Before I continue, I would like to say thank you for all the lovely comments to part 1 of My Diabetes Story. I would also like to say how impressed I am with the incredible control that so many of you on TuDiabetes manage as evidenced by your amazing A1C's. I am really impressed and inspired to continue to strive for better numbers of my own. Meanwhile, back to My Diabetes Story.......
So I skipped the hospital stay and started reading everything I could find about diabetes and ways to treat it, naturally of course, since I was still a vegetarian at the time. I was on two types of insulin, a long acting for basal control and a short acting for meals. From the beginning, I altered my dosages without my doctor's consent, naughty me, as I was a "smart ass know it all' and figured I knew more about what was going on with my own body than any doctor could. I am still of the same opinion, but even more strongly now. My self treatment has not been without major bumps and detours, but when I see other diabetics around me who have not or cannot take charge of their own lives struggle with failing health, I am convinced that there is no other way to deal effectively with a health issue of this magnitude. I had one young friend, only 20, but with T1 since he was a child in a constant struggle with fasting and binge eating to try and control the onset of blindness. A year or so later, he took his own life. Sorry, I am sometimes easily distracted. So, while doing my best to learn how to control my glucose levels with insulin and needles while struggling to support a family with whatever jobs I could find, I tried various dietary changes, colon cleansings and chiropractic treatments, often at the urging of my wife. I kind of figured that given my genetic inheritance and the nature of diabetes as far as I could discover, I was just going to have to learn to live with my condition, but my wife was unwilling to accept that notion and felt certain that this is something that I aught to be able to fix if I just put my mind to it and did the right thing, whatever that was. Well, I still don't know if she was right or not, but I guess I never discovered the right thing to do, because here I am twenty plus years later, and I don't have a wife any more but I still have diabetes.
Over the next few years, as I tried to improve the quality of my life by controlling my glucose levels, I began testing more and more often, eventually testing at least 8 to 10 times a day, but that wasn't good enough to stop the beginnings of peripheral neuropathy in my hands and feet and retinal neuropathy in my eyes. I didn't try to do this entirely on my own. I started seeing my family physician on a regular basis to check my A1Cs (usually around 7.2, 7.3 at the time) and discuss any issues that arose as well as more regular checkups with my eye doctor. I was now a mailman. I was amazed when they hired me after a thorough physical, even with full blown T1 diabetes. I guess someone was looking out for me. I finally had a stable income to support myself and my son and I had good health insurance to help cover my ongoing and rising medical expenses. I was casing mail every morning and delivering mail every day I worked. Good vision was essential. So when my optometrist told me the blurriness in my vision was being cause by leaks in the small capillaries in the retina of my eyes and the only way to control it was to have laser surgery, I reluctantly agreed. However, that combined with the increasing levels of pain I was beginning to experience any time I was on my feet or had to walk made me begin to understand what the future might hold for me and why my young friend had chosen to take his own life. I guess some just give up at that point and continue to slide downhill to that inevitable conclusion, but some of us, most of those here I think, become determined to find a better way.
It was around this time that my family physician suggested that I should begin seeing an endocrinologist. This was a large endocrinology group and I started to feel like cattle must feel when they are process. By now I had come to understand what big business diabetes was and how much money this meant for a lot of people, not finding a cure mind you, but treating the seemingly ever increasing population of diabetics caught in the same trap as me. The doctors had treatments that could help me, but not cure me, so I had no choice but to pay whatever they asked, extortion through disease. Fortunately, I vetoed one endo and asked for another who himself had T1. Even though he was thoroughly indoctrinated by the Medical/Pharmacological establishment, at least he was sympathetic. Of course he immediately wanted to put me on a pump, a relatively new advance at the time and to me an obvious choice though I hated the idea of being attached to a machine 24/7. I have never worn any kind of jewelry or even a watch and don't even like wearing clothes as far as that goes. But if I wanted to have tighter control over my diabetes, then I would have to learn to live with it. So off I go resigned to learning how to pump until my insurance company denies me. Now I guess at this point many folks would say, well, there is no way I can afford this expensive pump thing if my insurance company won't cover any of the cost so I guess I will just stick with the needles, pardon the pun. But instead, I got my dander up, rounded up letters of necessity from my family doc and my endo, put them together on the letter head of an attorney friend and mailed them back to my insurance company insisting that they wanted to reconsider my situation. Did I mention that I hate insurance companies? They are happy to take anyone's money, but if it ever comes to giving any of it back, they will use every trick in the book to pay as little as possible. If it weren't for the fact that my job entitled me to insurance without concern for preconditions, I am sure I would not have insurance to this day. As it is, the only reason I carry it now, is that the cost of treating my diabetes far exceed my premiums and co-pays. At least I think it does though I can't be certain as every medical company and physicians office seems to charge much more if you carry insurance than if you don't, that is if they will treat you without insurance. Do you ever feel trapped by our money mad society like I do? So having convince my reluctant insurance company that my long term health was in their own best monetary interests, my pump was approved and my new life as a pumper began. (stay tuned for more exciting adventures in My Diabetic Story.......)