Thursday, March 22, 2012

The things we sometimes don't think about

Warning: Not so happy-go-lucky topic.

I would like to say that I am not a medical professional. I admit that I don't know very much and subsequently the details of this post will probably be all wrong. Please don't comment telling me "how it really works" because that's not what this post is about and clearly you didn't pick up on that. Thanks.

News flash: DIABETES is not a happy or lucky disease.

I think I have masochistic tendencies. Actually, I know I do. Not in the "S & M kind of way". I may be weird but I'm not into that. Uhhhm.. Not that there's a problem with that... whatever floats your boat. Wow, this is going in a really off-topic place.

Rewind...<<  <<  << .... I allow myself to think about the reality of situations. Some might call it my cynically pessimistic side, I like to think of it as my logical reasoning side. I need to understand the full severity of my situation. It helps me to make good decisions based on all possible outcomes with my health.

Normally, with anything else in my life, I am pretty easy going. I don't really pay attention to how I'm living my life except when it comes to my disease. When you think about it, diabetes, you think blood sugar. In the most basic of explanations, diabetes effects ("inhibits" with T1) our ability to process glucose in the blood. Simply put, insulin lowers blood sugar and food/sugar raises it. So we have that ever so delicate yet impossible balance.

What else? Yeah, I'm going there... What Else?

Imagine that wherever our blood goes in our bodies is compromised. Hmmm.. where does our blood NOT go? Perhaps that is the more accurate question.

Every single organ is compromised. Even with stellar blood glucose control we can run into issues.

Starting at the top of our heads with our eyes. I know a few amazing T1D's out there with phenomenal control (Hi Bethany!) who suffer with diabetic retinopathy. A case where blood vessels in the back of the eye bleed causing blurry vision and eventually could render the person blind.

Moving down to that beautiful organ known as the heart. The most precious organ in our bodies. Heart Disease which can manifest in a myriad of different ways. I am at very high risk for this and diabetes doubles that even more. No matter how hard I work at my diabetes, my risk for heart disease seems to continue to increase.

The liver plays a very important role in our bodies. It stores glucose for times when we need it like sleeping and exercising. It helps break down fats and proteins. Ergo effecting cholesterol.

The kidneys. Can't live without 'em eh!? The kidneys help to process proteins. Having even just slightly elevated blood sugars forces our kidneys to work over-time to flush the glucose. In the process they end up breaking down larger and larger amounts of protein leading to Diabetic nephropathy and possibly kidney failure.

Diabetic Neuropathy? The damage to small blood vessels and nerves. Tingling and weakness in the muscles. More specifically the extremities. Yeah that's right, this is where the "amputation" scare comes from. Again, I know folks with great blood glucose control who suffer with diabetic neuropathy.

Have I missed anything? What about the digestive system. Blood is what makes everything work down there. If nerves and blood vessels are compromised as well as the blood itself... well guess what? Yeah, our entire precious digestive track is at risk. There's nerves everywhere that tell things to move along. There are other conditions like Gastroparesis which is exactly as it sounds, paralysis of the gastro! (haha I told you I didn't know what I was talking about). But in all seriousness, if those nerves are damaged it causes delays in the system.

Then there's a lot of peripheral problems that arise. Yeast overgrowth for one. Yeast feeds on sugar and as diabetics we are pretty sweet tasting even with good BG control. Yeast infections (not just the girly kind guys) and the like. Or what about our teeth? Munching down on candy in the middle of the night? Don't forget infections. Cuts and bruises and blisters that seem to take forever to heal. Compromised immune system? you betcha. We can get sick easier and subsequently have a terrible time getting better.

In answering the question, what does diabetes effect? It's best to ask,

"What does diabetes NOT fuck with?"

And that is the truth. I am grateful for the discovery of insulin or else myself and the zillions of other T1D's would all be dead. But life with diabetes comes with many risks. Risks that the average person without diabetes probably doesn't realize. Many KILLER risks from complications. What gets me the most? You could be in fabulous control with a stellar A1C and still suffer with any of those deadly complications. Diabetes is complicated and weasels it's way into everything.

I'm just putting it out there. I am not trying to bitch and complain. I am notorious for my brutal honesty, my lack of tact and being able to say it how it is. It's just that sometimes I have to remind myself what I'm fighting for. I have to scare myself by looking at the situation as a whole. My body as a whole. It's not just to keep my blood sugar in control, it's so much more than that. We can't forget the seriousness of this disease and how much it compromises every aspects of our bodies.

Just Sayin'.

9 comments:

  1. wow! i need to print this post and photocopy it about a thousand times. i will hand it out to everyone i know who THINKS they know about Diabetes, starting with my husband. it's heartbreaking and mindblowing to think that with all we do to stay healthy and without complications, all of these things can creep in, at any time, no matter what. and some doctors wonder why Diabetes causes Depression. idiots. perhaps i'll mail them a copy of your post as well!

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  2. Hey you. For years I feared the horror stories and complications that arose whenever I told people I had this disease... people seemed to not miss a beat telling me about their grandma who had her foot amputated because of diabetes, or a friend of a friend who came home drunk one night, had a shower, passed out b/c of low blood sugars, and drowned in said shower, or their great, great uncle who was blind because he didn't take care of himself, or the ones who looked at you with pity in their eyes and said "Poor you, you won't be able to have kids... you did watch Steel Magnolia right?" And every time my defenses went up, silently cursing the hell out of them, I hated hearing it. (Yes, I like to live in a world of blissful denial) but I also hated the people who said "Well, least it's not cancer!" And so, my dear friend, I thank you for this post, because the fact it comes from a diabetic, is basically my ammo to tell others who DON'T know what they're talking about (I think you're pretty well versed on it by the way) to SHUT THE F UP!

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  3. I tend towards the 'if I prepare myself for the worst that could happen, then I'm not caught off guard if it does happen and I can be pleasantly surprised if it doesn't happen' philosophy of life.
    Problem is, I haven't let myself 'go there' with Bean and D. Yeah, I know about the shit that can happen, but I refuse to allow myself to imagine those things happening to her. BUT, they can/could happen and I need to be prepared to face them if they do.
    No, not happy-go-luck, but a reality that needs to be dealt with!

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  4. Yep. I'm 37, have advanced retinopathy, have had a six-way bypass, and have neuropathy. People automatically assume I haven't taken care of myself, when the truth is I'm doing all I can.

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  5. I bet it even affects our dreams. I always say this is the worst disease ever to have. Everyone yells at us or tells us what to do. If we treated any other disease the way people treat diabetes we would be put in jail for cruel and unusual punishment. It would be like walking in the cancer ward of the hospital and telling all of the them they should have lived a better life so they would not have gotten cancer.

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  6. You must protect how you see yourself. Don't see sick. See Healthy. --Kris Carr

    If you have happy thoughts, then you will make happy molecules.-- Deepak Chopra

    Stay positive-- We can do it with each other's help. The DOC is a great resource!

    Hope that helps!
    Nikki

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  7. I don't think there is a single part of our bodies that diabetes doesn't mess with. And I'd like everyone to know that. Because we have to worry about every ounce of our beings and it's overwhelming. Each time we hear our feet or our eyes are fine, we still can't rest easy because wait, how are our kidneys, how is our heart? It goes on and on and freakin on. That said, I do agree with Nikki up there that we should see ourselves well. But it's hard when we don't feel well. Sigh.

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  8. i'm a big believer in dealing with the bad stuff, not ignoring it. i think we all sometimes think about all the negative things about diabetes. and talking about it, for me, helps with the fear.

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  9. Great post Scully. I think it sucks how we, by necessity, have to prepare for the worst possible situation, then work our asses off trying to avoid it.

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