Thursday, September 27, 2007

But I won't be weeping long

A normal blood sugar, for your average type I diabetic [no caps because it's a disease, unworthy of the recognition], ranges between 75 and 140, roughly, or at least it used to. They changed the rules, you see, a couple of years back, after a very famous study in which it was found that -- and I hope you're sitting down! -- over time, keeping a tighter reign on blood sugars is like almost a promise that one will be able to keep the complications at bay. (Forgive me if I do not gasp in amazement, the way various members of the medical community have been doing since the results of the study were published. It seems like common sense, but perhaps that's just me.).

Anyway, I suppose now the ideal numbers are more like 70-120-ish. In any case, rest assured that a blood sugar of 549 is high. It happens, sometimes for reasons completely out of my control. Today, for instance, it happened. And here's the thing: one of the biggest symptoms, for me, is a general sort of confusion, lack of focus and stupidity. So as I walked over to HQ to see a client this morning, I was very slowly thinking Why do I feel so strange? It's like my arms and legs don't work properly. And that dull headache should have gone away after the coffee [oops, forgot to mention I am back on the caffeine, there]. And I am so thirsty. Huh. After about thirty minutes it dawned on me that perhaps something was awry, endocrinologically speaking, and sure enough, it was. So. I took more insulin and lay down for a bit -- oops, that turned into a 40-minute nap, and no one noticed I was gone, which was quite nice. The pain in my stomach lessened and I was pleased, after checking the blood sugar a second time, that it was dropping.

And then about an hour later, it was back up, actually even higher than before. Why? I don't know. Maybe the very small plastic tubing under my skin was bent and not delivering the insulin properly. Maybe it was hormonal. Maybe it was something else, nothing at all. It's happened before. I took more insulin and tried to push through, but I couldn't think anymore, my head and stomach hurt, the muscles in my arms and legs hurt, I was sleepy and confused. And you know, most of the time it's not a big deal, I push through, I figure out how to arrange my schedule and my tasks to maximize what little brain power I have during these times. Today, for whatever reason, I just couldn't. I left work and went to my mom's house and slept. And cried a little, in the car, on the way there.

Generally I don't dwell on it too much; there's no point. There's nothing I can do about it, after all. It's not cancer or AIDS or a colostomy bag or any number of horrible things. I'm able to function, at least on the outside, in a mostly-normal fashion. It's been twenty-two years, nearly; I know what to do. But every now and then it brings me to my knees. It accumulates and I crumble for a couple of days. There's a constant algorithm running in the back of my mind -- perhaps less algorithm than chorus: how do you feel? is your sugar low or are you just tired? is your sugar high or are you just tired? is it climbing or dropping? do you have something in case your sugar drops? did you remember to bring extra supplies in case your infusion set fails? is that an itch where the tubing is inserted in your abdomen? usually once it starts itching it means the tubing has bent; is your blood sugar high now? and on, and on. Time and space and energy. I am kept alive by tubing and a triple-A battery, by a computer program and a foul-smelling hormone produced in a lab. I'm tethered to a small device at all times, save for when I'm in the shower. Even then I'm left with a plastic piece taped to my skin, which I have to be careful not to jostle too much, in the interest of not causing the subcutaneous part to bend. Sub-human. Robo-human. Freakish.

And, oh, I know, it could be so much worse. I know! But every now and then, maybe a couple of times a year, I just can't stand it anymore and lose interest in keeping at bay an intense hatred for these things that I'm stuck with. The things I'm physically chained to, and the thing that created the need for them. Sometimes it's more than I can handle.

The aftermath of very high blood sugar: exhaustion, depression, and a heightened likelihood of both low and high blood sugars (the diabetes rollercoaster, as I fondly derisively refer to it). Tomorrow I'll still be tired, I'll be behind on my work and I will not have an assignment to turn in at school on Tuesday because I was too tired to go to class today. Everyone will ask if I'm feeling better, and they will have questions about why it happened. Some will have theories. It will be uncomfortable. It will not be a new experience. By Saturday I'll be back to normal. In the meantime, here I am.


pohanginapete said...

Ah, Emma, what can I say? Nothing that can make a difference, I think. But, for what they're worth, two things spring to mind. I, and I'm sure a hell of a lot of other people, are hugely grateful for those little things you're stuck with. And as for the sub-human, robo-human thing... utter CRAP. You're one of the most human people I know — in the best sense.

Brian said...

I tell ya, Pete, sometimes I think Emma is something more than human, and that her medical gizmo might just be divine intervention to ensure that we have the honor of her presence much longer than we deserve.

Emma said...

Pete, Brian - thank you.

frida said...

My man is diabetic and he never, ever admits to feeling anything about it, other than frustration if I ask any questions. So I kind of took this as a sneak peak... Thanks for sharing a little more than I am used ot getting access to you. BTW Although the pump gismo is very cool sounding he won't have a bar of it.