Wednesday, June 22, 2011

without health care for diabetes

this is how bad health care is in the United States.

as i've written, i do not have health care either. i have to wait on April 2012 to be signed up at work. i have to work there a year. other bridge insurance programs deny me for one of two reasons: i am considered pending at work, or i have a pre-existing condition, the diabetes/high blood pressure. so i get denied.

if i want health care for this 10 month interim, i would have to pay $350 a month. and then it would kick in after the $5000 deductible.

i can't afford that. and i don't want to go to jail. so i am falling, falling, falling through the cracks.

i am going to have to pay for the class out of pocket. hundreds and hundreds of dollars will rack up over the next 10 months. i can't imagine how much. $400 for an office visit? lab fees? the class?

i sometimes feel like i am circling the drain.

that's the difference between me and Boo. between not having health care and your government serving it's people.

i wish you peace.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Glucophage and B12 deficiency?

Great! Better ask for a B12 test next time I see the diabetes Nurse:

MyPlate for Diabetes on Livestrong

I've been doing pretty well with my food, by that I mean I've been behaving.

What's helped me? Using the Livestrong MyPlate D (Diabetes) tool. It tells me how much sugar, carbohydrate etc I've had and what my targets are. There's even an option to check you're drinking enough water, what your blood sugar levels are, and if you've walked or done other exercise during the day. It might be easier for Susan and I to compare notes there. There's a facility on there to let your friend see your food diary (but not anyone else :-)

I'm going to tweak "MyPlateD" so that it is aligned with the DASH eating plan, and ensure that I'm getting enough magnesium and potassium too to get the most out of this free online tracker.

And as for managing my stress? Well I've been setting the alarm half an hour earlier than usual, and using that time to sit still and just "be" for ten minutes, eating breakfast before I leave for work (which seems to help my energy and emotional state considerably), and read for 15 minutes. I'm loving this extra time in my day ... it starts me off in a good mood. At work, if something irritates me, I try deep breathing exercises instead of whinging ... and makes me feel like an adult instead of a petulant child. I don't know if this helps me or just makes life more pleasant for my colleagues, LOL ;-)

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


since learning i have diabetes and high blood pressure, it has been a roller coaster ride of accepting this and doing okay, then tripping over the speed bumps along the way.

i have no health insurance. i started a job back in November of 2010 but i have since learned that i have to work there a year to get on their insurance plan. the next open enrollment will be in April of 2012. i cried when i learned this. i shook in fear. there is a diabetes class that i need to take but it is supposed to be fairly expensive. i am calling the doctor's office today to see just exactly how much.

right now i am making monthly payments on my first doctor's bill. first time patient with a lab fee and it cost me over $400. that is not a typo. in the United States, medical bills are astronomical. i would like to see a break down of what all that money actually goes towards. centrifuge time? lighting the office? receptionists salary? my percentage of the doctor's salary for those moments i took up his time? i would like to know.

i am struggling with this. i am a picky eater. i do not like certain vegetables. i have a history with food that is not pleasant that stems from my childhood. Boo sent me a book about the DASH diet and i am trying. but it is difficult. there are so many foods that people say are such good foods that i do not like. then there are the foods that one book says are fine while another book or another website says is not.

for example apples. apples are supposed to be good for you. raw apples. yet i found a something called gluco food picker who puts raw apples down in the 80% of food to eat and only in moderation. plain applesauce with no sugar is best. but try to find that in the grocery store.

there are a lot of recipes that allow potatoes yet that was the first food item that my doctor said to skip. who is right? the American Diabetes Association or my doctor whom i am paying over $400 to?

and the taste of sugar free and diet cran grape, which is, or was, my favorite juice. the taste is bland and almost bitter. i used to drink orange juice but i am even afraid of the low sugar stuff. is 10g of sugar in a glass of orange juice too much? how do i keep count of the grams in stuff that does not list grams of sugar, like my last raw apple?

and nuts. i was told plain peanuts and sunflower seeds were fine, good in fact, as a snack. then the other day i read a source that said these nuts were high in cholesterol. and get this, Pacific cod is best because it is lower in cholesterol than Atlantic cod. apparently the fish in the Atlantic swim through more cholesterol thermoclimes than the ones in the Pacific. so what if i start making sure that i buy only Pacific cod, but then i get the one Atlantic cod who decided to go on an adventure and swam through the Panama Canal and got caught? what if a whole school of Atlantic cod swim around the Horn to have a holiday in the Pacific and get caught and those are the ones i get?

you could go on this way with: what if the handful of fish they caught and tested to determine that Atlantic cod are higher in cholesterol were really Pacific cod on vacation, and really it is the reverse that is true?

i think i am losing my mind. i need the voice of reason. i need that class.

what i need is my husband back. he would have laughed at me, then hugged me and we would have figured all this out. and i wouldn't be alone out here without him.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

introducing susan aka Beach Bunny

i am susan but my alter ego is Beach Bunny. she used to be real. she used to be me. when he was alive. that's what my husband called me. his Beach Bunny. i used to prowl the rocks and few sand beaches of Rockport, MA looking for treasures washed up by the ocean to build my sculptures that i sold, and to add to my life. treasures that others had tossed aside, or never knew where there. abandonedsouls. that was my artistic moniker.

and then he died. suddenly. it seemed to me, violently. heart attack. i was laying in his arms and he started choking. my CPR failed. the EMT's CPR failed. and then the ER doctor stopped working on him and he was gone. my beautiful Dragon left me behind.

he had promised me he would never leave me, but it seems fate didn't want him to stay. and i have always been one to accept fate. i'm that tree that stands so lonely and isolated out there in the water during a flood. people think, "how strong." but i'm not. my roots are rotting down there. they are drowning in grief and tears, and now, apparently, diabetes and high blood pressure.

crap. this is all i need right now. i do not have health care as Boo does across the Pond. i am in the United States, land of the free, home of the brave, and a country that charges out your ass for health care. i work but open enrollment for my company's health care isn't until August.

no one in my family had this so i am flying blind. i am looking things up on the Internet. *laughing* yeah, the Internet, where i could buy plutonium in a heartbeat but i cannot find consistent information on what to eat for both diabetes and high blood pressure. that Venn diagram that has that arc for shared food is small. very small. and i am a picky eater anyway.

and no one cared. only my two adult children but being a mom never stops. that instinct. "i'll be okay. we'll get it figured out." but i posted on Facebook my fears and worries and you know what? only a handful of the 63 people who had wanted to be my friend there stepped up with sympathy and support. no one. let me say that again. NO ONE that i knew face-to-face, no widow that i had met here in this city commented that we should get together. none of them commented at all. so i deleted them.

strangers asked. standing in the grocery store in tears over how to truly read an ingredient label? is 10g sugar too much? what does 9% salt really mean? do Cheerios with that big red healthy heart printed on the box have that much salt in them? are you freakin' serious?

little boy clerks, even a grocery store manager, have come over to offer to help but they don't know any more about what i can and cannot eat than i do.

my son, bless his heart, sent me some money to go to a doctor who will be in my health care plan at work once i can sign on. he was great. nice man. and the lab vampires were funny. i'm waiting on the blood test results. terrified of what they will say. am i dying of some other horrible disease and just haven't been hit with the symptoms? i do not have a blood glucose meter yet, and if i did i would not really know how to use it. my doctor said it could wait until after August when i have health care. there is a class they have where they give out those meters. they will teach me about food. they will teach me about my numbers.

in the meantime, i am on my own more or less. i cannot afford another visit. he did give me a quick run down. no potoatoes. sweet potatoes are fine.

what. what? sweet potatoes? do they turn into the bad sugar?


but what about pears or corn?

don't eat them until we get a series of your blood glucose numbers.

okay. and we'll get those after i get on insurance in August.


so what do i eat?

nice man had to go get my scripts for my diabetes pill and my high blood pressure pill.

i do have a high blood pressure cuff. managed to buy that. my numbers are good he said.

yeah, butthole, because i don't eat salt. i don't really eat anything.

Boo did send me the DASH diet plan book and i am going through that trying to find menus that have food i can eat. or that i will eat. i am such a picky eater. i've lost weight. needed to, but i wanted to feel good about it. not terrified. and not so damn hungry all the time.
i need my Dragon of a husband back. i need him to cook for me. i can't cook for nothing. everyone has told me that. well, not my Dragon. he said i did great in the kitchen. and that's my life. the first person who likes the way i cook and he dies.

not sure if i am going to make it.

his death. diabetes. high blood pressure. worried children. waiting on health care. waiting on the VA stipend each month. working so hard. exhausted and frustrated and scared and feeling abandoned by widows who had said, "we 'get it.' we are there for you, sister." bullshit are you there for me. and they probably don't even know i've deleted them. until they come looking for free sewing, free writing, free something. Beach Bunny doesn't live there anymore. or something like that.

Boo is helping me more than she knows by simply being there. being there is huge for me. only my kids and my Dragon were ever there for me.

i think there is a film titled "Being There" and Peter Sellers plays Boo. =0)

anyway, that's me. that's how i write. that stuff up there. it's like i imagine you know me and i just start talking. and photos of my Bunny will be interspersed through my postings. i believe in visual aides.

peace to all who read. peace and light to all who grieve. and for those with high blood pressure and diabetes? just try to breathe. in. out. in. out. one breath at a time.

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 ...