It’s all because of my choices…

My bout with Covid was no fun whatsoever. I was exposed mid-September, was sick all of October, and am just now weaning off Oxygen (24/7 on a machine). My heart looks fine, which is a relief. But I was also diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes while I was sick. I have since learned that many Covid survivors are left with a Diabetes diagnosis. And I am learning more and more about this disease every day.

Diabetes – the type 2 variety – is a diagnosis that affects everything in your life. And it is also a disease of choice. Every bite I take affects this disease. And every bite I have ever taken has brought me to this place. Every time I chose to ride and not walk also brought me here. Couch potato life (or in my case – recliner life) also drove me down this road. While I was in the hospital, they did a blood test called an A1C. For diabetics, this test is almost as important as your daily blood sugar. The A1C somehow (I am no scientist) can determine your sugar levels over the past 2-3 months. It looks at how much hemoglobin is coated with sugar. The higher the number, the worse control you have had over your diabetes and the more likely for complications you are. My A1C was 8.3 – that is very high. Most people who do not have diabetes test in the 1-2 range. And what this told me was I have been dealing with this for quite a while.

When I was told I had this disease, I was so sick and fighting for every breath. The nurses would come and prick my finger 4 times a day and 4 times a day I would get insulin injections. Each time I would get 1 injection of short acting insulin and 1 injection of long-acting insulin. I was taught how to give myself injections and how to test my blood. But when I went home, I was prescribed oral medication and a completely different testing system. I spent days trying to figure it all out. (And only when I had to refill those test strips did I discover it was also a costly learning curve!! ) And I had serious bouts of dizziness, cold sweats, and nausea. Getting used to taking medication – and taking it at the same times every day – has been hard for me. I never even take Tylenol! A dear friend suggested setting an alarm on my phone. Genius! I am now taking the medication regularly.

Learning to eat differently has been a challenge. When I returned to my doctor I had been recovering for 2 weeks at home. I kept a daily log of all my testing and times and my blood sugar numbers. My numbers were never under 200 and lots were in the high 200s – not good. So the doctor doubled my medication. Side effects? Yeah. LOL. Shakes, frequent bathroom visits, but also calm and I felt more solid, if that makes sense. But my numbers all hover closer to 200 than 100. Very frustrating. Because I have not cheated – not once. Honestly.

And boy oh boy is there a lot of conflicting advice out there. At first it was no sugar, no carbs, low fat. What is left? I started reading labels. Sugar is in everything. It is mind-blowing. Things I thought were healthy are not – for me. Yoghurt is one of my favorite things. Well, I was eating what I thought was a good yoghurt, until one day I really read the entire label. Hidden sugars and carbs! It was making my situation worse. And cottage cheese. I have to watch which one I choose to eat. I can’t eat anything much that is pre-packaged. No rice. No potatoes. No fast food. No “last minute, let’s grab a bite to eat” evenings for me. Because every bite either shortens my life or extends it. It is really that simple.

I had pancreatitis twice in my early 30s. I had gestational diabetes with one of my pregnancies. I was diagnosed a few years ago with “metabolic disorder.” All these markers should have been sirens going off and red flags all over the place. Because each of them points to diabetes in the end. The nutritionist at the hospital wants me to lose 10% of my weight. I cringed. Yeah, I am overweight. And I lost 16 pounds through Covid. I have already gained 6 back. And I am eating healthier and eating smaller portions. Ugh. The pressure to lose weight is real. And I feel it and I desperately want to drop the extra pounds I have carried with me for the past 37 years. My body is comfy at this weight. I’ve worn this same size for decades. My daughter-in-law explained to me that our bodies have “set points” at which they are happy. I am at my set point. It hasn’t changed much over the years. And now I need to change that set point. No easy task.

I have searched through the internet and my daughter-in-law bought me a great cookbook. And I can honestly say I am tired of salads. Ha-Ha. My body loves it when I eat raw spinach. It settles my numbers down. And so I often eat it sometimes three times a day. My nutritionist told me I need 5-7 servings of vegetables every day. Trust me – that is a tall order. Even at breakfast? A serving is 1/2 cup so it’s not a lot. But still – thinking of 3 meals as just meals and removing that breakfast-lunch-dinner label is hard.

Years ago my husband and I did the Primal Diet. And we really liked it. Then we did Whole 30 and that was truly the most eye-opening. I think that between the two we had changed our minds and were resolving to think of meals as just meals. We could have what people would judge as dinner for our first meal of the day. We learned to think of them as meals 1, 2, and 3. And I have to get back to that mindset. This time, it has to be permanent.

When you are fighting an illness and are prescribed lots of steroids and antibiotics, it can artificially inflate your blood sugar. So none of my medical “team” is overly concerned, yet. They all have told me that it takes a few months to settle down and get a rhythm going. And I am hoping that works out to be true. In the meantime, I am trying to adjust to this new paradigm in my life. I am trying to gather as much information as I can. And I am equally determined to beat this thing into submission. Not sure what it is submitting to – my indeterminant will, I guess.

Every morning I wake up and before I do anything, I test my blood. I then eat some plain yoghurt so I can stomach my diabetes medications. Every morning. And I am reading this great devotional entitled, “Living Well With Diabetes” by Constance Brown-Riggs. And this book has brought the importance of relying on God for all things. Each day it has caused me to look at this differently. It’s not a life-long sentence of being full of disease. It is an opportunity for me to grow and learn and change. To make what I have better. I finally had a morning this week with blood sugar under 200…it was 144. That is the lowest it has been since my diagnosis. I felt like I had a small victory!!!

Sunrise in an Alaskan Winter

I love winter. I was born blocks from the beach in sunny Southern California. I hated being hot. I longed for four seasons. We finally made it to Alaska almost 9 years ago, and I love the seasons here. Granted, spring and fall are so fast you could miss them, but summer and winter are glorious. Our dogs love the snow. They are standard poodles and they have very deep foot pads. They get crammed full of ice and snow and you have to dig it out each time they go outside. If you do not stay on top of it, they will develop bleeding foot pads. Luckily the Iditarod mushers found a way to prevent this with booties and this salve you can put on their pads. The dogs hate the salve and the booties, but they work. Do sore feet keep them from running for hours in the snow banks and drifts? It does not! As a responsible pet owner, it is up to me to research solutions and to care for them and their feet. And so I insist on digging out the snowballs and caring for their feet. Every day, several times a day, in the wintertime.

Hope!

We all need to take responsibility for the health of those we love – dogs included – as well as ourselves. We have to acknowledge the problem and take steps to correct it. I sought out resources for our dogs’ feet; why would I not be as diligent about my own health? And so I have found some resources through the assistance and suggestion of friends and family. I am coming to terms with my emotions about having a disease, because until I learned more I did not know diabetes was a disease. I had never thought about it, honestly, and had assumed it was just a metabolic mis-wiring. I had no idea of the far-reaching consequences of living with diabetes. LOL. I was also given some app suggestions for my phone to learn about counting carbs and sugars and fats. Label reading is now part of my life. As I mentioned before, my daughter-in-law bought me a cookbook, “Diabetes for Beginners.” What an amazing collection of recipes. I am trying new things in the kitchen. And because I acted on learning more, discovering more, and wrapping my brain around this whole subject, I have garnered hope! And hope is an amazing thing. I truly believe action helps give us hope, so I am continuing to learn. Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks? Ha!. I am an old dog, for sure, but I am still learning. Each day I hope is a better day for my diabetes. Stay tuned, my friends. I am sure this will be a bumpy ride.

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On a dime…

On a dime…

Every once in a while, your life goes in a completely different direction. And it does so quickly. Like spinning a dime. My husband and I enjoy relative good health. We eschew many mainstream medical choices. Our GP is a DO – and osteopathic doctor. Treats the whole body. The whole person. I like that. Believes in taking control of your health. Likes vitamin regimens. Likes to see you exercise. Likes to see all her patients happy and healthy. We rarely ever visit her office.

Around the beginning of October, the hubs and I were exposed to Covid. So we stayed home. We treated it like the flu. We did our vitamin regimen. Probably not as diligently as we could have, because we got pretty sick. He was sleeping 20 hours a day and was so groggy and so tired. I just felt lousy. Our adult kids came to see us at the behest of our youngest son, who was concerned about us. They walked in and I guess I looked pretty sick. They called 9-1-1 and I was sent by ambulance to the hospital. Severe Covid. My blood oxygen saturation was 71. It is supposed to be 97 or better. Probably too much information, but I ended up being in the hospital for 6 days. My husband was sent by ambulance about 4 hours after I was. We ended up next to each other in the ER. He had Covid dementia. I did not know you could get that. It was why he was sleeping so much. It happens in about 20% of all cases. You can also get paralyzed. Who knew? I learned so much about Covid while in the hospital. I am still learning. I am home, but on oxygen 24/7. I got an enlarged heart from Covid, and I also became diabetic. It was just such a nice basket of goodies. And we are slowly coming out from under this thing.

Fearful?

I was asked if I have changed my mind about vaxxing or the illness itself. The “plandemic.” And I can say that many aspects of it have changed for me. For example, I am a little fearful of getting sick again. I almost died. And I am so conflicted on the mask thing. I know in my head they are useless. I just don’t want this again. So do I wear one? Do I stay home? I’m still connected to the oxygen machine, so I am literally tied down at home. (I need to get my portable one filled before I can go anywhere). I even used a shopping app on my phone and did my grocery shopping online, and we had a pick up time and everything. It was so weird, but kinda easy, too. It helped when neither of us was able or had the energy to go to the store. But am I becoming a hermit?

Wilderness Get-Away

We already live in Alaska. Which for most is rather isolated. But we live in a neighborhood. However, I only know one of my neighbors. So we are sort of isolated already. However, you can isolate yourself in a 20-story apartment building in downtown New York City. It’s how you move through life that counts. And we have a smaller circle of friends. We do. We have narrowed it over the years. But interestingly enough, when we got very ill, we had a community rally behind us. Calling us. Coming by to assist us. And our friends scattered over the lower 48 rallied with prayers and FaceTime. It really made me see how treasured some of the people in our lives are.

We could not have done a thing without our kids. My son and his wife who live near us, saved our bacon. They called 9-1-1. They took over our bills and even made our house payment online for us. They contacted our insurance. They stocked our refrigerator with healthy food. They were our go-between when we needed one. They were our connection with hospital staff and family members. It was something I was so honored to have. A real relationship. It goes deep and I treasure it.

Here we are!

Now it’s pretty much just the two of us. And our dogs. And now that the drama of our illness has passed, while we are recuperating, the intense scrutiny is over and so are the calls. I don’t blame anyone. Not one bit. We spend our days doing more and more, but still resting and napping a lot. Luckily my husband works from home and he can set his hours. He is pretty much back up to speed. I’m hampered with breathing and blood sugar. But we are bored and lonely, too.

Recuperating from something as serious as this was, makes you stop and think. I have never prayed so much in my life. I was laid in this special cushion on my stomach with a face cut out sort of like a massage cushion, while on intense oxygen therapy, for 7 hours a day. They were trying to get the infected junk out of my lungs. And so there was not much to do. I was able to squeeze my phone under there and I would stare at my screen saver of my husband and myself, which was taken just in September. We were both laughing and having a great time. And it kept me going. Seriously frightening to have your doctor tell you there was not much more they could do before they would have to intubate you! I fought for every breath I took. I am still fighting for deep, sustained breathing. They would let me out of this cushion thing for meals and a couple of hours of TV and sitting up, but then right back in it….all night long, too.

Maternity Massage Pillow I used.

I had legions of angels around me. I could feel the prayers. I could feel the energy. And I would do my breathing exercises as much as I could until I was exhausted. The nurses came and patted my back. They gave me breathing treatments by reaching the machine down and under the face part. They were as determined as I was to get me well. And I literally thanked God for the nursing staff. The doctor and I butted heads, but at least he supported my point of view. He even told me, “I am not your dictator. I am your partner in getting you well.”

Dr. Pol

It has been an amazing journey – into the hospital/medical side of this thing. Is it what I thought? No. It’s far more. The doctor told me they have no cure. They have no magical drug. Each person’s reaction is unique and they are running by the seat of their pants. There is no protocol in place. No perfect way to treat anyone. Each person’s case is unique. And with each person’s reaction to this thing, they come up with another way to attack it. I had no idea I was at such risk. I had no idea how poor my health truly was. I had no idea my life was on the line. And it stopped me short. And it has me contemplating for most of my days. Unless I’m watching the Hallmark channel, or The Incredible Dr. Pol on National Geographic. Ha-Ha. Trust me, they relieved my stress!!!

Am I all better? Not by a long shot. I am learning about blood sugar and food. What I can and cannot have. I have experimented with recipes. But it zaps all the strength out of me to cook, and so I am stuck with a few favorites that work. I know I will master this diabetes thing in time. But it is frustrating as all get out, on a daily basis. Who knew? I certainly had no idea. And my fingertips are sore from all the poking. Ha-Ha. My lungs are healing and that is amazing. They would feel like shards of glass were in them when I would breathe in. It was not fun. It is still there, but very minuscule in comparison. I hate having this thing up my nose all the time, but at least I am clear-headed and can breathe. I’m such a mouth-breather and had no idea how bad that is for your lungs! I am learning.

Do I believe in vaccinating with the vaccines being offered? I do not. I have natural immunity now, and with my temporarily enlarged heart, I cannot have the vaccine. Do I think you should get it? No, I don’t. There are too many unknown variables and too many outcomes that are not good, that are being hidden from the public. If you only watch TV for your information, you are missing out on 99% of the story. For a virus that is 99% survivable. I survived it. I am a survivor. Did I almost become a statistic? I certainly did. But I did not succumb. And if I can do it with all my comorbidities, so can you. I do not believe this is about our health. I believe it is about control. I believe it is about big government and big pharma and keeping us sick and dependent. I hate that I am dependent now. I abhor the way it happened. But I would rather it turned out this way than to become a vaccine injury statistic.

Is covid real? It is. It is a weird virus that can effect every person in a unique way. I had no idea about the depth of this virus. Do I thank God for every day? I truly do. I feel like I have been given a second chance at life and I do not intend to waste a moment. Hug those you love. Tell them you love them. Pray to God every moment of every day. Thank Him for your life. And live every day to its utmost.