Posted by juliebernal | Filed under Cardiac Pacemaker/Ablation, Diabetes/Blood Sugar, Recovery & Coping, Total Pancreatectomy & Auto-Islet Cell Transplant (TP/AIT)
Nov. 29, 2011
I tend to keep to myself when I’m at the doctor’s office. But for some reason every time I get lab work done, I always have at least a few people that end up talking to me. Maybe because I’m young and they wonder why I’m waiting for blood work. Maybe because everyone is so bored while waiting for their turn to be stuck. Maybe it is because I’m almost always smiling. Maybe it is the way the chairs are all lined up in a row. I’m not sure what it is, but I always seem to meet the nicest people while waiting for my turn. Today I went to the doctor’s office to have my three hour glucose test that I’m required to have every three months to check my A1c along with other blood work for a study that I’m a part of. My appointment was set for 9:30 am. I was fasting since 9 am the night before. It took forever to see the doctor. And then it took forever waiting to get my blood drawn.
By 11:45 am I got up and said, “Is it going to much longer? I need to either get started or I need to do it another day because my sugars are dropping and soon they are going to be too low.” 15 hours fasting for a diabetic is not a good idea, plus my blood sugars always drop really low by noon if I don’t eat plenty of carbs. They said it would only be five more minutes because the computers crashed. The lady next to me told me of her grand daughter who is also diabetic. I had told her that I had my pancreas removed along with a transplant. I watched her month drop and she just simply said, “You are a miracle!” She wanted to know more about it, so we talked some. She told me about her family. And it was nice talking with her, it calmed me and took my mind off of the fact that I had been waiting way too long. I started to find myself having trouble focusing in on the conversation and my mind started to feel blurry. So I checked my blood sugar…91. I started to get sweaty and shaky, then cold. Finally they called my name. They stuck me twice with no luck. My hands where cold and I was a bit pale. Then I started to cry, “I need to do this another day. My sugars are down too low now. I can’t wait any longer for someone else to try. I’m shaking too bad. I need to eat.” They gave me two juice boxes and some crackers. I checked my blood sugar levels again and it was at 45. In a matter of 10 minutes I went from 91 to 45. I always feel silly when I cry like that in front of people. But I had no control over my thoughts, my vision was blurry and I just felt so helpless. The kind lady who I had been talking with earlier was next to me getting her blood drawn, somehow it felt comforting to have her sitting there by my side. She said, “It’s okay, you don’t need to feel bad, you have been through so much.” Wow, she was right. It hit me. Yes, I have been through a lot.
I went home, ate, and spent the rest of the day feeling a bit sick. Curled in a ball, feeling like I had the flu – but without having the flu. What a disappointing day. I just managed to take two steps forward just the other day. And somehow I managed to wake up today to this – taking two steps back again? This sick feeling of overwhelming tiredness and a dull aching pain.
I was so proud of myself because I had four great days in a row. I thought things were looking up again. The past month has been a struggle. Mainly because of my heart. It will take time for my heart to adjust to my new heart rate and pacemaker. I’m happy with my heart rate staying above 60 but it has also been jumping all over the place. And it’s been going way too high at times. They say it takes time to adjust and we are working on getting it to where it should be. But I’ve been pretty limited to doing any kind of activity lately and I get tired easily. Along with all of that, I had been getting chest pain. Very bad chest pain and pain in my abdomen. Feels like a spasm and it takes my breath away. I think that the heart stuff tends to trigger the GI issues – nausea and pain. So, I had to start taking pain medication again. Almost had to go to the ER a few times last week, but luckily my medication helped enough. I had a few hard days here and there. But thankfully Thanksgiving was a great day and I even had three more nice days that followed that were I didn’t need any pain medication. I was all smiles.
But just as I was happy thinking that everything was finally getting better, I had a day like today. So upsetting. But, I’m doing fine now. My spirits are up. I know that healing takes time. I’m so used to setting deadlines for myself – goals, winning, being the best I can be…I forget sometimes that the body heals on its own time. It doesn’t matter how many times I tell myself that I will be well this day and that day, my body and heart does not follow my mind’s orders.
It’s really weird. For the most part, I don’t think about being ill. So sometimes it just shocks me when something happens. Others times I just think, “What else is new?” But I much rather spend time thinking about something else. Some days I forget that I don’t have a pancreas, or I look down and see my pacemaker scar. Wow, that’s so strange. I live for today and for tomorrow. I move on from the past. I’m not sure if it’s denial or if it’s something I just want to let go of. It’s hard for me. When is the past truly the past when I continue to deal with ongoing issues? I still have dreams about my surgeries. I still remember the crazy moments of feeling like I may die. But when I have a good day or spend time with friends and family, I find myself so surprised when when I get sick. It’s like I’m in shock that it could hit me while I’m trying to have fun. Or like today, I was disappointed that I got sick when I was at the doctors. I felt like I failed because I wasn’t able to complete my blood work test. As if it was something that I could have helped.
So today I’ve been thinking about my surgery, about my pacemaker, about my life really. This is who I am, where I’ve been. And a year ago I was in the hospital unable to have Thanksgiving with my family. I had gone 5 days without any food or nutrition – just water and IV. My family stood over my hospital bed praying for me to make it. I’ve never seen a doctor more concerned about the state that I was in. And I never felt closer to death. I knew I had a lot more living left to do and I fought the battle. A year ago I was almost dead…and this year I ate Thanksgiving with my family. I ate! I had a great, perfect day.
So what am I Thankful for? Everything! My life – some call it a miracle and some call it strength. I think it’s a little bit of both.