June 22, 2015

Daily Diabetic Complications

No one is supposed to actually come out and say this, but Diabetes is an insidious disease that kills you slowly over time.


Even if you take the best care of yourself you possibly can, some complication of Diabetes will most likely lead to your demise.

I don't even want to list all the problems that can crop up because it is too long and depressing. Quite commonly, Diabetes is the leading cause of blindness and kidney disease, two terrible and permanent afflictions.

I married a man with Type 1 Diabetes and over the years have been watching it take its toll on him. It actually started its rampage in Mark before I met him. He was diagnosed at age 9 and by 25 he was legally blind, was losing kidney function and neuropathy had begun in this feet. Once his kidneys failed he was blessed to receive a kidney and pancreas transplant which commenced a six year reprieve from Diabetes (and dialysis).

There is a lot that goes into taking care of transplanted organs though, which can make it feel like you've traded one disease for another, but it was indeed a healthy time. We got married and had a baby during those years.

Mark has been back on dialysis and insulin since winter of 2002, 13 years now, and he is not a candidate for a second transplant. Diabetes and dialysis have caused many complications with his heart, and one very important thing you need in order to undergo transplant surgery is a strong heart.

There are Diabetic complications in the broad sense, but also daily struggles with blood sugar and insulin management. A low blood sugar (aka, an "insulin reaction" or hypoglycemia) is one of the most difficult things to deal with.

The night of my birthday four years ago, after a great day in Leavenworth, WA which included eating plenty of food (too much if you ask me), Mark ran to Walmart to return a Redbox movie and get me a bottle of wine, and proceeded to get low while there. I had a strong feeling something was wrong because this little errand was taking way too long.

Apparently he realized he was low when he stumbled and bumped into a few people. They asked him if he was OK and he told them his blood sugar was low. Someone got him some orange juice, he drank it and was feeling better, so he got my wine (and a box of cereal because he thought it might look weird to be low and only buy wine). However, he didn't make it out the door because his sugar was still too low so someone called 911. Paramedics helped him, and even drove he and his car home.

I was angry when he got home, not understanding how this could have happened; we ate all day long! It didn't make any sense. I have a hard time when I don't understand something. But you know, it's really more about fear than anger.

Another particularly upsetting low happened just a couple of days later. Mark was busy doing things around the house, when at around 4:30 in the afternoon, he realized he needed to eat, which he did. Then we had dinner around 6:30. Even after eating twice, around 9-9:30 his blood sugar dropped.

While in the kitchen trying to fix himself something to eat his sugar crashed to the point where he was totally out of it and couldn't stand up anymore. He had made some toast, so I moved it to the table hoping he'd go sit down at it to eat. I tried to help him walk but he wouldn't let me. I kept trying to help. He still wouldn't let me, even though he was about to fall flat on his face. Thankfully he manged to just slide down to the floor, but not without totally fighting it first.

Once he was safely sitting on the floor I stuck a straw in the cup of milk he had poured and tried to help him drink, but he kept leaning away from me. I was afraid he was going to remain uncooperative and yelled at him to just freaking drink the damn milk already! He then decided I needed to give him the cup so he could do it himself. I loathe giving him a cup of liquid when he's low because he will most likely spill it, which he did because he kept moving the cup around trying to keep it away from me even though I had backed off.

I don't mean for this to sound demeaning, but Mark is like a drunk 2 year old when his blood sugar gets low. He was yelling at me to let go of the cup (I had) then he spilled it and I burst into tears, crying as I sopped up milk.

Sometimes if I get upset during an insulin reaction he will hear it and it will make him think just clear enough to actually start consuming something. He chugged what was left of the milk and I gave him the toast he had made and got him more milk, crying all the while. Once I knew he was getting sustenance, I went to the bathroom for tissue...and to keep crying in private. Sometimes I cry out of utter frustration with the way Mark is behaving. I was frustrated, but it was more than that.

Again, I cried so much that time due to fear. Yeah it's irritating, then on the flip side, kind of funny after the fact ("OMG, you will not believe what you did!"). But it's also very disconcerting to see Mark be completely different from his normal self. Then there is where my thoughts invariably lead me....this is hurting him....he could die if I can't help him....please God, help me make him better.

Once, as he was coming out of a low, he sat down at the table to collect himself. I was sitting on the couch and kept looking over at him, asking if he was OK, as I do.

He said, "I wish something would just go my way for once," which hurt my heart, so I went over to comfort him.

Then he said, "But I'm so grateful".

Grateful? Now? What for?

"Because you're here."

I am here. I am 100% here with Mark, and our kids. This is what I do, who I am. Even as I hate Mark's health problems, want to scream and throw things and not do it anymore, I am completely in love with my family.

How do I reconcile these conflicting emotions? I've been asking myself that for years. Life just is a massive jumble of conflicting emotions. All I can do -- all any of us can do -- is focus on the good, laugh and sprinkle in plenty of other things that make us happy and fulfilled too.

Friends, hobbies, work, music, books, movies, great TV shows, food and wine, nature, pets, birthdays, Christmas, caramel....

Diabetes is still stupid. Watching someone you love struggle is stupid. Being afraid all the time is stupid. Anything that sucks is stupid. I wish it would all go away.

On the other hand....

This post was dug out of the archives and edited to make sense today. First published on April 20, 2011, I titled it "Diabetes is Dumb" because I didn't yet feel comfortable swearing online. "Why I Fucking Hate Diabetes" is what I'd really like to title it, but apparently I'm still too chicken to go quite that far.

image source

No comments:

Post a Comment