If you are a regular reader of this column, you already know that I have had type 2 diabetes for over 10 years and that I’ve managed it with Metformin all this time. Our adult son has type 1 and he has been on insulin for over 30 years. Our 11-year-old grandson has been on insulin since he was 3.
I have commiserated with them, over the years, but I’m just now getting truly acquainted with what they’ve been going through.
Over the last four months, I have been fighting chronic fatigue and anemia that the doctors have not been able to figure out until I collapsed and took a fall last Thursday, discovered that my sugar was sky high and wound up in the emergency room about 10 minutes after my family doctor’s office had closed.
Turned out that a rapid drop in blood pressure was likely the cause of the fall but there’s still no accounting for my sugar level hitting nearly 600. The bottom line is that I spent three nights in the ICU at Berea’s St. Joseph’s hospital, hooked up to IV bags and various monitoring devices. I’m not sure what it did to my anemia, but I’ve had so many tubes of blood drawn that I figure I’m another quart low and I’ve had so many needles poked into me that Loretta’s pink pin cushion is turning green with envy.
While I was in the hospital, I don’t believe there was a single time that I was not conscious of where I was or what I was doing. During the entire time, not a single hour went by that I didn’t have to call a nurse to help me stand up while she turned her back to let me pee. Suffice to say that it doesn’t take long to get over one’s modesty if they spend much time in the ICU. After two nights, they allowed me to get out of the backless hospital gown and dress in a tee shirt and pajama bottoms. After that, I felt better dressed than Calvin Klein.
Home from the hospital Sunday afternoon, Loretta and I spent over an hour learning how to use the newfangled injection needles that I now have to use to take four insulin shots every day. Our adult son, Chris, has showed us some tricks with them but they are nothing like the old “draw it in, then poke and plunge” hypodermic needles from the old days.
These things come preloaded with little dials that determine the dosage. Once the needle is inserted, a button gets pushed on top of the device and I have to wait a few seconds to make sure the insulin gets administered. Learning to do this, unassisted, is going to take a steep learning curve because I only have the use of one hand and Mr. Parkinson believes it needs to be shaking.
In the meantime, after wasting nearly a dozen test strips that cost about 50 cents each, after copay, I have essentially mastered the glucometer and figured out how to do blood sticks using just one hand. My left hand is rejoicing because it now has nearly twice as much utility as it used to. I can only draw blood with my right hand, five times a day, from it.
The doctors tell me that there is a good chance I’ll be able to get this high sugar back under control with Metformin after they figure out what’s causing it to spike so high in the first place. Suffice to say that I’ll be making sure the medical profession doesn’t have to draw unemployment in the foreseeable future as I go about checking in with urologists and other specialists to figure out what condition my condition is in.
Mr. Parkinson is also tickled because he may be getting a break from the whining he has endured over the last decade.
The column is a tad abbreviated this week because it’s already way past deadline and my beeper says it’s time for another insulin injection. I’ll try to keep you posted without whining too much.