Saturday, December 31, 2011

Well, Happy New Year to You Too..........

One of the best things I did this year was join the Y in October. It's only a couple of blocks away, and although the membership is costly, I still have plenty of things that I can give up in order to pay for it.

Fortunately, we STILL have nice dry sidewalks and temperate weather so far, compared to the 48 inches of snow we'd had at this time last year. I'm still doing a lot of my walking outside, but one the temp dips and the sidewalks ice up I'll be spending more time on the treadmill. In addition to steps, there will be speed and time figures to put on my spreadsheets

Today I stopped over about mid day, before going to see the Dragon Tattoo movie. The smaller equipment room, which I like to use, has 7 treadmills. You are supposed to sign up on a sheet, indicating which machine you're using and for how long. They were all empty so I didn't bother.

About 20 minutes along, I felt a tap on my shoulder. I was startled and nearly fell off the belt. A woman in her 20's said she noticed I hadn't signed up. I thought perhaps she was fond of the particular machine I was using, and offered to get off. She said, "Oh no, that's not it. I'm just tired of you fat old hags thinking you don't need to follow the rules".

Say what? Fat? True enough. My body mass index is 27, right in the middle of the overweight category. Old? Well, that's a subjective judgement. At 58.5 years, I prefer to consider myself "middle-aged". Hag? I think of a hag as somebody missing a few teeth, with a wart on her nose and whiskers on her chin. Hmmmmmmmm.

I gave her my ice queen stare. She then hit me on the shoulder with her water bottle. Hard. So, I hit her back. It was more like a light tap on her elbow with the back of my hand.

One of the heavily muscled trainers ran over and asked wha was going on. After a couple of explosive explanations, it was determined that we have to meet with the membership director next week and apologize to each other.

I went to get my coat and started to cry. One of the guys at the front desk came and gave me a hug and I left sobbing.

The tears really weren't because of that buffoonish little wench. They were because I spent all last night awake, wondering what the coming year will bring. Where will my health be in 12 more months. True, I've come a very long way this year and often surprised myself with the strength I've gained. But, 20% of all dialysis patients die each year, and I saw that myself with the deaths of patients who dialyze on my shift.
It's hard. So very hard.

Best wishes to all of my online friends, for peace, joy and fulfillment in 2012. Much love to you all.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Post Holiday Sale

Long lines at the grocery store today. All of the Christmas candy was half off and I love a bargain.
It was time to stock up my hypo stash, but I have to be very careful not to get anything too yummy.

I chose the tree Peeps and white tootsie rolls.

Both are loaded with high fructose corn syrup, which works like magic for me. There was also a lot of chocolate on sale, but, as a dialysis patient, it is off limits due to the high phosphorous content.

I put everything in jars, with the number of units to take per treatment - 2 Peeps, or 3 Tootsie Rolls. Looks like I'm all set (for the next month, or two). Be gone, glucose tabs (or at least be banned to the back closet shelf.)

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A Couple of Things

I saw another blue circle in the wild:

It was part of a bike rack. Actually, sort of cool that it was incorporated as part of a larger whole, just as we are.

New step record:

Actually. a couple of strolls around the block would have bumped it up to 27000, but we'll save it for another day.

I've been having a problem with my big toe:

The podiatrist said it was bruising from walking too much in ill-fitting shoes (at that point I was still on blood thinners). I asked my primary about it today and he concurred. But I am worried. I've always jumped on symptoms, and have a bad feeling about this. I am going to have the kidney doc look at it too. (There are 3 people on my dialysis shift who have amputations; one recently died.)

No snow here yet. A year ago we have something like 10 inches, so I'm sure we'll get it sooner or later.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

DB Meetup #4

It was just a week ago that I had my 4th db meetup, this time wth the gracious and classy Judith in Portland. Judith and I met a few years ago n Tu Diabetes. She grew up in Minneapolis and was in town visiting her sister. Scott Karl also joined us.

The three amigos:

Judith, feeling a bit warm (we were sitting near the fake fireplace):

Getting ready to leave - don't I look like I'd just received a "feel terrific" injection?

And, here is my shirt for Blue Friday #2:

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Ten Things Meme

I've been tagged by my longtime friend Zazzy.

1. Describe yourself in seven words.
Strong, fragile, trusting, introvert, compassionate, calm, frantic.

2. What keeps you awake at night?
Restless leg syndrome, carpal tunnel pain, and the temperature of my bedroom.

3. If you could be anyone for a day, who could you be and why?
A backup musician for Bob Dylan. Yes, I am gaga over him, and always will be.

4. What are you wearing right now?
Black cotton knit pants, long-sleeved olive tee shirt, and a little woolen muffler around my neck.
5. What scares you?
Further diabetes complications, being a burden to someone else, running out of insurance coverage to take care of the db needs, and global terrorism.

6. What are the best and worst things about blogging?
Best - making friends all over the world, getting emotional support, being creatively inspired. Worst - going bonkers when my computer shuts down, thinking people will judge my posts as stupid, being disappointed when I don't get a lot of comments.

7. What was the last website you looked at, apart from Twitter or Facebook?
Barefoot Contessa. I watch her cooking show on cable when I'm at dialysis. I swear she has never made anything yet that doesn't have at least 1/2 pound of butter in it.

8. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
The fact that I refused to have meetups with online friends until June of this year. Stupid stupid stupid.

9. Slankets, yes or no?
Well maybe yes if they were on sale or someone gave me one as a gift.

10. Tell us something about the person who tagged you.
Zazzy and I have been friends for a couple of years now. She is a devoted caregiver to her aging parents, and the mom to 2 kittys, Stasia and Casper. She is creative, wise, and insightful. She rocks!

I am tagging another good friend, Colleen.
Go for it!

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Blue Friday #1

Blue is definitely my favorite color - cornflower, sapphire, sky, azure, navy, and the powder blue color of my '75 Mustang that I got when I was 25.

Yesterday, being the first Blue Friday, I went walking by the river after dialysis. The Mississippi runs just north of downtown Minneapolis and I love its healing waters.
Being as I am not exactly a shy person, I asked a boy to take my picture:

I was thinking that I'm in a rough patch now, feeling once again overwhelmed by the 'betes and the dialysis. I am not looking forward to the long dark winter ahead.
I was shuffling along, deep in contemplation, when I saw this:

I was about a millimeter away from screaming to anyone who would listen, "look, there's a blue circle, right here on the sidewalk, for Diabetes Awareness Month". Too bad no one was around.

My friend S. says a meaningful coincidence is "when God winks at you". And guess what, I winked back.. And went home with a smile on my face.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

My 3rd DB Meetup

After experiencing my first DB meetup at the end of June, I told my good friend Colleen that I wanted to have a total of 10 before the year was over. Hmmmmm.

My 3rd meetup took place a week ago, at the Mall of America. Three people were in from out of town for the ADA Expo and wanted to get together.

Present were: Scott, Richard (and wife Anita), Merrilee (and husband Bob), Lloyd, Sue, Mikey (and wife Kim), Dean, Bea, Ann, and myself.

There were a couple of 2's:
--two Joslin 50 year medalists, Merrilee and Richard
--two service dogs, Lily and Brody
--people from two additional states - New York and South Dakota
--two authors of books, Beating the Odds:64 Years of Diabetes Health by Richard, and Successful Diabetes Management by Lloyd

A couple of places at the MOA that we'd thought of were extremely noisy, but the staff at the Barnes & Noble Cafe were graciously accommodating.

We talked about all things diabetes, but at my end of the table there was also conversation about grandchildren, Nascar races, horses, dogs, cats and the always changing Minnesota weather.

I had a wonderful time (not to mention the ride home with two certifiable wild and crazy guys.....)

(If anyone notices any mistakes here, please let me know. There is nothing that can't be fixed.)

Here are the pics.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

ADA Expo Chance Encounter

Today I went to the ADA Expo here in town. I had a strong feeling I'd run into somebody I knew. I was making one final circle of the booths and suddenly,there on a stationary bike, was Heather. Heather is a fellow Minneapolitan who I'd never met in person. Wish fulfilled!

Heather introduced me to the lady on the other cycle, her friend Mari. I didn't realize that this was the well-known db endurance athlete and coach,
Mari Ruddy.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

I have been on dialysis almost a year now. The rage, sorrow, and hopelessness lie quietly in the shadows, and come out at unexpected times.
Yesterday I was in the checkout line at Target and the woman next to me said, "oh your arm looks awful - are you on dialysis?".

I said no. And walked away. Crying.
(The paper shredder can wait another week.)

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Two Quirky Surprises

My bookclub friends gave me an IPod Touch for my birthday last month. (Sweet deal, huh?) I had one of the original IPods, so thought this would be similar. Well, I could get nothing to work, and then suddenly last week discovered this video on it (don't ask me how I got there). It was unintentionally taken when my friend Elise and I were walking to Chipotle for supper. (I'm not usually this much of a whiner.)

Now I have progressed to loading music so I can take it to dialysis.

You have heard me talk about my wonderful niece, E. She will soon be 8 and has been with us for 7 years. We love her to pieces, and yes, she is indulged.

This past Saturday we went to a mini family reunion at my cousin's in southern Minnesota. His family and my two remaining uncles and aunts were there. I was thinking they all wanted to see me before I died. I had not been with them since my illness, and, even though I'd written a Christmas letter explaining everything, there were still some distorted versions about how I was doing.

After some initial awkwardness, things flowed smoothly and we all sat around the table, talking about days gone by. Very poignant, but also pleasant.

On the way back to Minneapolis, E. and I were in the backseat. Now I have never openly talked with my family about the db. E has seen me test my blood and likes to wait for the number to come up on the screen. But I've never used the words "insulin" or "diabetes". I was preparing to take an injection to cover the homemade ice cream we'd had before we left. (Thankfully, no diabetes police were in attendance.) I had propped up my big totebag between us so she wouldn't see anything.

E: Is that for your diabetes? Are you drawing up insulin?
K: (befuddled) Well, yes it is. How do you know about diabetes?
E: Megan has it.

Megan and E have been in daycare together for several years. E talks about her all the time. I immediately asked my sister how long Megan had had db. She replied, "a couple of years". Hmmmmmmmmm.

K: Does Janet (the daycare lady) help Megan take care of herself?
E: Yes, we all do.
K: Does she test her blood like auntie does?
E: Yes, and then when she's low she has to have a snack. Do you ever get low?
K: Yes, a couple of times a week.
E: What does it feel like? (I couldn't believe we were having this conversation).
K: It's hard to describe. Sometimes I get shakey and sometimes dizzy. Sometimes I feel really tired. Does Megan ever have to take a shot at Janet's?
E. Sometimes. The first time Janet did it Maean was crying because usually her mom did it. You know what I did? I gave her my blanket (Smiling proudly).
K: Well, she's lucky to have a friend like you.

Sigh....I don't know why my sister never mentioned that Megan had db. Granted, we have weird family dynamics.

So. The universe is providng me with more ways to own my condition - first, the vlog; then the meetup; and now my conversation with E.

Sort of mind boggling, if you know what I mean.

Monday, August 08, 2011

One Year Ago Today

One year ago today I was in intensive care and my family had been summoned to my bedside to say goodbye.

On August 1, 2010, I went to the ER for nausea and weakness. While looking via ultrasound for possible gallstones, they saw a suspicious shadow on my ovary. I had surgery that night, and yes, it was cancer.

I developed a blood clot in my lung due to the surgery, which then caused my heart to stop beating a few days later as I was being wheeled to physical therapy.

Two days later I had another arrest. Then my lungs failed and my kidneys crashed. I have been told several times that I could not have been any closer to death.

To sum it up, my kidneys came back, then crashed again, came back again, and then in October failed permanently. I was on oxygen and in a wheelchair until the middle of November when I went to rehab. I could barely stand by myself and fell out of bed twice and did not have the strength to get up on my own. No one knew how far my recovery would go.

Flash forward to today. I can walk a reasonable distance quite well. My breathing is fine. I'm not able to work because of the dialysis schedule, but otherwise fully participate in all the things I used to do.

It feels really weird to reflect back on this. Sometimes it seems like it never happened and I've simply been on a long foggy vacation. Other times it's very scary, because I know that PWD's do not do well on dialysis. I've explored with my therapist the question that if my life is drawing to a close, how would I like to live out my last days? I think I should make a bucket list. And, other times I find within myself a deep soothing sense of peace. That everything is as it should be.

Last week I had an appointment with my shrink. As I was leaving his office, he said that I could be very proud of my recovery. I said, "but I really didn't do anything".
He replied "oh yes you did - you chose to live". I guess that about sums it up.

I was fussing and fretting all evening in trying to take a closeup of my bracelet. Thinking maybe I should march to Target tomorrow and get a better camera. Well, when all else fails, consult the instruction manual (something about aperture size and shutter speec). Yes, I can follow directions...

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

My Very First DB Meetup

When I became a part of the blogging community, it never occured to me that I would want to meet anyone in person. I have no idea why. I guess my health crisis last fall changed everything.

Mikey over at Tu Diabetes has been organizing monthy meetups for a long time, and always kept me on the list. When I got the email that there was going to be one on June 28, I really wanted to go.

That morning I was out walking and an elderly lady was pulling out of her driveway. She motioned for me to go ahead, and when I was directly in front of her car gunned the accelerator and knocked me to the pavement. I was terrified I'd broken something. A man on the other side of the street said he was an EMT and asked if I could wiggle my finger and toes and if I'd hit my head. Yes. Yes. No.

I went home and rested and then went to the meetup. I was feeling a little wobbly but attributed it to the heat. I immediately felt at home with these people. Very pleasant. There were three pumpers, one poker and one pen user. Conversation flowed smoothly.

Scott offered me a ride home and I accepted. Two seconds after we'd gotten up from the table, I found myself sitting on the floor. Of course, everyone suggested I take my bg - 217.

So Scott and I toodled off and my head began to swirl. I don't think he knew I was about a millimeter from upchucking in his front seat. I crawled into bed with all my clothes on and by the next morning felt a little better.

I went to Urgent Care and they said I had an acute strain of my torso muscles. My upper left stomach was starting to hurt.

The pain increased and on Sat morning I woke up and was hurting so badly I could hardly turn to get the phone to call the ambulance.

I was whisked away to my primary hospital and about 15 minutes later the doc said I had a ruptured spleen and was bleeding into my belly. They wanted to save it if at all possible, so I was transferred to Hennepin County Trauma Center, where they could operate within a minute's notice. I had to have ultrasounds every half hour. Then I developed a 103 fever and rapid heartbeat. On Friday I was still feeling very ill but they said I could go home.

The weekend was horrible. I went to my sister's for a night but there new dalmation puppy got on my nerves. Today was the first day I felt reasonably okay. Still very weak and shakey and flooded with memories of my big hospital stay last fall.

Here we have Scott, me, Dean, Ann (and her adorable super pooch service dog, Lili), and Mikey. Mikey's son was behind the camera.

And who is this man with the vibrant smile? A potential car jacker?

Monday, June 13, 2011

Catch Up on D Blog Week - Picture Day

D Blog Week sort of wiped me out - in a good way, of course.

I live alone. I still have good hypo awareness, but always keep a jar of high fructose candies on my nightstand.

The problem is, though, that if I wake up with a bad hypo, I always go into the kitchen in search of something - even though the candy is right in front of my face. I even tried hypnosis a few years back, suggesting that I remember the stuff is within reach. Didn't work.

In the last 5 years, I have had three episodes where I was so low I couldn't walk. I crawled to the kitchen but could not stand up to reach the stash in my cupboard. Very scary.

So, I started keeping a supply on the floor. It is loosely covered. Many people who visit me and see it think I've gotten a pet. (What kind of pet would that be - a candy-coated chihuahua?)

DB teaches us to be great problem-solvers.

As long as we're doing pics, here is my most recent step record - done last Thursday.

And here is my dialysis report card - yes I got a bug sticker.

If anyone is looking for some great summer shoes - these are fabulous. My podiatrist recommended them. Made by Keen. They're are a nice blend of dorky and funky. The junior sales clerk, who looked like he was about 12, said, "now, miss, you can put them in the washing machine, in case they have a lot of mud on them". Best to be prepared...

Friday, May 13, 2011

D Blog Week/Post 5

I am stepping outside the box today, by putting up a vlog of myself. Once I got started I discovered I had so much to say I had to make two videos. SO glad to see that blogger is back up. Maybe we overloaded it. LOL

Thursday, May 12, 2011

D Blog Week/Post 4

I can't believe it's already day 4.

Ten Things I Hate About Diabetes

1. That it stole my dreams from me. I was a junior in college when diagnosed and intended to apply for medical school. The fear of the future made me cancel those plans and instead I ended up teaching biology at a school in southern Minnesota. I got tired of unruly students flinging the dissection frogs at each other and in 1978 moved to Minneapolis and took a job in the investment industry.

2. The cost. I have a living room couch that sags in the middle and have never taken a real vacation.

3. The endless waiting. Waiting at the clinic in the checkin line; in the reception area for my name to be called; in the exam room for the doc to come in; for lab reports to come in the mail; on the phone with insurance companies.

4. The fear the crosses my mind when my nephews ask for a refill on their pop.

5. The enormous amount of stuff I have to carry around every day.

7. The shame I feel when my A1C is over 7.

8. The fear that since I have a very serious complication, kidney failure, that there are more horrible things just around the corner.

9. Dialysis.

10. The fear that no one will remember me when I'm gone.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Diabetes Blog Week/Post 3

One of my most remembered bloopers was when I was waiting in line at the grocery store after work. Suddenly I felt myself going hypo and immediately reached inside the soda cooler that's strategically placed near the checkout, took out a 20 oz bottle of coke, gulped down half of it, put the cap back on and set it back in the cooler. Must have thought I was home at the fridge.
The next day I recalled what I had done and went back and the bottle was still sitting in the cooler, so I took it out and paid for it.

The second really isn't a blooper, but funny nonetheless. 9 years ago I had surgery for a detached retina. In order to hold it against the back of the eye while it healed, a nitrous oxide bubble was place in the eye. This bubble would gradually decrease in size over the next weeks. I had to wear a neon pink plastic wristband that acknowledged the presence of the bubble because there were certain situtions and medications that could cause it to burst. One day I was waiting at the busstop and a young man pointed to the bracelet and said, "drugs or alcohol?" Apparently residents in treatment programs are given such a bracelet when they have a day pass to leave the facility. I looked him straight in the eye and said, "heroin", He replied, "I thought so. I can spot you guys a mile away."

Monday, May 09, 2011

D Blog Week/Post 2

Dear Dr. Steve,

You have been my primary care provider for over 12 years.

During that time, I was consumed by anger and fear. Just sitting in the exam room made me defensive and outraged. I felt as if you had no clue about living with diabetes.

There were many episodes of sobbing and wailing. Once I even told you to perform a biologically impossible feat and stomped out, slamming the door.

Yet you continued to treat me with respect and compassion. It was nothing short of a miracle that you were on your semi-annual week of hospital duty last August when I was admitted. You told the oncologist that you wanted to be the one who told me I probably had cancer. You asked the surgeon to page you so you could be there when I got out of the o.r. I remember you talling me that the surgery went very well and showing me how to use the patient controlled analgesia and give myself a bolus of morphine.

When I had my first office visit after getting out of rehab, your eyes lit up and said "Kathy, you look simply terrific".

At my last appointment, you were very impressed with the fancy graphs that I printed out with my new OneTouch software.

Steve, I haven't a clue what I did to have a long-term relationship with such a special physician.

My gratitude to you always,


Sunday, May 08, 2011

D Blog Week/Post 1

I used to be one of those people who thought that Type 1 and Type 2 were on opposite ends of the rope. Gee, what did someone who just had to pop a pill know about putting a needle in your belly?
I used to think that some of the pumpers were arrogant and looked down on those of us who take injections.
I used to think that people who were complication free wanted to "circle the wagons" and have nothing to do with those of us who were living with retinopathy, neuropathy and kidney disease.
But.....that's all changed. Yup, I guess it took nearly dying to bring me to my senses. I came home to such a rich outpouring of love and concern from across the web that still brings a tear to my eye. There no longer were any walls dividing us, but an unbounded community of people who were fighting for a greater cause. And it feels wonderful.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

A Very Big Deal

Ever since I got out of rehab, my goal has been to walk 10000 steps a day. 10000 was an arbitrary number set by a clinic system who gave free pedometers to their patients. However, I seemed to get stuck at 8000.

Last Thursday I decided to walk partway home from the hospital where I go for carpal tunnel therapy. I was disrupted by a nasty low so took the bus the rest of the way. When I opened the pedometer, this is what it said:

I was dancing around the kitchen in delight.

The next day at dialysis I told the tech that I had to start taking the bus - that I took cabs because it was such a tough winter. She said, "oh, dialysis patients don't have enough energy to take the bus". Pfft.

Fortunately my kidney doc stopped by an hour later and I told him what she said. He replied, "well, I've got only one thing to say - YOU GO GIRL!"

Today I did a lot of window shopping and sitting on park benchs and came home to this:

Then I decided to walk up to the grocery store. While in the checkout line, I looked at it again and this tan, lean woman wearing running shorts and a sports bra said sneeringly "oh, how far did you go?" I proudly said I'd done over 11000 steps. She then asked how long it took and I replied that it was a total throughout the day. She said "don't you know that it doesn't count if you don't do it all at once?" No. I did not. Sigh.

I wish I had the emails of the two docs who said I'd never get out of a wheelchair.

Build on the victories....

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

The Word in Your Hand Quilt

A couple of years ago, Manny Hernandez and his wife Adrienne Davilla, founders of the Tu Diabetes community, started the Word in Your Hand project. Members were asked to write a word on their hand that represented living with diabetes, and to take a picture and send it over.

Here is a video of some of the hands. Mine is the fist on the opening frame with the word “fear” on it.

Last week, I heard from a TD friend,Marie B. Marie is a kind and wise lady who has weathered decades of living with diabetes. She is also a classic rock fan who doesn’t think I’m a freakazoid because I’m nuts about Dylan. Marie was co-recipient of the TD “Life Coach” award. She is also a master quilter.

Manny recently asked Marie to design a quilt with squares of some of the hands. She emailed me and asked if I wanted to participate. I thought “oh, for sure”. But then I looked back at my original submission. The fist represented anger and aggression. It was truly the way I felt back then. But I knew that things had changed. Why? Because I almost died and doctors continue to tell me that my survival was a miracle. Because one of my worst fears, kidney failure, has become a reality. And yet, here I am, fully participating in life. I told Marie I’d need a few days to come up with a new word, and as soon as I sent the reply, it came to me.

I spent some time contemplating this. Just what is it that I now trust?

I trust that:
- I did not die for a reason - there are some tasks that I still need to accomplish while among the living
- I will continue to have the strength to cope with the challenges that dialysis brings
- I will value my friendships, both in person and online
- the number of good people in this world outweigh the bad
- kind and compassionte doctors will continue to cross my path
when I need them
- my family growing closer as a result of my illness is a deep and precious gift
- no matter what lies ahead, I will be taken care of
- I can make someone's day by smiliong and saying hello
- life continues to impress me with wonderful surprises

Here is a preview of the quilt. I forgot to mention that each square has the person’s date of diagnosis. And, right next to my square is another dear sweet lady,

Thank you Marie. Thank you Manny. For making me contemplate a new word for my hand. It was healing and has made a difference.

Gracious a la vida que me ha dado tanto.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Please Leave Now With Your Jelly Bellys

During my recovery, I frequently went downtown Minneapolis to walk in the skyways. Skyways connect the second floors of the buildings via an enclosed bridge over the street. They are nice and warm and a great alternative to trekking on the icy sidewalks.

To date, there are over 10 miles of skyways.

A couple of Sundays ago I put a lot of steps on my pedometer and my blood sugar started to crash. I had changed purses and didn't have any glucose tabs with me. I went into Marshalls, thinking "please, please let there be somethibng to treat my hypo". I almost missed them, for they were on the bottom shelf - Jelly Bellys, Tropical Flavor. Yum. Perfect.

I left and paused in the entrance to the store, and tried to open the package. It was shrink wrapped and I fumbled and got frustrated. Then I started to gnaw at the corner of the box - no results. Then I noticed this sign:

In my hypo-crazed thinking I interpreted "asked to leave" to mean "be arrested". Who would come and bail me out? Would I have a criminal record? Downtown is pretty quiet on Sundays and there weren't many people around. Then I saw two young men approaching, with spiked dog collars and safety pins in their eyebrows. "Excuse me, I'm type 1 diabetic and my blood sugar is low and I desperately need someone to open this." One of the lads gave a quick twist and the box popped open. He said, "Oh, I think I've heard of that happening."

Thankfully, I made it home safely. And guess what I bought the next day?

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Dr F

Last .Friday at dialysis was a bad day. Plain and simple.

Just as I got there they were carting someone off in an ambulance. Shortly after that, the lady next to me threatened to pull out her needles and walk away. (She is referred to as a "behavior problem".) A couple of the male staff had to hold her until she calmed down, but there was a lot of loud screaming in between.

I had forgotten my book and really didn't feel like watching another episode of Martha Stewart, or the pet channel talking about dwarf hamsters.

I kept thinking "is this what my life has crumbled down to"?

Dr. F happened to be there, making rounds of his patients. He is not my doctor, but I always thought he looked interesting - mid 60's, bald with a very twinkling smile. Each time he comes he has this Russian lady teach him a few words

The unit consists of a big square room with recliners around the perimeter and the nurses station in the center. I was in one of the corners, which is where I prefer to be.

I was surprised when Dr. F come over to me. "How are you today, Ms P?" I tried to hold back the tears and muttered something about having a bad day. He then said he sensed that things were not going well and wondered if there was anything he could do.

One of the technicians said "you better get out of her space - you done went and made her cry". He then said that I looked like a million dollars. I don't know how distorted his perception is, for my hair was sticking out at goofy angles and I had a big food stain on my shirt.........

This guy seems to be a very special person. There I was, not even his patient, tucked away in a corner, and yet he sensed I was having a bad day. What a gem.
Since my "episode" I have had a ton of kind and compassionate doctors cross my path, either for just a moment, or longer. And I cannot describe what a difference it has made.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Friday, February 11, 2011

A Whole Nother Set of Numbers

As a pwd for 37 years, I have struggled daily not to give "the numbers" more power than they deserve. The numbers simply tell us what to do next.
As a dialysis patient, there are at least four new numbers that need to be monitored - blood levels of calcium, phosphorous, protein and potassium. Too much or not enough of any of these can lead to significant health problems.
The values are printed out on a "report card" (boy do I hate that term) and given to the patient to be discussed with the nutritionist. Up until this month, my values have been good, and I silently sat there with a smug grin on my face as we went over the data.

This month, my phosphorous was out of whack.

I told Carol that nothing had changed in my diet - that I was avoiding all the things I should - cola, nuts, chocolate and whole grains. I started to get very upset and was crying quite dramatically. She seemed startled that I would get so upset about a little piece of information.
She patted my shoulder and walked away.

So, once again, the body responds in unpredictable ways. What's a person to do? I guess the best advice would be to chill out and take a nap.
Dialysis patients are supposed to eat 10 ounces of animal protein a day. There are some people at the unit who cannot afford to buy that amount of meat, and my heart breaks for them. Low levels of protein in the blood make one vulnerable to infections and an overall feeling of muscle weakness and fatigue.

I have not been testing my blood more that 1-2 times per day. But eating such large amounts of meat leaves little room for carbs. My last AlC, without even trying, came back at 6.3% - lowest ever. My primary said "oh, it's just like the Aitkins diet". I guess so. Go figure.

I once again would like to thank all of the many DOC'ers who expressed concern and emailed me well wishes. It sure makes the journey easier to know others are rooting for you. Thanks.