Thursday, December 22, 2011

Good Vibes and TMI

When I wrote about my surgery, I thought that would be the end of my TMI posts for a while. 

I was mistaken. 

Things were going well health wise and in terms of “women’s issues,” I was doing well. It was like night and day once my body adjusted to the IUD. My debilitating periods were gone - not alleviated like my doctor and I had hoped but completely gone. Right around Thanksgiving, I started to notice that I wasn’t feeling as well as I had been. In fact, I was feeling cramping and bloating when I was working out that was the same as what I experienced after the IUD placement. What I thought was a freak thing started happening daily. I thought that maybe it was the mid-cycle cramping that I’d gotten prior to the IUD placement. Then it started happening when I wasn’t even working out. The cramping would come out of nowhere and grab me. Then one day it started and didn’t stop. The pain was impervious to heating pads, Aleve, and chocolate. 

That was when I made an appointment with my doctor for immediately after finals. I figured it was better to be cautious. I’d rather pay a $30 copay and hear that everything was fine than be in a situation in a few months that could have been prevented if I’d gotten seen sooner (see: perforated uterus). 

Right around the time that I scheduled my appointment, the mystery hives I tweeted about appeared. I chalked it up to the stress of the end of the semester since breaking out in hives due to nerves/stress is normal for me. What I didn’t divulge was that they were across my chest. They weren’t itchy and they weren’t anywhere else. I thought, at most, they were sports bra burn. But they stayed. Some days they looked darker than others, but they were clearly there. In fact, they still are. 

Soon after the hives appeared, during my self-exam, I felt a lump on my left breast. At first, I thought it was just poor timing on my part since it’s hard to do the exam in relation to your cycle when you don’t really have one. It was small and I wasn’t too concerned. Like the hives, it didn’t go away and I made a note to have my doctor check it when I saw her. 

I saw her on Monday morning. I had managed to not get too nervous about all of this beforehand but when I saw her face when she saw the hives and when she felt the lump I got sick to my stomach. She said she’d like me to go for an ultrasound to check on it ASAP. At this point, the cramping became secondary although she ordered an ultrasound to check on that, too. 

I had my ultrasounds this morning. The ultrasound of the lump confirmed that there is most definitely something there. It’s as big as it feels (just about a centimeter) and there wasn't anything else underneath it so that's good news. I also feel pretty good otherwise which is also good news. But we still don’t know what it is. The radiologist’s report will determine if I need more invasive scanning and if a biopsy needs to be done. With the holidays coming up, I won’t know anything until the end of next week at the earliest. 

All I can do is wait. I know of all the things it *could* be. I’ve heard this story many times and it’s gone evenly in both directions - nothing serious, or something extremely serious. Every so often, the fear of what could be happening sneaks up and grabs me and I feel panicked. When I was finishing finals I didn’t have time to even consider the possibilities. Now that the semester’s over it seems like all I can do is think about it and drive myself batshit. It sounds so extreme to say when nothing is certain, but sitting here with potential issues with everything that physiologically makes me a woman just makes me feel defective in a way that I’ve never experienced before. 

So here’s where the good vibes portion comes in. Whatever you believe in - prayers, good vibes, happy thoughts, etc - I could sure use it now. 

Thursday, December 15, 2011

We Are More

Tomorrow, I take my last final of the semester.

Yeah, I can't believe the semester's already over, either.

Today was an all around crap ass day diabetes wise. I woke up starving and lunged for my meter... which was about 2 feet away from me. I was 54 mg/dl. I grabbed the glucose tabs from my top drawer and treated. 15 minutes later, I was 41 mg/dl. I was annoyed and scared because I had no symptoms aside from being hungry. I treated again. 15 minutes later it hadn't budged. I treated with some more tabs and had breakfast since I was starving. 2 hours later it was only 63. So I treated yet again and 2 hours later my it was finally 89... and I was feeling the effects of extreme low brain.

I sat here staring at the information I need to have in my brain for the exam tomorrow and I just felt defeated. I felt as though any motivation I had to study had been depleted during my blood sugar battle and that trying to study with low brain was useless. I felt beaten down and I felt like diabetes had won the battle today and it meant that tomorrow I would most certainly end up losing the war at my exam.

At about 1:30 I heard an e-mail from school come through on my phone. The subject line said "Final Exam - Important." I opened it fully expecting to read that something had been changed and I needed to cram even more information into my still sluggish low brain. What I found when I opened that e-mail, was this:

Dear Students, What's most important about this exam?  That it is a small piece of your education, only one of many different measures of your learning. That it is too small and limited to begin to measure your worth and value. That it has no predictive power to measure how wonderful you will be as a nurse and healer, regardless of your grade.  This exam is not worth your stress, your sleep, your worry, or any impact on your health.  Remember that no number can ever capture your worth and value--- you are priceless!!

By the time I got to the end of that e-mail, I had tears in my eyes. From my perspective, she wasn't talking about exam grades - she was talking about diabetes.  I thought about it for a few minutes and felt that I had to thank her for lifting my spirits, albeit unintentionally. So I responded with this:

Thank you so much for your e-mail. It hit home for me and not just because the final is tomorrow. I'm diabetic and there's times when, despite having an amazing support system, it feels like I'm defined by numbers. It feels as though the number on my meter is a judgement of my effort, my ability, and labels me as either a success or a failure. On a day like today, when I woke to my body insisting that 41 mg/dl was a wonderful blood glucose to study with and have been hovering between 60 and 70 ever since, it's easy to feel defeated. So from the bottom of my broken pancreas, thank you so much for reminding me that a number - whether it's a reading from my meter or a grade on an exam - is never indicative of my worth.

I know we've all talked about it and felt it before, but it's so, SO easy to feel like we are our numbers. It's so easy to forget that we're more than diabetes and it's easy to feel shame and blame ourselves when no matter what we do, or how hard we try, our numbers don't respond. But it's the nature of the beast and there's no number big enough to show the strength, determination, and sheer badassness we all rely on to navigate our d-lives.

A couple hours later, my professor responded with this:

Bless you!! And add to your list of talents an amazing ability to articulate your heart and express priceless appreciation to another human.  What a fabulous talent to have!! Thank you so much for this amazing little piece of your life that has now blessed mine!! Deeply grateful

Never underestimate the power of a thank you. And never, EVER underestimate your worth.