If someone were to come up and ask you what the absolute worst thing about having diabetes is, what would you tell them? Would it be the painful finger pricks and injections? Would it be the knowledge that you have to take insulin and/or medications every day for the rest of your life? Would it be the oft-restrictive diet plan, or maybe having to lose weight but finding it difficult? Maybe it would be panic about low or high blood sugars, especially during the night or at an important event.
For me, I've decided today, that for me, the absolute worst thing about having diabetes is having to deal with other health problems. I am not alone in that I have a pretty healthy fear of complications from diabetes, but it does not help when some members of your support system try to interpret your every ache and pain as D-related.
It's bad enough that my ankles swell on an almost daily basis, because others sometimes take notice. These people include my mom, who I know is constantly fretting about how it HAS to be my kidneys. I had a kidney scare back in late high school or early college, and it was definitely terrifying at the time, but I was put on ACE inhibitors, and my kidney tests have come out fine ever since. I am not 100% convinced that anything was wrong with my kidneys to start with--maybe it was a side effect of the antibiotics I was taking for my severe acne at the time. I am always worried that people see my swollen ankles and no longer see a twentysomething woman living the best life she can with diabetes. Suddenly I become that out-of-control girl who never cared about her health, that noncompliant diabetic who's going to lose a limb or an organ.
I feel like there are things wrong with me that no doctor ever takes the time to fully explain. I take medicine for tachycardia, but I am not sure if that's because my heart beats too fast or because it's arhythmic. No one ever explained to me if that was related to my diabetes or not, and it took Gary telling me that tachycardia is not typically something diabetes-related to ease my mind. For nearly a year, I thought my heart issues were my own fault for not having better control, because I didn't know any better.
I have an appointment with my endo this week, and I hope that I can sit down with her & explain everything that's wrong with me, and instead of just having her react to it, I want her to be proactive. I know she's a really cool lady, and I know she's a good listener, so I think something can work out. I just really don't know what to say, or how to say it without bursting into tears.
The absolute worst thing about diabetes is that some doctors don't necessarily see you as a person with a strange medical issue that's popped up. They see you as that diabetic with a bad A1C who OF COURSE is having health problems. Look. Don't f**king ignore my problems just because my A1C is 8.5. I still have other health problems that aren't related to the fact that I have type 1 diabetes. Oh, and if you work in an ER, don't tell me I have a UTI that must have flared really suddenly when the symptoms are then identical to the ruptured ovarian cyst I ended up with a month and a half later.
For a couple of years, I've been asked if I have PCOS, and I've asked the same of my doctors, who responded with, "Well, do you have regular periods? Yes? No, you probably don't have it." Yet I have the trademark insulin resistance and body type, as well as a family history of ovarian cysts. I am waiting to have a gynecologist appointment to tell me the truth.
I want every ache, every pain, every tingle, twitch, and twinge, every incident of my leg falling asleep to not be accompanied by my brain saying, "Oh no, Hannah! It's your diabetes complications! They're finally caught up with you!" as if they just magically, suddenly manifest from the sky like the horsemen of the Apocalypse.
Why all this angst? Why today? I sat on the floor at a friend's house yesterday, and my legs fell asleep. It happens. Whatever. I'll admit I was sitting at an odd angle on a hard floor. However, my left leg recovered, and my right leg, even after sleeping, still feels half asleep. WebMD has me convinced it's peripheral neuropathy, rheumatoid arthritis, a blood clot, Lupus and seven other rare disorders--all at the same time! (note: sarcasm, people. sarcasm.) But really, I don't quite know what's wrong, and I'm definitely worried about it. But if I need to call my doctor in the morning, I want things to be taken seriously, and I don't want it with a side lecture regarding the nature of my diabetes self-care.
Maybe I pinched a nerve. Maybe I do have a blood clot. Whatever it is, I just want to be taken care of and not scolded for all the things that could happen to me in the future. If those things aren't my problem NOW, why bother talking about them.
When something is wrong with me, please, by all means, help me fix it. Sometimes, you really need to ignore the elephant in the room. He might just be there because that's where he lives.