Dealing with it.

Yes, I had a chronic illness but did I really have to feel so crappy, so often and beat myself up over it?
I made an appt. with my ‘shrink’ (now located literally across the street) to take a stab at figuring why I was letting this happen.

One visit consisted mostly of me crying and telling her how much I hated diabetes. I didn’t want it. I didn’t want to deal with it. It was all my fault. I didn’t want to feel like crap. She let me get it all out, and then gently proposed the idea that I did in fact have a choice in all this. Decide you are not going to take care of yourself, and let what happens, happen and stop beating yourself up over it. Or do something. This blaming myself was not helping at all.

Over the next few weeks she reminded me of things I already knew, yet needed to hear. Diabetes was not going anywhere so deal with it. That it’s okay to be angry but don’t take it out on myself. Life is all about choices. I realized I was not okay with letting my health be left completely up to fate. Slowly my desire to feel good, see better numbers and not feel guilty won out over the anger and my attitude shifted. I also can to realize that this whole process of getting fed up with diabetes, getting angry, then fighting back, is an ongoing one. It will happen again. What changes is my ability to deal with it not hurt myself as much the next time I fall. Fall, I will, I’m sure of it. This is a disease that pushes its way into every nook & cranny of my life and sometimes the good care & control is just too much on top of life happening all around me and that’s okay, I’m getting better & better at picking myself up.

I can honestly say that I am doing better. Better but not perfect or great. I don’t think diabetes care will ever be easy or second nature to me but I think it can be something I can make work for me.


Diabetes Immersion Therapy

I think part of the reason I thought a job with ADA would be a perfect fit for me is because I thought that if I was immersed in diabetes than I would really have to get my shit together. Surrounded by diabetes information, advocates and those familiar with my plight, all working towards the same goal there was no way I could be the same slacker. My idyllic plan of diabetes care being all of the sudden easy didn’t’ pan out exactly as I had envisioned.

First of all, the whole job changing/new job thing was a bit stressful and much hard work. I started right before it got crazy busy and then it was full speed ahead. I am now trying to catch up on all the things that are regularly part of my job but got pushed to the side while Walk season was in full swing. This took a toll on my blood sugars and there were some pretty ugly roller-coaster days.

Secondly, just because the people I now worked with got diabetes didn’t mean that they instantly got me or how the disease affects me. I had to show and they had to learn what happens to me when I’m low, how highs make me feel and bottom line they are not my diabetes police. It is wonderful to work every day amidst those who understand diabetes better than most and have a much better idea of what diabetes care entails but each person’s diabetes is so personal and they got that too, so I had to lead the way.

Thirdly, I was embarrassed at my lack of control. A couple of my co-workers seemed pretty excited to have some one board who "got it"; someone who worked hard, lived with diabetes every day and had done something right to stave off the complications. Me? Hell no. I honestly believe that I have made it this far by pure luck. I wanted to be that person they saw me as, but knew I wasn’t even close.

I heard about and saw firsthand those who had not been as lucky as me:

  • A woman my age who had gotten a kidney from her sister in order to live.
  • A name I recognized as someone I went to camp with was blind.
  • Someone’s mother-in-law who was a double amputee.
  • A volunteer who was on a liquid diet and near kidney-failure.
  • A phone call from an old camp friend who had a double bypass (kidney & pancreas) last year and had news of all those MY AGE who were blind, had suffered strokes, kidney failure and amputations.

It was all too much. I took no better care of myself than these people (well except for the never drinking regular pop, even I couldn’t do that) and look at what happened to them. What the hell differnce did it make if I took better of myself? The complications were inevitable. At least I was doing my part by working at a diabetes organization; the rest didn’t matter. This defeatist attitude lasted for a while and then I began getting really sick of feeling sick all the time.

continued in the next post


ER & Other Details of The Worst Phone Call Ever...

“Thank you for calling the American Diabetes Association. This is Melissa how my I help you?”

“Is this Melissa Sutton?”

“Yes, it is” I say distractedly, wondering what new task this phone call will entail. It’s Friday afternoon and I’m so ready for the weekend.

“Mrs. Sutton, your husband asked me to call you. I am a social worker with Akron General Medical Center in the ER.” She has my full attention now.

“Your husband is awake and alert but you need to get down here quickly but safely.”

I lose all feeling in my limbs and my heart plummets. Oh. My. God.

Luckily a co-worker from the Akron office (I was in Cleveland) was seated at the computer right by desk and when I asked her if she could tell me how to get to the hospital she said that she would take me there. So I told my boss my husband had been in a car accident and that I needed to leave and followed my co-worker to the parking lot. She made sure I had her cell phone number in case I got lost and then led the way. Not before asking if I needed her to actually go into the ER with me. I had only met her once before, this was not here problem, the woman had said “awake & alert”, he would be fine I told her no thank you.

On the way down I think I made some phone calls but it is all pretty sketchy. I know I did get a call from one of the other guys (who was in the car with Rich, en route to the cabin for camping) wives and even though she sounded quite panicked she really didn’t know much so I cranked the music & tried stay calm. The next call was from one of the Revs I used to work with at the church and she was definitely panicked & insisted that I not go to the ER alone. Shit. Shit. Shit. She had gotten news of the accident because initially my husband was so disoriented that he couldn’t remember that I had a new job or how to reach me. She said it did not sound good. I called my co-worker and asked her if she would mind coming in with me, explained why & she said no problem.

We got there, I felt low but was actually super high, but opted to not bolus for it since I had no idea what I was about to see or hear. After making sure that I was okay with some blood the social worker took me back to the trauma room where the first thing my dear husband said to me was that he was sorry. Sorry for getting in the accident and more so for not telling me that he loved he me when I left for work that morning. It was like a scene from "ER" with one doctor stitching up his hand and arm while another worked on his head. There were several large 'pads' on the floor beneath his head, stained pink from his blood. At first glance I thought there was no way they would be able to close the gashes on his elbow or head, but they did. Somehow I was able to stay in the room while they stitched him up; I found a strength I never knew I had. The suturing as they call it took hours and totaled about 50 stitches.

I was back & forth to the waiting room of the ER to make phone calls and give updates to the friends who had been in the car with him, my sister who came to be with me and the minister who came to lend support. None of the other 3 guys who were in the car with Rich were seriously hurt. Thank God. I couldn’t imagine having to tell him that his childhood friend was in worse shape than he was. They all had blood on their clothing which I later found out was from Rich. This assembled crew would not leave until they had seen Rich and were assured that he was okay, relatively speaking.Finally around 10 pm we were taken up to a room. He was in so much pain and bandaged up like a mummy. After making sure he was settled I headed for home because he was so worried about critters there. I was in a sort of fog and got lost on the way home. The animals were happy to see me but the house felt so incredibly empty.

The next 3 days were a bit stressful. No broken bones or serious concussion, just some gruesome lacerations, soreness and serious pain. He was lucky it hadn't been worse. Over the next few weeks I would hear this phrase repeated often. "He was lucky." While part of me knew he was very lucky, another part of me kept thinking that luck would have meant none of this happening. Saturday was the worst. Several family and friends had said that would come visit him that day so I didn't call anyone to come be with me at the hospital while I was with Rich. It was a very long day since no one came until that evening. The pain meds were making Rich nauseous and there was an awful projectile vomiting incident that scared me. My mom had offered to come just to be with me, and at first I declined, telling her there was no need for her to drive 3.5 hours, but after this I asked her to come. She said she was planning on coming even though I said I would be okay.

It was such a relief when I saw my parents walk into the hospital room the next morning. This was all so foreign and scary to me. They stayed the day and with her background as an RN my mom made sure I asked the right questions and knew what was going on. My dad watched some game with Rich, keeping his mind off the pain.

Finally on Monday he was released and we went home. We both exhausted as hospitals are not very conducive for sleep for patients and sleep was elusive for me as you might imagine. Rich did not go to work the rest of the week, but I had to since it was days before Cleveland America's Walk for Diabetes and there was tons to do. Family & friends pitched in with food, support, dog walking and visiting Rich while I was at work. Cards and wishes of speedy recovery poured in from friends, family & the church family. Diabetes was basically ignored but in turn was quite vocal about it with skyrocketing blood sugars and quite a few lows at the hospital.

The healing has slowly but surely happened. We took the last stitch out last Sunday and there are almost no scabs now. He will have some decent scars on his head, I'm sure. The real magnitude of the whole thing hit me more in bits & pieces. Terrifying thoughts that I could have lost my husband, my life would come out of nowhere. Tears spilling down my cheeks on the way to work for no good reason and break-downs over nothing in particular.

A not so subtle reminder of how precious life is and how kind humans have the capacity to be.

Hello, Old Friends....

It has been WAY TOO LONG since I have made an appearance here in the blog-o-sphere. What can I say? Life has been full over here. Here’s an abbreviated list of what has been happening:

  • Got a new job which does not allow for ‘blog time’ at work as the old one did.
  • Started new job just in time for “Walk” one of the biggest events of the year so I worked and worked and worked and worked. I am not complaining - working for something you are passionate about, surrounded by others who are passionate about the cause as well is amazing.
  • School started – class 2 nights a week plus homework.
  • My husband was in a horrendous car accident and in the hospital for 3 days. I got a terrifying phone call from a social worker from the Trauma dept. of a local hospital that I hope to never get again. I was reminded of the kindness of friends and strangers and was able to witness “ER” like scenes firsthand without becoming ill.
  • I crashed a burned a few times after all the stress but have managed to crawl back up to normalcy (or as close to it as is possible for me).
  • I have made some peace with Diabetes and remembered what an invaluable source of strength this world of diabetes blogs is.

So here I am, full of all sorts thoughts, frustrations, feelings, emotions, observations and general nonesense to share with you.