Category Archives: Doctor Visits

Feb 2013 Test Results and Why It’s Good to Get the Details

I haven’t posted an A1c in a while.  Let’s face it I haven’t posted anything in a while but in that time frame I’ve received emails like, “So, you’re A1c is suddenly not good enough to share?!”  No…I just haven’t made it to the endo, lately.  Sometimes that low $30 co-pay IS a deterrent.  That and fear of course.  So I finally did go and here are the results.  My A1c is 5.9, the highest it’s been in the past 6-7 years.  I drank regular coffee before my appointment to see if I could bump up my blood pressure since lately it’s been in normal range as long as I exercise regularly and avoid caffeine and sure enough, I was 130/80.  I got it tested again a few days later while having had no caffeine and I was 110/71.  WOW, is all I have to say.  And no more regular coffee for me, ever!

About my A1c, in order to be fair and transparent, it sounds fantastic but, it’s a reflection of more swings in blood sugar than my last A1c which was 5.7 so I really have more work to do- even though it wouldn’t appear that way.  And that’s the point with my sharing my A1c and the other tests along with that.  Because if you’ll notice below where I post pictures of my results, I have an MCHC test in high range and in my case it means Vit B 12 and Folic acid deficiencies (having ruled out liver disease as a possibility).  This winter was tough financially so we didn’t purchase many foods high in those vitamins and when we did I left my portion to my kids since they are at a more crucial state of development.  I eat a lot of vegetables but meat and seafood sure seem to boost vitamin B 12 levels more than anything else.  So I will try to include more of those foods now for sure.  That and get all of us on a multi-vitamin.  The other thing I want to mention is that it seems that having a deficiency in B12 and Folic Acid affects red blood cell life (from what I read).  Our A1c test reflects our blood sugars over the past 2-3 months because that’s how long those cells live before they are replaced with new ones.  If mine are dying more quickly my A1c would reflect a period of time less than 2-3 months.  So there is that.  Though I’m not sure about how all that works.

By the way, I found this out by asking my doctor’s office for my detailed results as you see below.  Otherwise they send me a sheet of paper stating what my A1c is and letting me know that everything else is “normal”.  When I got my paperwork this time around I asked for all the exact test result data and found out those vitamin deficiencies (good to know so I can actually do something about it) and I found out a high bilirubin count which in my case (due to unshared personal data) seems like a genetic thing and leads me to attempt some liver detox to see if that helps (like juicing beets).  It doesn’t seem to be anything serious except it possibly causes chronic fatigue and mild jaundice and that’s no fun.

So anyway, here are the results.  I just want to point out that at some point my triglycerides, cholesterol, and thyroid levels were all abnormal and now they’re not.  Not always, but often, these things can absolutely be helped with changes in lifestyle habits.  Worked for me and it’s something I keep putting effort into.

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The Annual Sigh of Relief

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It’s Fab Friday and part of discovering self love is dragging ourselves to the doctor for important things such as:

Each year I get an eye exam.  And every time I go I’m anxious about the results.

I happen to be SO “uh oh” broke right now, but I’m nevertheless enjoying the finer things in life-like great eye health.

My doctor asked me to remind her how long I’ve had type 1.  I told her it would be 18 years this November.  She said, “hmm…wouldn’t it be nice if you were one of the 10% that didn’t suffer eye damage from diabetes?”

“Um, yes.  But it would be really great if that 10% were a much higher number.”

Wishing you all great allover health.  Have a great weekend.

XOXO

Diabetes Analogies

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A few months ago I read a post by a medical student who experimented with pretending to have type 1 diabetes for a week in order to gain a bit of insight into our world.  She hopes to serve patients better with her newfound perspective.  I was impressed that she even thought to do this and left a long comment adding some things I hope she and other medical students/doctors take away.

Part of my response was this:

“I hope many medical students/doctors read this and take with them your message and this one:

Anyone can do anything difficult for a certain period of time but after a while, a toll does come down on the person.  Can you imagine being in medical school your entire life?  Do you think you might eventually crack under that kind of intense schedule and pressure? That’s kind of what type 1 diabetes is like.  It never ends and there is never a break.  I think if doctors understand this and are sympathetic to this, they can really connect with patients and provide them the compassionate ear they often need before being able to really soak in any medical advice.  It’s a win, win.”

I thought I might use this example of medical school with doctors from now on because I think it’s an analogy they can relate to and make them really stop and think about how exhausting diabetes is.  We’ve got to find clever ways to communicate with them right?

Any other analogies you know of?  Remember George’s?  It’s an excellent one:

“Imagine having to pump your own heart because it didn’t do it by itself. And when you want to sleep you have to pump it slower. For exercise you would have to speed it up. You would have to know the rate of pumping for every activity. Do you think you could do it? Do you think that would be easy?”

What are some others?  Do share.

These analogies are clever diabetes advocacy tools and armor.  And they keep me entertained :)

Is it Your Doctor’s Job to Motivate You?

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I hope everyone’s Holiday weekend was grand.  Mine was full of wonderful memories, highly excited children, and some laryngitis.  I still sound like a dying squawking bird but luckily I can still write!

I recently read a doctor’s article on how health coaches are becoming more accepted and recognized for the service they provide.  His case was that doctors endure many years of medical school and get no training on human behavior and how to motivate others.  He says that really isn’t a doctor’s job.  He says that is why he “prescribes” patients a health coach, someone with the time and training to help get a person’s motives down to a nitty gritty and support them to follow through with lifestyle changes they want to make.

You know, I have always assumed it was a doctor’s job to motivate patients but now that I think about it, doctors really are trained in medicine and I doubt they get classes on perfecting their bedside manor and figuring out how to engage people.  I don’t think they’re trained in counseling.  Not to mention, most doctors have a very limited amount of time with each patient.  A former doctor of mine said he had about 7 to 15 minutes with each patient.  That’s barely enough time to figure out what’s wrong with a person let alone talk to them about how life is going and how they are feeling about their diet and exercise and the stress in their lives.

Ideally, health counselors or life coaches are built into the system and covered by insurance companies for widespread accessibility.  That is not the current state of our health system however and that means that so many people are left to their own devices.

I think that’s why I focus SO many of my posts somewhere inside the realm of motivation.  Every totally impressive person I know has locked into what personally motivates them.  They latch on to this and keep it in the forefront of their mind.  They eat, breathe, and sleep it.  There is no other way to be very successful at something than to know exactly why you want to do it.  Losing sight of this equals failure. The what, when, how, and where all sorts itself out as long as you know why you want to do something.

I’ll be taking on clients soon as a holistic health counselor and I am making plans right now to remember all those who can’t afford this service.  I’m thinking about giving local group sessions and seminars for free or at highly discounted rates.  Those with less money are probably those who don’t even make it to the doctor often enough and could use more support with their lifestyle habits.

Sometimes all some of us need is a little encouragement and attention to what motivates us and perhaps, in the current paradigm, it isn’t our doctor’s job to do all those things.

What do you think?

Treato Offers Prescription Side Effect Help

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I’ve learned of a pretty cool website called Treato which helps organize and combine different people’s experiences with prescription drug side effects.  You can go here to watch a short video that explains how it works.  It’s free and I tried it out with one of my prescriptions and was pleased at how organized and limitless the information that came up was.  For those of us with a chronic illness, I find that it can be overwhelming to deal with prescription drug side effects because we have to figure out how to separate those symptoms from the symptoms we sometimes get from our illness.  For example, I had trouble recently figuring out if high blood sugar was causing dry mouth or if the new prescription I was taking was the culprit and Treato helped clue me in.

I asked Noam Mantel, who works with Treato, a few questions to learn more:

Have you received any feedback from the medical community regarding the safety and efficacy of Treato?

We are pleasantly surprised to receive such positive feedback from the medical community. We genuinely thought the process of having the professionals on board with the idea would take much longer than it has. Today, Social Media plays such a big role in health that people are taking it very seriously, including the pharmaceutical companies. A great example of positive feedback is a blog post written by Andrew Spong which really blew us away (http://bit.ly/stXGx6) .

One of the issues we have come across is info validation. We hope to start integrating medical databases with our personal experiences database so our users can benefit from the best of both worlds at once. We sometimes see raised eyebrows but, especially with professionals, once they see thousands of real patient experiences on one condition or medication, it’s extremely hard to ignore.

What are some practical ways someone might benefit from using Treato?

This is an interesting question because you can take the system to so many places and we hear about new applications all the time. The most obvious way is to get more information on a medication. If you’re already taking a medication and are getting side effects, the site is a great form of assurance that you aren’t the only one getting them. If this is the case, you can compare your medication to similar ones to try and find a medication that less people have said to cause your side effect. Once you’ve found a few potential alternative medications, you can read people’s experiences with switching from your current medication.

Now, this was just an example of people who are already taking medications. People use it to find information about medications they’ve been prescribed, look up medications for recently diagnosed conditions and so on. On a more personal note, I used the site this week for something much less serious. My eyelids were burning when I was exercising so I looked it up on Treato and found out what other people are calling it. This way, I can come up to my physician and say “I think I may have so and so”. This specific application may not have saved my life, but it did make it easier.

Let’s say I look up my medication on Treato and discover that many people have had the same reaction to the medication that I”m having and let’s say I read that several people found relief taking a different but similar medication. How should one go about mentioning this to their doctor for consideration?

We understand how much more difficult it is for doctors today. Patients are coming into their office with printouts of the research they did at home and we’ve heard that some doctors (not all of course) do not care for this. We think the best way to approach a doctor with this is to print out the general statistics you found and then a few specific posts that got your attention. Speaking with doctors, we found that they would respond better to people’s real stories as opposed to medical information from sites. If you show them a few posts of people doing better on a different medication, chances are they will listen.

Of course, if they’re not convinced, you can always show them to the site so they can research the matter further themselves.

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Here’s to making sense of our symptoms and prescription drug side effects!

Confronting My Anxiety

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So we’re continuing the “Sysy Freak Show”!  (I’m trying to laugh as much as I can, forgive me)

My doctor prescribed me something for my anxiety, just to get me back on my feet while I continue to treat my anxiety via healthy lifestyle habits.  Why after so many years of au naturel treatments have I succumbed to medication?  Because right now I think I need a little boost.  I don’t necessarily love sharing this info but I feel like I need to be honest with you all, all the time.  I don’t know most of you out there but I know you’re out there…

My whole life I’ve needed a chill pill.  Only now it’s really affecting my health.  Lately, I get really anxious when I have to go out in public.  Even when I’m excited and happy about something I feel too overwhelmed, like my heart is going to beat out of my chest and I have trouble taking a deep breathe.  I can sleep 10 hours a day if you let me and I have a really hard time getting out of bed.  And my thoughts go to dark places.  For example, I will randomly imagine the worst case scenario for everything imaginable and my thoughts will keep unfolding worse and worse events.  I did that 10 years ago when I was at my lowest.  I conquered those thoughts before and I am working on doing it again.

I think my current place in life is sort of fueling these feelings.

Alex is gone 12 hours a day, 6 days a week for work.  Besides my natural inclination to anxiety, having twin two year olds is pretty stressful.  I have to take them out by myself a few times a week and it’s hard to keep my insides from turning because they like to run into the road and in separate directions and so I physically task myself holding them so they don’t go running out in front of a car.  And in those moments I’m not without worry because I fear a low blood sugar.  I know I shouldn’t worry that one of them will get hit by a car or choke to death on something but the reality is that Henri has scared me by getting away from me in the parking lot and hello? People don’t drive slowly in parking lots near kids anymore and he has run right in front of a car, almost giving me a heart attack.  Henri (why is it always him?) has also choked on a glucose tablet that I accidentally dropped while low and I had to totally pound his little back with my hand to pop it out as he turned blue.  Aurora has peanut and egg allergies and the peanut one is classified as severe.  So everywhere we go I’m obsessing over what she is touching and wiping her tiny hands clean because even though it’s annoying to live this way, I WILL NOT let anything happen to her.  Or her brother.  But these moments of life and death or medical strife are driving me nuts.  This tough time won’t last forever but while it’s here, I’m really on edge.

Something that has made a great negative impact on me is I’ve started reading the news again.  I had stopped completely because let’s face it, I’m not really going to do anything about all those small crimes out there and when it comes to the big news, friends and family will be talking about it, so there is no need to feed my very sensitive self all the cruel and sad news of the world each day.  I can stay properly informed without reading everything.

You know what?  As soon as I started the medicine my mysterious nausea and body aches disappeared and now I’m wondering if that was all related to anxiety/depression.  I thought that was interesting to note.

So anyway here’s the plan: (because I don’t want the side effects of this anxiety medicine, forever, though it is excellent birth control)

-Daily exercise

-Positive affirmations

-Healthy diet

-Media fast

-Give back and be grateful

Anything else I should do that might help?  Suggestions are welcome!

Oh and if YOU are dealing with anything similar, do try and get help, there is no shame in it.  Just work your way back, you, um, we can do it :)

Biopsy? Me? But I Already Have Type 1

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That’s sort of always been my line of thinking.  I won’t get cancer, I won’t get other diseases, because I already have type 1 diabetes.  So when a dermatologist looked at my back today and said it was imperative I get a biopsy done, my first thought was, “Biopsy? Me? But I already have type 1.”

The doctor went on to state that I have a lot of funny looking moles, lots of freckles, lots of what he sees as reasons for concern.  He asked if I had ever been to the tanning bed.  I lied and said, “No, never” because (and in my defense) he asked in a way that prompted me to imagine getting bopped on the head if I so even hint at an affirmative.  I did admit I have spent plenty of time in the sun but I’ve never burnt to the point of blistering.  And I try to make sure I never burn.  The doctor said the susceptibility was largely genetic and that my skin was a perfect storm for skin cancer.  When I asked why, he explained that I have skin that tans easily but I have a lot of moles and freckles and sun spots and sensitive skin to boot.  I’m also developing scar moles which begin as a result of a small injury and result in a mole that can easily become cancerous.  I seem to have three.  One showed up when I was 13, the other two within the last three years.  The doctor said I’m likely to get more of these in the future and he said “don’t worry you can see a plastic surgeon if needed”.  Correction.  I can’t afford a plastic surgeon.  You gotta be kidding me.

To be honest the way this doctor talked just about scared me out of my skin.  By the time I was driving home I was imagining my Alex, struggling to take care of our twins all on his own.  I kept trying to snap out of the worry.  It does no good and I am probably fine.  However, this doesn’t exactly calm my anxiety that has been roaring lately and it sure reminds me of the reality people with diabetes face.  It’s not like because we have this disease, that’s what our plight in life is going to be.  We are going to have all the other struggles others have only with diabetes layered inconveniently on top.

That’s what is so frustrating to me.  I just got back into working out now that my foot injury has healed and my mysterious illness of the last few months has disappeared and I now have orders to take it easy and not sweat.  And that means my mood and my blood sugars will be affected.   Type 1 diabetes means that my risk for developing cancer is slightly higher than if I didn’t have diabetes.  Type 1 diabetes means that my recovery for surgical procedures and injuries is going to be challenged.  Type 1 diabetes means that my cup of anxiety can much more easily overflow with life’s experiences because type 1 diabetes keeps it full to the brim.  Sometimes it’s just all too much to handle.

And that’s why I CAN’T have cancer.  I hope someone up there is listening.

 

*Update*  Test results:  Benign.  Phew! :)

1 In 20 Type 1 Diabetics Will Die from Low Blood Sugar?

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How about this for a diabetes anniversary:

Last Friday I wake up feeling like celebrating my 17 years with type 1 diabetes but remember I have an endo visit the exact same day.  Ugh.  These always make me nervous.

I get online to put up the day’s post and learn about an ad the JDRF just put up that says 1 in 20 Type 1 Diabetics WILL die from low blood sugar.  If you’ve been reading my blog for a while you’ll know I keep my A1c rather low.  I feel like I have to after previous years of high A1c’s.  I don’t have a problem with lows (meaning I don’t get many severe ones) but that doesn’t mean a singular low event won’t be pivotal in changing everything.  It only takes one bad low.

At my endo visit my doctor shows me the CGM study graphs from when I spent four days, blindly on the CGM with the doctor’s office seeing and recording all my glucose data from those four days.  I couldn’t help but gulp when I noticed my bedtime number of 102 and my wake up number of 108 and a dip into the low blood sugar range in the middle of the night.  In the middle of the night, in other words when I’m asleep, vulnerable, unable to defend myself appropriately.  My doctor gently pointed this out just for my knowledge.  I will make it a point to go to sleep a tad higher than my feel good 80-100 range.  I will do my weekly 3am checks again.  I have slacked on them lately.  Then I talk to my doctor about my anxiety and he prescribes me something.  As I leave the office I can’t help but feel a little defeated.  I hear scary news, I see my blood sugars dipping at night without my knowledge nor consent, and I succumb to an anti anxiety drug all on the day I’m supposed to be saying “In your face, diabetes!”

And you know what?  I’m not even scared of lows.  Rarely.  I assume it’s because I’ve never gone unconscious from one so in that sense I’m very fortunate and spoiled.  About 5 or 6 times in the past 17 years have I ever needed help.   Though, I must fear lows to some extent because I don’t mess around with high carb meals or lots of sugar or anything that will cause me to give a massive amount of insulin, possibly resulting in a subsequent crashing low. It’s just my responsibility to myself as I see it. Just so you know I don’t feel anyone has to do this or should do this. If you want to eat pancakes with syrup, that’s your right. And if you cover them well then good on you. It’s just that I’ve found out the hard way that I avoid scary lows almost completely by avoiding high carb so I impose this on myself.  And it has kept me safe up until now.  I would actually venture to say that avoiding tons of carbs at one sitting is as life saving as much of the technology we seek to help us.  (By the way, I do know that growing children need plenty of carbs and balance from severe limitations.  If you have a child with diabetes, please know this isn’t speaking to you at all.)

So about the ad:

On one hand I’m kind of like, “Well…I do want people to know type 1 can kill me”. On the other hand I’m like, “How on earth can that statistic be accurate?” With some digging I came across the conclusion that it’s not perfectly accurate. It’s a lifetime risk, for one. If you’re concerned with the accuracy of it, read this post. It goes into the math of it.

To be honest, I do want the general public to understand that what I have could kill me rather easily and this ad, though quite dramatically, helps do that.  I’m secretly (or not so secretly), grateful for that.

I do want to say that fear gets us absolutely nowhere.  I would know.  I’m now starting an anti anxiety drug just to help me stop a cycle of fear fueled thoughts.  Thoughts that are sort of taking me over and ironically, not allowing me to take care of myself properly.  I will write more about this soon.

For now I want to remind us all that fear gets in our way, it impedes our actions, and our decision making skills.  It sucks joy out of life.  It escalates into paranoia if squeezed too tightly.  So I encourage all of us struggling with this news to take a deep breathe and remember that fear must be managed.  We can’t let it win.  We have to keep it in it’s place by focusing on what we have and what we want.  If we focus on being healthy we’ll focus on doing those things we need to do to be healthy.  If we focus on how a low blood sugar might kill us, we won’t be focusing on those actions which will keep us safe because fear will keep us distracted or immobilized.  I realize it’s a fine line because by being aware we can prevent things from happening.  The point is for us to try not to be so afraid.  To have a little faith.

We can do this, too.

A Sigh of Relief

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I held my breathe for the last week or so because of my annual eye exam.  I’m happy to report that after almost 17 years with type 1 diabetes I’m still hanging on to eye health.  I breathed out a long sigh of relief that literally lifted my headache away.

My pressure decreased in both eyes just as it did last year which tells me to more or less keep doing what I’m doing. There are no signs of the 2 faint blood vessels spotted two and a half years ago during my twin pregnancy which makes me happy but also proves to me how delicate a balance this all is.

A little extra pressure or strain, a little bodily stress and that’s all it takes to get the ball rolling on some damage?  It’s a tough pill to swallow but it makes me that much more aware of how important small daily decisions are.  Of course, the doctor always reminds me that with time I’m likely to meet some obstacles but she has a great point when she says not to worry because worrying is pointless, what matters is what we do with the present.  And currently I’m working hard to maintain good blood sugar management.  That’s the best any of us can do.

On different but related note, I realized I’m probably considered close to being legally blind-vision wise.  I have also realized that no matter how cute my glasses frames are, they can never hide the extreme chunkiness of the lens and as a result I’m extremely grateful for contact lenses.  A sigh of relief there, too.  See?  It’s not always about diabetes. :)

Getting to the Bottom of This

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Worrying is like a rocking chair, it gives you something to do, but it gets you nowhere.

-Glenn Turner

 

“This” is whatever issue(s) I have going on which have been causing me to feel a lot less than great the last few months.  In the last few weeks I’ve been dealing with some stronger symptoms like frequent headaches and nausea and water retention.  I visited an allergist and we have ruled out Celiac disease but I’m still going to omit gluten to see if it helps in any way.  (Omitting gluten is a small price to pay if I just so happen to feel better!)  I had lots of other allergy testing done and we found I’m not allergic to any new things so that’s a plus.   Although I am allergic to about 30 different things.  No, my immune system is not confused at all. (Dry humor helps, try it!)

I was reminded that I have an asthma diagnosis from about 15 years ago.  It seems I have mild exercise induced asthma and have forgotten over all these years OR was initially misdiagnosed.  Perhaps when I’ve had my “panic attacks” I’m really just panicking over my breathing?  Could be.  I will get a breathing test soon.  In the meantime I’m just glad those symptoms are mild and I don’t require an inhaler.  Although I do get laryngeal spasms from time to time but although those can cause a person to pass out, the good thing there is that if I do, my throat will relax and air will pass once again.  Phew, what a relief.

Next I go get my hormones and ovaries checked.  Before having my kids, when my PCOS was causing more pain and ovarian cysts were growing all over the place, I remember having nausea and water retention-like I am now.  So hormonal imbalance issues may be the root of this.  It wouldn’t surprise me you know?  Lately, my blood sugars have been higher than they have been in a long time and that definitely affects hormones in the body.  My worry about that is how do I fix the problem?  I don’t feel well on birth control.  What else can I do?  Keep perfect blood sugars?  What else can I do?  Sometimes I dislike being a girl.

I also go to the eye doctor soon.  I’m sure my prescription has changed (everything is a tiny bit blurry) and although that is a bad sign of something diabetes eye related…I’m used to my prescription increasing every single year since age 14, so maybe that’s what the headaches are about.

Some of my symptoms could be tied to anxiety so I’m seeing a psychiatrist soon.  I know I said I would do this over a month ago but I have procrastinated.  But no more, I’ve just made an appointment.

I don’t necessarily want to share all of this with the world (Hello! Look at me! I’m broken!) but here is why I do:  Many of you out there are going through similar scenarios where you have multiple health issues going on and you can’t figure out what’s the cause of what and you feel really overwhelmed and as a result don’t do anything about it.

My advice is to just stop.  Breathe.  Write down your symptoms.  Make doctor appointments.  Visit one doctor at a time.  Get tests done.  Get to the bottom of this.  Ruling out different things will be strangely comforting as you move closer to what is making you feel ill.  Symptoms are our body’s way of saying “help!”   We need to listen and play detective and then tweak our lifestyle until we feel better.   We deserve it.

I should not have waited so long.  I’m already feeling better knowing I’m being proactive.

Any of you out there go through something similar?  Did it help?

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