Tuesday, January 25, 2011

All in my head?

OK, apparently I spoke too soon...I was rushing around, getting ready to leave for work, and all of a sudden I felt lightheaded. Now I'm wondering if part of it is my anxiety about work. I do love my job and am very grateful to have a writing job and be able to support myself, but most of the time when I feel unwell is when I am at the office. Maybe it's just a coincidence since I spend most of my days there (it IS work, afterall), but I tend to feel better once I get home or when it's the weekend. Coincidence? I'm not sure. Another thing that's in my head, is that I have experienced one of my worst moments while at work--the day I went outside, got dizzy, panicked over not having my glucose monitor with me, barely made it into the building and up to my floor, and then practically felt like collapsing, all the while believing it was my bood SUGAR, not my blood PRESSURE. Apparently, my blood pressure falls low at times, which is what makes me feel dizzy and lightheaded. Weird.

Anyway, I now carry my glucose monitor at ALL times. When I go to the 2nd floor for a meeting, I take my purse along. When I am just down the hall from my cube and inside a closed room, I panic slightly about my monitor being so far away. Kind of pathetic and sad, but true. I have to reason with myself that even if I was falling low (as in low blood sugar), I would have plenty of time to reach my monitor or get some help somehow. But it is hard to rationalize with the paranoid and worried mind. It's weird to think that a couple years ago, I didn't even take my monitor with me at times because I wanted to be free of anything like that weighing me down and I was tired of it being my constant companion everywhere. Now the thought of not having it with me freaks me out.

SO I had one of my worst moments at work. I thought I was going to faint, and it truly felt like I was losing consciousness. I tried to gulp down juice because it didn't feel like I had enough time to check my blood sugar, and in between the gulps of juice, I was gulping for air because I couldn't BREATHE. I thought it was part of feeling out of control and not completely with it, but looking back now, I think I was having a panic attack. I have NEVER experienced anything like this before and it was awful. Sometimes when I drive to work, walk into the building, walk up to my floor, etc., I think about that incident and needless to say, it gives me anxiety. In fact, sometimes I think it makes me feel lightheaded all over again. I do believe in the power of suggestion and making yourself feel a certain way, but it is really, really hard not to have a flashback of when you almost fainted at work and had to be carried away in a STRETCHER by the paramedics. I don't mean to be dramatic, but this was fairly traumatizing for me. Before all this stuff started happening, I really didn't worry about my blood sugar numbers much, and now, well now I can't tell the difference btwn low blood sugar and low blood pressure.

Here's another horror story: I was in a MEETING, and felt dizzy. I asked the person running it if I could go get my monitor (this is why I now take it into meetings), and I took about 10 steps and couldn't walk anymore. It's a weird thing to explain, but my legs and feet get really heavy and walking seems like the biggest chore ever. I guess the blood pools in my legs and doesn't circulate to my brain, so this could be why I feel this way. So I walked back in, asked the person running it if she could get my meter, and sat back down. Meanwhile, the 3 buyers on the other side of the table were still there. My hands were shaking and I felt like the room was spinning. Or maybe I was spinning. And it took all of my concentration to not freak the fuck out. One of the buyers was really nice and told me to just breathe and that she gets really bad panic attacks. The other 2 buyers (dudes) continued talking to themselves like nothing weird was going on, which I actually appreciate. Nothing out of the ordinary here, folks, just me sitting there, gripping the table and breathing in and out really slowly and audibly. Embarrassing? Kind of. It felt like so much time had passed before she came back with my meter, and of course, my blood sugar was fine. Wtf body, stop freaking out.

Another anxiety story: One morning, I had a vivid dream about driving to work with low blood sugar and I ended up crashing and then waking up to an actual low number. Well, it was 68, so only slightly low...nothing too scary. Even though my number was normal before I left for work, all I could think about was the dream. At one point, I almost turned around, went back home and called in sick. I had to talk myself into driving to work! It seriously took a lot of my willpower to tell myself that I was fine and I could make it to work.

Ugh, back to another depressing post. What I'm trying to say is, I got ready for work today, I was almost out the door, and then I started to feel fuzzy and lightheaded. Maybe it IS something I ate, maybe it IS due to allergies, but part of it is that the thought of my workplace sometimes fills me with anxiety. Even just the act of driving can fill me with anxiety...I don't know about you, but feeling dizzy while driving is absolutely terrifying. So now it's 9:15am, and I emailed in sick. I was actually sick over the weekend. And it's not a lie, I do feel sick...sick with anxiety and worry. It's like when you go to a restaurant and get sick from their food...you don't want to go back there! It may have just been that one time, but you don't want to chance it again. Even thinking of the food and the bad experience might make you queasy. Well, this is exactly what thinking of going to work feels like...I now associate it with "bad" things that don't make me feel so great.

Maybe I should make another appt. with that therapist...

Good morning...please last!

I have to blog about this because the past few posts have felt pretty negative. I don't want to make it seem like diabetes is putting me into this depression (though lately I feel like it, I don't see diabetes as the sole reason).

Anyway. Must blog about this real quick because I woke up late and have to get my butt to work. Oopsy. Good thing my work hours are flexible.

I usually feel pretty good in the morning...it's probably when I usually feel my best, but it feels like it's been a while since I have woken up with so much energy. This is when I feel like my old self--upbeat, energetic and ready to face the day. Lately, I have a lost of my energy and positive attitude. I've felt rather crushed lately, so feeling so GREAT this morning reminds me I can still have this feeling. It's like when you are sick with a sore throat for a long time...after a couple days, you can barely remember what it's like to have your throat feel "normal." All you can think about is how much your throat hurts, how it sucks to not be able to swallow food normally, etc. Well, that's how I feel when I am feeling "sick". I don't mean sick with the flu, I mean dizzy, lightheaded, zero energy, fuzzy thinking, etc. It's hard NOT to focus on it when it takes over your body. Back to my anaology...once your throat feels normal again, you remember what it's like to have a functioning throat and it feels wonderful! Well, that's how I feel this morning: Wonderful! It's nice to fee like a "normal" functioning person. Now let's hope it lasts...!

Monday, January 24, 2011

AHHHHH Insurance

Figuring out health insurance can be so maddening. It's also sort of debilitating. Just the thought of making several phone calls, listening to menu options to know what keys to press, talking on the phone for hours...it's exhausting.

Since I got my promotion and switched to a non-union job, I've had to do so much more work to figure out how my insurance works. I've had to make a ton of calls to understand claims and bills and deductibles. Not fun at ALL. I've been told contradicting things, I've been told to call one number only to have them tell me to call the other number back....and sometimes it's just too much for me to handle mentally and emotionally. That my sound like I'm being sensitive, but when you're already dealing with a chronic illness 24/7 AND you have to fight for your healthcare needs, it can easily push one over the edge.

Originally I was told my pump supplies are labeled as "hardware" and wouldn't be applied to my deductible. But, but...my test strips, lancets and insulin are covered through the pharmacy and applied to the deductible, so why not my pump supplies? Well, my pump supplies are considered MEDICAL, and shouldn't be billed to my pharmacy. Fine, so, the company I get everything from now has to bill 2 different insurance companies. At first I was so upset because my claim showed that my supplies weren't being applied to my deductible...NOT FAIR. If I was taking shots, everything (including the syringes) would be covered by my pharmacy and applied to the deductible. So what you're telling me is because I CHOOSE to be on the pump, I have to pay more because the supplies that go along with the pump are not covered?! Needless to say, I was very confused. I THINK I got it straightened out this morning (after an hour and a half and several phone calls). Nope, just kidding...had to make yet another phone call just now to understand if anything diabetic related was covered before my deductible was paid. Now I understand that it's not...must pay deductible first. Thank you to the man on the phone who explained this to me and also told me that diabetes is an ongoing medical condition with serious consequences...did he really need to add that last part?! Excuse me sir, do YOU have diabetes? Are you close to someone who has it? I didn't choose to become a type 1 mofo, so please shut your mouth or choose your words carefully.

For now, I can set my $518 bill aside while the company sorts out their billing issues.

Friday, January 21, 2011

The A1c blues

I've come to terms with the fact that my A1c currently sucks. What's an A1c? It's an average reading of your blood sugar over the last 3 months. It measures what percentage of your hemoglobin is coated in sugar. The higher your A1c, the more at risk you are for long-term health problems. When I was first diagnosed, my A1c was 12.8%. For non-diabetics, I believe the range is 4-5.5%. For diabetics, they say an ideal # is 6-6.5%. Over the first 3 years of being diabetic, I brought it down with each visit to my endo. Eventually, it was under 6% and I remember feeling really proud of myself and on top of my game.

In the last 2 years, it has slowly gone up. Now it's at 8.1%. Not ideal. This is where the disappointment in myself sets in. The guilt. The depression.

My numbers have been so up and down this month that I think I should have enough of a reason for my insurance to cover CGM (continuous glucose monitoring). At this point, I don't care that I have to attach another thing to me if that "thing" is going to help me get back into control.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

conscious while unconscious

It always amazes me how my brain is aware of what's going on with my body even while I'm sleeping. What does this have to do with diabetes? I've had more than a few dreams about my blood sugar crashing. It's a very scary dream and it almost always makes me feel very anxious when I wake up. Every time I wake up from this kind of dream, I check my blood sugar, and most of the time it is actually low. Those dreams are my body's way of telling me something is wrong and I need to wake up and take care of it. Although those dreams are horrible and very vivid, I'm glad my body is sending that signal to my brain.

The other day I had a dream that my blood sugar was 19. 19 is incredibly low, and at that point, you probably wouldn't be conscious. The weird thing about this dream was that even though I was at 19, I felt fine AND I was with friends. Usually when I have this dream, I am alone and am unable to get to anyone in time or no one can hear me calling for help. It usually ends with me passing out, and then waking up. This time, though, my roommates were around and I was able to drink juice. Eventually, I woke up from the dream and checked my blood sugar: 55. Definitely a low number, but one that I can immediately take care of. A week ago, I had a dream that I was driving to work and I was sooo out of it and I knew my blood sugar was crashing. I did end up crashing in the dream, but then I woke up and checked: 68. Even though these dreams terrify me, I'm glad my brain is aware of what's going on and my subconscious is aware through these dreams.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

new year, new goals

When I was first diagnosed, I didn't want diabetes to set me back. Shortly after my diagnosis, I had planned to travel abroad for the month of January. My mom was worried about me leaving so soon after such a serious diagnosis, and my doctor was hesitant, but supportive of me going. I knew I could tackle this thing and I honestly had zero fears about being in another country while dealing with my diagnosis. I think this trip helped me tackle my "illness" head on. I didn't have time to mess around; I had to learn as much as I possibly could and be really strict with my diet so I could travel safely. Another thing that helped was the "honeymoon" period. For the first 3 months or so of being a type 1, your body still makes a small amount of insulin. So, at that point, I was only on pills that would help produce insulin, and I didn't need to take shots or carry anything more than my glucose monitor. Also, we walked A LOT, which helped stabilize my levels.

My point is that more recently, I have been letting diabetes hold me back. Actually, I have been letting my health hold me back. I don't know if I have felt more sick lately due to my diabetes not being in good control, or if I am just acquiring more health issues because my immune system isn't as strong since having mono a few years ago. I think that my diet and my water intake have a lot to do with the way I feel, and I know that part of me not being held back by my health is doing everything I can to take care of myself.

I've been thinking a lot about my resolutions for this new year. Last year, I didn't believe in making any big resolutions because I know that can be a setup for failure. However, it IS good to make small, attainable goals for the week, or even for the day. The more you practice those things, the more they become a habit and part of your regular routine. Merely thinking about what you want to achieve won't get you far. You can think about it all you want, but writing them down, setting goals, etc. is what will help you succeed.

I guess what I'm trying to say is I have a lot of resolutions this year, which may seem unrealistic, but I think they are attainable if I set my mind to it. Though my willpower has seemed to escape me for the last year or so, I know I am capable of having a lot of willpower and strength to help me succeed in whatever I am doing. Because I have shown this in the past, I know I can do it in the present and the future.

Here are my short- and long-term goals for the new year:

1. Drink at least 2 liters of water a day. My dr. told me I need to drink btwn 2-4 liters of water a day due to my low blood pressure/dizziness problem. I really DO feel better when I drink more water, and it shouldn't be difficult to do, but it's really easy to go the whole day w/o drinking much water. I need to be better about this, and I don't think it's unrealistic to drink at least 2 liters a day. If I drink 3 or more, even better. Long-term goal.

2. Do an elimination diet. I tend to feel fuzzy-headed and generally unwell after I eat. About a year ago (or was it 2?), I did an allergen test and found out I am sensitive to things like dairy and bananas. I'm still convinced that part of me feeling bad is due to the food I eat. I know I need to do this to see if I feel better, but it is really hard to not eat the things I love! However, I HAVE done this before, and I know I can follow a gluten-free diet for a month. Short-term goal.

3. Plan my meals out for the week/cook more. I've been eating pretty randomly for a while now, and I think it would help me feel more satisfied and more in control of my health if I put more thought into what I'm going to eat. I also think this will help with the elimination diet. If I know what I can eat, I can have those things on hand and ready to use in a recipe so I don't feel hungry or frustrated. Plus, it can get really tiring eating the same thing every day. It'd be nice to switch things up while getting all the nutrients I need. Long-term goal.

4. See a naturopath. My skepticism of western medicine and doctors led to me to more holistic practices. I did feel better after going to this particular place, and I do believe that some people have deficiencies and need help through certain vitamins and herbs. After doing the elimination diet, I plan on seeing a naturopath to give my health a once-over. It's been at least a year since I've seen one, and I think it would be beneficial. The only sucky part is that it's not covered by insurance. I have paid so much in the last 2 years to figure out why I feel so bad, why I get dizzy, etc. Though I think it's a good use of my money to figure out my health concerns, it can also be really frustrating knowing that I spend more on this kind of stuff than other people I know.
Short-term goal.

5. Indulge less. In the last year, I have been really lax with what and when I eat. I wanted to believe that I could eat whatever I wanted, but it's not true. Eating crappy also leaves me feeling crappy. Even when I eat healthy snacks but graze too often, it keeps my blood sugar higher than it should be. If I allowed some more space in between snacks, my blood sugar levels would be lower and a lot more steady. I know this, but it's somewhat of an "easy fix" with the pump. Knowing I can correct my blood sugar so quickly has led me to believe it's okay to eat whatever I want. However, I think my body is really sensitive to blood sugar changes. And because I've been having more high numbers, my health has declined, and I feel sick more often. I'm trying to not think of it as what I "can" and "can't" have, but instead what will make me feel "healthy" or "unhealthy." Long-term goal.

6. Work out at least 3 times a week. This shouldn't seem that hard. I used to be a workout machine. I never thought of it as work. I thought of it as something that kept me healthy and made me feel good. I used to go almost every day, sometimes skipping out on things like happy hour after work because I wanted to get to the gym. Lately, I have found it harder and harder to go. I've been working later and getting really hungry by the time I get home. Then I get relaxed and don't have the energy to workout. Or I've been scared to go because I've been feeling dizzy and am scared to drive home afterward. Or my blood sugar falls too quickly and I go through more test strips and have to cut my workout short, and then I get annoyed. Because I've been feeling so dizzy this year, I've been checking my blood sugar more, and then feel I have to save my test strips for that instead of for when I work out. I did up my prescription so I can get more, but it's nerve-wracking to think I won't have enough. Basically, I feel like I've developed a routine so I have an excuse to not go to the gym. Overall, working out has a positive effect on my health, and even though I am currently lacking the energy and stamina to work out for long, I know it's something I have to build back up to. Long-term goal.

7. Obsess less about testing. I never used to worry that much about testing. Most of the time, my numbers were great. I would have a few lows and a few highs, but I always took care of it. Lately I have been very worried about going low or being too high. When I feel dizzy, I'm not sure if it's related to blood sugar or blood pressure, so I have started to test a lot more. In fact, I've become obsessive about it. These last couple weeks have been better. I've been trying to control my thoughts about it and not be so paranoid that I might pass out. I'm trying to reason with myself more, but it can be hard once I start feeling spaced out and dizzy. It's hard to be logical when your hands are shaking and you feel loopy. I think it's good that I'm so aware my body and how I feel, but it's also detrimental and debilitating. Worrying as much as I have been can't be good for my health, so I feel that as I choose a healthier lifestyle, I will start feeling better and as a result, will test less.

I have more life goals in mind, but those are my big health goals for the NY. It may seem like a lot, but they all tie in to each other. And I have done all these before, so I know I can do it all again. This is what I'm telling myself anyway!