Wednesday, October 3, 2007

On Cankles.

In high school and throughout college, I used to complain about my fat ankles. I have slim, muscular legs, thank goodness, but my ankles have never been my favorites.

The right one bears a one-inch scar from my type 1 diagnosis back in 1990. I was in DKA, and dehydrated. My poor 8-year-old veins were so deflated, they had to cut into my ankle to start the IV necessary for insulin and fluids.

My ankles were always wide and strong, and to this day, they make buying pull-on or zip-up boots difficult. My feet are small, size 7.5 in women's, but I'm sure my ankles belong to a size 8.5 or 9 boot. Hell, my calves probably do too. I think the truth is my ankles were never fat, they were just too big in proportion to my little feet.

Except on days like today, they really are fat. I look down at my ankles and they are ballooned out with fluid, the way you'd expect a little old lady's ankles to look. I am glad that I do not yet have to wear any kind of orthopedic shoes, or things might look even worse. Why does this keep happening? No one ever offers me an answer. I'm guessing poor circulation.

Nobody mentions the word "neuropathy". Maybe it's because they don't want to scare me. Maybe it's because that's not the case. I won't know until my blood sugars are back in range for an extended period of time. Could that be the answer? Could more excercise be the answer? How long until my A1C is acceptable? I'm trying to get to that place, and it's getting easier, but it's still a challenge. I know I should be happy about what I have. I still have feeling in my legs and feet, and very rarely do I have any pain. My kidneys are normal, and allegedly, so is my thyroid. (I say allegedly because I keep hearing about differing guidelines in regards to what is "normal", and I don't know which guidelines my doctor follows.)

And I am happy. I am truly blessed to never have been hospitalized outside of my diagnosis, blessed to have never known a low blood sugar leading to a convulsion or even passing out.

But these uncomfortable appendages are so discouraging sometimes.

On Sunday, Matt and I celebrated our first wedding anniversary. I was changing clothes, putting on an outfit I really liked, feeling absolutely adorable. I asked Matt to hand me a pair of shoes that I wanted to wear, and on the left foot, the shoe was reasonably okay. As I tried to put the right one on, I felt like one of Cinderella's ugly stepsisters, trying to cram a massive, misshapen foot into a shoe two sizes too small. I'd have to put on the dingey-yet-comfortable shoes when I wanted to wear the cute-but-comfortable shoes. I wanted my husband to tell me I looked nice.

I felt my spine slacken a little, and I burst into tears right there on the bed.

Matt, best husband ever, sprang into action, wrapping me immediately in a hug. "Aww, what's wrong, Boo?"

I cast the unfitting shoe down onto the carpet and sniffled loudly. "Just once, I want to see my ankles again."

"I'm sure it's all going to be okay. Nobody's perfect, and right now you're stressed out, and we're not excercising enough because we're too busy with the move, and we probably haven't been eating the greatest stuff, and I know you're working really hard to get your blood sugars under control and..."

I cut him off just as my brain was about to turn on full-on-NOT-pretty-sobbing mode. "I'm just scared *sob sob* that I did this to myself, and it's never going to get better, and this is just how it's going to be from now on." My tears absorbed into a half-dollar size wet spot on Matt's t-shirt.

He held me, and he reassured me. "We'll get through this. I'm sure it's going to be fine, and no matter what, I'll always love you just the way you are."

On Sunday, that was enough. Enough to restore my faith in myself. It's not always that easy, but for whatever reason, it worked. "I'll give it time," I told him. "I think eventually, it will be alright." I got another hug. I smiled. "Now then, where the heck are we going to go for dinner?"

Dear Ankles,
Stop sucking so bad. Thanks.

PS--In non-ankle news, WE GOT THE HOUSE WE WANTED!! WOOOOO HOOOOOO!!! We sign the lease this weekend! More on this later.


  1. Happy Anniversary!

    Fat ankles - no solution. Did that when I was pregnant and could only wear sandals - so I do understand the need to "see" your ankles...


  2. First of all - Matt is right - you are beautiful exactly how you are. Fierce, fiery, talented beautiful :).

    Next - have you talked to a doc about your fluid retention? What do they have to say? I know there are a number of drugs that can be used to reduce fluid retention - not too mention socks and things you can wear at night that would help.

    Last - you are not alone. I freak out when I look at the scars all over me from the lack of healing ability or when I think my vision is going because I'm seeing things "funny." And I always wonder if I've done this to myself. The truth is, there is no getting around the guilt - the fear - but there is getting though it - and you are soooo lucky to have a husband who loves you and wants to help you through.... I know you know that, but it bears repeating.

    Anyway, much love to you, my friend...

    And as for the ankles - don't make me hunt you down and hurt you.

  3. Aww...this post made me sad. Sad because I feel for you. I KNOW that feeling. A little defeat. May seem like a small thing, but it's so much more than that.

    What you wrote struck a chord with me--this guilt, this wondering if we've done this to ourselves, if we'll ever be where we want to be with our own self-acceptance of our foibles and faults and lows and highs and cankles and scars and all of the rest of it.

    I have loved reading your blog, since I discovered it a few months ago, and I appreciate your perspective and your honesty and your words. Thank you for writing this post with candor and for being out there.

    Happy Anniversary and congrats on the house! That rocks!

  4. Hannah - for years I noticed the same thing as you! Fat ankles and calves. Boot s that never were right. Also my knees sucked! I have much better controll now and after about two to three years of excellent control my ankles do NOT swell up any more. So I think it IS caused by diabetes. You want the truth don't you. All I can say is work your butt off to get good values. Why? Because you WANT them. You WANT to feel better. Just keep trying and encourage yourself with every step of progress attained. WOW - Matt is GREAT! Hold tight to him.

  5. I know almost exactly how you feel. I felt the same way for months after I gave birth to my daughter. My ankles were so swollen and fat, and I didn't know why it took so damn long for them to go back to normal. I begged my doctors for an diuretic or something, but they said no. It took MONTHS for them to get back to normal. Hopefully in time those cankles will be history!

  6. That sounds like a rough day, I know the feeling. I have those freak out I'm doing a bad job and I'm never going to be in control moments, and the fears that what is going on in my feet or hands is neuropathy that's getting worse. Thanks for writing this really good post about it.

    My ankles aren't so fat, but I do have HUGE calves (luckily I never try to fit them into women's boots anyways because my size 12 wide feet are too big and I don't care that much about wearing cute women's shoes). In high school, I ran cross country, and tried hard, but was one of the slowest (and fattest, I say that now with pride) girls on the team. One day I walked up some steps in front of a super-fast varsity girl, and she saw my calves and was like WHOA, DO THAT AGAIN! YOUR CALVES ARE SO AMAZING! (little did she know they always look like that, no matter how strong or weak they are)

    On my mom's side of the family, they take family monster calf pictures at family reunions. I kid you not.


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