Live by the blood glucose meter, die by the blood glucose meter

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“That’s right. My Type Two Diabetes is under control. Moth. Er. Fuck. Er. I got a 7.2 reading on my metre today. A seven point fucking two. Three weeks ago I was bouncing between 12 and 18. Three weeks before that I couldn’t get below 24. Six months ago I was trapped between 26 and 33+. Eight years ago I was an eighteen… today I’m a seven point two.”
“Drawing A Line In The Enamel With A 7.2 Blood Sugar Level”, Me; December 17, 2008

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Facing the reality of my situation has never been difficult for me. I know who I am, and where I’ve brought myself. It’s the next step, reacting to the reality, that’s always been difficult.

I know what’s wrong, I can point to it and stare at it all day. I can even explain what’s wrong, and possibly offer a few solutions. Maybe I get overwhelmed easily when a solution doesn’t immediately present itself.

I know I have diabetes, yet I chose to do nothing to make myself better.

Here’s the thing: after Chernobyl** the Ukrainian government put a giant clock in Kiev. On days with low radiation, or days when it was safe to be outside without a radiation suit, the clock flashed green. On days when you could cook a Pizza Pop by holding it slightly away from your body, the clock flashed red.

About a month after it went up, the clock was taken down, not because the radiation went away — it still hasn’t — but because the fucking thing never stopped blinking red.

When there’s nothing we can do to protect ourselves from danger, but we’re reminded of the danger by a giant blinking clock every time we walk to the store for milk, pretty soon we stop going out for milk. Or start throwing stones at the clock.

So what if you have diabetes, and every time you check your blood-glucose level, the little machine analyzing the blood blinks a number back at you that, according to the book, means you’re in a coma?

If you’re me, you stop making the tests.

I was diagnosed with Type-2 Diabetes in the spring of 2008, and immediately started taking Glyburide. I was also testing my blood-glucose levels five or six times a day. Normal, according to the booklet, is 6 to 7 something per something. I was averaging in the mid-20’s.

I was also hitting 30+ every other day, which is the “contact a physician immediately because you’re in a coma” number.

It took a few months but, thanks to the addition of Metformin, the numbers finally started coming down, until I was in the mid-teens. Then, in December of 2008, I finally managed to get the numbers into the “normal” range.

It was the medications, plus an extreme change in my diet… which proved to be too expensive, and too much for my undisciplined mind to budget for.

So I stopped. I’ve stayed away, mostly, from the foods that would kill me, but I don’t eat nearly enough of the good foods, and even when I do I don’t eat enough times during the day. Yesterday, for example, I had one small meal at dinner and one mid-evening ‘snack’ of a bowl of soup. This isn’t unusual.

It’s also a great way, if you’re diabetic, to kill yourself or lose a leg.

So, from January of 2009, my blood-glucose numbers started to rise again. And rise, and rise, and rise, until they were back in the low-20’s. And that’s when I stopped taking the tests regularly.

I started regular testing again a few days ago. Everything is as it was.

I started testing again because I’ve had a pain of varying intensity in my right foot for more than a month now. Surprisingly my plan of doing nothing hasn’t worked, and it has only gotten worse. It’s a burning sensation along the right side, but also more than that.

Basically, my foot hurts. And it has me thinking about the possibility of losing a foot, a leg, my life to this disease.

Thing is, I don’t know how I’m going to get this under control. I’m still looking at high numbers (15-19), and I’m pretty sure when I see my family doctor he’s going to prescribe insulin. I don’t see any way around that… but, really, I’m still pretty diabetes ignorant.

I’m not sure if I can budget for the proper diet. One of the reasons I quit back in 2008 was it snowed… which just seems lame at this point — I have to walk along a highway to get to the grocery store, so unless the road is properly cleared, I can’t get there.

After paying my bills and rent, I’ve got about $350-400/month. Which is a whole lot better than the $120/month I received when I was on social assistance.

Looking at how much I actually have, it seems doable. But, somehow, I’m always broke three weeks into the month.

I have to get this fixed.

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The damage to my foot in the photo is not what’s causing the current pain.
The links are to posts I’ve written about diabetes, but they’re not in order.
** I think I’m remembering that correctly.

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...thanks.

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About Gabriel...

...diagnosed with manic depression in 1989, for the next 14-years I lived without treatment or a recovery plan. I've been homeless, one time I graduated college, I've won awards for reporting on Internet privacy issues, and a weekly humour column. In 2002 I finally hit bottom and found help. I have an 8-year old son, and a 4-year old son... I’m usually about six feet tall, and I'm pretty sure I screwed up my book deal. I mostly blog at saltedlithium.com....
This entry was posted in Bipolar Disease, Bipolar Disorder, crazy people with no pants, Diabetes, Health, Living With Depression, Living With Manic Depression, Manic Depression, Mental Health and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to Live by the blood glucose meter, die by the blood glucose meter

  1. Hi nin-JAH. First, it’s not so lame to stop shopping because of the snow. Christ, if you could see “exactly” where I live?

    I’m sorry for your wee foot. And so much more. Are we now such a decrepit fighting team?

    You’d better NOT lose any body parts! I’m hoping I don’t lose my goddamn head for being such an idiot (granted, I guess I was an idiot who was REALLY out of her head at the time…) Even still.

    And the fucking money. I don’t know about you and “grocery snow” melting, but the irony of what you wrote and what I’m literally doing as I’m reading this! I can’t believe it!

    I’m trying to fill out this stoopid form for the stoopid guvmunt so I can get more money for being “disabled.” Which I guess I pretty much am right now! I certainly hope not forever! I have to look as loony and screwed up as possible in my “hope I don’t lose my head” head, so they won’t “disqualify” me.

    Sounds like we both have some fixing to do hey, nin-JAH? Well, I’m here for you. As always.

  2. markps2 says:

    The only trick I have for making my money last, is to not bring any money with me , or just enough money for the things I am supposed to get.
    I freaked the casher out the other day doing this.
    I get to the cash, pull a bunch of coins out of my pocket, and it coincidentally exactly matches the bill.
    Secretly I had kept my bill from last purchase (with exactly the same items), counted up my cash at home.
    But to the casher it looked like I was very lucky to hand over the exact change from what I pulled out of my pocket.
    She shook her head and did a double take when she finished counting the change.
    Kinda funny no?

  3. zoom says:

    I think you need to go to the doctor and ask for some more help in managing this thing. Whatever it takes. Your foot looks scary. You can’t ignore it. I had a friend who lost a foot to diabetes in his thirties, and died of it in his forties. Please don’t wait anymore, Gabriel. You need to take care of this.

    • Gabriel... says:

      Hi zoom. My psychiatrist read this post just before our appointment on Friday and he was… shocked that the diabetes had gotten this far, and was still basically untreated.

      I’ll be calling my family doctor tomorrow (Tuesday) for an appointment, we did discuss going on insulin during our past appointment… which would’ve been almost a year ago. I’m not sure why I thought it was a bad idea, but I think I’ll agree this time… my most recent blood-sugar reading: 21.7 mmol/L.

      Thanks, zoom, for the push.

  4. skylark says:

    Gabriel! TAKE THE METFORMIN!! It’s cheap. Mine cost $38 for a 3 month supply of 2 pills a day. It’s affordable.

    Plus, eating healthy doesn’t have to be expensive. It just takes thought and planning. Get into it. You CAN do it. Do some research on good, balanced stuff to eat and then follow through. Even if you mess up and have some junk food now and again don’t throw in the towel.

    Plus, walk, walk, walk! Get yourself a pedometer and walk 10,000 steps a day. Bundle up and take power walks in the snow and cold. You’ll feel virtuous!

    I hate doing this. I hate sounding like I know it all and telling people what to do, but you’re scaring us and it doesn’t have to be such a big deal to get the diabetes under control.

    • Gabriel... says:

      Hi skylark. Dude, I definitely appreciate and welcome the concern. I have much respect for people who tell me when I’m being an idiot… at least when I agree with them, which I totally do in this case.

      I’m still taking the Metformin, but just twice a day and not the three times I’m supposed to… mostly because I’m supposed to be taking it with meals, and I just don’t eat three meals a day. Mostly, to be honest, I eat one meal, generally around supper time, then have a snack in the mid-evening. It’s a holdover from my days on welfare.

      Actually… it goes back to high school, when I’d skip breakfast and lunch, even when we lived just a few blocks from the school. It wasn’t entirely to blame, but back-in-the-day mom was only taking in $9500 / year as a reporter for the local paper. Nobody starved, but there wasn’t a lot for a high schooler to munch on at lunch.

      The ODSP program pays for the Metformin and the Glyburide (which I take as prescribed), I just pay for the dispensing fee.

      The diet thing has always been difficult for me, at least around here. The cost is an issue, I kind of have $350 to play with for the month, but really it’s only $150-200 for food. And the solo trip to the local grocery store is not something I’m always able to do, mentally. This is something I’m working on, but sometimes the depressions get in the way of being able to get where I want to go.

      And, when I can get there, the local store is not a diabetics dream.

      I’m starting to work it out. My girlfriend is willing to drive me to the next town over, where they have a real grocery store. We had a talk this weekend, and she’s now insisting on cooking for me more often… she actually went out a while back and found a diabetic cookbook.

      My foot does feel better. The pain mostly went away on Friday evening, so now it just feels like a pinch (lack of a better word) on the side of my foot. It still hurts when my foot rolls, or when there’s a weight pulling my foot down, but I can walk… with a limp, and in pain.

      Thanks again…

  5. markps2 says:

    A comment you don’t want but I`m writing it anyways. Four fissures on the foot heel is very painful. I just had one fissure on my heal , looked like your photo, and took a very long time to heal. What I did , you should NOT do of course as I am NOT a doctor, what I did was use a box cutter razor sharp blade to cut away all the dead skin on the heel. The dead skin is dry and pulls-keeps the crack(s) open. The dead skin has no flexibility. Then moisturized the hell out of it for two months…moisturized it every day. Warm salt water soak and Vaseline.

    • Gabriel... says:

      Hi Mark. Thanks for both the foot and money tips. The ‘fissures’ (good word) only really hurt when the hard skin turns inwards, then it’s like walking on tacks. I used to use an exacto-knife on them, but then my mother saw me doing it and freaked out. She brought me to her esthetician who used this crazy little device that was basically a carrot peeler with a razor blade.

      But when I was diagnosed with diabetes, and I told the doctor about the carrot peeler, he freaked out and told me to stop doing things that could cut my foot open. So, for about two years, I didn’t really do anything… until I recently discovered the pumice stone. My girlfriend introduced me to them a couple of weeks ago when she found out how bad my feet had gotten.

      She’s also pushing salt water soaks on me as well.

      …I can’t do the money / exact change thing. When I’m paying with change I always, always have to bring an extra dime, quarter or dollar with me. From experience, I don’t trust my counting skills at all.

      Thanks for looking out, Mark.

  6. Gabriel... says:

    …I just spoke with my family doctor’s nurse and, after I told her my recent numbers, she told me to go to the ER immediately.

    I’ll try to get there this afternoon. Thing is, my current numbers (15-26) are no different than the numbers I’ve had for at least the past three years.

    Apparently I’m supposed to be dead… who knew?

  7. Did you go to the hospital? I have a worryheart for you.

    • zoom says:

      Maybe they admitted him…that’s what they used to do with my other diabetic friend when his numbers got out of whack. They’d admit him for a week and rebalance him.

      • Gabriel... says:

        Hi. Some family stuff, and my throbbing foot, kept me away from Salted. Sorry Clare, and zoom, for not updating sooner.

        The ER doctor was shocked at my numbers, and agreed that insulin would be a really, really good idea, but no one mentioned staying in the hospital. Interesting idea though.

        The doctor nearly doubled my Metformin prescription, but wasn’t comfortable handing me the insulin based on a ten minute consultation. So he referred me back to my family doctor — his nurse was the one who told me to get to the ER.

        My family doctor, thanks to a political decision made back in the 80’s when the Ministry of Health decided Canada had too many family doctors, won’t be able to see me for another four months because Canada is short 12,000 family doctors.

        The good news, of course, is the United States now has 12,000 Canadian-borne family doctors it otherwise wouldn’t have had.

        The bad news is, my foot is broken. Which means the really good news is, the pain is not related to my out-of-control diabetes… which I’m committed to fixing.

        Thanks, to you both.

  8. Pingback: An update on my foot because I finally took my little piggy’s to the ER | …salted lithium.

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