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Levels of Adulting: Health

I love using the word "adult" as a verb. I'm almost 39 and have my shit together in some very important ways (relationships), but I also fall on my face in other areas (money). Should we think of Adulting as domains, levels with sub-levels, or a hundred cats that need herding? I dunno. I rarely have answers, usually just information and probably more questions. Mostly Adulting feels like that last one, and not just because I'm Team Cat (though the dogs win me over more and more every year).

I was diagnosed diabetic one year ago, though it had been festering for about three years. Prior to that I was diagnosed with PCOS and my blood sugar was high. I went way low carb and took supplements and got it all under control. Then I had gestational diabetes with Little GV, but things were relatively normal after that.


Relatively normal. The sugar addiciton never really went away. It's a serious problem. I made a comment to Mr GV last night that he would probably be shocked and disgusted by the amounts of sugar I used to take in (not anything that fits binge-eating patterns). His response was to remind me of all of the things he smoked, snorted, or otherwise ingested way back in his past. This underscores how much of a problem sugar really is in our bodies. It's poison. Tasty, tasty poison.

Over the course of a few years my blood sugar levels crept up, but I was in survival mode coping with being bullied at work and I didn't go to a doctor for three years. I was not surprised when the doc I began seeing a year ago handed down the diagnosis of diabetes. Besides my earlier problems with hyperglycemia, genetics stacked the deck against me. My mom, grandmother and probably great-grandmother have (or had) it. My paternal grandfather also had it. He didn't see a doctor for 25 years and ended up with kidney failure and in-home dialysis until he finally gave out. My great-grandmother died of a massive stroke at 56.

So, I spent the last year trying and failing several common medications before agreeing to try insulin. Most of the pills have side effects and risks and while I'm not one to assume I'm going to get every side effect mentioned, I don't like them. My body knows what insulin is and I gave myself four shots/day when I was pregnant, so it wasn't an unknown quantity. I had to test my blood sugar at least four times/day, too. The shots go into the abdomen and the testing uses blood from finger sticks. All y'all who sew can imagine what that feels like.


Oh, did I mention I'm a severe needle-phobe? I have to lie down to get blood drawn and I get a little woozy with shots like immunizations. As a "poorly controlled" diabetic I have to get blood work done every three months until my blood sugar stabilizes. D'oh!

The MOST important issues are diet and physical activity. My diet is good and always improving. I get at least three servings of fruit/veg, often more, my carb intake is generally pretty low and I don't find it difficult to maintain. Sugar is still a problem, but it's much more controlled than it was even six months ago. Physical activity is the last beast to conquer. Unless it's during the summer months (I live in the Pacific Northwest) I don't naturally get a lot of exercise. I have an ancient treadmill and have used it a lot over the years. It did live in storage for a while before I decided to swap it with my favorite chair. Another difficult decision in the process of prioritizing my health.


These days I gauge the impact of diet and exercise by my fasting blood glucose number. Going for walks on my lunch doesn't do much, though daily 30 minute walks at a good clip are pretty good. Better still is getting on the treadmill and pushing myself, sweating like a motherfucker. I hate sweating. I really do. Ick.

I hadn't been on the treadmill in a while and decided to get back on Wednesday after work. I pushed, I sweated, I showered. My before-dinner sugar wasn't dramatically different, but I was still glad I did it. It was a personal triumph. The next morning my sugar was down 60 points from the previous day. 60 points. That's a HUGE drop. The number itself, 181, isn't optimal, but a 60 point drop is good. VERY encouraging. Yay, me!


Having diabetes does suck (chronic conditions suck). It has led to a lot of soul-searching, anger, fear, and heartache. It's been on my mind for years, frequently tied up with guilt and shame for not taking better care of myself. A year ago, after working in a primary care clinic for several months, I decided to stop with the guilt and shame rollercoaster and start fixing shit. I was seeing my worst fears realized in other people every day. The man with neuropathy described his pain as "like walking barefoot on pointy gravel all the time." Another patient died because he repeatedly went into DKA and didn't take care of himself. He was 39 and left two elementary school aged children behind. Then there are those with toe or foot amputations, heart disease, and strokes. Severely overweight people start having joint pain that turns into bulging discs and other chronic conditions. Serious life-altering and sometimes life-threatening issues. Things that could happen to me if those numbers don't start going down.

My family is very supportive and I have hope that there will come a time when I can get off of everything. At my age it's entirely possible that this won't happen and that's ok. I know myself well enough that if I really feel I've done everything possible to fix a problem I'll feel ok with whatever is left.


Tl;dr: Take care of your body now or it will crap out on you later.

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