Imagine driving to a business meeting in New Jersey. Upon crossing over the state line, your gps informs you that your destination is approaching …somewhere within the state. Do you turn left or right?
Being diabetic and being suddenly, inexplicably ill has been a similar experience. About 4 weeks ago, my energy was completely zapped. If I emptied the dishwasher, I needed to lie down for two hours. If I drove into the city, I was too tired to work when I got there. My sugars were high for no apparent reason, so off I went to the doctor to find out what the problem was.
Because that’s what you have to do. Shrugging it off, chalking random symptoms up to a virus or stress, or trying to just “power through” (all of which I have done) really aren’t the smartest ways to go…but they are real time-savers.
The reality is that diabetics go to the front of the line when it comes to additional health problems, because the body is already in a compromised state. The problem is that any number of ailments can be responsible for complications, so you have to play detective to find out exactly which system isn’t working properly, why, and how to solve the problem.
And if you have a family, a career…you know, a life…there isn’t a whole lot of time in your schedule to lie in bed, pondering the possibilities.
My blood-work came back “all clear,” said the GP. Since unexplained fatigue can indicate a heart problem, the next stop was cardiology; “all clear” echoed the cardiologist. Answers from the endocrinologist? Not so much. The journey continued with various other answer-free medical professionals. The only thing they revealed was my ever-increasing frustration, while simultaneously fueling my suspicion that a psych consult just had to be in my immediate future.
One doctor said I was likely having an allergic reaction to the new gel polish/shellac manicure I started a month ago, so off to the salon I went to have it removed (that you can’t remove it yourself should have been a sign that the chemicals were pretty strong). Another said to up my B-12 and Vitamin D.
Despite those efforts, when I wasn’t in a doctor’s office, I was in bed. It all finally came to a halt when I found myself in the ER early this week. After numerous tests and IV fluids, the ER doc determined that I was slightly acidic due to erratic insulin delivery (because of insulin pump problems earlier in the month). They sent me home and told me to stay in bed, drink fluids and monitor my sugars.
So in bed I’ve been ever since, with fingernails au naturale, drinking smart water, taking vitamins, and tracking my sugars (which, while still higher than they should be, have actually begun to make some sense). I feel my energy coming back slowly, and am hopeful I will soon be able to return to my life.
Playing healthcare detective is expensive and exhausting, but there are some gifts along the way. Ruling out things like heart disease and kidney failure helps a lot in the good times department. Having the insurance and resources to see all of these doctors and have all of these tests reminds me to be grateful instead of just tired. Knowing that I have relative youth and an insulin pump on my side empowers me to remember that this is a temporary situation that will get better.
The people I know I can count on, however, are the greatest gifts I’ve opened in recent weeks. Colleagues who became healthcare cheerleaders, putting me before the work. Friends who sent more daily texts and calls than I could keep up with, letting me know that my wellness mattered to them. My husband and kids who knocked themselves out so that I could be comfortable. While I may still be tired this coming week, I will also be energized by the people who show up for me.
At the end of a good mystery novel, the villain is revealed. But so too is the good guy. Here’s to all the good guys in my life, who make being ill a little easier because they care.