors.
6. When your car heater finally kicks in when you're driving to work real early in the morning during the winter.
7. Sitting on the porch listening to and watching the rain, and smelling that unique rain smell.
8. Finally peeing after you've had to hold it for a long time.
9. Orgasm
10. Snuggling in bed.
11. Waking up naturally... not to an alarm.
12. Hot tea on a sore throat.
13. Those farts that make you feel like you just lost ten pounds.
14. Cuddling on the couch.
15. Eating your favorite food...especially after you've gone a long time without it.
16. A hot shower or bath.
17. Feeling loved, respected, appreciated.
18. Coming home after a long absence.
19. Realizing you have more money in the bank than you thought.
20. Having a bowel movement.
21. Witnessing a wedding, birth, or any happy event in a loved ones life.
22. Being able to wear those clothes you haven't fit in for years.
23. Being reunited with a loved one after a long absence.
24. Being able to make the day of someone who really needs the break.
25. Having the house all to yourself for the whole day.
26. Laughing with friends.
27. Getting a sincere compliment on something you've worked very hard at.
28. Knowing you've made someone feel good.
29. When all your hard work and struggling finally pays off.
30. Waking up to the knowledge that you have absolutely no obligations or chores to do today.

I am sure there are a million more great feelings.  What are your top 30?

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

I Am Living Proof...

I was diagnosed with Type I Diabetes when I was nine years old.  I come from a family of many Type I's.  I am told having so many members of the same family that are Type I diabetics is rare.  There are five of us, myself, one of my brothers, my father, an aunt, and a cousin.  Myself and my brother are the only two still living.  My father passed away from a stroke, my aunt from kidney failure, and my cousin from complications of a staph infection, if I remember correctly.  The point of this is to get you informed before I start to talk about what this post is actually about.  You see, although I come from a well informed family of diabetics that really did take as good care of themselves as they could for the times they lived in (1950's - early 1990's), and I was taught well how to take care of myself, I didn't, and it has cost me dearly...and I'm only 35 years old.

There are many Type I juvenile onset diabetics out there and I hope this post will find its way to them all and be encouragement for them to try hard at their young age to take care of their diabetes, keep their blood sugars in line, and be as healthy as possible.

The one thing that stands out in my memory today is the thought I had as a child and teenager, "I'm gonna do what I want now.  I'll deal with the consequences later."  I was such an idiot!  Later came much sooner than expected.

As a young child, even though I was surrounded by diabetics, and taught well by them, I did not understand the massive importance of taking care of myself.  I knew how to check my blood sugar, I knew how to draw and inject my insulin, I knew what foods were OK and which ones to avoid like the plague, I knew I needed to balance my medication, diet, and exercise.  But I didn't understand exactly why, I didn't understand what would happen if I didn't do it all the time and not just when mom and dad were watching.

My dad, who was a type I as well, passed away when I was eleven.  It devastated me, and not just because I lost my daddy, but also because of what killed him.  My father took very good care of himself.  He was diagnosed with type I diabetes when he was 15 years old (1954) and lived his life according to all the knowledge they had of diabetes in his time.  He ate right, exercised, checked his blood sugar religiously.  He did everything right, and he died at age 50 from a stoke brought on by complications of diabetes.

At age eleven you know what I thought?  "If dad took such good care of himself and still died, why should I even try?"

As I got older I began to understand.  I understood that when I ate too much or the wrong things, I would get sick; I would feel achy, nauseous, moody, get cramps, feel powerfully thirsty and not be able to quench it, etc.  Not to mention the disappointment from my doctors and mother when the A1C results came in every six months and were still too high.  But as a teenager, I didn't care.  I knew better, but I didn't care.  I hated being a diabetic, I hated being "tied down" and restricted by some stupid disease!  I rebelled against it, I ignored it, I did everything I wanted to do and gave no thought to how I was destroying myself.

At age 17 I went to my yearly eye exam and was, for the first time, told that I have diabetic retinopathy in my right eye.  Although the doctor explained what it was and how to stop it, I didn't listen.  All I thought was, "I have time."  I was so stupid!

I began to live on my own at age 19.  I was poor, had no insurance, and was running wild with my new found freedom. You know what that got me?  A cold that turned into bronchitis that, in conjunction with chronically high blood sugars, lead to diabetic ketoacidosis.  I landed in the emergency room mere minutes from death, fell into a 24 hour coma and then almost died again a few weeks later when I got the $20,000 hospital bill!

My early twenties were spent with good insurance that I did not take enough advantage of.  As I matured, I did begin to care about my health more and I did try to eat healthy and exercise, and monitor my diabetes better.  This was a roller-coaster though, when stress set in, and there was a lot of it, I would fall off the wagon, and the rare times when things were good, I'd do great at being healthy.

In 2007 I was diagnosed with high blood pressure and bad cholesterol. I landed a good job at the local zoo.  It was outdoors and I got to work with all the wild animals.  It was an extremely physical job, which was a happy and good thing for me. However,  I soon began to have terrible leg pain.  At first I though it was just that I was out of shape and needed to wait it out and it would go away as I got used to the activity.  It didn't go away, it got worse, and when it got to the point where I had difficulty walking and just wanted to cry, I went to the doctor.  This was when I was diagnosed with poor circulation.  I lost my insurance soon after the diagnosis so no tests or treatment was done.  I also had to leave the awesome job that I loved because the pain was unbearable.

In 2010 I woke up one morning and my eye sight just wasn't right. Even with my glasses on, things just seemed blurry and I was having a hard time focusing when reading.  I had no insurance so I went to Lenscrafters thinking I just needed a new prescription.  Come to find out, they could do a full exam that included a retinal exam.  I was, for the second time, diagnosed with diabetic retinopathy.  This time it was in both eyes and my right eye was much worse off.  I was informed that I needed surgery to keep it from progressing and that my eyesight would never be any better than it was at this moment.  No insurance meant no surgery, so I just got new glasses and went on with my life.  In the months to come, I would experience flashes of light in my vision, and hemorrhages that would leave dark globs in my vision that made me feel like I had a lava lamp in my right eye.  It caused a lot of worry, but there was nothing I could do about it.

In 2011 I began to have really bad heartburn.  I changed my diet and ate Tums like they were candy but the heartburn just got more frequent and painful. I started taking Omeprozol and it helped, but with only half the pain.  I got insurance again in 2013 and the first thing I did was go to the doctor to get help for my heartburn.  Of course the doctor was more concerned with my diabetes and kept putting off the heartburn treatment until she did lab tests and a full physical.  Eventually she sent me to a GI specialist and after he examined me, he referred me to a cardiologist.

I saw the cardiologist in October 2013.  He asked me a lot of questions, examined me, did an EKG which came back abnormal.  He wasn't too concerned at first, but I think it was because of my young age.  He ran me through a stress test and that is when he became concerned.  The stress test showed a blockage.  I went in for an angiogram the next day and they hadn't even finished the procedure when the doctor got on the phone with the surgeon to schedule open heart surgery!

Two days later I ended up having a triple bypass.  Let me remind you now, all you diabetics that don't care to take care of yourselves,  I had triple bypass open heart surgery at 34 years old. 

In January of this year (2014) I had to renew my driver license and it ordered me to retake the written exam as well as do the eye exam.  I passed the eye exam with both eyes open and with just my left eye, but I failed miserably with just my right eye.  They refused to renew my license until I had an Ophthalmologist examine me and fill out a form saying I am OK to drive.  I went to the eye doctor and they did a full exam including a retinal exam.  they were shocked to see the terrible condition of both eyes and referred me to a retinal specialist.

In the months to come I would have two laser treatments in my left eye and two surgeries on my right eye.  I am still in the process of getting my eyes repaired.

There are so many things wrong with me right now that I am overwhelmed.  And the vast majority of my health issues could have been avoided if I had just taken care of myself all these years.  I could write a book on the negative effects of not caring for your diabetes.  It's not just the health issues, either,  it takes a toll on your family, job, everyday activities, and your independence ( I lost my driver license).

Take care of yourself, people, ALL the time.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Typical Change-Hating Ghosts

The other night I had one of those dreams that you wake up from knowing you should have been frightened but aren't.

I arrived at my new home so very excited to be moving into one of my dream homes.  It was a huge Victorian style home, built in 1919.  It was a fixer-upper and I was eager to get started with the fixing up and decorating. 

As I approached the front steps - it was a large front yard that sloped with a long walk way with sets of four steps every few yards leading up to the grand front porch that spanned the entirety of the front of the house - a woman approached me and introduced herself as a neighbor.  She explained that she hopped we would be staying longer than most people who'd lived in the house, "Most people leave after only a few days because of the kids". 

"What kids?"

"The ghost siblings, we call them.  Four kids that died in the house during the 1800's, I think.  They terrorize anyone who tries to make the house a home.  Good luck with that."

The woman walked away and I continued to the front door thinking how dumb the woman was, the house wasn't even built until 1919.  As I looked through my keyring for the door key, out of the corner of my eye I saw something that caught my attention.  Looking to my right I saw three children standing together, smiling toward me as if they were smiling for a photograph.  A tall girl, maybe around sixteen, and younger girl, maybe around eleven, and a little boy, maybe around seven, all three dressed in clothing indicative of the great depression.  A chill ran down my spine and I hurried into the house even though I was telling myself the danger was inside.

The rest of the day was uneventful on the ghost front and I told myself I had just let my imagination run wild because of what the woman had told me.  Everything got moved in and I was just starting to unpack boxes when I realized how tired I was.  I decided a nice hot shower and bed sounded real nice.

I was walking down the hallway thinking of how I could fix it up to look nicer and of how much work needed to be done on it, when I heard a whispering accompanied by a little boy's laughter.  I hurried into the bathroom and thought to myself how dumb I was to try to run away from ghosts.

As soon as I turned on the light, a girl, the older one, came running at me with what looked like a shard of mirror glass.  She vanished just before impact.  I screamed and jumped away.

"What the fuck!"  I yelled.  "That's not nice!"

"You're not nice!"  The little boy yelled from nowhere.

"You don't even know me...yet."

"But, you want to change our house."

Oh, I see. I thought to myself.  Typical angry ghosts that don't like change. "No, I want to restore it to be just like it was when it was first built."

"Really?"  A new voice chimed in, and then the younger girl appeared in the bathroom doorway.

"Yeah, would you like the house to be like it was in 1919?"

Everything was quiet for a few moments.  The young girl stood smiling in the door way and then walked toward me.  the older girl and younger boy both appeared as well.  "We would like that."

"Good, because that is what I'm going to do."

"Georgie won't like it, though.  He won't like you."

"Who's Georgie?"

"Our brother, he doesn't like anybody living in our house, no matter what."  The girls looked at each other and then back at me.  "He's going to kill you."

Needless to say I didn't sleep much that night.  Georgie did come to see me in my bedroom.  He was a strange ghost that kept changing appearance between a young thirteen year old to an older maybe nineteen year old.  He was a medical student before he died and made reference to "Taking a look at your cat."  which gave me chills as well as making me angry.

I asked Georgie why he didn't want me in his house?  He looked at me and appeared pleased to hear me call it "his house" and then pointed out that it was HIS house.

"Well, then, might I rent it from you?"

Unfortunately, this is when I woke up.