Tag Archives: wellbeing

Why going to the endo is like math class

D E B U T S I N G L ERemember when you used to take tests or quizzes in math class and the teacher would tell you that “you have to show your work or else you’ll only receive half the credit”? First of all, I should be allowed to do math in my head, even though I get it, they wanted to cut the cheating out. Secondly, I hated getting the answer right but the “steps in getting to the answer” wrong. Isn’t there more than one way?

Yesterday, I had a visit with my endocrinologist who I hadn’t seen in a year. This was due to being laid off my job a year ago and finding health insurance again. Going to see a world-renowned endo is pricey! Along with getting to see all my doctors again (yay!), I get my supplies, insulin and everything else I need to get my a1c back down (it was a 7.9). It’s not terrible, but I was doing much better this time last year. I actually thought it was going to be higher!

With that said, I took the time to tell my doctor about the issues I’ve been faced with and really, nothing has changed since the last time I was there– besides the fact that I wasn’t checking myself enough due to a shortage of supply. I feel like most of the time, it doesn’t matter if you have diabetes or not, doctor’s advice is usually the same: Do more exercise, lose more weight, you’re doing fine, at least you’re alive. We’ve all heard it.

This time though, I was scolded about not wearing my CGMS, which I admit slipped to the wayside, again due to shortage of supply. But, not to fear! I’m back on it.

As I was sitting there with the doc, reviewing the printout of history from my pump, what I call my diary because, well, they know EVERYTHING just from looking at a few numbers on paper… and graphs, and charts, and totals, I saw the scatter of numbers throughout the pages. Most notably were the days where I checked only once or not at all.

**[If you know anything about diabetes and this isn’t the first time you’ve heard of this situation, you know how important it is to check yourself. I’ve written about it here. The doctor refers to not checking as the “dangerous road.”]**

This is when the guilt sets in. There are days when you wake up and you just don’t want to deal, so, putting your health at risk, you don’t. It’s not to say that it is the right thing to do, but it happens. For those who don’t have diabetes, let me just say, it gets exhausting. Always thinking about what you’re eating, the amount of sugar, carbs, counting, shots, boluses, double checking how you feel, checking blood sugar, making sure you’re on top of your life! Numbers– all numbers, all the time. So even though it sounded like a good idea to skip on checking out where you were and how you were doing in terms of blood sugar levels, it’s not in the long run and you look like a bad student at the doctor’s office.

At this point, I’m too old to shout out, “But my a1c was a 7.9! That’s still pretty good!” But that’s how I felt. It was a sigh of relief, it was a way to loosen the hook I’d always be on with my diabetes. But you know what? I didn’t show my work.

When the doctor downloads all the information that my purple insulin pump stores in its computer system, he sees what’s going on like when I drop and when I’m too high and all that jazz– my personal life and what my insides are doing. The graphs and charts are only possible with data, but if I’m not checking myself or wearing my CGMS there is no data. The data here is the long division work I did in my head and didn’t show on paper. The a1c result is the answer that I got kinda right. The only reason it isn’t in the “correct” spectrum is because I didn’t show my work, thus slipping up in the end.

Because I didn’t do the work, my doctor couldn’t tell me how to fix it. As much as this is about pricking your finger and sampling some blood, NOT doing actual facts and figures in your head, you’d think it’d be easier, right? Well, besides my need to ration supplies, it’s easy to forget to check. I’m running to work, I’m busy at work, I’m running home, I’m running around, living life, doing things and then, “Oh, shit! I have to check myself!” Does that not happen to you? It happens to me all the time, which is why the CGMS is good for me. It’s stuck there and that’s it. It tells me when to check and I’m good. For the most part. Technology has been known to fail.

So based off of what he knew for sure, he changed my basal rate, changed my carb ratio and sent me on my way for blood tests.

Usually, when I leave the doctor’s office, I’m known to dwell too long on the whole ordeal. I cry most of the time as a release of energy, anxiety and stress that living with diabetes brings about. I’m reminded of everything I have to do to not die a slow and miserable death, and at the same time, I swear that I’m going to change. The difference this time was that I had company and I had to explain things. He told me that I wasn’t perfect, that I’m human and that he was going to support my habits that I intended to build on. I didn’t cry but instead I accepted the fact that I do what I can and sometimes, things don’t just go the way you want them to.

Life is a tumultuous rollercoaster on its own. Sprinkling in some much needed care adds a little anxiety, but more, it adds the motivation needed to feel better and more in control. In the end, I’ve realized that in order to take control of my diabetes, I’m going to have to do the work and hopefully the more corrections I make on my process, the better my results will be.

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For Diabetics: Be Good To Your Dogs

My mom loves the family dog. He actually started off as a stray on the street and my aunt who’s a Chicago Police officer found him as a puppy and asked if we wanted him. My parents had always told me no, but when I was heading off to college, thought the dog would be a perfect replacement for me and kept him as a distraction for my sister.

Mr. Benjamin Brown-Rodriguez

She named him Benji and he was brown. I added on. His full name? Mr. Benjamin Brown-Rodriguez. He was the cutest little thing and he peed everywhere and tore everything else up. We didn’t know how old he was, so typically we celebrate his birthday every fourth of July. We welcomed him into our home in September about six years ago.

Like I said, my mother loves him. You can tell. He’s fat. He’s also spoken to like a child, although he’s technically 42 in dog years and he listens like a little human. He’s part of the family as any other dog would be after that amount of time, hanging around and eating everything you don’t want.

When we first got him, my parents felt that he should eat like a human too. About three times a day. When he started getting too big for himself– or better yet, when he started being able to sit on his butt like a human, the doctor said no more. “You can’t keep feeding him. You have to walk him. He won’t be able to walk correctly if he gets any fatter.”

Like any other Latino family, my mother says, “Awww, he’s not fat!” when in reality, he’s a chubster. Don’t get me wrong, people love him for it and he’s dropped weight since, but still, he’s big for the kind of dog he is. Oh, and like Latino families, mine don’t listen and at times give the dog table food behind my sister’s back. When she sees it, she gets rough.

“Maaaaooom!!! I told you not to give him any more food! He already ate! You’re going to kill him!”

Yeah, that, or get diabetes. It’s hard enough having one diabetic in the family, let alone a dog that you have to give shots to. I’m sure they could do it though. But just in case you didn’t know, pets can get diabetes too, especially because they’re over weight and yes, you would have to give them insulin shots like a person would have to take.

I was inspired to write this post because a friend of mine on Twitter said that he has to put his cat down today.

@rudym55: Not a good day. Putting my cat, Rico to sleep. He’s got diabetes. Today SUCKS.

As someone who has seen this in animals before I said to just give him the shots, which he replied were too expensive and that Rico was too old. It’s sad to see pets go, especially when you’ve had them for so long.

So here we go. In my research I came across a page from Washington State University that describes the reasons why pets get diabetes.

“Certain conditions predispose a dog or cat to developing diabetes. Animals that are overweight or those with inflammation of the pancreas are predisposed to developing diabetes. Some drugs can interfere with insulin, leading to diabetes.”

The animals can develop diabetes at all ages like humans, and is usually found twice as much in female dogs and male cats, which I found interesting. Although cats have the option of oral medication, only shots work on dogs.

According to an article on petplace.com, dogs too have a Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. Mostly all cases, though, are Type 1. As in humans, diabetes is not sexist nor breedist. It affects both male and female dogs and of all types.

Like I mentioned in a previous post, the cause of diabetes was found through experimentation on dogs. According to Islets of Hope, a site with information dedicated to diabetes, Polish-German physician Oscar Minokowski removed a dog’s pancreas in 1889. It was then that they made the connection between the pancreas and diabetes because the dogs urine contained sugar. They noticed this because of flies feeding on the urine.  For decades after that, dogs were used in multiple experiments that pertained to islets (little groups of cells that produce insulin) and insulin secretion. Many dogs were pancreatectomized (had their pancreas removed) for these tests.

So for you diabetics out there, take care of your animals and pets because without them, we wouldn’t be alive today.

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Filed under Complications, Diabetes, Food, Health, History, Insulin, Latinos, Personal, Stories