Saturday, 11 June 2011

In sickness and in health

When I’m feeling healthy and fit I still worry about my blood sugar levels, what are they up to now, is my treacle-like blood destroying my organs even as I type this, are my eyes macularly degenerating, blink, blink? No joking matter to be honest, but at the same time you have to balance these concerns with living life. I recently decided to up my dose of metphormin because my blood sugar levels were too high and they weren’t coming down. I’ll monitor this new dose and see how things go.

However when you get sick, and I mean flu rather than something more long-term, the balance shifts. I started with a cold and runny nose on Friday night and gradually slipped into a dozy, light headed, no-appetite, slightly feverish dose of sickness by Saturday evening. I cancelled my plans and went straight back to bed – only I hadn’t eaten, and don’t they say as a diabetic you shouldn’t miss meals?

So my trippy, worried, in-and-out sleep revolves around what might be happening with the levels of sugar in my blood – tiny high-pitched globules of sticky sweetness with munchkin faces, wielding strange clubs and pitchforks and setting about my luckless kidney – I said it was feverish..

Of course I know that missing one meal isn’t going to play any real significant part in my chronic condition but sickness presents a new and more confusing picture – like adding exotic spices to a long practiced recipe. The diabetic researcher at the MODY clinic in Oxford (see posts passim) told me that illness gives you a stress reaction that reflects in higher blood sugar levels, so I figured that the stress reaction combined with the missed meal would in fact counteract each other – and so it seemed as my levels came down from 13 that evening to 7.9 the next morning.

Self management is the key process behind treating diabetes in the NHS – and rightly so, but at the same time it means you end up experimenting on yourself as you learn to live with the disease. I’ve had a cold since being diagnosed but nothing like how I felt for that weekend. It took a few days for the appetite to come back but I did make sure I had something for each meal, even if it was just soup and a roll.

Like my illness the worry gradually faded, in my normal overly dramatic flourish, ‘I had survived’, ‘made it through to the other side’, ‘I had stared mild discomfort in the eye and lived to tell the tale’. My point is, and the point to this post, diabetes is all a little confusing and illness muddies the waters further, but in the end, it’s really not such a big deal so don’t worry yourselves unnecessarily.

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