Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Just Another Day.

First, this is my first time ever writing a post on my phone. Slow going with the tiny keypad, etc. LOL, so excuse the extra mistakes.

*As usual, the following is written from my memory of the events.  Some things may be inaccurate due to faulty memories.  In any case, this is how I remember it:

So, here is how today is going so far:

6:30ish: Hubby wakes me up to tell me that I am  sleeping on my back. I'm under doctor's orders to not lay on my back because, eye stuff.  I roll on to my stomach and fall back to sleep.

7:00ish: Wake up feeling like my blood-sugar is low. Go to kitchen and make a bowl of Cheerios.  Notice hubby is still home.  He's usually gone by now. Don't bother to ask what's up..BG too low for cares right now.

7:15ish?:  Get to mirror to clean eye and put in drops. Notice a cloudiness in eye, freak out.  Go to see if hubby still home. He's outside about to leave.  Hurry out to him.

"Look, do you see what I see?"  I move up close to him and spread my lids with my fingers.

He looks closely and compares to my other eye. "Call Dr. Hunter.  Do it quick, I need to know if I have to take you or not."

I go back inside while hubby follows telling me he needs to head out to get the flat on the car fixed. It's one of those days.

Hubby takes a nice clear picture of my cloudy eye.

7:30ish: Call Eye-Q and tell them my problem. They tell me a nurse will return my call shortly.

7:45ish: a nurse calls and I explain my problem. She says the doctor will want to see me in person, a picture won't do. I should come in to the Fresno office and they'll fit me in.

8:00ish: get dressed and wait for lee to get back from his tire adventure. Play around on Facebook and other awesome interwebs sites.

...At some point hubby returns and he, his brother, and I head up to Fresno. We stop for gas on the way.

10:00ish: I am dropped off at Eye-Q and check in. Although the place is packed, I am called in within 10  minutes. The nurse asks me what I have come in for.  I explain the cloudy cornea.  She checks my pressure and vision, asks questions, and reviews my meds, and then asks me to wait to be called into the exam room.

10:45ish: Called in to exam room.  Dr. comes in and after pleasant greetings he asks why I came to Fresno, don't I see him in Selma on Friday?

"Yup, but i woke up with a cloudy cornea today." I explain.

"Oh, yeah, that can be very scary.  Let's take a look."

He examines my eye thoroughly.  He is happy with everything (retina, inner eye, healing from surgery, etc.) except the cloudy cornea.

"The cells of the cornea work to get rid of fluid and keep the cornea dry. During the cataract surgery, the surgeons tools go right through there and disrupt those cells. Sometimes, especially with diabetics, either immediately or a week or two later, the cells fail to do their job and you get this fluid buildup that looks like this cloudiness. It should clear up on it's own. We'll keep an eye on it."  He explains (of course, this is from my memory and may have inaccuracies).

We talk a bit more about my eye and medications, etc..  I tell him about the pain I had experienced the night before.  It wasn't bad, so I hadn't worried about it, but it was worse than the normal pain I experience on and off. He is concerned and says if I have pain like that again, I should let him know right away. In any case, my eye looks good (save for the cloud) and he asks for me to return in a week.

11:30ish: I make my next appointment and head out.  I have to wait for my ride so I walk about a mile to Carl's Jr. and get a soda and wait...3 hours.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

I Felt That

I think I found a new primary doctor that I will enjoy working with.  My old primary just up and left without letting her patients know.  I made an appointment with her replacement and went in to see her today.  Once I checked in I was informed that this new doctor was not coming in today and I would be seeing someone else.  This office is not earning my respect at this moment, but all I need is a referral to an endocrinologist, so I don't care who I see today.

I finally get called back to see this new, replacement of the replacement doctor.  You know those times when everything is annoying you and then suddenly it all falls into place and all is right and well with your life?  This was that moment for me.  First, I found that I've lost seven pounds (yay!), then my blood-sugar was checked and it was 62...I didn't even feel slightly low, made a note to keep an eye on that.  Then the doctor came in and we talked, and I like him, he's good, he listens, he made a point to tell me he is available at any time I might need him, and he's not bad to look at, either (wink).  At this moment I am glad for the hiccups and that it resulted in meeting this doctor (I shall make him my new primary).  I got my referral to an endocrinologist, and the doctor examined the lesion on my leg that has not healed even after two months.  He prescribed more antibiotics and told me to follow up with him in two weeks.

"You are type I and have heart problems, we need to keep a close eye on things like this on your leg that aren't healing quickly enough."  He tells me, and I like that he obviously takes everything into consideration.

I leave the office after making a follow-up appointment and while walking through the parking lot I text my ride.

No reply.

I try calling my ride.

No answer.

I text my husband and let him know I will be walking home.  And so the walk begins.

The walk home is 2.5 miles.  I am aware that my BG was 62 not even 30 minutes earlier so I get in my purse and get out my glucose tabs and pop one in my mouth, and then another. 

The walk is slow but steady, I have very poor circulation in my legs which results in a lot of pain when walking, especially when continually walking.  The pain doesn't start until I get almost a mile into my walk, but I have to get home so I make use of my great tolerance of pain and just keep walking.

Along the way I encounter a couple of loose dogs that decide to let me know who's territory I am invading.  They run right up to me barking and yipping.  I just keep walking and return their greeting.

"Hey, hey, hey!  Grrr."

At about a mile and a half I start to feel a bit low.  I am actually glad to feel this because until very recently I have been unable to recognize when I am low.  I can feel the slightly shaky feeling that is normal when your BG drops.  I consider ingesting another glucose tab but decide to wait to see if I can make it home to check my BG.  Just because you feel low doesn't mean you are low.  If the symptoms progress a bit more, then I'll eat a tab.  Good plan...

A couple more blocks of walking and I begin to feel those symptoms progressing.  I feel a numb like tingling slowly making it's way down my back and to my legs and my lips as well.  I feel slightly weak and tired.  OK, I pop two more tabs.  Still walking.

Things are OK for a couple more blocks.  I pass by a house who's owner is in their garage with the door up, blasting Sweet Child O' Mine.  I hum along for the entire half a block that I can hear it.

I'm tired, my legs are hurting more and more, it's hot, my BG is low, my fat thighs are chafing...I just keep walking.

I come up to NorthHill road and my heart skips a beat; not in a bad, you have heart disease and are doing a ton more exercise than you are used to, kind of way, but in a "yay, just a few more blocks and I'm home!" kind of way.

As I turn on to NorthHill, my BG takes a turn for the worse.  I slow down my pace, not willingly, but because I suddenly am so very tired, sleepy, and feel so weak.

"Just keep walking, just keep moving." I tell myself.

I think about the two glucose tabs I still have in my purse but for some reason I don't take the action to eat them. 

"Just keep going."

Just a few more blocks...wait, where am I?...What was I supposed to do?...What am I doing?...Go home, so tired.  Something is wrong...need...what did I do?...I did something bad...I'm wrong...stop crying, don't cry in public...Where am I going?...what's going on? ...I need help, where's mom?...where's Lee?... Stop crying!...I've got to be somewhere....I don't...Police car, ask for police man, just car, no police...never around when you need them...What street is this?..can't read the sign, too blurry.  Stop crying! No crying in public!...need help, call Lee...NO!  Don't call LEe, he'll be mad...Just keep walking, need to go weak.

Suddenly, the glucose tabs decide to take effect and I feel much clearer.  I turn the corner onto my street and in moments I am home.  After a bowl of Cheerios with a bit of sugar added, I am good again.

Monday, August 25, 2014

My Eyes, Your Hands

Everything has been going very well with me lately.  My heart is healthy, I think I won't be having anymore eye surgeries for a long while, my depression has evaporated, I will be under the care of an endocrinologist again soon.  Things are looking up.  So why did I have this disturbing dream last night?

The dream was very amusing after the fact, as you will read,  but the feelings I had during it were feelings of anxiety and even a bit of fear.

Let me give you some context here first.  I have had four surgeries on my right eye in the past five months to save my sight from the ravages of untreated and advanced diabetic retinopathy.  I have nothing but praise and gratitude for my eye doctor, he has worked tirelessly to do all that he can to clean up my diseased eye. So now you know where I am coming from with such an odd dream.

My eye doctor informs me that I need another eye surgery.  So here I am in the operating room, strapped down in the usual position.  In this dream my perspective is that of looking down on the scene (out of body), so I am observing the operating room from above it all.

Dr. Hunter is apparently in a very happy mood and is eager to get started.  He goes right in and pops both my eyes right out of their sockets and begins to juggle and play with them excitedly.

"Look at this!"  He chirps to his assistant as he tosses my eyes in the air and catches them behind his back.

"I love operating on you, it's so much fun!"  He tells me as he and his assistant play catch with my eyes.

"I'm so glad I can bring you fun and joy, but I would really like to have my eyes back now."  I say nervously.

"Don't worry, hon, your eyes are in good hands."  He says as he holds his hands out to me to show that my eyes are literally in his hands.

The room erupts into laughter.

About this time I wake up.

Friday, August 22, 2014


 *As usual, the following is written from my memory of the events.  Some things may be inaccurate due to faulty memories.  In any case, this is how I remember it:

Another post-op appointment for my eye today.  It's been about a week and a half since my fourth eye surgery.  I had an issue to discuss with my doctor and was eager to see him for this reason.

When I first arrived at the Eye-Q center in Selma I noticed the lobby was packed.  August tends to be a busy month for eye exams.  I suppose it is because August is national eye exam month, and also because of kids going back to school and needing to be able to see well.  Good job at waiting until the very last minute, parents.

I checked in and then found a seat and waited my turn.  Despite the full lobby, it didn't take long to be called in.  Probably because my visit is with a specialist, so he wasn't quite as busy with regular exams and such? Just guessing here. In any case,  I rarely have to wait very long to see Dr. Hunter even though he's always busy.

At Eye-Q as with other offices, each doctor has his own set of nurses and they work together as a team.  So when a patient like myself is seen on average once a week, we get to know each other.  This is one reason I love Eye-Q, everyone is so personable, kind, and caring.  They actually stop, listen, and intereact with you, not rush, rush, and only react, like some other offices.  These people actually love thier jobs and live to help others in a caring way.

  I am embarrassed to admit I am absolutely terrible at remembering names, but the nurse I had today was the male nurse.  Like all the nurses there, he is kind and makes me feel comfortable and welcome.  He called me back for what I call the pre-visit work up.

He showed me into the pre-exam room, a room with just regular chairs and a desk with computer, and asked how I had been doing since my last visit.

"Wonderful.  I can see!"  I said.

The nurse smiled big and replied, "You can?  That's great! You must be so happy."

"Yes, and relieved, I was worried there for awhile."

"I know, it's been a lot of work.  Dr. Hunter is going to be so excited when he hears this."

"He's awesome, he's a miracle worker."

"That he is, he's been working hard on this, and for a long time."

The nurse checked my vision and eye pressure then asked me to wait in the small waiting room until they got a regular exam room ready.  I sat and waited a short while before being called in again.

A few minutes later Dr. Hunter came in with his usual happy greeting and handshake.

"Hello again, Tamra, how have you been?  Any pain?"  He asks.

"I'm doing great.  I've had pain everyday since the surgery but it's totally tolerable."

"On a scale, how bad?"

"pshh, like a two."

"OK, let's take a look."

He examined my eye fairly thoroughly and made notes.  He used the word 'fantastic' more than once which made me smile.  He likes to use that word and it always makes me wonder if he's a Dr Who fan...I should ask him some day.

As he examined my eye he asked how I was doing with positioning (staying bent forward so my eyes are always facing to the ground).  I said I was doing good with it and then I mentioned my concern.

"Every time I look up I feel a lot of pressure and more pain in my eye."

"Well, your pressure is good, it's 10, that's very good."

After the exam was complete he mentioned that the corneal abrasion had not healed up yet and would continue to cause some discomfort until it did.

"Corneal abrasions can take longer to heal in diabetics. We'll keep an eye on it."

He asked about my medications and then ordered more and went over them with me before ending the appointment.

"Things look great, we'll see you in a week.  It's nice to see you again, call me if you need anything."

I thanked him, and that was that...until next week.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Are You My Type?

I'm am writing this post for the benefit of the ignorant.  If you do not have diabetes or live closely with someone who is diabetic, then you probably are sorely uneducated in what diabetes is and how profoundly it infiltrates a life.

First and foremost, there are many types of diabetes and each of them are very similar and yet profoundly different.

Type I - (I am a Type I diabetic) Most type I's are diagnosed before they reach adulthood which is why it is also known as "juvenile onset" diabetes.  All Type I's have to inject insulin which is also why it is known as "insulin dependent" diabetes. Only about 5 to 10 percent of diabetics are type I.  This type is not caused by bad diet or being overweight; it is sometimes hereditary.The key difference that sets type I apart from other diabetes type's is that the pancreas in type I's produces no insulin.  The body's own immune system attacks and kills it's insulin producing cells.  Insulin is the hormone the body (in healthy persons) produces to regulate glucose in the blood and turn it into energy.  If there is too much or too little glucose in the blood it causes a lot of damage and illness. There is no cure for type I diabetes.  There is no way to reverse it or stop it or turn it into another type of diabetes.  Type I diabetes is treated (controlled) via insulin injections (usually several times a day) in conjunction with a healthy diet and exercise routine.  Type I's  must check their blood-glucose levels several times a day to make sure they are staying within an acceptable range.  Uncontrolled diabetes will lead to a whole host of health problems and death.  Even people who take exceptional care of their diabetes will end up with complications farther down the line. But the better care you take, the less likely you will have serious problems and the longer you will live.

Type II - This is the most common type of diabetes.  In type II the body is either resistant to insulin or does not produce an adequate amount to properly control glucose levels. Depending on the severity and individual circumstances of type II, it can be controlled by diet, exercise, oral, and/or injectable medications.  Type II's are encouraged to check their blood-glucose levels regularly to be sure their treatment regimen is working properly.  Uncontrolled type II can be just as damaging as type I, so good control is key to a happy, healthy, and long life.  There is no cure for diabetes, however Type II can be controlled well enough to not need medication.  This requires an extremely strict diet and exercise regimen and does not always result in the desired outcome (being able to come off medication).

Gestational diabetes - This type of diabetes only occurs in pregnant women.  An increase in hormones makes it more difficult for the body to use insulin properly.  Diet and exercise is usually the treatment of choice, but sometimes medication is needed.  Gestational diabetes usually goes away shortly after giving birth.  If you developed gestational diabetes during pregnancy then you are at high risk for developing type II diabetes at some point.  Maintaining a healthy diet and exercise routine, and a healthy weight will lower your risk for type II.

Surgically induced, chemically induced, and LADA - These are three other types of diabetes.  Surgically induced occurs when any surgery is done on the pancreas.  This type can be temporary or permanent and should be watched closely like all other  types of diabetes.  Chemically induced diabetes can occur as a side effect of certain types of medications and can be temporary or permanent and needs to be watched closely.  LADA (Latent Autoimmune Diabetes in Adults) also known as type 1.5, is sometimes misdiagnosed as type II.  It can develop at a slower rate than type I and usually is diagnosed in patients in their late 30's or older.

All type's of diabetes are serious and should be under the supervision of an endocrinologist or diabetes specialist.  If you have any combination of the following symptoms, you should be checked by a doctor ASAP:

Powerful thirst that can not be quenched
Having to pee often
Feeling hungry (cravings)  all the time
Losing weight even though you are not trying
Excessive fatigue
Depression (malaise)
Tingling or numbness in hands and/or feet
Blurry vision
Cuts/wounds that wont heal or heal very slowly

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Treadmills and Poopshivers

August 15, 2014 started out just fine.  But then some portal from hell burst forth and grabbed me by the female balls and proceeded to torture me with the force and anger of a baby who's favorite binky has been stolen.

I rolled out of bed at 5:45 A.M. and walked out the door at 6:45ish.  The ride to Fresno with my man and his brother was as it always is;  manly discussions of Magic the Gathering, Titanfall, and other geeky, nerdy, dorky things.  We were accompanied by Bob and Tom on the radio which was actually amusing this morning.  Eventually we made it to hubby's work and I switched from our car over to my mom's.

It's always so much fun, and exercise, to hang out with mom. The woman is in her 70's and runs around like a 21 year old.  It's downright exhausting.  But worth it to be with my mom.  We had some time before I had to be at my cardiologist's office for a stress test, so we went over to the recycler to drop off... you guessed it!  Recyclables.  After that, we went over to Uncle Harry's to get awesome bagels. I got sesame with cream cheese, mom got some orange cranberry thing that smelled like heaven.  We drove over to the cardiologist's office and ate and chatted in the car until it was time for me to go in.

We said our goodbyes and I love yous and then I went in.

I checked in still a bit early so I sat in a comfy chair in the waiting room.  this is when hell started peeking it's nose into my realm.  My lower abdomen began to cramp a little.  It felt like gas.  Really?  The last thing I need at a treadmill stress test is gas.

Dun, dun, DUN!

I was alone at the moment here in the waiting room so I do what women are so very good at.  I discreetly let out a bit of silent gas.  I am relieved to find it doesn't smell.  But the release doesn't seem to help any. 

After a bit I get called back. The nurse takes me to an exam room, gives me a gown and instructions, and tells me the tech will be in to get me in a few minutes.  I remove my shirt and bra and put the gown on with the opening in front.  I sit and wait for the tech.  My stomach is now more than gassy, I feel as if I am having menstrual cramps.  Lovely, I've been on my period for five days now, it should be ending, not starting!  On top of the pain, I am still worrying about having gas while running on a treadmill.  The embarrassment will be enough to shatter my fragile existence.

It's impossible to hold in farts while running.

It doesn't take long for the tech to come get me.  We walk over to the testing room.  He asks me to lay on my back on the table.  I inform him I just had eye surgery and am not supposed to be on my back.  He says it will only be for a couple minutes, is that OK?  I think it will be fine.  Several minutes later he has me roll onto my side and does the pre-exercise ultrasound of my heart.  He then finishes up hooking me up to all the machines.  The doctor hasn't arrived at the office yet, so I am left alone to wait and dwell on the growing pain and urgency in my lower abdomen.  I now feel gassy, crampy, and rumbley.  Yay!  I am considering taking all these machines with me into the restroom.  I have an aversion to using public restrooms and this is the sole reason I have not yet made that trip. At this point, I hate myself and all my stupid quirks.

This is the only time I have ever been happy a doctor was late.

The tech comes back into the room to get something.

"I hate to ask you this terrible question..."

"You have to use the restroom, don't you?"

*sheepish smile* "Yes, I'm sorry."

"Don't worry, you'd be surprised at how many people do this."

"If it's too much trouble to unhook me, I can hold it."  OMG!  Please unhook me!

"It's no trouble at all, I just need to unplug two things, then you'll have to carry all these wires in with you."

"I promise I wont let them fall in."

"Please don't."  He smiles.

I shuffle on over to the restroom which is a tiny one toilet room with a sink and a push doorknob lock.  At least it has a fart fan.  I can hear everything going on outside the door which means they can probably hear me.  The business I do is not what I expect (explosions of volcanic magnitude) but it does leave me feeling a bit better.  I gather myself and walk back to the testing room.

By time I get back the doctor has arrived and we jump right into the test.  Surprisingly the only discomfort I feel regarding my tummy during the test is a bit of menstrual like cramping.  The test doesn't last too long and I find that my heart is healthy but I am out of shape.

Once the running stops I have to get back on the table for the post-exercise ultrasound.  This is when that hell portal decides to open much wider and grab a lot tighter.  The cramping and rumbling come back with a passion.  All I want to do is get out of this place.  Why have they not invented teleportation yet!?  I need my toilet!  The one I have an intimate and private and very personal relationship with.

The test is done, the doctor blessedly has not much to say because all the news is good.  I get dressed, stop in the lobby to make my next appointment and then leave.

This is when I remember I have to call, and wait, for my ride home.   SHIT!

I decide to walk slowly across the street to the 99cent store.  I call my ride while on my way.  Once at the store I walk around slowly, trying not to to look like I am on the verge of literally losing my shit.  I finally decide to buy something and get in line.  The line is long and it takes several year like minutes to finally pay and get out of there.

My ride hasn't arrived yet.  My bowels are battling with my strength and will to restrain them.   This is not comfortable at all.  I think I am on the verge of birthing a demon.  I casually walk back into the store and ask the cashier if they have a restroom.

"Back right corner."

Why do stores always have to put their restrooms in the deepest darkest corners of Mordor?!  I begin the journey to Never Never Land putting all my might into not letting the demon win.  Walking ever so nonchalantly to the back of the store.

The restroom is what you would expect a restroom in a 99cent store to look like.  It looked like an alcohol fueled bum party had burst forth through the doors and left every ounce of filth behind.  It was disgusting, but I was having a down right emergency here.  I did take a second to
put down a useless paper guard even though my bowels screamed for me to skip that step.  I was in the bathroom from skid row for awhile.  Long enough to have this text conversation with my hubby.

"In the shitter, be out soon."

"Just got here."

" a few minutes."

"At the back near cold stuff."

"KK.   Got the poopshivers so bad."

"O no."

"Didn't have to pay doc this time."  This was in regards to my co-pay at the cardiologist.

"Oh good."

Finally I felt good enough to escape the bathroom from Jaba's palace.  My hubby was empathetic but still wanted to shop.  We wandered the store for about ten minutes, then the cramping started again.

"OK, let's go."  Hubby says.

"You go pay, I'll meet you at the car."  I head back to the bathroom from shit creek.

Several minutes pass and I once again feel good enough to separate myself from the cursed porcelain throne.  I walk casually out to the car.

Now, I have noticed that it's about every 10-15 minutes that I get the really bad and urgent waves of demon spawned cramping.  The ride home is at least 20 minutes.  Hmmm.

Right on schedule, about five minutes from relief comes the biggest, most urgent rippling wave of cramp I've had yet.

"Oh my god! It's like I'm in labor!"  I feel like Satan is prompting me to push, push, push!

By time we make it home I have been working so hard at not pooping myself that I now feel nauseated on top of it all.  I make my way to my precious, private, comfortable bathroom and rip off all, yes, ALL of my clothes and settle in for the long haul.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

I Prefer The Real Lee, Thank You Very Much.

Our dreams are a reflection of our memories, emotions, anxieties, fears.  You get it.  We tend to dream about what bothers us, perhaps it's a way of relieving stress, of trying to understand what we can't bring ourselves to think about consciously.  I have no real education on dreaming, so this is just me rambling.  All I can say is, I rarely have happy dreams, my dreams are always about stressful and deeply emotional things.

I can say with the most certainty that the dream I had last night was pure nightmare, it was the most horrible, frightening, heart-wrenching, and vivid dream I have ever had.  I awoke from it literally sobbing and continued crying for a few minutes before I could shake myself into reality.

It was so vivid and detailed I can recount it to you as a story.

At home.  Nothing is strange or out of place, the house is messy as usual, the cats are doing their thing, Adam is laying on the couch watching T.V. while Lee sits at his desk roaming 9gag.  Fred is out somewhere and Luke is in his room.  Outside I can hear Guppy barking, probably upset with Phage because she is blocking the door again.

I walk from the living-room to my bedroom and sit at my desk, I remind myself to keep my head down according to doctors orders, and sigh in frustration.   It is at this moment that Lee walks into the bedroom.

"Get up."  He commands.

"Why?"  I ask.

"Just get up.  I want you gone."

"What?"  I am flustered at his anger and attitude, he is not acting like himself.

He grabs me by the arm and yanks me up and out of my chair.  I struggle with him.  "Watch my eye and shoulder!"  I shout.

"That's it, that's why I want you gone!  You're no good, you're just a piece of shit now!  You don't do anything, you just sit around and whine about your health all the fucking time!  Just go!  Get out of my life!  I'm tired of taking care of you!

I start to cry.  I can't say anything.  He pushes me out the door and shoves me down the hall and to the front door.

"Lee, what are you doing?  Stop this!  I love you, why are you doing this?"

"Because I don't love you.  You're worthless to me.  Go away!"

"But Lee!  I can't...I can't do this alone!  I need you!  I love you!"

"I. Don't. Want. You. Any. More."  He slams the door in my face.

I wake up.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The Fourth Go 'Round

 *As usual, the following is written from my memory of the events.  Some things may be inaccurate due to faulty memories.  In any case, this is how I remember it:

You would think that the fourth time having eye surgery on the same eye in a little under six month span would be quite painful.  Believe it or not the surgery itself was the second to least painful one.  The after portion so far has been the most painful, but even that isn't bad.

As my regular readers already know, but newcomers need to know, I have diabetic retinopathy and have been undergoing several surgeries and treatments to try to save what is left of the sight in my right eye.

This most recent surgery, on August 12, 2014, was to do a lens replacement for a cataract, clean out a hyphema (collection of blood) in the front of my eye, and fill my eye with oil to help keep my retina flat because all this time that has been the main problem, they have tried everything they can to fix my retina but it just wont stay flat.  So this time, which is the second time they've put oil in, it will stay in for at least a year.

The prep for surgery was as it always is except for two notable things.  The normal prep is a quick eye exam followed by a ton of eye drops, BP, temp., a pregnancy test, and then being hooked up to the BP monitor, IV, and air, and pulse ox.   The two differences this time around were that before everything was done my retina specialist did an ultrasound on my eye to make sure nothing had changed in a week.  It hadn't.  The second difference was that for some reason I was completely unable to give up any urine for the preggers test, not even a tiny amount.  This is the first time this has ever happened.  Perhaps I was dehydrated, you do have to fast before surgery.

 Once all the set up is done I am knocked out for a short time and when I awake I am in the operating room and they are just finishing up the numbing process and about to start on the surgery.

I had two surgeons this time around.  The first was the cataract surgeon.  A very nice doctor who has been in practice for many years and knows his stuff.  He took care of the cataract portion of the surgery.  It went very quickly with no issues.  The second surgeon was my retina specialist.  A kind, compassionate, gentle doctor whom I have been working with since the beginning and has done all the surgeries on my eye.  He has been in practice for over ten years and knows his stuff so very well.  I feel completely safe in his hands.

Although the cataract portion didn't take long, the rest of the surgery took awhile.  Fist they cleaned out the hyphema and then the doctor wanted to get a look inside my eye before putting in the oil, to make sure everything was OK.  I guess my cornea is in bad shape and made the view difficult.  They changed out viewing tools a few times and finally the doctor was satisfied and got his look around.  Finally, the oil was put in and they made sure my eye pressure was OK.  Then they sutured me up.

Usually with these surgeries they use quite a bit of the IV pain meds which leave me feeling nauseous and sleepy after surgery.  This time around I felt so little pain that they didn't have to use so much medicine, so I felt mostly good after the surgery.  The only part of the surgery that hurt was at the very end when the doctor was suturing my eye.  The local decided to wear off right then and the suturing hurt.  I shouted out in pain and said, "That really hurts."

"Just hold on, only three more sutures and we're done."  The doctor said.

I think they gave me a bit more IV meds because although the pain continued it was lessened enough to be tolerable.  Tears welled in my eyes, but I didn't feel the need to scream or squirm.

They finished up and patched my eye then after the normal few minutes of waiting to make sure my BP stayed stable and removing the IV and all that, and talking to the doctor about how the surgery went and what post-op instructions were, I was sent home.

That evening at home I felt fine at first.  A couple of hours after surgery my eye began to throb quite a bit and then the pain spread to the entire side of my head.  I took 1000mg of hydrocodone and went to bed.  My doctor called me that evening to make sure everything was OK.  He asked if I had pain and I told him about the throbbing but that the pain meds took care of it.  He gave me his cell number and told me to call him if I needed anything.  He's such a caring doctor. I'm really lucky to have ended up under his care.

The next morning I went back for my post-op appointment.  It was quick and easy.  After removing the patch and cleaning the eye and checking the pressure, the doctor examined it and said everything looks great.  He asked if I was having any more throbbing.  I told him no but I was having some stinging in the front of my eye on and off.  He said that should go away in a day or two.

Hopefully it continues to heal well and all will be good from here on out.  

Monday, August 11, 2014

Shame, Failure, and Fitting In

It is amazing how being surrounded by people who understand your struggle can do so much to improve your life.  I have spent so many years as a type I diabetic and never realized how lonely I felt until I joined a social media site just for diabetics. I knew I was frustrated, but not that I felt alone.

Yes, those of you who know me are thinking.  "But, but, you have four other family members who are type I's..."

I do, but three of them are long gone and the one that is left is my complete opposite and so, in honesty I have spent my life avoiding commiserating with him about our diabetes woes.  My brother and I have both been type I's for many, many years.  My brother was diagnosed in 1983 and I was diagnosed in 1987.  We are so very different. My brother has always been so good at self-control and self-discipline, which are two very good traits to have with diabetes.  He was always the one with good A1c results, and he has very few complications from diabetes, even today.

I, on the other hand, have always lacked self-control and self-discipline.  I very rarely have good A1c results and am now suffering from a whole menagerie of serious complications of diabetes.

So, growing up I felt constantly shamed.  It was the most difficult, exhausting, depressing, never ending struggle to control my blood-glucose levels.  To balance diet, exercise, and medication has always been a daunting and near impossible task.  And it's not a matter of just doing it, but having to do it non-stop, forever, never a break!

To look at my brother and see how well he did at it...I just felt like such a huge failure.  So I never talked to him about it.  Talking about our diabetes was a taboo for me.  Don't face the shame, don't admit how hard it is and how much struggle there is.  Because he has it easy, it just comes naturally to him. 

As we grew up I learned differently.  It never was easy for him, he just had better self-control and a different psychology about the matter.  But the fact remained that I felt like a failure next to him.  So I always kept my distance.

It wasn't just my brother's good behavior that made me feel like I was the worst diabetic on the face of the earth.  My doctors made sure to make me feel bad as well.  To them it's all numbers and science.  They were constantly upset that I didn't (not "couldn't") keep my numbers down.  To them "Keep your blood-glucose levels within the good range."  And "Balance diet, exercise, and medication."  Is just how to do it.    They don't seem to understand how very daunting that is. They don't have to live it.

It's not easy!  It's difficult!  VERY,VERY,VERY difficult!  It's not just food, activity, and medication!  There are so many other factors that complicate it.  Stress, hormonal changes, life schedule changes, it seems that everything has an effect one way or the other on blood-glucose levels.  It is a constant moment- to- moment battle that never ends.

It takes its toll on your body, mind, and emotions...and no one understands the weight of it all.

I've spent my life feeling alone in this struggle, and I didn't even realize I felt that way.  I was angry, and sad.  I don't know how many times I've talked to non-diabetics about being a type I and heard something like this in response:

"My so-and-so was diagnosed with diabetes and he just exercised and ate healthy and it went away.  So it's not that bad."

I want to respond with, "FUCK YOU!"

But I remain calm and start to explain that I am type I and THERE IS NO CURE! THERE IS NOTHING I CAN DO TO GET RID OF IT, IT IS HERE FOREVER!

But then I remind myself that it would take and entire semester of educational classes to explain to these people the difference between types of diabetes and how type I works.

So I continued to struggle alone.  Even the people closest to me, the very supportive people like my mom and husband just don't completely get it.  They can comprehend the struggle because they see it in me every day.  But they still don't feel the depth and weight of it.

Yes, I did attend diabetes group meetings.  Where diabetics in my area get together to talk about life with diabetes.  But I found that the vast majority of these people were senior-citizens with type II.  And the very few type I's were either newly diagnosed or very closed-up and stand offish.  So I found no help there.  I could have talked to the newly diagnosed and offered help to them because they most certainly were going through what I was, but I felt at this time like such a failure that I couldn't do any good for them. Which brings me to my point....

I eventually stumbled across a social media site called, where diabetics and family of diabetics can go to find support, information, and friendship with other diabetics.  I thought I would join up and see what it was all about.  I am so glad I did.  As soon as I became a member I was greeted by so many kind people.  They all were so open and honest with their struggle, experiences, and knowledge.  They immediately made me feel like I finally belonged somewhere.

 But most importantly I finally realized I'm not alone.  There are so many type I's that feel exactly like I do.  They struggle just as much as I do and have the same problems as me.  It's not easy for them either!

I'm not a failure.  I'm not the worst diabetic on earth.  I'm an average diabetic who is fighting the battle, not alone, but with many, many others.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

All Hail Lee, My Hero!

First, let me mention that I repeat certain facts a lot in my posts.  This is because I am not oblivious to the fact that not everyone reads every single one of my posts.  So if you are new to my blog and only reading, say, this post, there obviously is some information I may have stated several times before in other posts that you don't know about, so I need to repeat it here.  Got it?  Good.  :D

Lee is my husband and this post is my story of why he is also my hero.  I was diagnosed with type I diabetes at age 9.  I met Lee when I was 19 years old and fresh into a new life of living on my own.  He was a manager at McDonald's and one evening happened to see this beautiful girl in a PetsMart uniform ordering food at the counter.  He pointed her out to one of his crew members and, for the first time ever, asked that crew member to ask the girl for her number.

Here I was sitting at a booth in McDonald's with a friend of mine, eating food no self-respecting type I diabetic would eat at eleven o'clock at night knowing they were just going to go straight home and crash out, when this guy walks up to our table and greets us kindly.  We both look up and see that he is an employee of this fine establishment and we smile back politely and return his greeting.

"I'm sorry to bother you, but my boss saw you walk in and...well, he's kind of nervous so he asked me to ask you for your number."  The gentleman explains as he holds eye contact with me.  "You can say no, I know this is kind of weird.  He is a real nice guy, though..."  He adds.

I feel instantly flattered that anyone would find me attractive.  I have only ever just given my number out on a whim once before.  This guy is lucky that I am in a whimsical mood tonight.  I write my name and number down with the pen and paper the employee has brought with him.  He thanks me and wishes us a nice evening before leaving.

Two days later I get a phone call from this guy, Lee, and we end up talking for nearly two hours.  I instantly find him fascinating.  We meet in person at a local park a couple of days later and a couple of weeks after that we get engaged.

On that first date, the one where we first met in person at the park, we talked a lot about ourselves.  All the normal getting to know each other stuff.  At the end of our meeting we both agreed that this could go somewhere, that we could become a couple.  It was at this time that I felt it important to let him know exactly what he was getting into.

"Before we go any further, I have to let you know that I am a type I diabetic."

"OK, no big deal, my mom's a type II."

I was relieved that he knew at least the terms and that there is a difference between type I and type II. But how much does this guy really know?  "Well, type I is a bit different than type II.  I have to take three shots a day.  There are a lot of things that can make life harder..."

"Stop. We'll worry about this as it comes.  Let's just take it from here."

And we did...

During the nearly year and a half that we were dating/engaged, I was also struggling a lot with my health and finances.  I had no health insurance,  I was living off of minimum wage, and I had a lot of stress in my life.  It was Lee who kept me going.  He was my source of love and relief . Well, my mom helped a lot as well, but I was trying so hard not to have to rely on my mommy anymore.  I was a grown-up now!  A responsible adult!

Lee did so much to make my life worthwhile.  He loved me and that alone shocked me.  I have never been a self-loving person, I have never had even close to good self-esteem, and I have always thought I was the most ugly thing to walk the earth.  So to have such a wonderful man actually want to hang out with me, and tell me I am beautiful, and find interest and joy in me, and to tell me how much he loves me.  Wow.  And he did all of this at one of the lowest points of my life.  He found me and lifted me up at just the time in my life when I needed the most help, both emotionally and physically.

Not only did he give me love, but he also bought me groceries and for this I was just as grateful.  I was living off of junk food because it was fast and cheep.  And also because I knew it would keep my blood-sugar up and at this time in my life I didn't know when my next meal would be, so I had to make sure my blood-sugar was high (at least this is how my logic worked at the time).  So for Lee to buy me healthy food.  He hit hero status.

  Not long after we had started dating I came down with a cold that just wouldn't go away.  And then it got worse.  Then came the day I was just feeling sick as a dog; I was achy all over, I was vomiting uncontrollably, I was so thirsty it was unbelievable, my mouth was so dry that when I wet it with water it would instantly dry up again and feel like it was going to shrivel up like a cartoon character's mouth when they eat a lemon or something.  I was rushed to emergency by my sister-in-law and almost as soon as I got into a bed I fell into a coma like state for nearly 24 hours.  When I awoke I was told I had diabetic ketoacidosis as well as bronchitis. 

I was in the hospital for four days and didn't call Lee at all in this time.  When I got home and got situated, I called Lee.  He was livid, he thought I had just up and decided to leave him and not say anything.  I told him what had happened and that I just didn't want him to have to deal with any more of my problems.  He came over and we talked, and I learned that he loves me so much that he wants to be there through all my hardships, he wants to be supportive and help me.  Once again, I was shocked.

Not long before we got married I suffered from ketoacidosis again.  This time I caught the symptoms early and a friend drove me to the ER.  Lee was the first person I called and he spent all of his free time at the hospital with me.  I was only in the hospital for two days.  Lee made sure to buy me healthy groceries since I obviously hadn't been eating healthy again.  He gets mad when I don't tell him things.  But I don't tell him things because I don't want to burden him.  This is one of our causes for arguments.  He wants to help but I don't want to use him.

Once we got married I was able to be added on to Lee's insurance.  I got healthier but was not totally free of problems.  The first seven years or so of our marriage I was never hospitalized but did go to the ER half a dozen times for various reasons, not all of them diabetes related.  I had a million doctors appointments because this is how it is for diabetics who put effort into being healthy.  Through all of this Lee was right there by my side and did everything he could to make my life better, happier, more comfortable, and loved.

When we lost our health insurance in 2007 this was the beginning of our dark time.  It was now my turn to be just as strong as Lee had been all along.  He needed help, not medical, but emotional. The economy was in bad shape and it had a huge impact on us.  For several years, we suffered financially on top of my deteriorating health.  Then several other unfortunate things I won't waste time explaining happened. And I failed at being as supportive as he was.  So what did we do?  We partied.  We were depressed and over-stressed and so were many of our friends.  So I drank to excess.  Lee and I both became avid hookah smokers. We paid no thought to our eating habits. We stayed up all hours of the day and night partying our troubles into the future.  It did nothing to help matters, but we had fun while it lasted.

The partying eventually stopped, and then those troubles we sent to the future hit us like a ton of bricks.  I began to have terrible acid reflux, and without knowing it at the time a lot of the heartburn pain was actually heart disease.  On top of that, I had terrible leg pain, and my vision was getting worse and worse.  We lost our rental home and that actually turned out to be a very good thing; Lee found us a much nicer home for a little less rent. Again, my hero.  :)

Finally things started to look up again.  Lee got a very good job that came with health insurance for both of us and I immediately took advantage of it.  I saw my primary first and eventually got referred to a GI specialist and then to a cardiologist.  This was when I found out I could have a heart attack at any moment and was immediately sent into surgery and given a triple bypass.  A few months later I lost my driver license when I failed the DMV eye exam, this prompted me to see an ophthalmologist and this is when I ended up on a journey of eye surgeries.  I have had three so far and another already scheduled. 

Lee has been amazing through all of these recent surgeries and recoveries and follow-ups, and side effects.  Ever since my heart surgery I have been suffering from sever low blood-sugars mostly during the night.  Lee never fails to notice them and treat me.  He has known me and loved me and paid such good attention to me that he can tell, even when I am asleep, that my blood-sugar is dangerously low. 

How many times has he saved my life?


Wednesday, August 6, 2014

The Elusive Nitro

 *As usual, the following is written from my memory of the events.  Some things may be inaccurate due to faulty memories.  In any case, this is how I remember it:

I had an appointment today with my cardiologist.  It has been almost ten months since I had triple bypass surgery.  Todays visit was just a check-up but I did have a few concerns to discuss with my doctor.

They always check weight, blood-pressure, current medications, and do an EKG at the beginning of each visit. My weight hasn't changed in a few weeks, my BP is staying healthy, my medications are all the same as the last visit.  The EKG was normal.

When I finally got to see the doctor he listened to my heart and had nothing to say about it.  He asked me if I had been having any chest pain and I said yes.  In the last two weeks I have had a couple of fairly concerning bouts of pain.  The first came on even though I was not doing anything strenuous.  I was just getting ready for bed and the pain started, got bad, and refused to go away for a couple of hours.  The second time was just yesterday while I was at work.  I have a pretty active job so when the pain came on I was worried.  It lasted for about 45 minutes.  I have had pain at other times but only these two times was it bad enough to make me consider going to the ER.

The doctor asked if I had used nitro when I had the pain.  I told him I have never been prescribed nitro.  He was surprised and said he would prescribe it immediately and I am to take it when needed and use it liberally.

He said it is too early after surgery for me to be having chest pains related to my bypass, and if the pain is heart related he suspects it  might be from blockages of the smaller veins of the heart.  He wants me to use the nitro when I have pain because it is a good test to see if it is really my heart.  Nitro only works on the heart, so if the pain is heart related then the nitro should stop it.  If the pain is not heart related then the nitro will have no effect.

He also scheduled me for a stress test next Friday.   See if there is any concern.

I also mentioned that my ankles and feet have started to swell again, and I still have terrible pain in my calves whenever I do any real walking.  He didn't say anything in response to these but he did spend a fair amount of time typing notes.

So we shall see how the nitro goes and what the stress test reveals. 

Monday, August 4, 2014

All Opinions Point to Surgery

 *As usual, the following is written from my memory of the events.  Some things may be inaccurate due to faulty memories.  In any case, this is how I remember it:

Last week I was supposed to get a second opinion from a retina specialist on my right eye.  I have Diabetic Retinopathy and have had three surgeries on my right eye this year to try to flatten out my retina and save the vision I still have in that eye.  So far, nothing has worked..or at least they did work, but didn't stay for long.  My retina just refuses to stay flat.  So my retina specialist thought it prudent to get a second opinion.  I will tell you that my doctor is awesome.  I may be a difficult case, but it is not because of any fault in my doctor's abilities.  It was his suggestion to seek out a second opinion.

Well, the second opinion appointment fell through because the other retina specialist was unable to keep the appointment.  So, today, my doctor asked me to come in.  I went in and he apologized for the cancellations and told me why they happened (I will not repeat here, nor was I told any details anyway).  Then he examined my eyes and told me what my options are.  I can go with another specialist if I choose, I can wait and see how my eye does untouched, or I can have another surgery.  In his opinion, I should have another surgery.  I am also told that the other specialist, who hasn't seen me but has looked over all my charts and data and has spoken in depth with my doctor, agrees with his opinion.

This surgery would be to clean up a hyphema in the front of my eye that is clearing up extremely slowly, to put in oil to help flatten my retina (this will be for the long term, at least a year), and to do a lens replacement because I have a cataract.

After talking with my doctor and taking a moment to weigh my options, I decided to agree with his opinion.  You see, if I go to a different specialist, I have to go through a ton of red tape, and start all over...and I don't have any problem with my current doctor, he is awesome.  If I decide to wait and keep an eye on it, that does me no good, and will only hurt me in the long run because my eye is actively deteriorating, so waiting only hurts, but surgery could help.  So surgery it is.

While in this discussion I did get a couple of things clarified. 1) I will never get my peripheral vision back in my right eye.  2) The current fight is to save what is left of my central vision.  3) The cataract has grown exponentially in just the last couple of months due to everything else that has been done to my eye.  I was told to expect this from the very beginning, so it's not like they kept anything from me, I just hadn't realized the cataract actually had grown until today.

Once I agreed to move forward on the surgery, my doctor had a scan of my good eye taken, the left eye,  so he could see how things are going on on that side.  After the scan and a quick exam, he said my left eye looks "fantastic".

Next, he wanted me to be seen by the cataract specialist and get his final opinion on surgery.  So I waited around for a long time, had several different scans done on both eyes, waited some more, then finally got to see the cataract specialist.  He examined both my eyes, looked over my chart and history.  Finally he said he whole-heartedly agreed with my doctor on a lens replacement.

So Tuesday the 12th is my next surgery.

Then I walked home.

Friday, August 1, 2014

The Ugly Truth

I can't stand to look at myself anymore.  I avoid the mirror.  I only leave the house when I have to.  I even took advantage of a long medical leave just so I didn't have to go to work and be seen in public.  I have become a freak.

Not that I ever was very attractive, but now I am so monstrous.

I am scarred, but at least those I can hide for the most part.  It's my right face that shames me so these days.  I've always struggled with acne and bushy eyebrows.  Those things I could deal with.  But now there is no hiding a eye that looks like it's been cursed by some terrible evil entity.  mismatched, shrunken looking, and darkened.  I look in the mirror and shrink away from the ugliness that used to be the attractive thing I had going for me.

I know, I know.  I am being shallow and vain.  I can't help it, it's like all the ugliness I hid inside is now splattered across my face for all to see.

Will it go away?  Will I heal from this?  There's no doubt I will to some extent, but I'm not sure I will ever look the same again.