You know when you feel crappy, but you put it on the back burner? You’re busy, you’re tired, you don’t have time, you’re trying to focus on other things. It’s just not a priority.
Well, I did that, and it put me in a really bad place.
If you’ve observed my cyptic social posts and overall negative nature this week, there has been something weighing on me. For a few days I was feeling sorry for myself, and then I finally decided to do what I do best when I’m feeling crappy – write about it, and figure it out.
There was a certain point last month where I felt like I was run into the dirt. I couldn’t sleep for more than three or four hours each night. My hair was falling out, I was HANGRY, constantly thirsty, had gotten really lousy headaches, I was extremely grumpy (which is uncharacteristic) and my vision every so often would go blurry.
I kept thinking to myself “It’s just stress, it will get better when things slow down” (do they ever?) but I finally felt run down enough to make a doctor’s appointment. I researched and found a doctor who specialized in PCOS, because he would understand everything I worked toward before visiting him. I also wanted someone with a good track record because my luck with that in the past was…not great.
I took my trip to the office on a Friday morning, and my first test was my blood pressure with the nurse – scary high for someone my age. The nurse took it three times before she started to look worried. “It runs in the family,” I told her. She freaked me out when she got worried. She told me I looked really calm so the reading was strange. In reality, I’m a very high-strung person. It doesn’t read externally most of the time, but I feel it on the inside.
I met with the doctor next and he asked me 8,000 questions since I was a new patient. We talked about my medical history, if I had any conditions, my family, my current routine, if I was doing anything to get healthier. He was concerned about my blood pressure. He told me to download my fitness pal, and log my food every single time I ate, or drank. It would become my everyday companion. I couldn’t eat anything I didn’t measure until my next visit two weeks later. I also had to start working out – 20 minutes, twice a day, AT LEAST 5 days/week. Then, I had to add a whole other thing to my day – I had to monitor my blood pressure at least once each day. “Great. One more thing because I don’t have a bunch of other things to do,” I thought. My mind works in an interesting way.
He sent me off for blood work, and I came home after a vaccine and about 12 vials of blood taken.
The next Monday, I get a call from the doctor’s office: “The doctor wants to see you immediately. When do you have time today?”
That scared me – when in the history of the earth does a doctor ever have time for you the day they call you? Never. But also, that office was not aware of my current life. The one where I’m juggling a few big projects at work, I’m moving, and little bits of my life are just enough to handle, but crossing over to the threshold of “well shit, this is overwhelming.”
I could feel my body tense up – “I don’t have time today, but I do have time later this week.” The woman scheduled me, and I waited, with a lot of anxiety, about what the doctor would tell me a few days later.
When I was finally able to get to the office, my doc told me he would be on vacation, but he wanted to go over my results with me before he was leaving to be sure that I understood everything and he could answer any questions for me (again, making me feel like a human) because he was about to drop some knowledge on me.
As an aside – this the first time I’ve actually felt really important to a physician. My last doctors have really pushed medicine on me without telling me why, or helping me with what to do, or referring me to resources. This is the first time I felt like I was a person, who wanted to be healthy, and got real answers, with information on what to change, not a bag of cells in a sterile office. If you ever want his info. I guess I can share him…
Anyway, I got my test results and everything was normal except for one big thing – my blood glucose.
Normal range for fasting blood glucose is around 60-70 mg/dL, but it ranges. My fasting levels were over 320 mg/dL, almost 5 times higher than it should be – he said the two words I didn’t want to hear ever in my entire little life: “You’re Diabetic.”
Diabetes runs in my family – a common misconception is that you get it by eating too much sugar. That’s just one of the ways, but your body can also become insulin resistant, so your blood sugar gets extremely high because your body isn’t using insulin efficiently to combat the sugar in your blood. Because of research, it really has become a manageable illness, but in all of the things I have to think about in a day – this is a lot of extra responsibility. There are no days off. I have to monitor my glucose daily, measure everything I eat, eat 6 freaking times a day, workout twice a day, and write down all of this every single day. No. days. off.
Is it bad that the first thing I thought was “OMG. I don’t have TIME FOR THIS TO HAPPEN!!”
Yesterday was the first day I ever took my blood sugar. Taking your blood sugar involves poking a little hole in your finger (twice each day for me) to measure your glucose levels. It helps you make sure you’re fueling your body properly, and over time that your insulin or medications are responding and getting your glucose down to a good level. It also helps you make good choices about your diet without worrying if what you eat will “hurt.” (spike your sugar, give you a headache, make you feel sick) I won’t lie, I cried before I did it the first time. I was scared of the pain, but I also felt like a garbage human being. Here I am, standing in my kitchen, poking my finger because my blood sugar is so high and I avoided my health because I felt like I had no time for it. I had to do it 5 times before I got it right.
It really didn’t hurt that badly.
Today was the first time I had to take medicine. It made me completely sick all day. I still feel awful. The doctor said to power through it – it’s the worst it’s going to be for a week while I’m adjusting to it all, and after the first hurdles, everything will be okay.
I hope he’s right about that. Being in a constant state of dizziness and nausea is a little hard to get past when you’re trying to live.
I’ve also changed my diet and exercised almost every day. I’m measuring my life away – I mentioned that before. Nothing goes in without being on a scale first. I wonder if I can get a portable scale for those times I’m not eating at home, or making my own meals.
The most encouraging thing to me was talking to my mom about it. It was the first time I didn’t feel like a mess about the whole thing. She’s been dealing with it for nearly 20 years, and she’s managed very well to live with it . She gave me some tips of the trade (like how to measure my glucose level without it hurting, and good snacks to pack for a sticky situation so you don’t have to skip meals – because lord help you if you skip a meal. You will crash and burn), but she also talked to me about how determined I am in most things I do, and how she believes that I’ll do everything possible to fit this all into my life, and make it work. She made me feel a little less sorry for myself – “This is just another challenge, and you really like to beat a challenge.”
She is not wrong. She knows her daughter.
Another encouraging person is my husband. For the longest time, we have been on opposite schedules, it’s been hard to synch up. We would eat late, we never found the time to workout together and overall we weren’t doing the best things for ourselves. When I found out everything and I texted him, he told me that he would be there for me and we would work on it together. We have so far. It would be so hard to do this without his support. I know there are going to be times where he wants to eat a burger or get a milkshake, and I’m okay with that. I just have to be conscious.
So why am I writing about this?
All week, I’ve had these moments where I think about what led to this, and I get really upset at what I did because it’s my fault. I think about all of the feelings I had and symptoms I had. I think about how many times I said to myself “It’s okay, it’s just stress” or “You’ll feel better when things calm down.” I think about all of the times I skipped meals or didn’t eat consistently because I had a meeting, or I found some other reason to not fit it in. I couldn’t believe how many times I was passive about it.
But I also couldn’t believe the timing. Why of all times I thought about going to the doctor, did I finally decide to go? I just decided on a whim that I should get a physical, and it led to understanding so much more about the state of my body. I’m thankful that I did it, but I’m also in awe of how it fell into place. Had I gone a month later, things could be much worse.
I know that I’m going to have to work harder than I ever have to get this under control. I have one week until my next check-in, and 3 months until my next visit where we’ll review everything I’m tracking health wise (I love data and charts, so this is like a nerdy dream of mine). I’m already seeing improvements with measuring my food, working out, taking new medicine and being conscious of myself. I feel better, and some of those things like being constantly thirsty, and feeling sluggish and slow have started to get better with some adjustments. I got a full night of sleep all week – I feel completely different.
I’m writing about this because I’m finally coming to the understanding that I always put everything ahead of myself. I did it because I didn’t think it was that important, or I thought I could wait. I’m seeing now that I’m kind of useless when I’m not at my best. I’m not sharp, I’m not smart, I’m not 100% present. I think all of the changes I have to make show me that I’m important, and that I should check on myself more often.
If not, I won’t be here to talk about it.