Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Introducing Boo

I was diagnosed with Diabetes Type II a year ago after I passed out in the bathroom at work. My blood sugars were at 30. Three different doctors told me that I became diabetic as a direct result of the shock of losing my husband suddenly. I was 44 when Cliff died two and a half years ago ... and had been presenting symptoms of diabetes, however, the symptoms were assumed (by myself, peers, family et al) to be caused by grief and loss. They are quite similar. Anxious, over-tired, emotional, sleeping too much or too little, living on cookies and "fat" Coke for quick energy fixes, weight loss, hard to focus, confused ...

At the time, in my widow-brain (a year and a bit after Cliff died), I was actually happy at receiving this diagnosis, because I thought it proved that I loved and missed him enough. That my body had changed - an actual physiological change because I was so affected by my love, his death, losing him. That's pretty twisted, huh? A month after being diagnosed I spent a month in Australia visiting old school-friends and family in Sydney, Adelaide and Brisbane. I controlled my sugars really really well - the food there is yummy and ... it was put in front of me ... I had a break from home (the alone-ness and the grief too), no painful reminders at each turn, all brand sparkling new. I howled when I lit a candle for him in Uluru, when I first drank in the sight of the Blue Mountains, and when I saw my old friend Geoff, on the flight there and back, and a few gentle tears some bedtimes would just trickle down my face, left un-wiped ... but mostly ... I had a break from work, worry, pain and grief ... and had sunshine, rest, soul time. I came home refreshed, revitalized and positive. I knew there was life out there for me ... to find I'd been burgled (the second time, under the watch of supposed friends) and it just brought me to my knees. In a split second. And the ripples of that effect have just started to completely disappear. One year and one month later. I couldn't take it. They set me right back. They undid £7k spent (not regretted either) and a month out of work. They undid it all. And I've literally just picked myself up off the floor. A week ago. I know I am responsible for how I react to other's actions ... but please remember I am half insane with grief, therefore not that rational ... at least I certainly wasn't then. I am not bitter. Not at all. I know they are worlds apart from me and my people ... so I live and learn. I'm sure one day they'll know fear and vulnerability, maybe not quite the same as I did ... but close enough ...

Today, I understand that I don't need this disease as a badge of honour. I don't need to prove my love. He knew. If anything, my husband would be heart-broken at how I have physically altered.

Today, I am exhausted and depressed. Depression brought on by losing my soul mate, depression at having no support network where I live. Depression at finding some friends weren't helping me ... they were helping themselves (there was another friend who abused my vulnerability too), which has made me feel as though I have to question people's motives constantly - not a healthy place to be in. I'm so well protected albeit from a distance, that it would be hard to take advantage now, but this is the long-lasting result of their behaviour. Finding it hard to cope with constant deadlines at work and balancing my grief and diabetes on top. Physically, oh where do I start? My teeth have decayed beyond belief, I am skinny (I resemble a heroin addict and my once lovely cleavage and boobs have almost disappeared), sometimes I sweat when I eat, and I have a tingling/numbness in my feet if I stand still for a long time ... my fingernails are curling (could indicate liver/heart/respiratory problems) and I become anxious far too easily ... a world away from the person I was 30 months ago. Back then (end of 2008) I'd been awarded the highest rating at my year end review (out of a department of 138 people) a month before Cliff died. Today, I'm on unstable ground because I've got too much to do, I find it hard to ask for help (it's part of my DNA), and I'm treading water vs. delivering at a high standard consistently. I feel adrift at home ... at work ... at controlling Diabetes ... spiritually, every level.

Recently, I almost burned out. My workload is untenable yet I kept trying to fill the gap between what I was doing and what I THOUGHT I should be delivering (which happened to be whatever was given to me) ... and of course without any hope of getting through it all. Blindly, I persevered ... working till 10p.m. ... sometimes midnight. Snatching sleep, then repeating ad nauseum (and I just discovered lack of sleep affects blood sugar levels). I got more and more despondent, the more I tried, the more I failed, the more down I went, the more tired I got ... and looking back at my behaviour objectively and with hindsight ... it is clear that I was also "filling my hours" and escaping the reality of my life without my husband. But in my defense, I kept on because of a loyalty to the company that has been so supportive to me in my loss, and I felt so strongly that if I could get one, just one part of my life in order, I could cope ... physically, mentally, emotionally. Added to the mix was the fact that diabetes, an unrealistic workload and grief (or even running away from grief) are all tiring ... not to mention our home and garden is a project left unexpectedly unfinished by my beautiful and talented husband, who could do anything, absolutely anything to do with building houses. The house is a project, half finished in parts, impossible to clean, now an issue to me because parts have laid untouched for so long ... that I fear the spiders hiding in those rooms. And I have a real phobia of spiders ... my ears literally ring when I am confronted by one. Clammy, heart races, the works. It's all beyond exhausting ... and these issues are all dark heavy things to carry especially at the same time. One at a time (not counting Cliff dying, clearly) ... I could have coped with. With no energy you grab what you can eat, even if all you can find in the office at 10 p.m. is a Kit-Kat. And you're too tired to bother testing your blood. You're far too busy and important, so you cancel your Diabetes Nurse appointment. Then you wobble on that line of being too busy ...

vs. ......................... not giving a flying

All three issues were feeding each other in a vicious circle. And I was the pilot in control of that spinning spaceship ... descending and twirling like a hamster on a wheel, but not fixed to anything ... spinning spinning spinning ... out of control ... and heading for earth. Brace, Brace, Brace for impact. I just couldn't see it. But I knew there was something very wrong and that I was in trouble. I visit my BFF and BMF each Friday night ... and that is my only human contact (socially) worsened for months as ... I wasn't really speaking to anyone at work ... yep, I was far too busy to stop and chat or laugh even. My line manager despaired and was worried out of her mind. In the end she marched me up to HR to threaten me with disciplinary action if I worked extra hours. And my thoughts at the time were ... I am working so so so hard ... why are you punishing me with a threat of HR policies. Like I said ... I listened, but I couldn't hear her. Far too busy heading for a crash landing. Then I got ill ... never good with diabetes ... went to Doctor and cried. Talked for an hour with him (sorry to other patients in waiting room). And we analyzed my behaviour. I came so close. So close. Very very close shave. My very intuitive clever Doctor also imparted further wisdom about diabetes ... it can affect your memory. Loss. To be precise. OMG, that was a real kick up the arse ... I mean that's all I really really cherish in a purely selfish & self-absorbed way ... my memories of us, of him. I remember so so much, words said verbatim, facial expressions, the details ... oh, I can recall 15 happy years almost on demand, delving through the data banks in my head (the head that used to reside happily and with confidence in lala-land). If I lost that, well, then I'd just say, "bring it on". And go on a clubbing, drinking, no sleep binge till I went. Yep, if my house caught fire, I'd get out my dogs first, my photos, Cliff's ashes (how ironic is that? LOL) and my own head full of memories. Nothing else in my little world - in this house that is - matters. Money doesn't mean jack to me. Never has. However, I was privileged to have a father AND a husband who both happened to be very good at cultivating a money-tree(s). So I suppose it's easy for me to say that.

I'm at the Tipping Point right now ... I need to control this before it's too late. Susan being diagnosed was my wake up call in a way. Susan found out she had Type 2 and high blood pressure (which I'm also prone to getting when I've overdone it) and was so overwhelmed by the news, alone ... that I started sending her information that was clear and concise so that she could digest that before she attempted to digest actual food. And started laughing at myself. Cliff was right. Again. No good whatsoever at helping myself, looking after myself, protecting myself. But a friend? Oh that's different. And I figured, well ... if I'm amassing all this information, I may as well apply it to myself too ... because, to be brutally honest, I'm no longer afraid of death, BUT I am very scared of losing my eyesight or a foot. Due to not really wanting to be here for the past couple of years ... I haven't really cared about my glucose levels ... hmmm when did I last measure my blood sugars? Hmmm? So, I realized that I had to make a choice. Life or lie down and die (slowly). Finally.

I choose life.

I choose to never give up. That's what he taught me ... to honour him I choose to follow his values and core beliefs ... still. He'd understand if I didn't, yet I know ... to be happy with myself, I have to make him proud. And there's that little matter of me making him a promise minutes before he died ... that I would be okay, that it was alright for him to go, that he needn't worry about me. I promised him. And have yet to deliver on that vow. I cannot break that promise.

So, here I am. This is my story of battling Diabetes along with my friend Susan - my Dia-Buddy. We are going to cheer each other on, share tips and compare notes about all aspects of this beast ... and check that we're eating properly, check we've walked our dogs ... and check we're hitting our cholesterol and BP targets too. We are going to control IT. IT is not going to control us. Believe me, people have tried to control me ... LOL ... my father was quite a formidable presence, and he never managed. So some sugar floating round in my blood isn't going to beat me. It has NO IDEA. Really.

Having done a lot of research online and elsewhere, we're embarking on the DASH diet, which is said to be very good for controlling cholesterol, BP and blood glucose levels. We'll be sharing notes about this, and other relevant advice we find online, tweaking the diet so it's really fine-tuned for Diabetes.

BTW, this is a very long post, simply to give you some background, to share what's going on in my head, in my heart and in my world (my lala-land ;-), it's a

getting to know you, getting to know all about you piece.

Future posts will be fairly succinct and informative, perhaps reflective ... observational where behaviours are addressed LOL. But not rambling long yada yada yada posts like this one.

I promise.

And I don't break my promises ...


  1. it's like, "hello. my name is Boo, and i'm a diabetic." like we are in AA or some rehab center. love the confessional atmosphere. i guess i can do no less. putting my thoughts together for my half. *sigh*

  2. Me ... I took the vow of "Omerta" ... and have never been to confession (well I couldn't anyway because am not allowed as non-Catholic LOL).

    But yes, I have "come clean" and admitted my lack of interest and self care. YOU are the reason I'm finally bothering! x


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