I've written about my health and constant, chronic pain before. Today, it is reaching new heights. I slept about 3 hours, then I woke up to go to the bathroom and then I was hitting that period of the morning where different alarms go off every so often, my attempt at keeping my body waking up at around 5 AM when I go back to work tomorrow. So I was in serious pain when it was time to get ready for church, and I decided not to go. I didn't really want to miss church, but I sure didn't want to stand in the choir loft (or in the congregation) or sit in the pews while my feet were aching like sore teeth.
If you want to think I'm Miss Cheerful and never complain about anything... stop reading now, because it's gonna get hateful in here. I hate dealing with chronic pain. When I was in 3rd grade, I got to know a girl who was diabetic and I wanted to learn all about her. I was a little jealous because she had a mid-morning break when she went to the teachers' lounge and my suspicion was that she had a snack (I was usually hungry before lunch so this seemed positive) and had to test her sugar... which was all by urine at the time, no sticking. I thought it was a built-in diet trick to always drink diet sodas, I thought that would keep her from being a fat adult. (It didn't. She's not huge, but has never been thin.) That was very important to me at the time. She did have to get insulin shots, but they didn't seem to bother her like shots bothered me. I thought, the worst thing that can happen is that old people with diabetes sometimes lost toes, and I wasn't sure why that happened, but her 11-year-old toes seemed to be in decent shape. I also thought if shots were the worst thing... well, let me assure you, they are not.
The neuropathy started sometime around November, 2008. I'd been diabetic for at least 2 years before that, and it wasn't too long after my diagnosis. I was insulin resistant for many years, since at least 1985 and probably a few years before. I thought it was just a genetic thing, most of my mom's family dealt with it. I didn't realize what that was doing to my body, and I didn't realize that the way I ate was making it worse. I had gestational diabetes in my first pregnancy, and though I didn't the second time, I did have a nine pound baby that time - both risk factors for developing diabetes later in life. Even that didn't scare me. I thought because I had low blood sugar that I wouldn't become diabetic, just like I couldn't starve myself because my sugar would dip too low. Honestly, if my blood sugars hadn't been so wild, I probably would've been anorexic because food was always the enemy. But I'd let them drop too low and then stuff some carbs down to get me through. Carbs couldn't be too bad, right? After all, they were low in fat and fat was the problem, right? I ate more complex carbs, like pasta and potatoes, because they weren't simple sugars like candy that would run through me quickly. I began to realize that I could eat sugars IF i ate something with protein first, so I did.
When I was diagnosed, I thought if I took my meds, I could still eat what I wanted, within limits. I didn't really want as much sweet stuff, but I did still like it. I thought I would never be able to cut carbs out completely, and I was eating so much less sugar than I used to, but eventually, they had to stop one of my medicines because of the liver function tests going haywire, so I just gave up and threw all caution to the wind. For a year or so I ate whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted it. Eventually I did attempt to cut out carbs, and I'm still pretty good at that, but I do eat some. Like I had a hot dog, and instead of carb-laden side dishes, I had - sit down - a BUN! Oops. Flag on the play. The touchdown will not count.
I've been thoroughly disappointed with the inability of modern medicine to cure my pain. Doctors say, "You've got to have better control of your sugar." I'm like, it's 3:00 pm and all I've had all day was a protein shake that says it contains 25 carbs. How could my sugars be high because of that? So why are they hurting? Well, lots of things can make them hurt... but only keeping my sugars low is the only relief I can get???
I would try medical marijuana, but I live in a non-legal state. I'm told my state representatives share the Attorney General's belief that marijuana leads to harder drugs. I went to college. I tried "weed" back in the day. I never did any stronger drugs, and I was offered cocaine more than once. For the record, I didn't try marijuana the first few times it was offered either. I guess I did do "harder" drugs at times... I had morphine after surgery. Once in awhile I'd have a prescription for an opiate, when I had broken bones and migraines and toothaches. The medicine would help with whatever pain I was in at the time, but that wasn't because I smoked pot in college. I could understand how people got hooked on opiates, because after surgery, it was a little scary to think about the pain without the drugs, but I was able to go longer and longer without them and substitute Tylenol for doses during the day until I could easily wean off the "hard stuff." Nowadays I can't even get the doctors to write me a prescription for pain medicine, because it's taboo to prescribe opioids. Oh, and by the way, I live in the number one opiate-prescribing state according to this study. Not surprising, considering we are a long way from a medically-legal marijuana state. I think in a few years our neighbor Arkansas will have it. That's only three hours from me... certainly not convenient for moving. Oh, if Kentucky would allow it, I'd probably move the 13 miles due north for that.
So i am left to my own devices to drown out the pain. I'm gonna try turmeric. Hell, what do I have to lose? I go to bed terrified of what the next day is going to bring. I have no guarantee that a night's sleep will allow me to wake up feeling energetic and pain-free. (Occasionally, it happens.) If I have to work, will I be miserable all day? Maybe I'll have a good day and it'll feel better. But after I stand a lot, what will my night be like? If I can't sleep, I'm guaranteed a day of intense pain. I have to check all the boxes: a good night of rest, all medications taken on time, all meals at the correct time (which doesn't happen often in my work), no carbs (even on Christmas! Diabetes doesn't take a holiday), a good balance of sitting and standing and walking (something else I can't always control in my job). Now, who among us can check all those boxes every.single.day? Maybe I am a loser because I screw up on that list on a pretty regular basis. Then there are the matters none of us can control, such as weather. Did we get a cold front? Count on extra pain. Rain? Probably. But it's the way I eat that's the problem. RIGHT. Too cold in the room? Better cover those feet, but socks are usually too tight, exacerbating the pain.
It's a vicious cycle. Sleep late and take meds late? Ouch. Work to make money and, let's face it, to keep me on my feet... and pay for it later with sleepless nights. It's driving me insane. I've tried B-6, B-12, biotin, evening primrose oil, alpha-lipoic acid, multi-vitamins, Metanx, and using a TENS unit... ice, heating pad, more water, liquor, prayer (begging), and acupuncture. While the latter can be helpful, it can also be useless. I've experienced more movement after a treatment, but also experienced more pain after one too.
If I get a lot of negative comments on today's post, I'll just shut down the comments on it. So, if you have a suggestion (like the many who say, just eat less, just exercise more... ha, let me put you into my day and see how YOU do), let your words be nice and sweet, for later they may be words you'll have to eat.