We cannot recover from diseases like diabetes or manic depression without help from the people around us.
Without help I was left to the whim of a disease which convinced me day after day, hour after hour, that I was worthless, and the best option I had was to stick a knife in my wrist and hope it went deep enough.
The only way I’ve been able to fight back against the manic depression was the constant help I’ve received from a psychiatrist who specializes in manic depression, and finding the will and clarity to remember to take the medications. The help I received from family was minimal, but they did supply me with rides to my appointments, as well as a $200 per month allowance to supplement my disability payment.
In my recovery from diabetes, on the other hand, I’ve been left on my own. And maybe that’s my fault, sometimes I don’t make it clear to the people I rely on how important their involvement in my recovery is. But, at the same time, most of the people around me don’t push. If they cancel a ride, I’ll shrug it off, but they’ll be more likely to cancel the next one as well.
There’s also the lack of a firm schedule. I see my psychiatrist every two weeks, it can take three to four months to see my family doctor. If I managed to get through to his office tomorrow, for example, my appointment would be scheduled for mid to late September. People forget.
Basically, my family doctor is barely useful to me. I last saw him almost a year ago and we agreed, if my blood sugar results remained high, I would be put on insulin as well as the Metformin and Glyburide. This past January I called his office and made an appointment for May, of 2011. I missed it, and that’s my fault. But there was no courtesy call to remind me.
I did manage to reschedule my appointment for this Wednesday morning, but only because I explained to his assistant I was diabetic, my numbers are extremely high, I had broken my foot, and both the ER doctor and orthopaedic surgeon told me insulin would be a really, really good idea.
The surgeon also told me I was a prime candidate for something called “Charcot foot”, which is basically the last step in the devolution of a diabetic before we lose our feet.
Two months ago I asked my family for the same $200 per month allowance they had given me during my recovery from manic depression but, I told them, I’d only need it for three months. It wouldn’t be a “forever” thing.
At first I was told all about the hardships I’ve caused the family. Then I was told I would be given a cheque, signed to my landlord, for $350 to cover any outstanding bills I might have. When I told them my bills were covered, and I only needed what I asked for, I was told they would cover my rent, of $384, again by cheque to my landlord.
The next offer was to take me shopping, where they would pay for my groceries. In a truly bizarre revelation I realized they absolutely refused to trust me with cash. In the end, after telling them my rent was covered, I received gift certificates for $150 to a grocery store in the next town. It was made fairly clear that would be all I was going to receive.
So I used it to buy the amount and quality of food I thought necessary to move my blood sugar numbers downwards. And it worked. For two entire weeks my blood sugar fell from the mid-20’s to between eight and ten.
Then I ran out of decent food, and money, and getting to the store where the certificates were valid was impossible without a ride. And, surprise, the numbers have gone back up to the mid-teen’s.
There is a pattern in there. For the first ten or eleven years after I was diagnosed with manic depression I was left on my own. I survived on welfare, and living in rooming houses and, after being lectured, could look forward to finding $20 in my bank account sporadically. On my $4 per day income there were also occasional bailouts, for bills and rent.
After relying on the occasional handouts for almost fifteen years, the $200 allowance was my idea — because I was tired of being lectured to about financial hardships. The real problem was my waiting until I was desperate before asking, so a set amount every week, I thought, made more sense. And there was peace.
But my family still offers me cake at birthdays. Years after being diagnosed as a diabetic, they still offer me chocolate and pop. Just like, years after I was diagnosed with manic depression, they would scream at me to get out of bed, or tell me their lives would be easier if I just got a job. My youngest brother calls me a “schizophrenic”, in a mean and nasty tone, when he’s talking to the people he works with.
There are intelligent people. Stupid is fairly rare in my family.
It was my decision to move to my home village almost eight years ago now. It’s cheaper to live here than in Toronto, it’s closer to the psychiatrist who originally diagnosed me, and closer to my support system. It wasn’t my family’s idea. There were no offers of “hey, why not come back here where it’s safe and get this recovery thing started”.
When I broke my foot, I emailed my mother and told her I was going to be changing my diet, so I could get my numbers down. And she told me “it’s about time” (close). As if she had been offering me help all along, and I had been doing something wrong, or that she knew my numbers were horrible all along and was just watching me deteriorate.
It was like she was exasperated with me for not getting started sooner, yet never offered to help. Or something weird like that.
There are times when I just want to yell at these people… “I have almost no feeling left below my knees, you fucking idiots”. And it reminds me of the same urges I’ve had when dealing with their reactions to the manic depression and subsequent poverty issues.
…anyway. My girlfriend is dropping our son off just before the sun rises, and I’m taking him to the park later so I need some sleep, which means I haven’t edited this thing. I think it makes sense.