So….. I’ve recently found out that “life’s a b!tch”… At least, I’ve had it reconfirmed. Again.
I don’t use Facebook, Twitter or Google Plus anymore to whine about life in a public forum, so I’m using my blog to do it instead. 🙂
Anyway, let the whining begin :
About a year and a half ago, I hit the dreaded four zero. It’d be nice to think that life really did begin at 40, but the aches, pains and grumpiness of maturity were still there, and escalating. Don’t get me wrong, life is good. I have a very happy marriage, a successful career, great pets, a nice home, nice vehicles, you get the idea. I don’t smoke, I don’t drink, I don’t gamble, I don’t visit strip joints or brothels etc, I had (note the past tense here) one vice: *FOOD*.
I ate. I ate a lot. I ate good food and enjoyed it. It helps having a wife that is an amazing cook, coming up with awesome and wonderful ideas to get different types and styles of food on our tables, and who supports the same vice. I’m overweight, fat, clinically obese in fact. My weight wasn’t rising though, and I felt comfortable.
A few months ago, my wife started to notice subtle changes in me. Mood swings, out of character behaviour – little things that she couldn’t quite put her finger on. I felt fine. Next came an increased thirst, peeing more, getting up in the middle of the night to pee. I guess some people at this point can see where this is going, but I dismissed it.
Then on holiday, I noticed something strange in my lower leg. A twitching of muscles – very odd as I could feel nothing, yet there it was, the muscles in my leg and foot pulsing away. After the holiday, this continued, so after much Google research, scaring me with thoughts of motor neurone disease and similar, I went to see the doctor. In case the twitching wasn’t evident in the appointment, I showed him this video :
Off I went for blood tests, with an assumption by the doctor of an electrolyte imbalance. I asked the doctor if I could have a blood glucose test, as I’d been borderline in the past, about 6 years ago, and he agreed. I had to wait 10 days as I’d been taking vitamin D tablets (us IT consultants don’t see much daylight) and needed to stop them before the tests. So another week after the tests (basically a fortnight later), back to the doctor’s for the results.
After saying that the tests weren’t showing anything really related to the twitching, and suggesting a couple more tests before potential referral to a neurologist, I asked for the blood glucose results. He said the result was 12.9, whereas a score of 13 would show diabetes (I don’t know what units he was using, I didn’t think to ask!). “If this were a fasting test…” he said. That’s when we mentioned that it was indeed a fasting test, and that I’d eaten nothing since 10pm the previous day. His response was “Ah. You’re a diabetic. You have Type 2 diabetes”. He then added the requirement for an HbA1c blood test to my next set to provide confirmation – an average of blood glucose levels over the past 10-12 weeks.
Straight away, my love of food (and in particular chocolate) was killed. My diet would never be the same again. My wife went into problem solving mode, and started amending her recipes to support my new life. I went to have the blood tests, then went to see the doctor in another week for the results. In the meantime, Mrs Zoo Keeper was researching both diabetes, and links to my leg muscle twitching, giving us a potential diagnosis there of proximal diabetic neuropathy.
So we went back and the doctor explained that the further blood tests had showed no obvious source for the leg muscle issues, so he was referring me to a neurologist. Our potential diagnosis of proximal diabetic neuropathy was met with a shrug (welcome to the NHS). The HbA1c results had come back with a result of 87 mmol/mol (10.1% in old money), which is relatively high, so he put me on the drug Metformin, in addition to my diet changes and increased exercise (I’m trying to walk the dog further!). This was a bit of a blow to us, as we imagined I’d just breached some threshold, but it appears I’m a medicated diabetic for life, and nobody can bring back the more than half a pancreas that’s already died in me… 🙁
The next steps now were to see a nurse, see a dietician, see an opthalmologist, see the doctor again, and keep taking the tablets. Ah, the tablets. So here’s a funny thing. After starting my Metformin tablets, a couple of days later, I started getting blurred vision. Which started getting worse, to the point of not being able to read my phone screen. Now I’ve always had excellent vision, but that’s been getting weird over the past few months, as my ability to read small text in low light has been diminishing. Not being able to read things in broad daylight, which were even backlit, is a totally new experience for me. Back to Mrs Zoo Keeper’s research though, and we see that this blurriness is a common thing amongst people who’s blood sugar levels are dropping very quickly. Apparently the lenses become saturated with glucose and swell, and when that glucose level goes down, they need some time to adjust. Off to Tesco for a pair of £3.30 reading glasses and all is well again. For a while I guess… We’re hoping that in a few weeks, when my dosage is consistent on my tablets, and when the glucose levels have dropped to a steady level, that the eyes will calibrate themselves again, and I can bin the glasses.
My first nurse visit was interesting (see earlier reference to the wonders of the NHS). My best description of her is patronising and incompetent, but hey, that’s only my first impression, and people tend to make first impressions count. Her knowledge of diabetic diet and foodstuffs was bordering on the negligent. After repeating that I don’t drink alcohol, she was still suggesting I could drink 3 units a day, as long as I had a couple of alcohol free days. After my wife explained she was using only wholemeal flour to cook for me, the nurse said that I could still have white flour, why not have scones, low sugar jam, rich tea biscuits and ginger nuts instead? That’s not the way to empower your customers / patients, and it’s certainly not the way to encourage the current healthy diet. Recommending things diabetics should steer clear of? The highlight came when she explained that a large banana was higher on the GI scale than a medium banana. As if the flesh of a large banana was somehow different and treated differently by the human body. Hopefully she was just trying to state the obvious that more of a substance would have a higher glycaemic load, but my estimation of her intelligence sort of discounts that.
So here we are. I’m a diabetic. I’m being treated with medication, diet and exercise. I can’t read things close up without glasses (not good for an IT consultant needing to stare at a computer screen for at least 8 hours a day). I’m being seen by an incompetent nurse. I have yet to see a neurologist, a dietician and an opthalmologist.
To balance this, I have a supportive wife who’s working her backside off to try and feed me healthily and keep me alive for longer (despite the cash she’d get if I croaked!). I have a nice home, with great pets and lots of man toys. The reality is that all I don’t have now is a vice. This is a new stage for me, a new way of living.
Hey, maybe life begins at 41.