Today has been a day of light sensitivity, eye charts, and pupils the size of saucers – that’s right, the annual retinopathy exam to check that diabetes hasn’t started eating my eyes yet.
From long experience, I know these exams knock me sideways for the day – or at least the drugs do. The exam itself doesn’t take long, being an eye test and then some photos of the back of my eye. What does take it out of me are the drugs that dilate my pupils and partially paralyse my blink reflex.
There’s a certain hallucinatory feel to how I then see everything for a good portion of the rest of the day. There’s a diffuse glow to anything pale, an inability to focus on detail, and a sense of nausea and vertigo that competes with an eyestrain headache and eyeballs that feel hollowed out before being reinserted.
So it’s perhaps no surprise that I went to bed, and slept a few hours before the cub got in from school. An early night for me I think.
I’ve got tomorrow off, but unfortunately it’s just so I can have a retinopathy exam first thing and not have to worry about how the drops tend to knock me sideways for a good portion of the day.
So, tomorrow will not be a productive day. On the plus side though I’m not due to work this weekend so that’s an unplanned long weekend, even if there’s a chance I may get called on Monday about recruitment things.
And of course this is also the weekend where the Charleesi and her other half are moving into their first flat, so I’m looking forward to helping with that.
I’ve had to change my weekly injection to a new drug as of today because the Byetta has been withdrawn as a prescribable drug due to supply issues. I have now been switched to using dulaglutide under the brand name Trulicity at a dosage of 1.5mg in a 0.5ml solution.
Apparently this drug works in a similar way but also assists in the treatment of related cardiovascular conditions so thats a bonus. I’ve got to say, for something that looked complicated when I unpacked the first one I’m reasonably impressed by how fuss-free it ended up being.
Its another pre-filled pen device, but I think this is more akin to a traditional epipen in as much as usage consists of popping the end cap, pressing the circular end against my skin and twisting from locked to unlocked state before pressing the big green button.
There was a click, the feel of an impact like an elastic band and seconds later another click as the needle withdrew. And that was it. There was a small bead of blood that I wiped away and it was all done bar disposing of the pen.
I think that because there’s a wide opening against the skin that it simultaneously stretches the skin tauter and fools my nerve endings with what signals travel back to my brain: It feels the pressure of the barrel opening but doesn’t have the bandwidth to feel the needle jab in the same location. That’s my take on it anyway. Its certainly less of a rigmarole than the old pen and needle assembly was.
I think its just another example of how our medical tools and medications are continuously evolving and being refined. A positive thing to recall under the circumstances I believe.
I’m still not quite sure where it came from. I think it was partly Lady M complaining of sore skin as I hugged her earlier. It sparked a memory of what I’ve long held as the missing weekend where I was diagnosed with diabetes.
Some context here for those who haven’t heard the bare bones: we’re not sure how long I was diabetic before I was diagnosed as I was largely asymptomatic beyond tiring easily, but I put that down as much to being very overweight and unfit. I developed a rash on my legs, and increasing swelling and redness and started being very unwell, but was stupid and didn’t go to the doctor. My wife at the time eventually worked out something bad was going on and got me in front of medical professionals
They promptly admitted me to hospital and when I came to I was told they’d got my kidneys and liver working again, had been at most a couple of hours from death, and did I know I was diabetic?
Which was quite a lot to take on at once. Especially as I promptly picked up necrotising fascitis in my legs while on the ward and lost more time as my system threw up its hands in disgust.
So the flashback was a very clear memory of putting my bare foot on the ward floor and leaving a pus footprint, and of telling my father that I could smell something rotting, and I was sure it was me. And the memory of the physical pains, and the smell, just were there.
And then I remembered later, post various surgeries when I was strong enough to stand up and go shower, where layers of skin fell off my legs like sheets of paper. Utterly painless, and fascinating, and I clogged the drain.
I think this is meant to be a sign of my brain feeling strong enough to start processing what it’s been suppressing. How wonderful. Yay?
My partners and I often joke that we’re often surprised that I don’t rattle, given the number of medications I take on a daily basis. Nearly every day there’s some variation on a theme of “have you taken your meds?” or “do you need to order more meds?”. Once a week we also have a chorus of “have you injected today?”
Yesterday I realised that my erratic grumpiness and energy levels, and irregular sweats this week may have in part been down to forgetting to actually take my injection on Monday.
So my injection day is now a Thursday rather than a Monday. What fun. Because what better to do with a compromised immune system and a race inside my body to see what will fail first than to not take the medication that helps keep me operational?
Yay! Now I’m tired and want to sleep. But it’s only lunchtime and I’m at work, so that’s not an option.
Today hasn’t been wonderful – mostly due to one of those lovely hiccups that diabetes brings and that people don’t mention most. In this case it’s an upset stomach and nausea called diabetic gastroparesis – where the rate of the emptying of the stomach, and therefore digestion of food is affected. Not to put too fine a point on it, food starts to rot in the stomach and it’s deeply uncomfortable.
So I took advantage of having some time owed and went home early – and have been taking it easy while it sorts itself out.
Hopefully I’ll be back up and running properly in the morning. Yay.
I thought I was being so clever with the timings for my Exanitide – an injection I need to take once a week to prod my pancreas into waking up and producing insulin on its own rather than needing to inject shop-bought (so to speak). If I took my injection in the Saturday before driving up to Hartlepool, that would tide me over until I got home and therefore sidestep the need to refrigerate any medication on my travels.
Instead, I forgot to take it, or even pack it, and I’ve instead had to try and sort something out while i’m the opposite end of the country from my GP.
And this is where the wondrous NHS takes centre stage. I was able to phone their helpline this morning and explain the situation. From there they could look up my details, and were able to give me the number of a prescribing pharmacist local to where I currently am. I called them, confirmed a few details, and was able to walk round half an hour later to pick up what I needed.
All I had to do was show them my exemption card, and on the app where it showed that it’s a regular medication I receive.
I had a diabetic checkup today and I’m pleased to announce it went well. Earlier this year I had one that showed elevated blood sugar levels and a further increase in blood pressure, and thus promoted an increase in dosages and frequency of checks from six months to three months.
Determined to get on top of it I made some dietary and habit changes, and did my best to stay on my new pills and potions regime. Today saw the payoff to that with a decent drop in both markers back to more reasonable levels, and tests for eyes and circulation in my feet both coming back well. My weight has even remained consistent – which is a bag of mixed blessings as I’d ideally like to lose another 10kg to be comfortable.
So all in all that was a huge relief, even if my resting heart rate still makes people wince. I’m hoping that losing some more weight as I take up walking longer distances again will help; but am mindful that another component may well be my generalised anxiety/PTSD twining round my depression and back again to feed on itself.
It sometimes feels a bit chicken and egg, so I’m trying not to focus too much on it, and hoping instead that the ongoing therapy and general physical health work help loosen both sides of it. In other words, stop worrying if the blood pressure and heart rate are exacerbating the anxiety, or if the anxiety is affecting the blood breasure and heart rate, and just work on both elements because it can’t hurt right?
The upshot of all this is that my sanity is still debatable, but I’m not a total physical wreck this month. After a month of aches, pains, and colds this is almost reassuring. I’m also back on the six month checkup routine again.
Apparently I have a super power listed in my medical notes. I found this out today while having my annual retinopathy. Instead of the normal single dose of whatever gunk it is they stick in my eyes they gave me an additional dose of something else.
Apparently it has been noted that this is necessary because I’m extremely light sensitive and unless they slightly paralyse my eyes as well I react too quickly to the camera flash for them to get a good shot of the back of my eyeballs.
So there’s a thing that happened today, along with the stabby eye pain and dizziness that has kept me wearing sunglasses all day.
I did make some more fiction pages on the site though, so that was productive.
I’ve bitten the bullet and signed up for the gym run by the local authority just round the corner. I’d love to say that it stems from a deep-seated love of health and exercise and a desire to craft the body beautiful, but no – I’d be lying. Ever since my doctor put me on blood pressure pills my weight has started to pile back on again – and having had my back in spasm the last fortnight has reinforced my dislike of being unwell. I’m not saying the two things are connected, but I’d be silly to not consider the possibility.
Secondly my usage of Bydureon to manage my diabetes is dependent on managing to keep the weight off. If my weight hasn’t begun to go down again before my next check up in a few months then I’ll be put back on to daily injections of insulin and all the hassle and calculation that goes with that. That’s before we even get to the whole ‘stabbing myself with sharp metal every day’ element of that which I don’t want to get back to for a variety of historical reasons.
I already home cook most of my food, and I know that calorie counting alone isn’t going to cut it. I need to kickstart my metabolism, so a change in routine is called for. As I already wake when Lady M gets up to go to work, I plan to get up at the same time and go round to the gym to start my day. Even 30-45 minutes a day each day will give me some structure and get me started – and it’ll be early enough that I won’t be stressing about fitting it around work. I’ll be able to get on with my day.
So, a decision driven by fear and irritation rather than aspiration – but sometimes that’s what’s needed, especially as I know how lazy I can be. Oh well, what’s the worst that could happen? I just need to remember not to Google gym-based injury anecdotes or videos…