I can feel my legs rotting away from the diabetes. There are times, when I’m sleeping, that I convince myself I can smell the gangrene.
From my knees to my toes they’re both covered in brown splotches, like fat freckles. They’re really blood stains from when my legs swell up, and the small blood vessels burst open. For the past month small red splotches have been popping up like an irregular rash, but then they fade to brown and join the rest of them.
It feels like something is crawling from my ankle to my knee and back again. A lot of somethings. Almost constantly. That’s the blood and the swelling.
It’s pretty much the only feeling I have left in my lower legs. When I rub them together, or when I’m laying down with one leg on top of the other, it’s like I’m wearing silk stockings. I can’t feel my leg with my other leg, and I can’t feel my hand stroking my legs.
I had a test done last summer, where they ran electric currents down my legs to find out how my nerves would react. When the results came back in September they told me I had lost close to 40% of the feeling in my feet. It’s called Diabetic polyneuropathy (or neuropathy, I can’t remember), or “diabetic foot”, and I was told to expect it to get worse if I didn’t take steps to get the diabetes under control.
Well, I never took the steps and now it’s up my leg, and almost to my knee. I can tell because, like I wrote, I can barely feel my legs anymore.
So, how come I’m not taking blood sugar readings four times a day? Why am I not using a proper diet? Why am I not taking the medications at the proper times?
My girlfriend and my family doctor asked me pretty much the same questions, just a few days apart. And I answered…
Because I just don’t fucking want to anymore, and I haven’t wanted to for over a year.
My legs fucking hurt almost all the time, it’s like I have shin splints, except I haven’t been running.
All I had to eat yesterday (Tuesday) was three bowls of Frosted Flakes. Think there’s a connection? I know there is. I fucking know there is, but what am I supposed to do? I’ve got $8 to my name, how the fuck am I supposed to eat a proper diabetes-fighting diet, when I’ve got $200 for a month of groceries… and there’s only $8 left?
If I cared enough, if I had the energy, and the patience and the desire, I could probably do it again. I could probably get my numbers back down to the proper levels. I did it eighteen months ago, for about two months.
Whole wheat bagels, fruit, oatmeal, fish, salads, decent cheese…
But then there was a short depressive downturn, and the numbers spiked again. Then there was a high-risk pregnancy. So when my girlfriend and my doctor asked me why I stopped taking readings, why I changed my diet, I told them the numbers were just too difficult to look at, and impossible to control. So I stopped looking.
And I dealt with as much life-stuff / bullshit that I could at one time. You can’t… I can’t put out a raging fire while at the same time deal with the shark attached to your leg. So I dealt with the fire first — stay in treatment, get my girlfriend through the pregnancy, try and deal with my family and my money situation — and now I can’t feel my legs.
That shit isn’t coming back either. I could have perfect numbers for the rest of my life, but it’ll always feel like I’m wearing silk stockings.
I know I have to get this under control, I just don’t know how at the moment. Next month most of my disability cheque, after rent, is going to pay off my phone and cable bills, and my hydro and gas bills. If I’m lucky, really lucky, I’ll have $150 for the month of August.
The local “No Frills” discount Loblaw’s has a sale on this week, it’s only $6 for a 500g block of diabetes-friendly cheese. It’s $4 for a loaf of diabetes-friendly whole wheat bread.
But cost is the issue like the issue is the smell from a rotting corpse… it’s not really the smell that’s important.
I stopped dealing with the diabetes because I couldn’t deal with shit that was threatening to kill me, or the people around me, anymore. Or, more exactly, I was dealing with enough shit that was threatening to kill me — the manic depression, the PTSD, dealing with my family — and those around me — the implications of a high-risk pregnancy on my girlfriend and our son.
I’ve spent the past four or five years dealing with the manic depression, the clinical depressions, quitting smoking, starting a family, trying to get the diabetes sorted out… it’s like asking someone to volunteer for a beating every other day. Eventually they just get a little sick and tired of being punched in the face, and they’d like to take a week or two off.
Besides, there are days where I get paralysed for an hour while trying to decide if I should go to the post office before or after the convenience store.
And others when just going outside is something I’d really rather not do, thanks. Put a couple of those days in a row and all of a sudden you’re eating the MSG noodles you never got around to throwing out, and feeling grateful for them.
I have to figure out how to fix this.
…these are the numbers from my blood meter. The first one is from two weeks ago, the rest are mostly from the last couple of months of 2008 and the first month or two of 2009. The first six months are missing. The high end of ‘normal’ is seven, anything over a thirty means I was supposed to be in a coma. The meter only goes to 33.
18.2 16.3 9.3 6.4 12.6 10.3 13.6 16.1 11.8 13.4 8.5 7.3 7.2 23.8 17.8 21.7 21.2 20.6 19.8 17.2 15.4 22.0 18.6 19.4 18.4 16.8 15.4 16.5 17.1 16.1 18.3 11.6 16.1 15.8 16.6 11.6 13.1 13.0 27.0 21.3 29.6 19.5 21.8 27.6 19.8 24.3 17.8 25.4 29.4 25.6 19.9 23.4 33+ 23.0 30.1 22.8 30.8 33+ 33+ 25.1 24.8 16.4 24.1 21.8 24.7 17.6 31.7 29.5 22.1 19.0 20.9 21.6 16.8 17.1 30.5 24.8 19.8