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I was told to write out what I would say to you if I could tell you how to make a relationship work with someone with BPD, someone like me.  For some of you it’s too late.  The damage is done.  I’ve hurt you irreparably, broken trust, and shattered security.  We’ve already reprogrammed our relationship to be what it can despite those things, and I deal with the wave of sadness that hits to think of all the things I lost by not being able to tell you what I needed, by not knowing myself.  Each and every one of you has asked me what I need from a partner, but even as much as I’ve grown in the last couple of years, I couldn’t put them into words until they were worded as advice for someone else.  If that isn’t just the portrait of BPD, I don’t know what is. My hope is that this can clarify some things, maybe starts some dialogues, and definitely give us some blueprints on how to move forward and forge stronger, healthier bonds.

Sometimes I need reassurance that I’m important, and I have said this over and over again.  I don’t need to be your top priority, but I do need to be one of them if you’re going to call me a partner.  Sometimes I need a little extra attention.  Nothing grandiose.  Just a reminder that I’m loved.  It’s never that I don’t believe I am, but it’s nice to hear, see, feel it from you.  I need random messages and occasional outpourings of emotion from you, not constantly, but I need it not to vanish for weeks at a time.

I need you to hear my words not my tone or body language.  I need you to believe my words not take them as passive aggression or sass.

I need to feel secure, and when i ask for clarification on what seemed like a small action to you, I need you to not take it as malice or suspicion.  I’m just trying to understand.  Sudden changes in tone, behaviour, or levels of interaction will be internalized if I can’t mention them to you and get them out of my head, which is running through every reason why it’s all a sign you’re about to leave me.  I’m not saying these changes aren’t natural or understood, especially when something is happening in your life.  I’m just saying I might ask.

I need you to talk to me.  I need you to let me talk.  This all boils down to communication.  I’m going to overthink things, and getting it out helps.  Weird things cut deep sometimes, and all I need is to mention it so it doesn’t fester.  I need to know we can have an open dialogue without you lashing out at me.  It helps me stay calm and rational.

I need you to know I worry about pushing you away.  I worry about being too complicated.  I worry about being misunderstood.  I worry.  Mostly I worry about whether or not you’re happy with me, whether you’re still happy with me, whether you stay because it’s become routine.

I need honesty, even when I might not like it, because I need to trust that you will tell me the bad things along with the good so I don’t constantly wonder what you’re thinking but not saying.

I need balance.  I need you to trust me to handle my issues on my own first before you swipe in to try and fix it, but I also need you to know that if I’m reaching out to you I’m at the end of my rope.  I don’t want to add to your stress, and I’m doing what I can and taking steps every day to do it better, but I can’t always do it alone.  It took me a long time to be able to ask for help, and if I do it means I trust you with my life and my heart.  Please understand this.

I need you to know my triggers.  I’ll never ask that you avoid them, because part of learning to cope with them is getting used to processing them, but I do need you to be a little sensitive to the aftercare if you’re going to trigger issues.  I need to know I’m safe having a reaction to things with you.

I need you to give me some control.  I need to feel competent.  I need to feel like you believe I’m competent.  I need you to not be condescending.  I’m an adult, and I’m fully aware of what’s happening and what I need.  When I feel like I’m being coddled, babied, or invalidated it triggers everything, and I forget I’m strong and stop trying.  I need to not stop trying.

I need you to be clear, patient, and observant at times.  Especially when it comes to your needs and issues.

I need you to trust me to adjust my behaviour when I am wrong.  I need you to trust me to understand when you need a little space, but I need you to eventually come back from that space. I need you to trust that nothing I do is malicious, and help me be a better partner.  Lastly, I need you to trust me to be doing everything I can to be a better version of me every day.  I’m not happy being this difficult to live with.  I’m not complacent in it.  I’m not making excuses.

This is not a list of things you have to learn to do for me.  This is a list of things we can learn to navigate together.

I don’t believe we are stuck.  I believe things can be improved even after years of unhealthy habits.  No, you can never really start over, and there will always be old wounds, but healing is a powerful thing, and all of my relationships are strong, or we wouldn’t be in them.

I’ve done a lot of my own reading and research, but maybe it’s more helpful from a voice that’s not mine…

Which is why I’m here.    I was asked whay advice I would give to a partner of someone with BPD.  This is what I said.

Aloha.

 

Go now, feel.

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(I meant to post more for mental health awareness month, I swear, but depression has drained me.  Go figure.)

 

Close your eyes and imagine…

It’s getting dark.  It might be cold, or hot, but you’re so numb it doesn’t matter.  You reach out until your arms are too heavy to move.  You call out in the only language you know, but the only replies you get tell you you’re broken, so you stop.  Now it’s dark.  So dark.  Quiet.  Too quiet.  Your heart beats, breaks, and sinks into your soul, a dense seed taking root deep in your belly then sprouting doubt, insecurity, anxiety.  Tendrils grow and spread through your extremities like poisonous vines, up into your head where desolation blooms.  Thorns dig at you from the inside.  It itches.  Jesus, it itches.  It stings and crawls and takes your focus away from anything and everything but this parasite inside you, the parasite that is you.  It feeds off you, starving and choking you.  You can’t breathe.  You’re aware that you’re dying, but skin and sinew hold you from peace.  The body survives where the spirit screams for stillness.  The urge to cut it all out is overwhelming.  To breathe from your veins.  To rip up the flowers of self-hatred in your mind.

Pretty intense, right?  Intense, yes, but also dangerously misleading.  This is the narrative of self harm we’ve accepted as a tragic truth, and it’s horrifying.  It’s the soliloquy of suicide and the impetus for the carvings we find on the arms and legs of people who feel they have no other ways to cope.  But this is our isolated island away from our children or spouses, our wall against the broken, our proof that everyone we love is fine.  This is the flimsy blinder that we wear to fool ourselves into believing it’ll never happen on our watch.

The truth is much more horrifying.

The reality of self harm is that a majority of it is hidden.  Cuts in places easily covered by clothing.  Undetectable pin pricks.  Hair plucking.  Skin picking.  Friction irritation.  Scratching.  Nail digging.  We stop taking important medication.  Stop eating.  Binge eat.  Start drinking. The reality of self harm is subtle and not always consistent.  It can lurk for years in the background of our daily routines, because self harm, much like the illnesses that often inspire it, is insidious and adaptable.

Sometimes the skin stops being deep enough, bleeding stops quelling the need, and the behaviour takes a turn inward.  The most damaging self harm can’t be seen as scars.  We start self sabotaging.  We start isolating.  We dismantle careers and decimate relationships.  We make damaging decisions.  We build walls, not to protect but to imprison ourselves.  We stop reaching out, and instead we bury ourselves in a litany of self-hatred, blame, regret, and remorse.

So why?  To some it becomes a coping mechanism.  To others a punishment we feel we deserve.  Sometimes it’s a way of hurting ourselves more than the outside world can, taking control of the pain because it’s the last thing we can control.  Whatever causes it, self harm is not the fantasized stigma of bloodshed and self-destruction.  More likely it’s calm, calculated, and controlled.  Not until this is an acceptable fact can we begin to find ways to support, treat, and heal.

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Aloha

Go now, heal not harm.

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Today is World Diabetes Awareness Day, so I thought I’d share my story.  When I was a kid it was “a shame” because I was “so young”.  As I grew older it was less tragic and more inconvenient.  Diabetes had become so widespread by the time I was an adult that it was not only common but relegated to “nuisance” status by those who had never encountered it firsthand. When I wasn’t being lectured about my diet and lifestyle choices I was being sold ridiculous ideas about treatments and cures that would eliminate my dependency on insulin, from fad diets to a very specific routine that involved drinking hydrogen peroxide.  Diabetes became an urban legend that crept into as many conversations as it could.  Everyone had an aunt or a friend who had diabetes “real bad” and suffered immeasurably because of their own sad shortcomings.  Everybody knew somebody, but nobody really knew much about Diabetes itself.  I’m not here to educate.  Most people who actually want to know anything about this disease will do some reading.  It’s out there.  I’m here to tell you what they don’t tell you in books.  What happens to your life while Diabetes is doing what it does to your body.

By the time I was diagnosed at age 9 my mom had been a diabetic for over 15 years.  As a kid she was given a pretty short expiration date, and how we dealt with diabetes in children was dismal and rare.  We knew very few details about how blood sugar and body chemistry worked and even less about how systems in the body interact.  We were shooting blind, and we were losing.   My mom lost her sight just before I was born, and people had the nerve to condemn her for keeping the pregnancy that would do such a thing.  Instead of giving up, she persevered.  She learned braille, learned to take care of a newborn, and would eventually go one to be an advocate for people with disabilities and an education facilitator for other blind people.

For me there were few options when it came to routine, but my Diabetes was much different from my mother’s Diabetes.  We were beginning to count carbs and categorize food.  We knew that there were things other than food and exercise that affected one’s blood sugar, we just didn’t yet have a system for managing Diabetes that took into account a child’s changing body, other conditions, or fluctuating schedule.  Instead we were heavily restricted and chastised for not being perfectly regimented.  I went to camp for a few summers, but I came home in almost worse shape than I was beforehand.  I made some good friends, but they all seemed to be getting it, and I just wasn’t.  Around the time I began to take a dedicated interest in my own health I was patronized and treated like I was stupid, so I stopped caring for a long time.  If no one was going to help me I certainly wasn’t going to waste any more effort with something that wasn’t working.

Right before my thirteenth birthday my mom died of complications from her Diabetes.  The curse that had loomed over her since childhood had given her twice as long as she’d been promised.  For me it meant the one person who understood my frustration when I felt like I just couldn’t get it right was gone, and my teenage year were full of doctors and educators and adults telling me why they thought I was failing.  I was lectured instead of taught.  I was reprimanded instead of being listened to.  I felt like giving up.   To this day I will walk out of a doctor’s office and never return the moment my mother’s life and death is used to scare me to health.  Did I see what it did to her?  Of course I did.  Does it help to hold it in my face like a death sentence?  Never, and I won’t tolerate it.

By the time I left for college I was floundering.  I had researched newer insulins and better routines, but my medical team refused.  My driving privileges had been revoked because that same team told the California DMV that I showed nothing but disregard for my own health and safety, and to this day I don’t have a driver’s license.  Then I lost my health insurance.  Say what you want about the Affordable Care Act, but I know what it’s like to dodge colds like the plague hoping you don’t end up in the hospital.  I know what it’s like to get insulin in the mail.  I know what it’s like to consider every ridiculous idea that comes to you, because I couldn’t even pay for my own health insurance with a pre-existing condition and the state wouldn’t give me any unless I was homeless and pregnant.

I was lucky to find a job with reasonable health care benefits.  I was even more lucky to finally find an endocrinologist who would listen and work with me.  Because of her I learned about inflammatory disorders, autoimmune issues, and insulin resistance.  Because of her I found something that made me feel like maybe I wasn’t just waiting to die.

When I met my husband he had an insulin pump but little else by way of education.  Having been diagnosed as an adult, he had been forced to put himself int he hospital before his doctors would even consider the idea that he might need insulin, a pretty common situation adults with Type 1 find themselves stuck in.    In helping him I began to re-educate myself, and therein started my pump journey.  It hasn’t made me perfect, but it has enriched my life exponentially.  A few years later I would add a CGM, and it’s like a whole new life.

About six years ago my stepson, who was 2 at the time, was diagnosed, and his Diabetes gives me hope that he won’t have the childhood I did.  While it won’t be easy for him, we have tried to make it just another thing that he does, not something he HAS to do that will breed resentment.  While I know he will have his phases, his ups and downs, and his failures, we are trying to instill in him an open dialogue atmosphere as two adults who know what it’s like to try your hardest and still have a bad day or not try your hardest because you’re human and pull yourself back from it.

 

So here’s what the books don’t tell you about Diabetes:

1. Diabetes doesn’t ever come alone.  It comes with a litany of other autoimmune and inflammatory diseases.  Your blood sugar affects anything from your muscles to brain chemistry.  Diabetics are prone to depression, vitamin deficiency, fibromyalgia, JRA, thyroid disease, heart disease, eye disease…you get the picture.  We are constantly watching, constantly wondering, and constantly being brushed off by the medical world, because everything wrong with us is attributed to diabetes.  Everything.
2.  Diabetes never takes a day off.  This should seem very obvious, but it’s not.  There are some days you just don’t feel like counting as closely or planning the next 4,000 steps of your day.  Much like a “cheating on my diet day” there are some days where you just accept that you’re going to feel like crap tomorrow and go to the Chinese Buffet.  Believe it or not, it’s ok to be human.
3.Disclosure about Diabetes can sometimes be worse than coming out as queer.  Believe me.  I’d rather explain my girlfriend sometimes than my insulin pump.
4.  Diabetes is expensive, even with prescription coverage.   Co-pays, vitamins, and testing and pump supplies, even at 80%, are very expensive.
5.  Diabetes means a lot of math and psychic ability.  Seriously.
6.  No one knows.  Let me repeat that: No one knows.  I could have all the complications.  I could have none of the complications.  I could have them completely aside from Diabetes.  Things could be related that haven’t even been linked yet.  No one knows, and I refuse to live my life concerned about hypotheses.
SO, today is Diabetes Awareness day.  I don’t think there’s anyone who can read this who isn’t aware that Diabetes exists, but sometimes that awareness comes in the form of an obsolete pamphlet written in 1989.  Hell, my work manual still uses the phrase “insulin reaction” to describe hypoglycemia.  As we’ve picked up the cause for more fashionable diseases, Diabetes has become old hat to those who don’t live it every day, but it’s still costing us.  It cost me my mother.  It could someday cost me my husband and the only child I have, because it’s already cost me much hope of having children of my own.  It cost me the freedom of a license for many years and the peace of mind to know I can change careers or start my own business.  It cost my husband his military career.  It cost my mom her sight and a huge chunk of her life.  These are things no amount of logs or checkups can bring back.
Diabetes Awareness Day….for me it’s every day, but it’s no longer the Diabetes that it was 21 years ago.  My hope for my stepson grows stronger every day, but it is defendant on us not forgetting that these forward steps don’t mean we’re on the easy road yet.  We’ve still got a journey ahead of us.  We’ve still got stories to tell.
Go now, eat the pie…..then bolus.
Aloha.

 

Mental illness is no joke, nor is it something we can ignore.  You can find all manner of statistics on the percentage of children, adolescents, and adults will some form of mental or emotional disorder, but it continues to be almost taboo to discuss in polite company.  On any given commute train I can hear all the details of someone’s physical struggles, and it’s a story of strength and challenges overcome, but most stories about mental illness or emotional struggles end in “well, what can you do?  She’s crazy!”  This social attitude has lead to two things.

First, it has given the world the idea that it’s acceptable to ignore, or even mock, the issues of mental illness.  To those who live with it, depression is not just an unwillingness to be happy or overcome life’s obstacles, but a crushing inability to even fathom doing so.  We have very few resources for people who struggle with these issues, and the ones that do exist are costly and unstable at best.  In the end, many are labelled as “helpless” or “chronic” and left with the options to either heavily medicate to an almost nonfunctional level or to wing it with little to no support.  Either way, it generally leads to a very isolated life.

Secondly, it has opened the door for a lifetime of excuses and scapegoating, usually because the first condition exists.  Mental illness is not an insurmountable obstacle.  It just takes work, time, and a lot of inner fortification.  For years I have had people tell me, “you don’t know what it’s like”, which is always true.  No, I don’t know what anyone else’s personal struggles are like, but they have no idea what mine are like either, and I refuse to get into a “woe is me” pity war.  Everyone has mountains to climb.  Those with additional imbalances and emotional scars may have extra obstacles in the path, but nothing makes the climb impossible but death.

The harsh reality of mental and emotional illness is that it doesn’t stop life from coming at you.  You don’t get a reprieve from adulthood because of a rough childhood.  You don’t get a pass on responsibility because someone else may have dropped the ball on you at some point in your life.  There are no mental wheelchairs or emotional hearing aids, but there is no excuse for refusing to try and live life, especially if you’ve made the choice to have children, go to school, or start a career path.  It took me years to learn this lesson, and a few more to learn that no one was going to be able to help me when I really needed it if I wasn’t willing to at least try to help myself first.

There is a happy medium here between being labelled a nut job, told it’s all in your head, and deciding there’s no way you can ever be functional.  It’s called life, and we all have to live it to our best abilities no matter what tools we’re given.  I will always give support to someone having a bad day, but never sympathy for someone using these struggles for anything but an opportunity to grow as a person.  I don’t believe coddling helps anyone, nor will I sit by and listen to someone blame bad choices on something that possibly can’t be controlled but can be mitigated.  The words “I’ve got this issue, so you should have expected my bad behaviour,” is a cop out and an insult to everyone who has overcome tragedy, loss, or illness in his or her life.

We owe it to ourselves and others who are fighting along side us to do everything we can to get through this life together.  Everyone has the opportunity to make excuses.  Those who choose not to are the ones who will get the support they need when the time comes.

 

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October is well-known as Breast Cancer Awareness Month, but it is also designated as Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month.  October 15th marks a day of remembrance and support.   A few months ago I wrote a post as a letter to my unborn child, and it was probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to put on paper.

I have felt a calling all my life to be a mother, a teacher, and a nurturer.  Decisions I made very early on in my life made a career in such things unfeasible, but I made those decisions confidently as I tried to navigate a situation I was unprepared to face alone, but alone I was.  I didn’t feel like I could tell my family, and most of the friends I did tell thought I was making a terrible mistake.  Still, no matter how terrified I was of what I was about to face, I gave my future, and my heart to a child that many would have cast away as a reminder of violence and hurt.  In fact, it may have been that unborn child that kept me alive long enough to work through the emotional and psychological damage caused by the experience.  When I lost that first baby I lost the focus of all my attention and energy .  Worse were constant comments like “it was probably for the best” and “you’ll be relieved someday when you have a child out of love”.  I didn’t care.  It was still a loss.

A few years later I would be faced with the same fear.  I was in a loving relationship with the father at the time, but we were barely feeding ourselves, and I knew at the time my health was in terrible shape.  At our first appointment there was no detectable heartbeat, and I almost blacked out in the office.  Repeated attempts yielded no results, and the final consensus was that I had a blighted ovum, an empty sack that the body treats as if it’s a viable pregnancy.  For days before my surgery to have it removed I had nightmares of babies wailing, and in the days that followed I got the same ignorant comments as I’d gotten the first time combined with everyone’s refusal to let me grieve a baby that technically never existed.  I still have a tiny pair of booties in a box.  It existed in my heart.

All in all I’ve had this experience five times, and when Hubby and I talk about children there’s a little sting in the back of my heart that knows it might only be a dream.   Our reasons for not trying yet are numerous and mostly logistical, and when we do try we will have a lot to deal with emotionally and physically.   Since the wedding I feel like people are constantly asking if we want children or when we’re going to have them.  My answer is always the same, “when and if it’s possible”.   I keep it short, because my past is generally ignored, and my future as a mother is a rather sensitive and questionable subject.

I don’t write any of this to drag out old wounds or evoke sympathy.  I write it because for many years I felt like I didn’t deserve to go through any kind of grieving process.  Every time I felt sad I pushed it down.  Every time someone told me “it’ll happen when the time is right” I pushed it down.  Every time I felt like it was my fault for one reason or another I pushed it down.  Any chance I had to work through my emotions turned in to a chance to push them to a place where I didn’t have to feel them, and society wholeheartedly supported that behaviour.  It wasn’t until much later when I eschewed that the notion that my feelings of loss were silly or unfounded that I was able to release that weight and really move forward.  So I write this to tell any one, man or woman, who has been in place that it’s alright to grieve.  It doesn’t matter whether or not the situation was ideal or the timing was right.  You have every right to feel your emotions and work through them in a healthy manner.

 

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So, this time last year I had almost reached my goal weight.  No gimmicks, just a little moderation and common sense, and I was happy.  Then, three months before my wedding, I started a new medication.  I ballooned.  It took months for doctors to believe it was the medication causing the weight gain, and I was told the medication could take up to a year to flush from my system.  I tried everything.  I cut my calories and I started a regular exercise routine,  but nothing helped.  Currently, I am heavier than I have ever been.  I decided I needed a change.

A family member has had a lot of luck with Herbalife.  While I am generally skeptical of big programs like this I am an avid herbalist, so I researched.  You may all remember a while back, when I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, that I formulated my own system of vitamins, enzymes, and herbal supplements to treat my condition.  Looking into this new program, my first goals were to find similar results for less cost and condense my complicated regiment.  My next goal, of course, was to deal with the weight gain.

So, I’m trying it.  This is a big step for me, as I’m not usually one for routines or programs like this, but I’m trying to suspend my skepticism and trust my research.  If it doesn’t work I’ll go back to my old system.  If it does?  You’ll all know about it.

Aloha

Go now, make a change for you!

 

This is the first detrimental “sick day” I’ve had in almost a year.  Almost three years ago I came down with an illness that has yet to be named.  The “official” diagnosis was fibromyalgia, mainly because they just couldn’t find anything else.  A lot of my levels were borderline, but nothing was ever definitive.  In the span of two years I was in  he hospital at least half a dozen times not counting the times I was sent home from the Emergency Room.  A day like today would have ended with me in bed, a wheelchair, or the hospital.  This is a bad day. 

When this all started they gave me countless medications that did varying levels of nothing positive.  I stopped taking them.  Once they reached the current diagnosis the medication was even less helpful.  Most fibromyalgia medication is a differently dosed antidepressant of some form or another.  antidepressants make me suicidal.  Yes, I’m one of those people who actually gets the side effects listed in the commercials.  So, those were out. 

Eventually I had to take control of my health.  If no one was going to help me, I was going to help myself.  I started making a tea  blending catnip, valerian, and chamomile.  It works for rough days.  Catnip relaxes the muscles while chamomile works as an anti-inflamatory, and valerian helps with sleep.  It tastes like sewage, but with a little honey it makes everything temporarily stop hurting.  Considering the options that the source of my illness might rest in vitamin and nutrient absorption, I started taking a self-blended cocktail of vitamins.  Currently, I take 16 different supplements a day.  At the same time, when I start to have flare ups I stick to a gluten and casein free diet.

None of this is news to any of you who have read my early posts.  I posted this entire plan when I started it.  It was all a theory then, and a year later I’m having the first “bad day” I’ve had in a year, and I’m not in the hospital.  Is there still pain?  Excruciating.  Do I still hope we find the root of my illness?  Of course.  I have no idea what the long-term effects or current damage any of it is having on my body.  Hubby tells me quite often that he’s afraid of what may or may not happen with my health.  Just a year ago it seemed our lives were never going to be normal.  This year I’m working full-time and then some.  Even this “bad day” is not by far the worst.  I am blessed.

Go now, be healthy.

I used to get depressed a lot.  It’s a fact that there are different types of depression.  I get both physiological depression caused by chemical and hormonal imbalances and your every day, run of the mill, emotional depression.  I get panic attacks, I get crying fits, I have temper issues, and I get withdrawn.  I have been on medication for it, but the result is never good.  I end up a doped up Pollyanna with those thoughts of suicide the commercials warn us about, so when I try to kill myself at least I’m bubbly and smiling when I do.  I have stopped trying new drugs.  It’s really not worth the risk to me.  Instead, I have learned to control my temper and stop throwing things at Hubby, have my emotional release at the appropriate time in the privacy of my own home instead of the supermarket, and try not to take out my depression on those around me.  I do not perpetuate the “Misery loves company” motto, and I certainly don’t need to own any more black clothing than I already do.

In all seriousness, I have worked really hard to harness these episodes and let them pass.  I learned a long time ago that suppressing them makes them worse and sometimes permanent.  This is, however, in no way a cure.  It’s a coping mechanism at best.  Meditation and some heavy soul-searching can only take me so far.  There are times I just have to let myself be depressed and get past it.  I also have no control over the timing of these events.  They do not always hit me when it’s convenient or helpful to a current situation.

Let’s take a look at this recent down-swing I’m in.  Hubby’s last girlfriend and I had a few issues and emotional clashes.  Since I couldn’t express a lot of my frustration to her directly, he ended up taking a brunt of the backlash.  It wasn’t fair to him, and I handled it poorly.  As a result, he’s a little gun-shy.  My current depression hit the day before he was set to go on a first date with a new interest.  He’s really optimistic, not only about the two of them but about the two of us really getting along well.  I’m happy for him.  I’m optimistic.  He doesn’t believe me though, because the two nights he’s gone to see her I’ve been bawling when he left.    He tried to stay home the first night, because I was bawling so hard I couldn’t breathe.  I finally convinced him to go, but he’s still not convinced I’m comfortable with this situation.

Once I’m out of this funk I’m going to have some serious damage control to take care of.  We’ll get through it, and I really do wish him the best.  *sniffle*

Disclaimer:  I debated writing this today.  I’m in a pretty thick fibro fog, which makes organized thought a rough task.  I haven’t written much lately due to a quick but necessary move and a short stint in the hospital, so I decided to take a chance.  Forgive the slight leaps and jumps.  This was important.

As far as I am concerned, we live in a time and place where medical science is at least slightly more than trial and error when it comes to diabetes, that is, unless the patient happens to need hospitalization.  The problem is not lack of knowledge, it is lack of education on the part of most doctors and nurses.

When I first met my current Internal Medicine doctor she admitted she lacked specific knowledge on diabetes and referred me to an endocrinologist for anything diabetes related.  This seems to be a general condition of doctors treating patients in any hospital across America, and believe me, I have been in enough of them to know.  In the past I have had hospitals take me in then refuse me insulin until my blood sugar was high enough to need substantial correction.  When I protested that I did not enter the hospital with high numbers and that their methods were less than logical, the nurse said to me, “I know, my boyfriend is a diabetic, and that’s how he does it too.”  No, honey, that’s how every diabetic on the planet does it.  Only when I refused to eat until I was medicated or allowed to speak to a doctor was I given anything.  The doctor told me the policy was based on the unlikely possibility that I would crash in my sleep and never recover.  Even unconscious you can fix a low blood sugar in a  hospital, and it would have taken a lot more than what I needed to put me in that position.

On a recent trip for a viral infection I resorted to hoarding juice and sneaking in my own testing supplies to self-treat.  Let me assure you, this is no easy task when one is half conscious from a stomach bug.  Still, if I had not taken my own measures I would have not been able to fix an extreme low that was ignored for almost an hour.  We cannot let this kind of  situation exist.  How many patients have not healed or been kept in hospitals for extended stays because their diabetes is not being properly managed by the people charged with caring for them?  Then to have them tell me I need to just trust the professionals who have time and again left me in worse condition than when I started because they have the big fancy titles, degrees, and several years of overpriced education is ludicrous.  Prove to me you really deserve my faith and you will get it.  Deny me insulin based on some protocol based in fear of far-fetched risks and you will not.

I really have no idea how to solve the problem, I just think it needs to be  brought to the attention of anyone and everyone who will listen.  Diabetes may be ever evolving as far as treatments and care, but the basics have not changed.  It is imperative that hospitals start paying attention and educating their staff.  I am tired of being approached like a bad child and lectured like I have no clue how to take care of a condition I have had for almost two decades by people who keep making me sick.  Does this make any sense to you, my friends?  Do you have any similar stories to tell?  Maybe we can gather them up and send them to somebody who can do something.  I fear, more than likely, that person doesn’t exist and we will have to make our own change.  Either that, or start hoarding those little juice cups that come with breakfast.

Go now, readers, and test your blood sugar.

If cleanliness is godliness baking soda is the source of all that is holy, at least in my house.  Everyone has his or her dirty little cleaning secret for baking soda, or at least has heard of a few.  Whether or not you have ever used it in your daily cleaning routine,  baking soda is most likely a key ingredient in a product you buy from the grocery store.  I was turned on to the versatile power of such a simple thing a couple years ago when I tired of the irritation my skin suffered as a result of commercial laundry detergent.  A little research and a wonderful Livejournal community later I was hooked on the white powder…the other white powder. 

With the holidays here in full force, whether you entertain at home or not, you have probably looked around once or twice at the dust and grime glowing in the twinkling lights and vowed to spend a day making your house twinkle.  Let me share some of my many uses for baking soda with you in an attempt to simplify your cleaning process.

Laundry Detergent:  Hubby scoffed when I suggested trading our chemical rich detergent for baking soda mixed with a small bit of Borax, but agreed to a 30-day trial.  In his opinion nothing could clean construction and mechanic filth from his work clothes unless it was harsh and abrasive, preferably high-octane.  Four months later he asked why I had decided not to do the trial.  Obviously Hubby does not sniff his clothes.  Otherwise, he would have known I had switched just after he agreed to the trial.  For more smelly articles, or just for a nice accent, you can add a couple drops of your favourite essential oil to each load.  Just make sure it is an essential oil, not a fragrance oil, and one you have tested on your skin beforehand in case of an allergy.  Lavender is a wonderful antibacterial and, for those with sensitive skin, tea tree oil works great as well.  I use a cup of a 3:1 mixture of baking soda and borax per load, and I have never had to rewash anything.  It even works for items the animals have used. 

Kitchen Cleaning:  Everyone has been told at one point or another to put an open box of it in the fridge to keep it fresh and eliminate odors, but I clean everything from the sink to the hardwood floors with baking soda. For extra shine add apple cider vinegar to your mop water, sprinkle the floor lightly with baking soda, and mop as usual.  Apple cider vinegar is baking soda’s best friend and partner in cleaning crime.  Remember those volcanos we all made in grade school?  They were also tiny eruptions of clean!  Recreate this science project in your garbage disposal to clear away grease and gunk clogs.  This works on bath tub drains, too!

Bathroom Scrub: Baking soda can be used exactly the same way you would use Comet in toilets, tubs, and sinks.  Sprinkle it straight or make a paste and scrub it in with a brush to get in the cracks and crevices.  You can also make your own toothpaste with baking soda, and it can be used as a dry shampoo or deodorant in a bind.  I also make my own bath bombs and salts using baking soda and a few added ingredients. 

These are the main areas of cleaning, but baking soda can be used anywhere from the cat box to the baby changing table.  It works extremely well on anything that may be damp or sticky that may need to be dried up before you can clean it.  You can even sprinkle it on furniture and carpets like a cleaning powder as long as it can be vacuumed.  Coupled with apple cider vinegar and a few essential oils, and occasionally a handful of Borax, you can clean just about anything.  I would not recommend it on anything susceptible to scratching, though.  For glass and easily marked surfaces I would just use the vinegar. 

In the end, baking soda is cheaper and just as affective as commercially sold cleaners.  It has been a gift from the gods as someone who is extremely sensitive to harsh chemicals, and is safer for homes with children and pets.  The only concern?  If you use it all cleaning one thing you have to make or acquire more before you can clean anything else.

Go now.  Be clean!

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