Tuesday, September 30, 2014

What Have I Done?!

It was a difficult decision.  I spent a day and a half thinking of little more than this topic.  I weighed my options, made a list of pros and cons.  In the end I decided to leave my job.

Why?  There are two main reasons:

1. My health is in very poor condition right now.  I am almost completely blind in my right eye and my left eye is not perfect.  I have neuropathy that puts me in excruciating pain whenever I am active and my job is very active, so the entire time I am there (8 hour shifts), I am fighting the need to burst into tears and just plop on the floor and not move.  Up until the diagnosis of neuropathy I had thought the pain was being caused by something much more treatable, so the thought of an end in sight was what was keeping me going and able to deal with the pain.  Now I know the prospect of a "cure" for the pain is minimal and if I do find relief, it won't be any time soon enough, so the thought of going to work right now is outright misery.  I have many other health issues as well (heart disease, Type I diabetes, frozen shoulder...).  I also have at least one doctor appointment per week.  So work is not just agony but I miss a lot as well for doctor appointments, medical leave to recover from surgeries, etc.  I decided that it wasn't fair to my employer, as well as destructive to my health and well-being, to stay.

2. I have limited transportation.  We only have one car and my husband uses it.  I can't drive right now anyway because of my poor eyesight.  My work is in the next town over so there is absolutely no way I can walk there.  I can't walk a quarter of a block without powerful pain anyway.  I used to have several friends who could and did give me rides to work, but in the last six months or so they all have had drastic changes in availability, so now I have very limited help with rides. I prefer having several people to go to so I am not inconveniencing one person by asking them for rides everyday. But beggars can't be choosers. There is public transportation in my town but it is very unreliable and I learned a long time ago that it can't be trusted.

So these and other lesser reasons are why I called my work today and said goodbye.

By no means is this a good thing and here's why:

1. We need the money.  We have bills to pay just like everyone else, and money is even tighter now because one of our roommates is moving out.  If we don't find a new roommate soon, and/or I get a new job, things are gonna get bad fast.

2. I like working for the most part. I have always enjoyed being self sufficient, independent, busy, and having money to pay bills and have fun with.  I've always felt the need and desire to pull my own weight, pay my portion, and not be a burden or mooch.

I am already looking for new work close to home so I can walk a short distance (or ride a bike) and not have to worry if I can't find a ride.  If I can find a job close to home and that doesn't require a lot of running around, then that would be ideal. The idea is to not experience much pain, and to not have to worry about how I'm getting to work and back.

Here's to hoping everything works out.

Monday, September 29, 2014

I'm Crying Right Now

It is interesting how you can live for so long believing something because a professional told you it was so.  Since 2007, I have believed that I had poor circulation in my legs because a doctor diagnosed it as such.  Today I found out that the circulation in both legs is "normal".  But that is just the good news before the devastating...

I have lived since 2007 with excruciating pain in both legs whenever I do any physical activity.  After I was diagnosed with poor circulation that year, I lost my health insurance.  When I got health insurance again in 2013 I began a journey of getting all my health issues fixed.  Type I diabetes + no health insurance = bad complications, and a lot of them.

It took several months and changing my primary doctor before I could get the leg pain issue looked at.  Two weeks ago I had an ultrasound done on both my legs to check for circulation issues.  Today I had an appointment to get those results.

The doctor told me that the results show that the circulation in both legs is normal.

"So this means all of my pain is from neuropathy?"


"I'm shocked."


"Because all these years I thought it was poor circulation.  And also, because now there is no hope that the pain will go away."

"I'm sorry, but there is not much that can be done about this pain.  The Gabapentin should help a little, but it won't help all of the pain.  And keeping your blood-sugars under control and eating healthy is very important."

I almost started crying right there in front of him. "The pain is excruciating, and I have to walk so much.  I walk all over town, I have to walk all day at work, I try to exercise for good health."  I looked up at him.  "I cry everyday because of the pain, and now I know there's nothing I can ever do about it."

"I'm sorry.  But the good circulation is a very good sign."  He tried futilely to cheer me up.

A Weekend With A Hoarder

Sorry, Mom...

A little over a year ago I spent a  few days at my mom's house helping her clean out and organize her garage.  A year later it was well on it's way back to being jam packed and disorganized.  although I sighed and rolled my eyes, I had been expecting this.  So this weekend I went back up to mom's to help her organize her garage once more.  But then ended up staying an extra day to get her started on her guest house which is ten million times more packed and disorganized.

For anyone who has ever been to mom's house, you know the actual living space of the house is very nice, organized, spacious, comfy, etc..  But all the closets and two of the bedrooms are packed full of stuff and disorganized.  The garage used to be packed.  There are three storage sheds on the property that are packed, and a barn that is packed.  And the guest house (The Cottage) is so packed it can barely be used as a guest house anymore.

Mom is awesome, but she has too much stuff!

We arrived at mom's on Thursday afternoon.  There was no work to be done this day, we were just planing to visit and relax.  I made minestrone for dinner and everybody seemed to like it.

Friday we worked on the garage.  It didn't take us very long because although things piled in the center of the garage were out of place and disorganized, the shelves were still pretty well organized.  So we sorted through the center stuff and put them in their proper places or got them out of the garage all together.  A few hours of work and we were done. 

"Well, that was fast.  Maybe tomorrow we can get started on the cottage?"  I asked.

Mom laughed incredulously.  "You're not gonna like it.  It's really bad over there."

"I've seen the cottage, I know what's over there.  We can do it.  It'll take a while, but it's not impossible.  It's all about organization."

"Well, if you want to, it's up to you."

"Let's do it!"

So we spent the second half of Friday watching The Howling (mom's favorite horror flick) and Little Big Soldier starring Jackie Chan.  I made roast beef sandwiches for dinner, everyone ate and enjoyed them except for my brother who is a vegetarian.

Saturday came and we spent five hours over at the guest house organizing one single closet.  First, we took everything out one by one and designated if it was going to stay in this room or go in another room or somewhere else altogether, if it was to be donated, or thrown away.  Once the closet was empty, we decided it was going to be used as the "gift closet"  Only things that were gifts or gift packaging are to be stored in this closet. We have a very large family and my mom buys gifts for just about everyone, so an entire closet just for gifts is needed. 

By time we got the closet done we were tired and ready for dinner.  I made Pad Thai for dinner and made sure to cook the noodles, veggies, and meat all separately so my brother could eat some as well.  Everyone seemed to enjoy it.  We watched White Chicks this night and it was funny. 

I originally was set to go home on Sunday, but decided to stay an extra day to continue to help mom with the guest house.  So Sunday we went aback over to the guest house and started where we had left off.  We sorted through the main bedroom and got it completely organized.  Mom was so happy when we were done and she saw that it looked like a normal ol' roomy bedroom once again.

Next we moved on to the second bedroom which was designated her sewing room.  We spent several hours going through bin after bin of sewing stuff.  It was difficult for her to decide to part with some of it, but we did end up with three empty bins and a good chunk of organized space by time we were too exhausted to continue.

There is still a lot of work to be done at the guest house, but I got her started and there is a definite system in place, so all mom has to do is stick to it.  Hopefully I will be able to go up again soon and help her some more.  The plan is to have the entire guest house organized and roomy for guests for the holidays.

This evening I made pumpkin soup for dinner and we watched football and Once Upon A Time.

 Mom drove me home on Monday.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Well, Now That Was Embarrassing

I woke up this morning and my blood-sugar was fine.  127, a good number.  I ate a quick breakfast and headed out the door to my eye appointment.  I hitched a ride to the doctor with my husband.  He dropped me off on his way to work.  I arrived early, that was fine, I checked in and sat in one of the comfortable chairs in the waiting room.

It didn't take long to be called in to the pre-exam.  I confirmed the medications I'm taking, did the vision test, got my eye pressure taken and then went over to the smaller waiting room to wait for the actual exam. 

That's the last thing I remember.

Well, not exactly.  I vaguely remember talking with other patients in the waiting room.  But it's all like a foggy dream.

When my memory returns is when my doctor was calling to a nurse to "Get her vitals.  Check her sugar."

"I'm OK."  I said as I popped a glucose tablet into my mouth.  But I wasn't. 

My blood-sugar read at 35.

Apparently I was not responding to the doctor's questions and just not acting myself.  He knows me well enough to tell if I'm not right, I've been seeing him nearly weekly for over six months. 

The doctor had the nurse check my blood-sugar several times while he went and saw other patients.  He wouldn't let the nurse leave my room until my BG was 70 and trending up.  Then he went ahead with the eye exam. 

I felt so odd with all the seriousness and worry.  I guess I'm just so used to low BG's that I'm like, "What's the big deal, just feed me and let's move on."

On top of everything, the location where the nurse pricked my finger wouldn't stop bleeding...a lot.  I'm on Plavix (blood-thinner) so I have to be careful how deep I prick myself or else I bleed forever! 

The exam was good.  My eye is healing up well from my latest surgery which was a lens replacement for a cataract as well as to clean out a hyphema (collection of blood) in the front of my eye, and  a couple other small issues with my eye.

We discussed my issue with low blood-sugars which was odd to discuss with my Ophthalmologist.  He is an MD but endocrinology is not his specialty.  But he is a doctor in the end and has the mindset of wanting to help and solve medical problems.

I apologized for worrying everyone and wasting their time.  They were all understanding and told me it was OK and they just want to make sure I'm OK.

I return in a month for another follow-up on my eye. 

Sunday, September 21, 2014

A Significant Dream?

The apocalypse has happened.  The world is not as we remember it.  There are very few people left, cities no longer exist; vast and treacherous piles of rubble lie where skyscrapers used to rule the landscape. Those who survived the catastrophic destruction brought upon us by the forgotten war...some think it was the hand of God, now struggle to survive.  Some have settled in small groups, returning to the ancient ways of mud hut homes, small farms, and raising livestock.  Traveling short distances on foot to trade on occasion with other nearby villages.

Some, though, do not like the idea of settling and merely surviving.  Some want more, some need to understand, to search for answers they don't even know the questions to.  One such man feels a wanderlust that drives him to travel the ruined world in search of life.  He searches not for other survivors but for ways to feel alive, to expose himself to the world and absorb all the knowledge it possesses. He just wants to experience all that life has to offer. And he craves to learn.

He looks at the settlers and he cringes.  The apocalypse has come and gone and here they are just doing what humans have always done, settling.  Doing nothing to learn, why do none of them ask questions?  Why do they just go on living but not experiencing life?  They bare down and work to survive, but they never look up and see life.

He at one point meets up with a small group traveling the same potholed and crumbling road as he.  It is not unheard of to occasionally run into travelers. But he knows they are only traveling to trade, or to resettle.  They don't travel like he travels, they don't seek knowledge, they only seek food and shelter, and maybe someone to help repopulate the earth.  He talks with them as he always talks with people he meets.  They are kind and return his chatter as they thank him for helping to carry their burdens along the path, and also for sharing his chocolate candy with them.  Chocolate is rare to come by these days. 

He learns nothing new from these people.  They are the same as everyone else, farmers, traders, settlers.  He continues to walk with them for a while longer, only because they are still going in the same direction.  They come upon a forest and one settler points out a small dirt path.

"Down that path is a village I once visited.  They are Catholics, holding on to the old ways, but they are kind."

He is curious.  He has not met anyone claiming to be Catholic.  He craves the knowledge these people might possess. He craves the new and unknown adventure the dirt road offers.  He leaves the asphalt road and follows the dirt path.

The path is long but he eventually arrives.  The village surrounds an old mission compound.  The compound has obviously been rebuilt and patched up.  He walks by many huts and approaches the doors of the largest building, the church.

He meets the leader of the village, a priest.  The priest and he talk for many days and he soaks up the new knowledge.  He learns of the Catholic belief that God brought the Apocalypse.  Why, then, He asked, are there believers still here?  They did not believe at the time of the destruction, but they believe now, replies the priest. 

Two women have come to the village. They are from a nearby village and make a monthly trek to trade with this village. One is wearing the old habit of a Catholic nun.  She is obviously very pregnant.  He asks how she is a nun, but is pregnant.  She tells him that times have changed, although she follows the old religion, the world must be repopulated. 

He has learned all he can from this village so he helps the two women with their goods and travels with them to their village.  The trip is short and when they arrive he sees that their village is very small.

He walks the village guided by the nun.  She is the only nun, and if the village has a leader, it would be her.  He shares his chocolate with her, Hershey's Kisses.  They are in colorful Easter wrappers and she lines the little kisses up on the table.  He sees the colors of the wrappers, she has lined them in the proper order of the color spectrum.  This is significant, but he knows not why.

"Life needs order,"  She says to him.  "Human beings need rules, laws, in order to remain sane and survive."

He thinks about what she is saying.

"There are sheep and there are herders. Not everyone can run around thinking all the time.  Someone needs to tend the fields, feed the livestock, raise the children."

He understands her, but he is saddened by the reality.

"They need to believe they are doing it for a higher purpose.  They need to believe something better will come in the end.  They need to believe in a god.  Something easy, something that takes no understanding, just blind faith."

He thinks about it.

Friday, September 19, 2014

I'm Writing a Trilogy

I'm just about done writing the first book of a trilogy.  Yup, I'm writing a trilogy.  I know I am nowhere near good enough to write a publishable novel.  I just had an idea and felt like writing, so I wrote and then kept writing.  It grew and expanded and before I knew it I had the entire story in my head and just needed to write it down.

What is it about?  Oh, don't you wish you knew.  I will tell you it is a fantasy adventure.  It involves war, magic, mystical beings, love, hate, and finding oneself...inside and out.

I wrote until I couldn't write anymore.  Then I knew it was time to trust others with my work and get some outside feedback.  Well, that blew up in my face.  Three of the four people I asked to read my work and give me feedback totally let me down.  A year later and I haven't heard a peep from them.  That sure makes me feel like my work is interesting and even remotely good....

So, I'm still working on cleaning up the first book.  But I got writer's itch and just had to get started on book two.  And boy is it good!  I am so excited.  Book one is merely the set up, you know, getting to know the main characters and setting up the world and where all the players sit.  Book two is when the action begins, and when the questions from book one begin to get answered and new questions get asked.

I've always had a love for writing.  Just the idea of being able to create lives out of my own mind.  To create a person with a well rounded personality in a world also of my creation.  To run lives, to be able to make them do my bidding, let them take on their own life yet still have it be of my own imagination.  To delve deep within myself and then sit back a see what I made, the world I created, the lives I spawned, and the lives I snuffed out in so many creative and morbid and twisted and painful ways.


OK, OK, I can be very twisted and gory, but really I don't write like that...most of the time.

I wrote my first story when I was ten years old.  Back then I couldn't spell to save my life, but I had imagination and I chose to use it with pen and paper.  It was a western, I loved westerns back then.  That was my love, as well as vampires.  But I chose my first story to be a western.  I never let anyone read it.  Maybe one day I'll rewrite it and make all the improvements it needs.

Like I said, I know I need a lot of lessons and improvements on my writing in order to even begin to dream about becoming a successful writer.  But I'm really not in it for the fame and fortune.  I'm in it because I love it and I get so much satisfaction just from the act of writing itself.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

This Leg of My Journey

We all live one life; but in this one life is sprouted many journeys. Many different paths that we travel all at once. Allow me to tell you the story of one such journey in my life.

I suppose it all started when I was nine years old.  It was Easter and I was enjoying all the spoils of my Easter basket, like any chocoholic child, I was in heaven. I had fallen asleep on the couch and was woken up by my parents futilely trying to check my blood-sugar without waking me up.  You see, my father was a type I diabetic and as of late both my parents had noticed key symptoms in me. I had been moody, sleeping a lot, drinking tons of water, losing weight, etc.. So, now I wake to my parents trying to prick my finger. I struggle and cry, afraid of a tiny little lancet.

My parents won that little scrimmage and found my sugar very high ( back then there were no numbers, just a color chart). After a couple of doctor visits and lab tests, I was diagnosed with type I diabetes...and never got to finish my Easter candy.

Me, a little over 6 months after diagnosis.

My dad taught me how to check my blood-sugar and take my shots, and how to live healthy with diabetes. He knew this was going to be a life-long journey for me so he refused to do it for me. He wanted me to be strong and independent.  I've always loved and thanked him for that.  The only problem was me..I didn't want to be a diabetic.  I rebelled.

So the years passed and I continued to rebel. I never once did as I was taught, I never once did as my parents begged of me.  I never once took my doctor's warnings to heart. Boy was I in for it.

The time came when it all caught up with me. I was twenty-eight and was hired on at the Fresno Chaffee Zoological Gardens.  I was stoked. This was a dream job for me. It involved a ton of walking and physical labor. I was just fine with that, I loved moving and using my body. It was outdoors and I got to work with wild animals! So cool! 

Within a couple of days I started to experience excruciating pain in my calves. I thought I was just out of shape and needed to wait it out and it would go away.  It didn't, it got progressively worse and every evening my ankles would swell up.

After a month of terrific pain, I finally went to the doctor.  I was examined and informed that I had poor circulation.  I was also informed quite bluntly by this doctor that if I didn't straighten up and get my numbers under control, I'd lose mt legs by time I was forty. Thanks, Mrs. Obvious, I really needed that pep talk right now. She prescribed a medication and told me it could take months before I saw any improvement.

I ended up quiting my dream job because the pain was unbearable and there was no end in sight. About this time I also lost my health insurance, so I never took the medication because I was told once I was on it, I had to step down gradually to get off it. I knew I wouldn't be able to do this without a doctors guidance.

For the next seven years I lived with no insurance.  I lived with this terrible, worsening pain and swelling.  I developed new symptoms like numbness in my toes, and burning on the pads of my feet and mild discoloration of the skin on my lower extremities (like being sunburned).  But with no insurance, there was no help.

In June of 2013 I finally got insurance again and immediately went to the doctor.  At this time in my life I was more concerned with my chronic chest pain than with my leg pain.  Over the next year I would deal with heart surgery and eye surgery and wait rather impatiently to deal with the leg pain. I did, however, at every opportunity, tell my doctors about the pain only to have the issue put aside once more.

Finally the pain became so unbearable that I said "no more!". I have to walk a lot these days. I have no driver license due to eye issues so I have to walk a lot of places. I also have to walk a lot at work, and I try to get as much exercise as I can for overall health.  So I pushed the issue with a new doctor. This doctor listened and took my pain seriously.  He ordered an ultrasound of my legs and put me on a medication to lessen the pain.

According to this doctor I probably have a combination of neuropathy and claudication. We'll see how the medication works out, and what the ultrasound reveals.

This particular journey of mine is just beginning.  Hopefully it ends pain free and with my legs still a part of my body.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Pumpkin Soup

I came up with this yummy recipe. I estimate it to serve 6-8 with about 20 grams of carbs per serving (about 1 cup). But I'm new at this carb counting thing so you might want to double check.

6 cups vegetable stock
3.5 cups pumpkin puree
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
Fresh parsley, to taste
black pepper, to taste
Chia Seed, to taste
Coriander, to taste
Paprika, to taste

*To taste means put as much as YOU like.

Bring all ingredients to boil in a large pot. Reduce to simmer and cook until onion is tender. Stir periodically.


FYI, TMI: Wet Dream

Those of you who read my blog know that I am an extremely vivid dreamer.  Often my dreams are about upsetting and anxiety inducing things.  Sometimes, though, I have very pleasant, sexy, wild, and downright orgasmicly vivid dreams.  What if, however, I was to have a vivid dream that incorporated both sex and anxiety?  Well, here you go.

I am sitting at the bar in some kind of fancy pool hall,  people watching as I sip some water.  The main door opens and in walks a large group of men, laughing and joking loudly as they make their way to an open game table.  I recognize one of the men as somebody I know but have not been in contact with for some time.  I decide to go over and talk to him.

"Hey, how have you been?  It's been a long time."  I say with a smile.

He smiles but I can tell that he doesn't recognize me.  "I'm sorry..."

"Don't worry,"  I laugh. "It's been a long time and I've changed quite a bit in the past few years."

Once I tell him my name his eyes brighten and he smiles big.  "Oh, my god, how have you been?  It has been a while.  You're looking great.  What have you been up to?"

We sit at a table and talk for a while about what we have both been up to since we last saw each other.  After a while his friends come over and tell him they are moving on to the next bar.

"Oh, my, a pub crawl.  How much fun is that?"  I say as I shove his shoulder.

"My friend is getting married and he wanted a crawl before he gets tied down."  He shrugs jokingly.

"Well, you better catch up with them."  I say as I watch his friends leave the hall.

He looks at me as if he feels bad leaving me alone.

"Don't worry, like I said, I'm just waiting on my cab, it should be here any minute."  I smile.

"I can give you a ride home."  He offers.

"Your friends..."  I remind him.

"Eh, you know me, I'm not a drinker.  C'mon, let's go."

He drives me back to my place.  We are sitting in his car saying our goodbyes.  I am about to ask if he wants to come in and continue catching up on our lives when my door swings open and I am pulled out of the car by a very strong arm.

The next thing I know I am coming to in a strange room.  It is cold and I open my eyes to a half lit cement room.  The first thing I notice is that I am completely naked.  There is a bottle of water on the floor next to me and other than that there is the mattress I am lying on and nothing else in the room.

The heavy iron door opens and a very muscular hooded figure walks in.  "Get up."  He says in a rather normal voice.  When I don't respond quickly, he walks over and grabs me by the arm and drags me out of the room.

I am taken to a small bathroom.  The big man stands between me and the only exit.  He tells me to shower thoroughly.  I am shamed in my nakedness, and frightened.  I move slowly but do as I'm told as he watches from under his dark hood.

After the cleansing I am walked to yet another room.  This room is larger than the first two.  I notice there is a  long chain hanging from the ceiling.  It appears to be some kind of pulley and at the dangling end is a leather collar.  Under this dangling collar is a bed.  It doesn't take a genius to figure out what this set-up is for.  I start to tremble.

The big man pushes me over to the bed, sits me on it and puts an earpiece on me.  Then the collar.  He then walks over to the corner of the room where the other end of the pulley is and takes hold and tests it.  He pulls the chain and it tightens on the ring in the ceiling and then pulls at my collar and I rise throat first off the bed, hanging and choking until he lets the chain slack.

While I'm catching my breath the door opens again and in walks two men, one is another big hooded guy, and the other is my friend, naked.

My friend is led over to the bed where I sit, currently on my knees.  Through the earpiece I am told to get off the bed.  I obey.  The big guy puts an earpiece on my friend and makes him lay on the bed on his back.  My friend is given a chain and collar as well, but his collar is the choke chain kind, and his pulley is linked to the floor. When his pulley is tested his collar tightens around his throat and he is pulled to the head of the bed in a fierce manner.

In my ear I am told to get on the bed and straddle my friend.

Although my dream is quite detailed and vivid as to what happens next, I'll let you use your awesome imagination to fill in the rest for yourself.  Go for it.  Make sure to have lots of fun with it. 

Neuropathy or Claudication?...or Both?

Today I went in to see my primary doctor.  The official reason was to follow up on an infected bug bite I've been dealing with since July 3rd.  The real reason I was there was to push the issue of terrible leg pain that I've been trying to have addressed for a long time.

The doctor came in and asked how I've been doing.  "Oh, alright, I'm OK."

"Not too good?  Could be better?"

"Well, I have an issue I need addressed and I'd like to discuss with you."

""Well, let's hear it."

I told him all about my leg pain.  That it had started in 2007 and I saw my primary at the time about it and she had told me it was poor circulation and prescribed a medication.

"I can't remember what it was called, it started with a T.  But I never took it because I lost my insurance right after that visit."

I told him I had gone without insurance up until 2013 and when I got to see a doctor again the concern was now all about my heart and not my legs.  I went on to explain my heart surgery and that after that I had told my cardiologist about the leg pain on three separate occasions but no one will address the issue.  I told this doctor today that I am in terrible pain whenever I do any walking, but I walk anyway.  A lot.

"And does the pain get any better the more you are exercising?  Or is it getting worse?"

"I am in agony."

He asked what the pain feels like and where exactly it is  at.  I explained that it starts in my calves and the more I walk the more it hurts.  It feels like the muscle is trying to rip itself away from the bone.  and the more exercise I do the more it hurts and spreads up the back of my thighs and down the sides of my ankles.  Eventually I get numbness in my toes and around my thighs.  Sometimes my fingers go numb, too.  I also pointed out that from my mid shin down, my lower extremities are beginning to look kind of sun-kissed. Oh, and of course I mentioned the ankle, foot, and toe swelling.

"OK, OK.  We need to take into consideration that you're type I and also that you have heart trouble, even if these symptoms started before your chest pain."  He went on to explain that this could be one of two problems, or a mixture of both, neuropathy and/or claudication. 

The doctor prescribed a medication called Gabapentin for neuropathy.  It should help the pain if the pain is caused from neuropathy.  I am to take one pill every evening for two weeks, and then can increase to two a day if needed.  He also set up an appointment for an ultrasound of both my legs to see if there is any narrowing or clogging of my arteries and veins in my legs (claudication).

I am to go back for a follow-up with him on the 29th to discuss if the medication is helping and also to go over the results of the ultrasound.

I am so glad I am finally having this pain issue taken seriously!  I hope I can be pain free soon...or at least have much less pain in the near future!

After the discussion about my leg pain, he asked about the infection.  I showed him the scab and we both agreed it is finally healing up quite well and needs no further medical attention.

And then, after all this discussion of pain during activity, I walked 2.5 miles home.  It hurt.  I stopped and sat down twice to rest my screaming legs.  Of course this only gives me immediate relief and the pain starts up again as soon as I start walking.  The first stop was more to sit and rest while I drank a Hansen's to bring up my rapidly dropping blood-sugar.  My shoe for some reason didn't want to stay tied and I had to stop and tie it twice as well.

I made it home in one painful piece.  It took me one hour and fifteen minutes to walk two and a half miles.  I think that is good considering my poor health.  Maybe in a year I'll be able to jog it in no time flat without even breaking a sweat!  Yeah, right.

Friday, September 12, 2014

He Did Not Just Say More Surgery!

It's pretty consistent that I have at least one doctor appointment per week these days.  That's how it is when you go so long with type I diabetes and no insurance.  When you finally get insurance again, you spend all your time fixing everything that's been falling apart for years.

Today I saw my cataract specialist for a follow-up on my lens replacement.  I had surgery exactly one month ago to replace the lens in my right eye with an artificial lens.  Six months ago, when I first saw an ophthalmologist after several years with no insurance, they had informed me that, along with advanced retinopathy, I also had a small cataract.  I was also informed that with the eye surgery I was going to need for the retinopathy, it would cause the cataract to grow very quickly.  And it did.  Five months later I had the lens replacement surgery.

So today was the follow-up.  First, they did a vision test on both my eyes.  My right eye has very limited vision right now due to the oil placed in there to help keep my retina flat.  You can read several of my older posts to get info on the oil and retinopathy.  My left eye also has retinopathy but is in much better condition and my vision is not too bad.

After the vision test the doctor examined me.  He found some concerns regarding my eye but I didn't ask for details because all I heard was, "We'll have to go in and take care of that.".  I have had four surgeries on my right eye in a five month span, the last thing I want to hear right now is that I need more surgery!  He went on to say that he would relay all his findings to my retina specialist since he is my primary ophthalmologist right now, and let him make the decisions.  The surgery, he said, could wait until the oil is removed, in about a year. 

Whew, I'm glad it can wait.

Finally, there was one suture in my eye that was ready to be removed.  He numbed my eye and removed the suture.  They gave me antibiotic drops to take for three days.

He said I wouldn't need to follow up with him again since I am continuing to see my retina specialist.  

And then I walked home.

The Balancing Act

One would think that since I've been a diabetic for so very long that I would find no trouble in the balancing act that is daily living with this condition.  Wrong.  Allow me to elaborate:

1. Although I was taught from a young age how to eat healthy, exercise, and take shots, and balance it all so I didn't go too high or too low with my blood glucose levels, I didn't do it.  Possessing the knowledge is one thing, putting it to good use is a whole 'nother can o' worms.

2. Doctors and educators will tell you it's all about diet, exercise, and meds, and balancing all three.  And they're not lying...but they're also not telling the whole story.  Stress, hormonal changes, changes in daily routine/activities, medications, illness, and so much more can make you run higher or lower, and need to be taken into consideration every time you check your blood and get ready to medicate, eat, or exercise.  So in a way it's not just a balancing act, but a juggling act as well. All day, everyday...

3. As the years go by, your body changes.  The balancing act you've perfected over the past year or so will at some point no longer be effective and you'll have to start all over and find a new balance/juggling act that does work.  Yeah, it's like that.

I have spent my life not caring, not ever really trying because I saw no point in it.  "I'd rather live happy and die young than live restricted and live in suffering."  I would say jokingly (but kind of truthfully).  I never realized there was another way things could go. How about living happy for a while and then suffering for a long time before you finally die?  That's where I've ended up, but it's not a death sentence yet.  I can still fix things and live a lot longer, and healthy and happy.

So now I am taking all this knowledge I've known all my life and actually using it.  I have been following a low carb diet and exercising more for almost a week now and every single day my blood glucose levels haven't reached above 100.  Very good!  Especially for me, a chronic sky high diabetic.

The only problem is that I tend to dip too low now.  This is where I am struggling with the balancing act.  I have to mess with the amounts of carbs at each meal, taking into consideration my activity level/plan for each day and adjust my insulin accordingly, too.  There is so much to pay attention to, and so much to adjust one way or the other.  I have been writing everything down: carbs and what I'm eating and when, how much and when I'm exercising, blood glucose levels and times, insulin dosage and times.  So much data, so much balancing.

I'm actually enjoying it, though.  I feel so much better with this healthy diet, exercising (even though my legs hurt like hell), and the feeling of accomplishment it all gives me.

I'm finally doing it right and I never knew I'd feel so good about being so strict!

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Why I Am An Open Book

I am writing this in response to questions and comments I have received from several different people both online and in person. Questions like, "You don't mind people knowing about your health issues?"  "You don't mind telling strangers about private things?", etc. 

 There is much tolerance and understanding from me for the many different views and personality types in this world.  How boring would life be if we all felt, acted,  and thought the same about everything?  I enjoy friendly talks with people about their views, and I learn much and grow from observing other's personalities, behaviors, and experiences. 

When it comes to my life I am pretty much an open book.  Just reading through my many blog posts you will see that I do not hold much back when discussing my health issues, my faults, my dreams, etc..  Not all people are like this.  There are many people out there who would never dream of talking in public about their poor health, "personal" experiences, and any other "private" things.  I understand the conservative, prudish, and private types,  and I tolerate and respect such traits, but I do have some issues with this behavior.

So here is my point of view, this is the kind of person I am.  I don't want or expect everyone to be like me, but for many of us, this is how we work, and it works for us:

1. If you don't want to talk about your negative issues, then don't, it is your right.  Some of us, however, find talking about things to be therapeutic and very helpful.

2. My questions to others who are not open books: If you hold everything in and go about your life ignoring and burying bad things, shameful experiences, etc., then how do you work them out?  Cure them?  Learn from them?  Get help? Holding on to things and ignoring them usually only causes me anxiety, prolonged emotional, psychological, and physical strife.  My thought is that you don't have to make it public, but you should at least open up to a trusted friend about it.

Of course, I do understand that just because people choose to not talk about their issues, doesn't necessarily mean they are ignoring or burying them.  But I have experienced that most people I meet that are the private type are usually this way out of shame and embarrassment.  Somehow they think being ill or making mistakes makes them a bad person or a failure, so they hide it.  This is where I am coming from with the above questions.

3. There is no shame in being human!  We all make mistakes, we all get injuries and illnesses, we all experience bad things, embarrassing things, now and then.  When we don't hide it, when we don't pretend to be just dandy, we can help each other better, even perfect strangers.  For example:  My many blog posts on my health issues and bad decisions as a child can be read by anyone.  I hope that many young diabetics out there find them and read them and learn that they are not alone in their struggle, and that it really is best to listen to your doctor and take care of yourself.  Just like one of my posts says "I am living proof" of what happens when you don't take care of your diabetes, learn from my life!  Don't go down the road I did.

Life is to be lived, for better or worse.  We all have so much inside us that can be used to help others to be happier, healthier.  By not hiding our troubles, we can more easily commiserate, relate, and accept that we are not terrible, miserable, people; but that we are human and not alone in our struggle.

This is just my point of view on the subject.  I don't think everyone should necessarily wear their whole life story on their sleeves, but that even if you open up to people you trust, you can help each other.  And then there are some people who work things out best on their own, in the privacy of their own bedrooms.  And that is just fine, too.  It's just not the way I work.  :)

Friday, September 5, 2014

Cloudy With A Chance of Healing

Had another post-op follow-up with my eye doctor. I recently had a fourth surgery on my right eye related to diabetic retinopathy. The surgery had consisted of a lens replacement for a cataract, they also cleaned up a hyphema (collection of blood), and put in oil to help keep my retina flat.
Not long after the surgery I had developed epithelial failure which resulted in a cloudy cornea. The doctor decided to wait and see before doing any treatment because this is something that usually clears up on it's own.

At today's appointment the doctor asked me right away how the cloudiness was doing. I informed him that it initially had gotten worse but then started to clear up. He was pleased to hear this because it means that the cells of my cornea are working again to clear up moisture.

He examined my eye thoroughly and made a lot of pleasant comments in the process. "Looks good", "Real nice", "Healing up well", etc.. After the examination, he prescribed an ointment for me to use every evening. This ointment works to aid in clearing up the moisture in the cornea. He had not prescribed the medication the first time he saw me for the cloudiness because he wanted to see if the cells would begin to work again, and also because the medication stings and he didn't want to cause more discomfort unless necessary.

I go back again in two weeks.

My walk home is a mile. The leg pain I always experience (poor circulation) began immediately and got progressively more painful as the walk went on. I toughed it out and made it home. I mention the leg pain every time I see my primary doctor, the issue is always put on the back burner in preference to dealing with other issues first. I am tired of this and really hope that when I get the referral to an endocrinologist to go through I can finally have this issue addressed. The pain is taking a toll on my quality of life now.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

A Weekend With Donnie Yen

I had a great weekend.  I traveled up into the mountains to visit with family I haven't seen for months.  I did a very small amount of exercise, but mostly spent the days lounging and laughing with family...and eating way too much.

I can not drive anymore because of vision issues.  Apparently the DMV actually does keep an eye on drivers abilities to be safe on the road and doesn't just give anyone a license.  In any case I had to rely on my brother to pick me up after work on Friday and take me up the mountain.

On the way up we caught up on what we've both been up to since the last time we saw each other which I think was about five months ago.  It was a nice drive up the hill and out of the city.  The weather was hot and the AC wasn't working but that didn't bother us, we both thrive in the heat.  I've never felt that this particular brother of mine shared much in common with me, but over this past year with so much pain happening to both of us, we have grown closer and I have seen our many similarities.  Out of the ashes of pain grows many sweet flowers.

Once at the home of the family matriarch and patriarch, the lounging began.  We had a slice of the banana bread I had baked and brought with me.  This evening was quiet and consisted of visiting and movie watching.  I am a huge Donnie Yen fan and took with me on this trip several of his movies.  It was easy to convince my mom and brother to watch one each evening.  My mom got hooked after the first one, my brother after the second. This night we watched Special ID.  I prefer to watch the movies in the native Mandarin with subtitles.  My Mom and brother don't like to have to read their movies, so we watched with English dubbing.  I think it cheapens the movie a bit, but Donnie Yen is awesome with subs or dubs.

The next day I started out by taking the dog for a walk.  We walked down the long driveway and then down the street to the neighborhood mailboxes and then turned around and came back.  The walk down is literally downhill, so an easy walk, a warm-up.  The walk back is mostly uphill and for me and the old arthritic dog, it was a real workout.  The walk all-in-all was maybe a quarter of a mile and half of that is uphill, so not much work for a healthy person, but for me the uphill part was a real eye-opener to my need to shape up.

After the walk I went into town with mom and we did some grocery shopping.  I had offered to cook dinner and so we picked up the ingredients I would need.  At one point we got separated in the store and I just could not find her.  I had to laugh and joke with her once we met up again.

"I lost you!  I almost went up to an employee and told them I lost my mommy and started crying."

Back at the house we put away the groceries and then took a break on the couch.  After a bit we went into the reading room and dug through the closet and pulled out a couple boxes filled with old family photos.  I found so many pictures I thought were lost.  I asked to take them home so I could scan them and restore them.  Mom agreed and I was so very excited!

I made Salmon Kyoto, steamed zucchini, and baby reds for dinner.  Dad, who is a picky eater, really loved the salmon.  Mom and brother agreed the meal was yummy. After the meal we remained at the table for a bit and listened to dad tell a story about a pet dog.

Later in the evening, mom, brother, and I watched another Donnie Yen movie.  Ip Man I think would be their favorite movie of the weekend.
The next day I again began the day by taking the dog for a walk.  This time I didn't have any trouble until the very end of the uphill trek.  I was happy to see such quick improvement.  The dog even seemed to have an easier time of it.

This day was special, we were going to have more family over.  My eldest brother, sister-in-law, cousins, and their two kids.  We waited excitedly for everyone to show up and then had a BBQ with fresh fruit, snacks, and I made a Caesar salad.

I spent some time talking with my eldest brother about my writing, our likes in books and authors, and our health issues.  Eldest brother has been working hard at being healthy and has lost many pounds and looks great.  His health is improving tremendously and we are all so very proud of him.

I was happy to be able to visit with all of my family that were there this day.  It was especially nice to watch my two second cousins running around and playing and being precious little toddlers.  They both resemble their parents so much.  Cutie pies for sure.

This evening we sat down and watched IP Man 2.  Eldest brother joined us this time and I explained to him before the movie that there is not much need to have seen the first one before the second because the second movie stands well on it's own.  Everyone enjoyed it.
This evening I also made Chai Tea Lattes for myself and mom.  Eldest brother tried the Chai Tea on it's own for the first time.  He made me laugh with his little tongue twist up:

"So, are you going to make the ch...teh..te..tai chi?"

"Chai Tea?"

"LOL, yeah, that...geez, 'tai chi'."

"Sure, do you want it hot, cold, regular, or latte?"

"I don't know, I've never had tai chi before."

The next day I took the dog for a walk again.  This time I had very little trouble, but the dog got exhausted.   After the walk the day became a very lazy one.  We spent most of the day eating and watching T.V..  Eldest brother and sister-in-law left for home in the late afternoon.  Cousin and second cousins came by again for more visiting and stayed for a few hours.  I made another salad, and quesadillas for dinner.

Before bed we watched one last Donnie Yen movie.  It was just mom and I this time because brother had to be in bed early.  We watched Legend of the Fist: The Return of Chen Zhen.  She loved all the Donnie Yen movies so much that she ordered some.
Finally the day came where I would have to return to my normal daily routine.  Mom drove me down to the city and we did some shopping with my cousin and aunt before I was dropped off with my husband and went home.  It was a wonderful weekend, but now I'm in the comfort of my own home once more.  Happy as  a clam.

I think I'll watch a Donnie Yen movie today. Which one?  They're all so good!