Yesterday I spent ten hours in intensive care. This was not what I had planned for a Saturday. I was going to meet a friend; we would stuff ourselves at an all-you-can-eat sushi bar, and then go to a movie.
Instead, I got a phone call at 10 a.m. from my primary care people telling me—not asking, telling—to get to their ER ASAP. My blood sugar was explosively high and had to be seen to immediately.
I’d gotten some bloodwork done the day before because for the past couple of weeks, I’d been feeling, well, shitty is the medical term. I was exhausted all the time, listless, and out of breath after a flight of stairs. I was drinking a gallon of fluids a day and losing my balance. My thinking was fuzzy. Mornings felt as if I’d spent the night in a cheap bar downing Popov vodka. I was not having fun. I thought it might be a heart thing, but it wasn’t. It was withdrawal from prednisone.
I’d been taken prednisone for over a month for chronic pain. Prednisone is a steroid, one of those miracle drugs with a dark side. It works on pain but also raises blood pressure, promotes hypoglycemia, leads to weight gain and insomnia, and, to put it simply, is not one of those drugs that makes you smile and want to hug people.
When I got to the clinic, I was immediately hooked up to an IV and given insulin. My blood sugar count very slowly diminished. By 9 p.m., after a gallon of IV fluid and four units of insulin, it was just above two hundred, still high, but manageable.
At the pharmacy, I picked up $100 worth of syringes, insulin, testing equipment and sharp little needles to prick my fingers four times a day to check for blood sugar. Every three hours, I inject insulin into myself, a remarkably painless yet queasy experience.
I spent a better part of the afternoon today ridding myself of cookies, muffins, pound cake, chocolate bars, peanut butter cups, and a remnant of blueberry pie. Each item caused a little sorrow as it thudded into the trash can.
I am now doing research on what I can eat safely—most fruit is safe, apparently—and learning all about Type 2 Diabetes, which I have. Type 2 can be controlled by diet most of the time, and, unlike the far more dangerous Type 1, does not lead to amputated limbs, so there is that silver lining.
I will learn to enjoy coffee and tea sans sugar, eschew the eight-layer black forest chocolate cake at a favorite restaurant, and give up the Trader Joe cranberry orange scones.
The latter will really hurt and proves once more that life is unfair..