Thursday, November 3, 2011

Greetings from the Half-Sized Scribe!

I've struggled for a few months now trying to decide if I am really interested in creating and maintaining a blog. There is so much to write, but will anyone read it?!? A scientist by nature and an educator by trade, I have found the love and support of the diabetes online community to be such a welcome change from the experience I have had with the medical establishment. This entry was born out of my disturbing interaction with my primary "care" physician.

I've lived with hypoglycemia for many, many years. It was nothing for me to eat and be starving in an hour. My mood would change on a dime from happy and calm to, frankly, bitchy and anxious. The only resolution came from eating, again. Most often, I would absolutely feel sick at the thought of eating. Not emotionally, but physically. I was so tired! I wasn't sleepy, but my body felt as though it was made of concrete. Then the headache would set in, often lasting for hours. The shaking and trembling was unstoppable! I would try to hide my hands, but when I took a bite to eat it was obvious and embarrassing. Of course, my parents both "got the weak trembles" when they were hungry, so we never thought anything more of it. At least, they didn't.

I grew up and went into health care. I started educating folks in my community who live with diabetes. This is when I realized I could have an actual issue that could be serious if left untreated! First came the wait to see a new physician. It took seven months before a slot opened! I was so disappointed in myself on that day. I discovered just how much weight I had gained and my blood pressure was higher than normal. I felt defeated.

 ~Little did I know just how much farther down I would feel in a couple of weeks.~

I left the medical office that afternoon wanting to cry. I had been told to "buck up or quit my job", when I expressed that I felt my anxiety level was growing and I could no longer control it with exercise or meditation. I didn't feel like my concerns over having low blood glucose readings was taken very seriously, either, even though my A1c had risen from 4.1 to 5.0 in less than six months. I did, however, walk out with orders for a 2-Hour Oral Glucose Tolerance Test.

 Fast forward-->

My OGTT came back saying that I was prediabetic. Okay, now what? The advice delivered to me by my physician: lose all that extra weight, quit eating so many high-fat, high-carb foods, and start exercising. (Being blunt is overrated.) He kindly put me on metformin and told me to come back in six months. Let's just say I was less than enlightened. I wasn't given any written instructions or guidelines. I wasn't directed to any classes. Cue the #WTFructose response (thanks, Mike!) I know that I wouldn't have been as angry if I was already involved in diabetes education. Perhaps that's the problem, though. Did my physician feel threatened? Was this the standard response that everyone received?

So, I did what any good, SM-connected person would do: I turned off all my gadgets and gizmos and hid in my cave till I could bear to see the light.

I went from a Type-3 (someone who cares about someone living with diabetes) to a T0.5, I think is what Jeff called me. I don't have diabetes, but I do have "insulin issues". Right now, my pancreas doles out insulin like it's candy (teehee) and my liver grabs every bit of glucose it can and doesn't let it go. My body thinks I'm starving, but the scale says I definitely live in a well-fed country. This will probably change over the course of my life. It is highly likely that I will develop Type 2 diabetes. Here's the thing, though: I need to take care of myself regardless!

I can happily report that, while the metformin doesn't stop all of the lows, it has helped my liver start to let go of its storage room of excessive glucose. I have been exercising more and have started to lose some weight. I feel like I can safely lose up to 30 more lbs, but will be healthy if I lose 20 lbs. I don't expect to look like I did in my 20's, but I do want to feel good and lower my risk for cardiovascular diseases and metabolic disorders.

The sad part is... I still feel sad and alone. Hubs knows about my insulin-resistance, but I haven't been able to tell my parents or family. Only one of my friends knows and one co-worker. I fear that my mom will be overly-worried and my dad will get mad and blame it on me for gaining weight. My mom even tries to deny that her father had Type 2 and passed on from complications. I guess I am worried about the judgement that goes along with diabetes. I was raised in a home where weight was a constant issue and the person was always to blame. I understand that I am genetically predisposed to insulin issues, but the psychological side is that I somehow caused this. It's true that I wasn't as active as I need to be, that I was eating fast food too often, that I wasn't finding better methods of dealings with stress. Is this what I did to get glucose problems? Again, I know I'm on the right track, but I still feel so alone and guilty.

Let's add one more inane moment from my physician. Thanks to Scott I have a wonderful little monitor and some test strips to check my blood glucose levels. Thanks to Sarah Jane I know how to use the do-dad. However, those tiny strips aren't reusable. I asked the physician for a prescription to get more. I was then asked, in a rather incredulous tone, why I was testing? I don't need to test at all since I'm not on insulin. Why am I testing up to four times a day?!? He was certain that my insurance would not cover strips, even though I have a diagnosis of hypoglycemia.

*Pardon me, I need to bash my head into something hard.*

Let me get this straight, I am a PROACTIVE person who wants to PREVENT a progression of problems, but my physician just wants to sweep me under the rug? I am bothering him by trying to correct my lows, without over correcting and then bombing again? I don't need to test when I am trembling so badly that I can't eat or answer simple questions like what's my name? It's no big deal when I start to feel low and I'm out in the middle of no name county driving over twisty roads?

Screw you, physician. I pity any of your patients with issues.

Thank YOU, DOC, for picking me up and dragging me along, even when I'm cranky and hermit-ish.


  1. I'm a random person who found your blog via twitter and I know it's totally tacky to randomly suggest healthcare advice to someone who isn't asking for it, and to someone I don't know, but I just wanted to ask if you'd looked into gluten intolerance and its related symptoms. there's a lot of overlap with reactions to gluten and the pancreas (and really all internal organs). I had SO MANY hypoglycemia issues when i was in my teens, among other things. The best I could do was eat more protein and less carbs, because weight loss wasn't an option for me (I'm a person of size and my size has been blamed for all my health problems since toddlerhood). my father's side of the family had a lot of diabetes issues (type 2), my grandfather passed away young from complications. my father also has hypoglycemia and intestinal issues.

    fast forward 20+ years, and I have PTSD from being so poorly treated by the medical community, with verbal abuse, inappropriate treatments and painful tests, all that showed nothing except that my body size is too large for their comfort. (i'm a low-fat whole-not-processed foods vegan!) ...eventually i stumble on the discovery that many of my problems (which had escalated far beyond hypoglycemia over time) have become a million times more manageable when gluten disappeared.

    i'm not saying it'll work for you, i just wanted to say your story really resonated with my own experiences and on the off chance you hadn't stumbled upon the "gluten-free trend," you might feel like doing extra research on the subject.

    i shrugged off gluten as a culprit a few times because when i brought it up i basically got the "it's impossible for someone who isn't underweight to have a gluten problem" crap, and i doubted myself. people also told me i was a hypochondriac and gluten intolerance was too rare for me to have it, or that doctors would pick up on it. but they just don't know what to look for.

    sorry to be so longworded. i feel bad for even posting this on a strangers blog, i just dont want anyone to suffer as long or as badly as i did at the hands of doctors who are supposed to do no harm.

    take care and i wish you the very best.

  2. Thanks, Jennifer! Several of the wonderful folks in the Diabetes Online Community are advocating for more gluten intolerance education and testing for celiac disease! I've learned so much from them!
    I am trying to slowly cut back on the amount of products I eat that contain gluten, but it is so challenging!

  3. Every one has to be proactive and assertive to get good health care in the current system. Fortunately, you are educated to know what you need. Hopefully you can continue to educate others. Good luck on your research proposal. You go girl!

  4. i am SO EXCITED that you have a blog!!!!! and i'm sorry you've had such an ordeal. i still say you should change doctors... :P

    also, you are NOT alone, and this is NOT your fault! love you!

  5. How did I miss this for a WHOLE MONTH???? Well, here we are. First, I'm sorry you've had to endure that - totally uncalled for. It's not your fault, and that's the FIRST thing this physician should be telling you. Know that you're not alone and we're all in this together, even with our own respective and personal issues. It takes a lot to write this stuff out in a blog post, so thank you for sharing it here. You rule, simply and without question!