Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Foot and Toe

My left foot has been hurting since I was in the Boundary Waters on a week long canoe trip in August. I’ve been having pain ever since. I have a friend who’s a family practice doctor. I went to see her and she ordered some x-rays of my foot. No broken bones. I started taking anti inflammatories and resting it as much as I could. About two weeks ago I took my shoes off after work and realized that my left big toe was numb.

I had a meltdown. 31 years of diabetes and I finally had neuropathy. Circling thoughts went through my mind. Would I need to get special “diabetes shoes?” Would I have to order special socks and avoid the hot tub in my backyard? What would this mean for my yearly Boundary Waters canoe trip? Would I take my boots off after a long day of canoeing and portaging to find major skin breakdown because a rock had been rubbing on my toe where I couldn’t feel it? Ok. Get a grip Molly. I made an appointment with a podiatrist. The appointment was this morning.

The nurse brought me into the exam room and asked me to take off my shoes and socks. Dixie got comfortable on the floor by the exam table. The nurse went through the list of questions. Am I still taking insulin? Do I still use glucagon as needed? Am I still allergic to insulin?
“Wow, you’re allergic to insulin! I’ve never heard of that before? So what do you take instead? Oh, you take insulin with dexamethasone. Wow.”
(it’s the same line that I get every time I go to see any doctor.) She left and Dixie and I waited for the doctor. My palms were sweating. I was really nervous.

The doctor came into the room. He shook my hand, and had a really firm handshake. I hoped that he would be gentle when he touched my feet. I told him about my foot pain and numb toe. He wrote this on my chart, and I squeezed my fingers. Finally he examined my foot. After a couple minutes he said, “It’s not neuropathy. You have a pinched nerve and strained ligaments.” It’s crazy but I was happy. I had a foot injury, but was smiling and content. It wasn’t neuropathy. It was something else. Something that regular people have. Phew. He taped my foot and told me to keep it dry for the next week. We’ll see if that improves the pain. If it does, some orthotics are probable in line. If not, maybe a dreaded cortisone shot in my foot.

I limped out with Dixie. She was bouncy and I was relieved.

It wasn't the dam diabetes.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006


Insulin allergy. Can you even believe those two words can go together?

I was a sophomore in college. I woke up one morning and gave my first shot of the day. A little while later I realized that my lips were swelling up. Not my tongue or throat, just my lips. They were huge. I needed to get to class. I was having an exam that day. My roommate told me that it wasn’t that bad. She told me that I should wear a bandana like a cowboy to cover them. I looked like an absolute dork, but I did wear it. It kept happening. Swollen lips, hives, itchy. I went to see an allergist who tested me for every possible allergen. I had to confess to him that I had recently taken a liking to cherry lifesavers. (oh! Going to diabetes hell) He did a scratch test for that too. Negative for all. As a last ditch effort, I mentioned that the swollen lips seemed to happen right after I gave an injection. He scratch tested that, and surprise, that reacted. I officially was allergic to the drug that was keeping me alive.

My endocrinologist tried to desensitize me to insulin. We never were able to move from even the most minute doses of insulin. (something crazy like .005 units of insulin) My endo started lacing my insulin with dexamethasone, an injectible steroid. This cleared up the allergy symptoms that I was having. Since then, we have tried eliminating or reducing the steroid, but without luck. I use a Deltec pump. I’ve been pumping for the last 12 years. I fill the cartridges with a combination of insulin and dexamethasone. It’s a crazy cocktail, but one that keeps me alive, so I’m happy.

I’ve never known anyone else that has an allergy. I wonder if there is anyone else taking this cocktail?!

Dam diabetes.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Post Thanksgiving

I made it through the whole Thanksgiving thing. Driving to relatives (I hate toll roads), sleeping on a couch, and spending a lot of time thinking about carbs.

I hate that. I hate seeing a plateful of food and trying to calculate the carbs. It's a lot of work. It can be so easy when I eat a prepackaged meal that has the carbs listed on it. Eat the meal, bolus for the carbs. When it's a mix of foods that I didn't make, sometimes I have no clue. I try to think about all the "close" carbs I know, and guess. But come on...I start eating, and then don't finish all that I took. Or maybe I take another scoop of stuffing and then lose count. Was it 55 grams or 45? I wish that it didn't have to be so hard!

I was six years old when I was diagnosed, so I don't remember any holiday, etc. without diabetes. I guess it might have been easier when I was little. My mom had to do the guessing. Measure out food and put it on my plate, and then hope that I ate it all. And that was back in the day without food labelling and carb counting. Just meals with 3 bread exchanges, 3 meat exchanges, 1 fruit, 0-1 vegetable, 1 milk, and 1 fat. Who were they kidding?! 1 fat! Who ever measured the margerine or salad dressing? I don't think my mom ever did.

Dam diabetes.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

The Start

Wow. First Blog. Sound the bell.

I was diagnosed with diabetes in 1975, a month after my sixth birthday. I went to my pediatrician's office for my "back to school" physical. The doctor did a random whiz quiz and came and told my mom that he thought that I might have diabetes. It was a tiny clinic and didn't have a lab. We were sent over to Minneapolis Children's Hospital for a blood draw. My mom said that if I was a good girl, we could stop at the local drug store for a chocolate ice cream cone. They did the draw. My mom was told that I did have type 1 diabetes. I was immediately admitted to the hospital for a 5 day stay. I didn't actually start taking insulin for about a month. I was probably still honeymooning. I never got the chocolate ice cream cone.

I spent about 15 years taking two shots a day. I didn't start blood testing until I was about 12 years old. My mom had signed me up for a research study. As part of the study, I was given an autolet and a bottle of Chemstrips. I was asked to test my blood sugar at regular intervals. When the study was over, I went to turn the equipment in, and my ped. endocrinologist told me that I would need to continue blood testing for the rest of my life. I remember thinking that she must be joking!

I made it through high school and college. I remember that my highest A1c was 9.9. During college, I developed a horrible allergy. To insulin. My endo tried doing desensitization several different times. It never worked. I have been on a dexamethasone cocktail since then.

Now, I'm a special education teacher. I work with elementary kids with disabilities. Last year, I got a service dog named Dixie. She is an amazing dog who alerts me when my blood sugar is low, or dropping. I got her because of my hypoglycemia unawareness. She is only two years old, but is such a gifted dog with amazing talents.

That's me, or a start to me.