Sunday, November 30, 2014


Wow, it has been a while since I posted anything.  I work I'm the retail world for the big bad 'spark' so November is a whirlwind.  The first snow of the year always brings in a pilgrimage of people looking for ice melt, window scrapers, and anything else to keep them warm.  In my corner of the store that also means lots of wiper blades and many, many procrastinators getting snow tires put on.  Just a small piece of advice, if you use snow tires on your vehicle in the winter and want to avoid the two plus hour wait at the tire center, get them installed as soon as your state allows, usually somewhere around October.  This year we had a deal for $20 oil changes the weekend before Thanksgiving which led to another very busy weekend.  I've been in this position changing oil and tires for over 6 months and I can still find no rhyme or reason to how it effects my blood sugar, other than every time I get under a car for an oil change, my blood sugar drops.  After the busy weekend I got a small rest on Monday and then it was straight into finishing touches for the big Thanksgiving sale.  Last year I played a big role in this from start to finish but because of the responsibilities of my new position I wasn't able to.  I was however called in at the last minute to finalize several things, which meant I was left with 2 days to take care of a few things that should have been started at least a week before.  At the end of it, after almost 70 hours put in and turning around from leaving the store at just before 9 pm Thursday and getting back at 6 am Friday I am exhausted.  Nevertheless I survived another Thanksgiving and Black Friday.  Thrown in the mix there somewhere there has also been a snag with the financing for our new house which is now just a couple months from completion.  Thankfully the Pretty Lady in My Life has been battling that but we are now at a bit of a stop waiting to see if we will be able to finance a second house while renting our current one, or if we are going to have to put our current house on the market and pray that it sells quickly.  Either way, this weekend is now about trying to catch up on some much needed rest, fix the things that need fixing around the house, and decorate for the holidays.  I do love this time of year but boy can it be hectic.

Since I missed out on a all the Thanksgiving fun this year I wanted to share a few things that I'm thankful for:

1. My family.  I have a loving and patient wife without whom I couldn't hold this all together.  Two smart, hilarious kids who aware always finding new ways to surprise and impress me
2.  Having a job that allows me to provide for that family.  We might not always be able to get everything we want but we always have the things we need
3.  Access to good healthcare.  Sure I wish I didn't need to use it as much as I do and I'll always complain about the cost, but I am so glad that I live where I will never have to worry about getting in to see a doctor or if I will have access to my next dose of medicine.
4.  Dr. Banting.  Without his research I wouldn't be around to be thankful for anything 
5.  The DOC.  And Wednesday night DSMA chats.  There is always someone there for support and every Wednesday I finish up feeling better than when I started.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Why am I providing more information than the doctor?

    I was originally diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes at 26 despite being young, borderline underweight, relatively active, and having no family history.  But, that story has been told plenty of times.  I was given a prescription for Metformin and told to come back a week later for a second blood glucose test.  When I asked about a meter I was told I could get one now but it wasn't really necessary yet so I could wait a few weeks.  Basically, I was sent home with a diagnosis and directions to take a pill morning and night.  Given the stigma and some of the fear surrounding diabetes it's safe to say I was more than a little freaked out.  Thank God for the Internet!  I dug in and found as much information as I could.  Recipes, dietary suggestions, carb counting tips, carb exchange info, forums, online communities, and plenty of misinformation.  I also found a lot of confusion because a lot of the symptoms and warning I read about signs of Type 2 diabetes didn't really apply to me aside from elevated blood sugar, constant thirst, and peeing ALL the time.  I did, however, fit the bill for many of the Type 1 markers that I read but surely my doctor would have looked at those and ruled them out somehow before making his diagnosis.  I trusted him because he is a professional and you're supposed to trust your doctors decisions, right?  When I did ask about the possibility of Type 1 I was told the Metformin would not have worked if it was Type 1.  When I asked about LADA or Type 1.5 or MODY the response was "What are those?  There is Type 1 and Type 2, that's it."  And the information on anything else I could find was pretty spotty so again I trusted the professional.  Even over a year later when I asked for a referral for an auto antibody test and a c-peptide test because none of the oral meds were having any effect on anything but my bank account I had to explain to the 'professional' what those tests were and why I needed them.  It's a very good thing I did because that is what got my diagnosis correct and got me started on the proper treatment for Type 1 diabetes.  It's also when my doctor kicked me to the curb because he knew nothing about Type 1 diabetes (obviously) which was fine because I was already moving on.  And best of all it was the point where I realized that, ultimately, my healthcare and treatment are MY decision and I should not be afraid to speak out if I think things are not going the way they should.
    Earlier this year my father was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes.  When I my mom told me I, of course, started asking a lot of questions.  What was his A1c?  Did they give his a meter?  Did they set any goals for numbers for him?  I wasn't too surprised when I was told that the doctor didn't say what his A1c was, that they didn't give him a meter, and they hadn't given him any ideas on what his numbers should be.  I know that a diagnosis can be overwhelming and that throwing too much information at a patient at the very beginning can probably just increase that.  But what good is a diagnosis if you just send the patient home knowing they have diabetes but only knowing that to treat it they should take these pills twice a day and cut back on the carbs.  I spoke to my mom a week later after they had seen the doctor again.  They had given him a meter, but not much guidance on what to do with it.  No goals for post meal numbers, no goals for fasting numbers, no real direction on when to check or what to do with the results.  What good is a blood glucose check if you don't know what to do with the information it provides?  My dad had just been started on a new medication to lower his blood sugar and neither him or my mom would have any idea what to do of he had a low blood sugar,  Even of they thought to check and saw a number below 70, they weren't armed with the information to know that they needed to react.  They also didn't know what numbers to avoid, what was higher than normal, what to shoot for after a meal.  If his blood sugar was running high after meals he wouldn't really know that it wasn't where it should be and would likely be scolded and marked non-compliant after the results of his next A1c.  I asked my mom a few more questions and helped answer some of hers.  At the end of the conversation she told me "I think we need to talk more because I don't know what most of the stuff you're asking about means."  I SHOULD NOT BE ABLE TO OR NEED TO PROVIDE MORE INFORMATION TO YOUR PATIENT THAN THE PERSON WHO WENT THROUGH YEARS OF MEDICAL TRAINING AND IS BEING PAID TO HANDLE THEIR HEALTH!!  My parents are in their 70's.  They are by no means internet savvy (although Mom is beginning to surprise me with her internet skills.  She's all over Facebook).  They live in a fairly small town, 250 miles away from the nearest metropolitan area.  Their access to different doctors or specialists is very limited.  And they don't really have much of a way to seek out more information on their own.  And they were treated the same way that I think most patients are upon diagnosis of Type 2 diabetes.  Something is wrong with healthcare in this country.  Diabetes is an epidemic and it's numbers are increasing rapidly every year.  It is quickly rising up the list of diseases that claim the most lives.  Yet, doctors seem to just dismiss it without supplying newly diagnosed patients with any information on how to fight it.  I am glad that I am informed enough to help my parents take care of this correctly after dealing with myself, (it's one of the bright spots of living with diabetes) but I shouldn't have to.  Really, I would just like doctor to do their damn job.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

National Diabetes American Awareness November (Turkey) Month

Last November I was pretty fresh to the DOC and I was just starting to dive into blogging.  I was just discovering how many awesome things there are going on in November among the D-crowd.  And I wanted to do them all.  I jumped on the photo a day express, plastered Facebook with diabetes facts, and pushed some major advocacy.  It was a great experience and it really helped to get me involved in advocacy and some of the online diabetes stuff.  But this year feels different.  As the end of October drew closer I geared up to participate in some of the usual stuff.  I was looking for a photo challenge I wanted to take part in and trying to think of some common thread to carry through the blog for the month.  And then I realized how forced it was feeling.  I couldn't really get into it.  There are some things coming up in November that I'm excited about.  I'm going to take part in the postcard exchange.  I'm taking part in not one, but two, WDD photo scavenger hunts.  One that I am helping to organize and another that is part of the local diabetes camp program.  I am also gearing up to help coordinate the DTreat in my area and the Treasure Valley JDRF Walk for 2015.  I plan on making the most of my National Diabetes American Awareness Month.  I just don't get the urge to do by shouting from the mountain tops how badly we need a cure.  The last few months have been rough for me from an emotional standpoint.  And the one thing that I keep coming back to is that I really wish I had some sort of established system in my area for T1D adults to connect with one another.  I've tossed around the idea of starting up some sort of local monthly meet up and I certainly think that's a start, but I am looking for more.  Kids with Type 1 are cute.  It's sad to see them suffer through high and low blood sugar, countless pokes and pricks, and dietary restrictions.  But those cute kids grow up and guess what...they still have diabetes.  It seems like they disappear as they get older.  But they still need support.  I know when I was diagnosed at the ripe old age of 26 I could have used someone my age to help me navigate what was happening.  And to clue me in on what lay ahead.  And most of all let me know that, although it feels isolating, I'm not alone.  It took me a while to find the DOC and discover all that for myself.  And even with the DOC it still feels that way sometimes because it just can't always stand in for a face to face conversation with someone who gets it.  So my mission for November is to focus on finding out what I can do to move this goal forward.  As well as probably trying to draw some attention to the importance of the emotional side of diabetes, because it matters, and it's a big deal for me.  So you won't see a new picture of my diabetes life on Instagram this year and you won't see a daily fact on my Facebook wall.  Because I think everyone who cares about what is going on in my life sees those things enough and those who don't will continue to scroll past them regardless of what month it is.  You will probably still see a picture of a beautiful 100 on my meter shall I catch one or mention of some new research that has come along, and definitely some angry tweets about how much diabetes sucks.  I'm not being negative or saying that there is anything wrong with doing those things.  Advocacy is important and being passionate and comfortable with the way you advocate is just as important.  I think it's great to see all these things.  I enjoy to see others interpretations of their life with diabetes and it's very important to spread knowledge and correct information about what diabetes really is.  But this year, it just isn't for me.  Whatever way you phrase it or choose to celebrate it, Happy Diabetes Month my fellow pincushions.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

And it goes on...

This post has been saved in my drafts in different forms for over a week.  I've come to terms with my depression and am fine with talking about it.  I'll admit it to friends, family, co-workers, and strangers on the internet.  But it's a different story when it comes to discussing the details.  Even when my mind is screaming "Help me" on the inside, if someone asks what's wrong, the answer is always a simple "Nothing" or "I'm fine."  I love my wife, trust her with anything in my life, and trust her more than anyone.  But when it comes to opening up, it's a huge struggle, even if I'm talking to the most important person in my life.  I can think about what I want to say, tell myself that I'm going to say it, and then it gets lost somewhere between my brain and my mouth.  I've written this post with all the juicy details, I've written it completely vague, and I have at least 3 drafts that rambled completely off topic.  Suffice it to say, I have no idea how to approach this.  I'm going for something in the middle.
    I hit what was probably the lowest point I've seen yet.  My medication clearly wasn't working the way it should.  A marriage counseling appointment turned into a mostly "What's got Craig down" session, because as of lately that seems to be the biggest barrier in my relationship.  And then I reached the point where I struggled to find the motivation to leave the house and deal with people.  I was leaving work in the middle of the day without telling anyone.  Other days I just wouldn't go in at all.  I have dealt with depression and the lack of motivation to get out of bed off and on for a few years.  But never had it reached the point where it effected my work life or my ability to cope with the simplest things.  This in turn caused more tension at home.  The Pretty Lady in My Life was worried that I was going to screw up my job (a legitimate concern that I could not see for myself) which would be really bad deal for all the obvious reasons and even more so due to the fact we are under contract for a new house that's in the middle of construction.  I was having anxiety attacks on my way to work, sitting in the parking lot in my car convincing myself that I did indeed HAVE to go to work.  When I was at work I basically locked myself in my office and avoided social interaction.  Through all of this I also dragged my family through the mess with me.  I couldn't see it at the moment but I was short tempered with my kids and spent more time locked away with my own thoughts than interacting with them.  My wife watched from the sidelines, worried and not knowing how to help.  Her attempts to talk to me or help were met with aggression.  We had vowed to be by eachothers side through it all, but I don't think either of foresaw anything like this.  She certainly didn't deserve it but thankfully she continues to stick by my side.
  I wish I could say that through therapy I was able to pinpoint where all this started and how to keep it from happening again.  Or at the very least, that I found a way to work my way back out of it.  Unfortunately neither of those is entirely true.  I have some ideas about what caused it, not handling stress well, ineffective medication, not remembering how important it is to take time for myself and stop bottling feelings up.  I have some ideas about what helped me start the long climb back out this too.  Most importantly I admitted to myself that I wasn't going to fix it alone.  I followed through with my appointment with a psychologist at a local diabetes center that I had made and cancelled once before.  She has helped me realize that half the battle is controlling the negative thinking that comes with depression.  She showed me ways to relax and fend off the anxiety.  I saw the doctor who manages my medication and re-evaluated my needs, which ulitmately led to sticking with what I'm currently on but at a higher dose.

I don't know what the point of this post is.  I think just to get it out my head.  And also to let anyone out there who might be going through the same thing and wanders onto my blog that it's OK.  You are not the only one going through this.  And there is nothing wrong with you because of the way you're feeling,  You're not a lesser person.  And most importantly, don't be afraid to accept help.  It's hard to share what's going on and admit that you are struggling and need some help.  It takes a strong person to accept what's going on and take the steps to move forward.  And you are strong enough, you can do it.