Tuesday, January 23, 2007

The enemy within...

Complacent. I'll admit I've grown complacent with my healthcare. A newly-diagnosed diabetic of about a year and a half, I just grew tired of testing my blood sugar levels and taking all the medications. So, I stopped checking them as much. OK, I stopped checking them at all for a few months. This complacency grew mainly out of many good reports of health from my diabetes doctor. My blood work always came in great. My levels usually came in normal when I checked them. I was working out like a fiend and eating pretty good.

And, so when I finally went back for my check-up this time, after working out with a trainer for many months now, I assumed my bloodwork would come back excellent. And, I was right. My doctor told me I was an "ideal diabetes patient" and all my levels were great. I complained of being unable to lose weight, and got little information back from him. I'd assumed as much. The scale is something I have to do battle with on my own.

At the end of this visit, my doctor explained to me that they had new technology that with a simple ultrasound of the neck, can measure the amount of plaque built up in your arteries. Even though my various levels were all in the very good range, he thought it prudent to check with the scan given my family history of heart problems.

As the technician was running the device over my neck, I got a sinking feeling. I had no real reason for this feeling in the pit of my stomach, other than a sense that I have always had--a fear, you might say. I have never shared this with anyone but my husband, but I have always felt there was something wrong with me that might shorten my life in the end. It isn't that I go around worried about this or upset about it, it is just something I have always felt inside.

As the doctor came back into my room after the test was complete, I knew that I was about to get confirmation of that sinking feeling by the look on his face. The scan, he explained will show your carotid artery's "real age" as compared to your own real age. Based on my bloodwork and the medications I'm on, he had hoped my levels would come in right in the mid 30s or even younger than my age.

They did not.

I learned today that, no matter how much I have been working out, no matter how many times I turn down bread with dinner or try and eat healthy, no matter how many medications I have taken to try and be proactive with my diabetes, my arteries have an age of 56. That's 20 years older than my actual age, and a mere 4 years younger than my father who is living with a heart that functions at about 50 percent.

At this point, it is safe to say that I hate food. Food is my enemy. It always has been because of my lovely apple shape and ability to put on a "gut" easily. But, now I officially despise food completely. Because everything I like to eat, I should not eat. And, all the things I don't really care for, are what I am supposed to be eating most of the time. And, I have to pay attention to every little thing that I eat every second of every day. Do you know how exhausting that can be?

And, the real irony in all of this is, as much as I just feel like not eating at all anymore because of all of this stuff, I can even do that. I couldn't even develop a pretty little eating disorder if I wanted to, because my blood sugar would drop so low I could end up hospitalized, thanks to my diabetes.

The doctor is doubling one of my medications and says this is the best way to treat this. But, it didn't go past me that he explained that this scan was crucial in cases like mine. People who look absolutely perfect on paper, but have a hidden death trap developing inside. (No, those were not his words, they are mine.) He described the middle-aged man who suddenly drops dead of a heart attack with no previous health problems. Gee...that's comforting, isn't it? (Not to bash my doctor, because he is really great.)

I just don't know what else to say at this point. I am dumb-founded and down-trodden. And, now, I'm sorry for unloading that on all of you. Happier posts soon, I hope...

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Anonymous Karly said...

Ugh. So sorry to hear the bad news. Its awful hearing that you aren't as healthy as you had thought.

6:36 PM, January 23, 2007  
Anonymous Colleen said...

I'm so sorry you got that bad news. Hopefully the medication will help. Did your doctor give you any other advice or options?

11:00 PM, January 23, 2007  
Blogger alison said...

Hi, I am sorry that you have had this bad news. I will be thinking of you.

I can understand that you are upset now but I hope you might come to see that this is something you are better knowing. At least now both you and your doctor are aware of this and can do something about it.

I am sorry if you are not ready to hear this just right now but I mean it in the nicest way.

5:26 AM, January 24, 2007  
Blogger Masked Mom said...

I have a history of Type 2 diabetes in my family as well as heart-related issues and cancer. Have so far managed to avoid them (purely luck and not by good habits), but I was just thinking, while waiting for my annual check-up, that our bodies are out to get us. Your news only confirms it.

Stay strong and don't let it get to you too much--you're doing all the right stuff already.

7:27 AM, January 24, 2007  
Anonymous Angela said...

Well, that is just the pits. I don't know what to even say, except that you don't have to apologize for talking about how you feel. I don't know enough about the condition to know if it's reversible, but I do hope that the medications help.

I'm so sorry...

8:23 AM, January 24, 2007  
Blogger CPA Mom said...

I'm sorry you got this bad news. Hopefully knowing will help though as you can monitor it and take medication. My husband got some bad medical news too and that is how we are trying to look at it. Glass half full, which is hard for me (I am naturally pessimistic).

9:31 AM, January 24, 2007  
Blogger Nicole said...

Wow. That is very frustrating. But maybe you can use that knowledge to your benefit? I'm afraid to know what that test would say about me. Heart disease, cancer & diabetes run rampant on both sides of my family so I feel like sooner or later it will be my turn. I guess we'll just have to cross that bridge...

10:26 AM, January 24, 2007  
Blogger Lisabell said...

I'm sorry, Steph. I agree with everyone, though, that it's good to have that information. I'm seriously thinking of having that test done at my annual exam this year, since I have a sneaky feeling I need to know that too. And it scares the crap out of me.

2:22 PM, January 25, 2007  
Blogger Vanessa said...

I, too, am so sorry you received the bad news, but at least it is somehting you can monitor and work on. You're smart and will do what you have to in order to get healthy. Try to stay positive, as difficult as that may be. I'll be cheering for you!

8:15 AM, January 27, 2007  

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