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Haunted by a New Disease

I felt the same way about diabetes as I did about standing so close to this gargoyle: terrified!
I felt the same way about diabetes as I did about standing so close to this gargoyle: terrified!

Hello all! I’m writing to explain why I took the past few months off. You see, I needed to regroup, re-prioritize, and in general get a grip on myself.

SICK

Starting last October, I kept falling ill every two weeks. Just colds really, but bad ones that left me exhausted and really run down.

They also left me fearful. I’d experienced a sequence of unhealthiness like that before…the year I got cancer.

Over Christmas I seemed to get a little better. I went a full three weeks before I got sick again, but the first week into the New Year I got rocked again. This time it settled in my lungs and eventually developed into bronchitis.

Here is when dates become clear in my mind. On January 25, 2013 I drug myself to the little urgent care by our house and told them my asthma meds were just not cutting it. I couldn’t breathe. I needed help.

THE BRONCHITIS

The doc listened to my lungs and agreed I was all clogged up. This was the scary part for me, though. When I got cancer I sort of felt the same way. Sort of. It started out like that. I asked if he thought I needed a chest x-ray. He said we’d see how a breathing treatment helped first.

Luckily that did help. Pretty much immediately. He prescribed antibiotics, oral steroids, and also a steroid shot.

THE PHYSICAL

About three weeks after that, on February 14, I ventured to my primary care physician’s office for my yearly checkup. I’d felt great ever since I got over the bronchitis. But I admitted to my primary doc that I was worried. I had been sick pretty much every two or three weeks since October. I’d had my checkup with my oncologist at the beginning of the year and he’d told me, “The good news is you’re officially four years in remission! The bad news is this is where we start looking for what we did to cure you to cause other problems.”

That had been weighing pretty heavily on my mind. That and the fact I had been knocking myself out trying to lose weight but couldn’t. Maybe a pound or two here or there, but ultimately I’d gain it right back.

My doctor said she’d check my thyroid and stuff along with the other stuff she checked when she drew blood. Great.

BAD BLOOD

A week later I got a call that there was a problem with my blood test. I about passed out. Great. The cancer was back after all.

Except, nope. That’s not what they were worried about. It appeared I had diabetes.

Say what? Surely there was some mistake.

I immediatey Iaid off the sugar, which, admittedly, I had been absolutely horrible about. I went cold turkey on the soda. In the last year I’d gotten really bad. I had one almost every day. Not quite every day, but maybe close to 5 times a week.

A GOOD SIGN – A BLUE HERON

A week later, on February 21, I went in for another blood test. That’s when I saw my totem: a great blue heron. It flew directly overhead as I walked up the path to the doctor’s office. As it does whenever I see one, I instantly felt a sense of peace that everything was going to be all right.

But that was not to be the case. Not the way I imagined it would happen. It has since worked out marvelously, but there was a couple months worth of crap to go through first…

THE DIAGNOSIS

So a week after I went in for my second blood test, both my cell phone and home phone blew up at the same time. I knew that could not be good. I opted to answer neither. I listened to the messages instead. Both were from nurses at my doctor’s office saying I needed to come in immediately, I had a severe case of diabetes and they needed to get me on meds ASAP. They could not let me go one more day without them.

DENY, DENY, DENY

My first reaction was denial. Certainly there was some mistake. I had been reading about diabetes. I didn’t have any of the symptoms. I was not peeing frequently or constantly thirsty. I didn’t have bad headaches. I wasn’t tired. There had to be some kind of mistake.

I knew diabetes ran in my family. I knew I was at risk since I was overweight. But other than carrying around some extra pounds, I was pretty healthy. I did eat a lot of sugar, but I also tried to eat good things too.

Well, I went in a few days later to get my diabetic teaching. I did not hit it off with the nurse practitioner, who my doctor passed me over to. She wouldn’t listen to me. I kept telling her I’d ttried to lose weight. Yes, I was bad about eating sweets, but I watched my portions and I definitely exercised. I play a shit ton of tennis each week. I’m on the court a minimum of an hour and a half at least three times a week, but usually five or six times. Something was wrong. Something that might explain my high sugar reading. Maybe even the steroids I’d had for my bronchitis was to blame.

She wasn’t hearing any of it.

“Most times people exaggerate how much they exercise. And steroids shouldn’t account for an A1c of 8.”

Thank goodness my husband was there. He saw how frustrated I was getting at not being heard. He jumped to my defense and said he could attest I’ve been trying to lose weight to no avail. Also, I was not exaggerating how much exercise I do.

TAKE THESE AND CALL US IN THREE MONTHS

She backed off on that, but said it didn’t matter. I was going to have to watch what I ate big time, meaning limiting carbs to only 30 grams per meal, and I was going to have to take meds, most likely for the rest of my life.

I don’t take meds unless I have to. I’ve always been funny that way. With meds come side effects. The radiation I took for my cancer permanently damaged part of my heart and my lungs. The chemo…well, that messed up my already messed up digestive tract. The last thing I wanted was any kind of new meds and their side effects.

I begged and pleaded to let me try correcting my numbers with diet and exercise.

“Sorry. You have to take the meds. You don’t reallize how bad your numbers are. Diet and exercise alone won’t correct them.”

LISTENING TO MY GUT

But you know, I have a strong inner voice. I knew four months before I was officially diagnosed with cancer that I had it. I knew with the same conviction that I did not have diabetes…or at least not such an advanced case that only medicines were going to help me.

My suspicions were confirmed when they showed me how to use the blood glucose meter. I’d eaten lunch maybe three hours earlier. My number was 95…for you non-diabetics, that’s normal.

The nurse and nurse practitioner looked at each other in disbelief. If they hadn’t seen the blood come from my finger, they never would’ve believed that was my number.

Suddenly they both said, “Okay, so now we have to worry about your blood sugar going too low on the meds. You have to be really careful. If you feel like passing out, you need to stop whatever you’re doing and get some sugar in you immediately.”

My inner voice screamed that was just not right. I have a neighbor who has crashed two cars and broken various bones in her body from passing out due to her diabetes. The next week Spring tennis season was kicking into full gear. There was no way in hell I was about to start new meds and risk passing out on the court, potentially breaking something or cracking my head open, if I wasn’t positive I needed that pill.

THE EXPERIMENT

So instead I tracked my numbers four times a day for two weeks. The nurse practitioner had told me to shoot for under 140 fasting in the mornings and under 160 two hours after meals…on meds.

I was hitting all those numbers, well under them in fact, with no meds.

So I called back and asked why I’d need the meds if I was hitting the numbers through diet alone.

I never got to speak to my doctor or even the nurse practitioner. Only the nurse practitioner’s assistant spoke with me. She asked only for two numbers: my morning fasting numbers –the lowest I’d had over the two weeks and the highest. Not even my average.

My highest was 148. I knew why. I’d eaten a brownie the night before. That’s all they heard. The assistant called back and said, “Don’t shoot the messenger, but Jeneth says you have to take the meds because you eat brownies.”

I ate one brownie for Pete’s Sake. And my highest number was an anomaly. The rest had all been fine.

THE SECOND OPINION

I didn’t start the meds even then. Fuming, I ranted to a neighbor who was appalled I’d been treated like that. She suggested I get a second opinion and helped me get in with an endocrinologist.

On April 23 I went to see her. My first appointment with my other doctor, or rather, her crap nurse practitioner, was on March 12. This second opinion one was exactly six weeks later.

The nurse practitioner had told me even with meds I’d have a hard time dropping my numbers. She doesn’t know me. I’m as stubborn as they come and when I resolve to do something, I do it dammit.

I watched everything I ate. I recorded every bite of food I put in my mouth. I was strict about 30 grams of carbs per meal. On days I didn’t play tennis, I walked either outside or on the treadmill for a minimum of a half an hour. There were no more brownies. Soda was replaced with sparkling water.

An amazing thing happened. I dropped 10 pounds. I hadn’t been able to lose in years. Apparently because I was counting the wrong thing: calories instead of carbs.

Anyway, the endocrinologist took my blood and ran an A1c test right there in their office. I went from an 8 to a 6.2, or in normal range, in that six weeks.

She listened to my story and applauded me for (a) watching my diet and being so willing to make such a big change, and (b) listening to myself about not taking the meds. As she put it, “That could’ve created big problems for you if you had. You were smart not to take them.”

She also suspected the steroids had kicked my sugar numbers up…without me even asking if that could’ve happened. The moment I mentioned I’d had bronchitis, she asked, “Did you take steroids for that.”

When I said, “Yes,” she said, “That’s what likely kicked you over. You have some kind of glucose impairment but watching what you eat will help keep your numbers in range.”

EMPOWERED NOW

So that’s what I’ve been concentrating on these past few months. Being sick, trying to get healthy, dealing with a diagnosis that made me feel ashamed, angry, and sad at first. I struggled with it more than when I learned I had cancer.

Then again, I knew I had cancer. I also let myself feel what I was feeling when the words “You have cancer” were officially spoken.

I didn’t do that when I got this news. I guess because I was in denial. I was never in denial with the cancer. I skipped that step entirely.

But when I finally realized I could control my numbers with my diet, I felt empowered. And when I saw the scale budge down? I got excited.

Then I turned it into a game of finding new foods and recipes. And ways to move more throughout the day…in addition to tennis.

So far, it’s all paid off.

NOT BACK TO BLOGGING JUST YET…OR NOT THE SAME WAY

Just a few days after the endocrinologist visit, we went on vacation. No time to start back to blogging just yet. Then when we came home, well…it always takes me a week to get back on track.

But I’m excited to say I am ready to get back on track now. I might not blog every day as I tried to do for the past four years. (And often didn’t accomplish, but the pressure to write or post on Twitter or Facebook was always there.)

I’m eliminating that pressure and just writing when I can from now on. If some weeks that’s every day, that’s what it is. If some weeks there’s nothing, that’s what it is.

This diabetes thing was another wake up call that I’m putting pressure on myself to do things with my time here on Earth that aren’t always aimed at my true intentions. I really want to write several fiction books, as well as a few non-fiction ones. Including a Haunt Jaunts-specific one. Since I’m not a super fast typer but am super particular about writing, blogging and social networking eats up time and mental energy that I could be spending writing my books.

So….my hiatus is over, but there will be some changes I’m making as I go forward. I sure thank those of you who’ve stood by me all these years and who welcomed me back when I sent out the newsletter a couple of days ago about coming back. My break was good. It let me contemplate if I wanted to come back at all. It also made me realize just how much I’ve missed blogging and how much a part of me HJ is…as are all of the folks I now call friends because of it.

 

 

Courtney Mroch
Courtney Mroch, otherwise known as HJ's Ambassador of Dark and Paranormal Tourism, is an author, traveler, and ghost enthusiast. When she's not writing, jaunting, or planning her next trip, it's a safe bet you'll find her on a tennis court somewhere. She currently resides in Nashville, Tennessee.
http://www.courtneymroch.com

18 thoughts on “Haunted by a New Disease

  1. <3 so happy your doing so well..take care and will be here waiting to hear about all your Jaunts when ever your ready to tell all…We love you…:)

  2. So sorry to hear about your medical issues. Please continue to take care of yourself. I lost my wife to diabetes (she had it from childhood). But, very glad you and H. J. are back. Keep fighting!

  3. Hi cortney!

    Thank you for sharing your diagnosis with us. So happy you are feeling better and able to manage and come to terms with diabetes. At least you can manage this and in time, will overcome it. Relieved it’s not cancer. Diabetes than cancer hands down.

  4. Hey Phil! Sorry my funk interrupted so many things. The good news is, which I’ve been meaning to write you, I bought myself a Kindle during all of this. I have a Nook but my husband keeps stealing it. Anyway, I will download your book and FINALLY read it. Trying to watch less TV and read more so…I might actually finally get to it!!!

  5. Oh Lisa, I agree with you. If I was going to get a new complication, thank heavens it wasn’t cancer again. But I did take the news of the diabetes hard and fell into a deep depression…until I started seeing I could influence it. Then I started feeling better. Plus, life is no fun in a funk. I was happy to get out of that!

  6. OMG, Jim, I had no idea. I am so sorry to read you lost your wife to the disease. For you, and for others who have suffered from the complications diabetes can bring on, I’m gonna keep fighting. Thank you for the inspiration and support and sharing your story with me. It helps give me the will to keep swinging!

  7. Oh Luciana, you are SO wonderful! THANK YOU so much for the love. That helps more than you know. I’ve really missed being online more to chat with you. Had to work through my funkity funk first. Doing much better now!

  8. LOL, George! That’s what I’ve heard….I ain’t seen nothing until I get into the 200-300s. I’m trying to control my diet, though, so I don’t get there. But the doctor assures me in time diet alone won’t be enough. But if I can keep it at bay as long as I can, that’s better. Do you have it too? If you have any kernels of wisdom on how you deal with it, I’d love to know them. Thanks for the chuckles and making me smile.

  9. I wish you well on yoour writing. Before a car accidient (noted in another post) stopped me solid I wrote constantly as a researcher. Its amazing how 6 dozen fractures, a bruised heart, lungs and a small injury to the area involved with sleep apnea can interfere with your life (grin, grin). I’m alive! I used to exercise, swim and play racketball. I immediately went to no exercise, and into a wheelchair. Thank GOD, after a couple surgeries and several years the wheelchair is gone. I’m fat & too brittle to exercise but I’ll try the carb changes. Take care, God Bless.

  10. Hi Courtney…sorry to hear about your problems. I have been diabetic for 12 years and it’s a daily battle. Losing weight is very hard with this condition, especially when insulin is used (which I have been on for several years). Keeping a positive outlook and keeping busy are a must. Feel free to contact me…I hope things go smoother soon. Lon

  11. WOW! Just scared the hell out of me Court. I skipped and skimmed until it sounded better. 🙂 You always pick yourself in the end.

    I tripped over you again today in YouTube and went to your channel and clicked this page open. Funny how you’re posting in comments on MY birthday. lol

    I’m a candidate for Diabetes too. I just turned 61.

    From reading here, I notice that the difference between you and me though is that you have a horrible fear of death. Hey! It’s one thing or the other. If you never were, you’ll never be……….or……………….THIS! Gotta watch it all the way to the end though to get my meaning. STOP WORRYING, that in itself makes you sick. Take a deep breath and watch this video.
    http://www.ted.com/talks/jill_bolte_taylor_s_powerful_stroke_of_insight.html

    Nice seein ya again Court.
    Atrueoriginall

  12. Sorry I haven’t commented before now – never got the newsletter (or if I did, it is buried in the mailbox of doom, lol) but I’m so glad you’re doing okay and hanging in there. Hearing from you is wonderful, and keep up the good – nay, great! – work!

  13. Hi Bast! You have an Inbox of Doom too, eh? They are scary beasts. Many things go missing for days, weeks and months VERY easily! THANKS so much for writing. This was a recent post so…you’re not behind at all. Sorry to have spilled my not-so-sad tale, but it helped. (I mean, it was scary for me. There was many other things happening around that time I didn’t mention that contributed to my state of mind freaking out about it.) But I’m doing good now. And very much missing HJ and interacting with everyone like I did before. Psyched to come back!!!!

  14. Eileen!!! It is SO good to hear from you! THANKS for leaving a comment. First off: Belated Happy Birthday!!!! Hope you had a good one!

    Second, I guess it might seem as if I’m scared of Death, but that’s not quite right. I’m scared of saying goodbye to those I love. I believe we will be reunited, but I’m one of those who wants to keep the party going and hates to see them end, you know? So I get upset about that part of it. Plus, there was other things happening at the same time I didn’t mention that contributed to my whacked out state of mind. BUT…all is well again. It usually always is. Just takes time. In this case luckily it wasn’t very long before all turned right again. Stronger (and healthier) now because of it.

    Sure is good to see you! THANKS for the link, the love, and support. ALWAYS good to catch back up with you!

  15. Lon, thank you so very much for stopping by. I’m sure you’re thinking, “What’s the big deal?” I don’t know why becoming diabetic traumatized me like it did, but it did. I do appreciate your support though. (And not writing, “What’s the big deal?” LOL I hope to laugh at myself one day about my reaction to all this.) But I sure do thank you for offering to be there. I may need to pick your brain!!!!

  16. Hey Dr. J! I saw your other post too and am just writing to say YIKES! I love that you shared your story, and that you are now out of the wheelchair. I hope if you do try the carb changes it helps you too. That’s been awesome for me. I’m also sorry you had all that happened to you happen, but you seem to be one of those who made the best despite and are now the type of person I look up to and love hearing from. It’s all about attitude right? Thanks so much again for the comments!!! Very nice to make your acquaintance.

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