Another anniversary

I haven’t posted here in a while, not since September. I haven’t had much melanoma news to share. I have scans scheduled for this month and am seeing my oncologist to discuss the results. I have no reason to believe that they won’t be good. I feel good, although the diabetes continues to be a challenge. I also have an appointment with a new dermatologist this week, so we’ll see how that goes. I’ll have more to say about that after the appointment.

I actually came here to write about my diabetes. A year ago today I was being admitted to the ICU suffering from diabetic ketoacidosis. I know I have written before about my history with diabetes, how I contracted it as a side effect of my nivolumab treatment, so I won’t rehash the whole story here. My one-year anniversary makes me reflect on how far I’ve come on this journey and how far I still have to go. A year ago today it was touch and go whether I would leave the ICU alive. I didn’t know the full extent at the time, I found this out later. I was kind of out of it at the time, conscious but not clear-headed, so the doctors and nurses shared their concern with Lynn. So, she got to worry while I rested. I never knew what an anion gap was before, but it turns out that it was vitally important that mine close. The staff, and Lynn, were watching those numbers through the night as my anion gap closed ever so slowly. By the next day, I had come through the crisis and was transferred to a room on an oncology floor.

I spent the next four days on the oncology floor even though I was suffering from diabetes. I think that was because I had been admitted from Dana Farber. I was told that I was the healthiest patient in the oncology ward, not that there was much of a competition. There were some very sick people on the floor, some of whom didn’t make it home. While I was there, I got to hear my roommate making end-of-life plans. It turns out that his treatment wasn’t working and his cancer was “exploding.” In a room as small as the one we shared you hear these things through the curtain even if you don’t want to. I was more surprised than anything about getting diabetes. Being on the oncology floor, seeing and hearing everything, it was hard to feel sorry or angry or anything else about getting diabetes. It was only later, after I went home, that I had time to feel those things. Mostly I just wanted to get out of there and go home.

Anyway, the oncology ward was where I was bedded and that’s where the diabetes folks had to go to check up on me. Looking back, I think they were peeved that I inconvenienced them by making them travel to the oncology ward. They certainly weren’t very warm or encouraging. I think that was another reason that I wanted to go home. The longer we were there the more that Lynn and I were getting irritated with them. I learned that I had diabetes, I learned that I would need to take medicine to control it for the rest of my life, I learned how to give myself that medicine, and I even learned the basics of carb-counting and the balanced plate. I just wanted to go home.

And on the fifth day they set me free. I think they would have kept me there longer but it was a Friday and they didn’t want to keep me over the weekend. So home I went with some needles and medicine and an appointment with an endocrinologist in my area. And the rest as they say is history. Well, not past history because I’m still living it.

Take today for example. Today I couldn’t seem to keep my blood sugar up no matter how much I ate. I went to work and before I got to work (I have a long commute) my glucose monitor started beeping so I ate some glucose tabs. Before lunchtime, I beeped again, so I ate some crackers. Then I had lunch and took insulin to cover those carbs and an hour later I was beeping again so I ate some raisins. Then some glucose tabs and then some crackers and then some more glucose tabs. It was the craziest day. When I have days like this, Lynn says that I don’t have diabetes anymore. I wish that were true, but I know that it’s just my diabetes messing with me again. One whole year and I’m no better at this stuff than I was when I left the hospital. I feel like I need to go back to square zero, forget everything I thought I knew and relearn everything again. It’s frustrating.

But, and this I remind myself daily: it beats being on the oncology floor because I belong on the oncology floor.

Happy anniversary.

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