Saturday, February 4, 2012

Almost Normal

It's been about two years and three months since I almost died in the Riverton Hospital. I remember a lot of things about my trip to and my stay there but there are a lot of things I don't remember either. That's probably a good thing too. I do remember homemade pot stickers because I think that might have been the last thing I ate a couple of days before my wife drove me to the emergency room. Or it could have been French Onion Soup. I remember getting into the car for the drive there and then it mostly becomes a blur for a couple of days. I remember laying in the ER though, and how bright it was and I remember them checking my blood glucose.

I remember multiple IVs in both arms and using a bed pan for a couple of days. I remember x-rays and always being cold laying in my room. It was a brand new hospital and they didn't have an ICU so I remember them having conversations about whether or not I should be transferred and I remember begging them to let me stay there because it was close to home and my kids and my wife so they found a room that had a window on the door and they let me stay there in Riverton. I remember the staff from the lab coming into my room what seemed like all the time to take my blood. I remember SpongeBob running upside down across my ceiling and melting down to the floor when he ran across one of the lights.

I was there for over two weeks. They eventually ran out of places to locate an IV catheter and I remember being in tears not wanting another needle in my arms. They would not let me go home and it got to the point where I would not let them inject me another time to install an IV. Most of my regimen was switched to pills at that point and it got to where I could barely swallow food much less pills. I remember getting up a few times and trying to walk around a little bit and I remember my wife pushing me around in a wheelchair because I couldn't walk around. It was awful and my body wasted away to 138 pounds.

I had developed diabetic ketoacidosis after a long bout with hyperglycemia and I was about 3 inches away from a coma and about 9 inches away from death when my wife had finally had enough of me insisting I would get better while my body insisted on exponentially getting worse and she took me to the hospital. I was in bad shape and while I was there the doctors figured out I had pneumonia and H1N1 (swine) flu on top of my blood glucose and ketone issues. While there I was formally introduced to insulin analogs and the subsequent injections after having refused to use or even admit that I needed to use them for the years since I was diagnosed with diabetes.

Insulin has saved my life. Not from the dying part per se, but from the degenerative part. The part where you lose your vision because the capillaries in your retinas are exploding. The part where you have to amputate one of your feet because you got a little cut on the bottom of your foot that would never heal. The part that puts your butt on a scooter for the rest of your life. The parts like that. In retrospect I wish now that I had embraced insulin long before my stay in the hospital a little over two years ago. How much irreversible damage was done while I stubbornly refused to admit the need? Heredity does not heed denial. Autoimmune diseases don't really care what you think or how you feel. If you're stupid they will kill you.

So I am unique. My body won't process glucose like a normal person's body does. There are extra things I have to do to stay alive. Injecting insulin analogs into my body at least four times a day is one of many of those extra things. Riding my bike is another and one I enjoy immensely more. Almost every time I ride, I ride by the Riverton Hospital. Almost every ride is a flashback. A reminder. It reminds me of how when I went home I couldn't make it up the three steps from the garage to the kitchen door without taking a break to catch my breath and work up the energy to make it another step. It reminds me of the cramp in my right leg bicep that resulted from that three step climb.

Every time I ride by that hospital it reminds me to try. Try to eat right. Try to stay healthy. Try harder on the bike. Try to remember to check my blood glucose. Try to admit that I have type 1 diabetes. Try to admit that it's OK to embrace insulin. Try to not have excuses. Try to live longer. Try to not have a low. Try to keep all my body part working. Try. Try. Try. I try to forget about SpongeBob melting off the ceiling and then I remember that trying won't work for me. Trying won't process the glucose. Trying won't keep me alive. Trying doesn't really help me that much. For me it is do or do not. Do or die.

It's only been a couple of stints on the trainer this week and I have missed being out on the road more. My season has started and with that, I have started "training" for it. Training sounds great until you actually start doing it. Then it hurts. The other night I wanted to vomit and pass out while my wife was helping time me on intervals of 10 speeds. She told me "don't quit." Strong words. But my wife understands the do or do not. She understands the extra things. She understands the do or die. When I was done doing on the trainer and could make it back upstairs, I checked my blood glucose. It was 90mg/dL. I almost felt like a normal person. Almost normal. Almost.

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