Monday, April 16, 2007

"At Least I'm Not Gray"

"Seriously, I don't have one single strand of gray hair," she tells me.

"And you've got all those curls now too," I say.

We both laugh.

"It's weird how it all came back curly-- and I've got a ton of it," she says, "more than before."

"Indeed. After everything you've gone through-- ya end up with this fabulous head of hair."

Again, we're laughing-- the big, belly kind that brings tears.

Her doc thinks it might have been the chemo.

Christ.

How ironic is that?


So we talk about it.

About that terrible week when Joseph was diagnosed-- the very same week she was diagnosed with breast cancer.

The chemo, the mastectomy-- the long road back.

The open wound that

JUST. WOULDN'T. HEAL.

And all those other infections.

But mostly, we talk of this new diagnosis.

"While I was in the hospital last week [with cellulitis]," she begins, "the nurse came in to give me insulin, and when I asked her why, she said it was for my 'diabetes' -- like I already knew."

God.

When her doc finally informed her of the diagnosis, he also said that -- according to her medical records -- she's had high blood sugars going back 17 years.

All those years-- and no one has ever diagnosed this.

For a while, it's hard to stay focused.

To not go insane over this fact.

Her A1c is 7.4

Definitely diabetes.

Type 2, most likely.

It runs in the family and she has many of the risk factors.

Yet her doctor said not to assume this is Type 2-- "it could be Type 1.5."

Still, he's put her on Metformin, given her a glucose meter with a script for a hundred test strips, instructed her to limit her carbs...

And that's about it.

Until they re-evaluate in June.

"When they sent me home, I didn't even know how to use a lancet," she says.

Damn.

She's my older sister -- by less than two years-- and she lives over a thousand miles away.

"Every time I stick my finger, I think of you and Joseph. How do you stand it? I get nervous at every meal. What does Joseph eat? And where do you get glucose tabs? My doctor said I'm at risk for lows, but didn't tell me where to get glucose."
Man.

"Find an endocrinologist," I tell her-- wishing I could fly there and find one for her.

"You've got to see someone who really knows this stuff-- who can give you the right diagnosis, treatment, and education."

And then we go over the differences between Type 1 and 2, highs and lows, good and not-so-good carbs...

We talk about her four kids, and her fears about how this will affect them-- especially her young one, the nine-year-old.

All the while, I'm trying not to lose it.

But then, we also talk about other things-- ridiculous, funny things.

And we laugh.

17 comments:

Nicole P said...

Sandra - I'm so sorry. Is this your sister in Mass? Maybe I could make my way over there sometime - help her with finding an endo - maybe walk her through some questions? Let me know. Talk soon. Nicole

Kerri said...

I had the same exact thoughts as Nicole. Is this the sister who I met at the walk? ANYTHING I can do to help, please let me know. And my mother is working in Providence and would be more than happy to meet up with your sister to help her figure things out - though she's a few years from having managed my diabetes, she could be a good jumping off point.

I am so sorry about this. Let us know if we can do anything at all to help.

Rachel said...

Crap. After all she's been through with the cancer? Crap.

And that she's been having high blood sugars for SEVENTEEN years? At least her doctor was (finally) honest. I had to figure out on my own that my thyroid levels were off for several years.

Anything I can do to help her, I will.

julia said...

Why didn't her doctor tell her?? I would be writing letters and making phone calls left, right and center. That is unbelievable.

Scott K. Johnson said...

Wow Sandra, that is tough.

Shocked that she is just now finding out. Sounds like she is a fighter though - and that will serve her well.

Kendra said...

Sandra, my thoughts are with her. Isn't it amazing how with all of the media coverage that Type 2 (or 1.5?) diabetes receives, people with this disease often receive the worst diabetes care? Even though the diagnosis is heartbreaking, you are going to be a great source of comfort to your sister. (((Sandra)))

Tom said...

Your sister is just getting hit left and right. So heart wrenching. She sounds like a fighter though from what I read, and that will definitely help her with the transition and the learning phase.

I'm really surprised that her doctor didn't tell her about her elevated sugars. I would be asking the doc some questions about that. If there's anything I can do, let me know, and don't worry about the fact that you don't know me. I've been lurking for quite some time. :-)

type1emt said...

That is so hard.Doctors like that make me madder then heck.
I hope your sister can get a good endo + get the support/help she needs with this. Everyone should have that.

Sandra Miller said...

Nicole, Kerri-

Thanks.

I'll talk to my sister.

(Oh, and Kerri-- this isn't the sister you met. I actually have three sisters living in Mass. :-)

Rachel-

I don't think she's been seeing this particular doc too long-- so I can't really blame him for not picking up on this sooner.

I appreciate your offer to help-- and with your intimate knowledge of Type 2, I may just take you up on it.

Julia-

I know. I still can't believe it.

Scott-

I'm glad you could see this about my sister-- she is indeed a fighter.

And I'm very proud of her.

Kendra-

I'm afraid that I wasn't much help when she had breast cancer-- living so far away, and at the same time, dealing with Joseph's diagnosis.

(Thankfully, she had our other five siblings, and her amazing daughters to help her get through.)

But this time -- with this diagnosis -- I know I can help her.

Tom-

You're so right.

And thanks for de-lurking. :-)

type1emt-

That's just it, I think there are too damn many people out there like my sister-- who aren't getting the support/help they need.

cesnh said...

Hi Sandra,
Your sister's 1.5 diagnosis is the pits. Mine was the same two years ago and it makes me feel like I'm in a kind of "Limbo" and it's even harder to understand just what you've got. I'm sorry she's going through this on top of her other stuff.
cesnh

Minnesota Nice said...

Oh that is the most absoutely pathetic health care story I've heard........17 years. Please....do we all have to continually be fighting for accurate information? I am just shocked (but not surprised). Hope your sis gets connected to a good doctor.

Gina said...

ugh, I hope that she finds a great doctor and is able to get the care she deserves. G

Rachel said...

I think it was "all those infections" (during the cancer treatment?) that set me off when you mentioned the seventeen years. How could so many doctors MISS that? Argh!

Shannon said...

How you didn't lose it during your conversation is beyond me.

What a heavy conversation.

I'm sure she'll seek out an excellent endo and get her diabetes in order. Hot damn. What a strong sister you have.

Carey said...

Oh, man. So sorry Sandra. 17 years!

Penny said...

Man, when it rains it pours, doesn't it?

Thinking about you and your sister.

Jess Riley said...

Sandra...I'm so sorry to hear of your sister's diagnosis. You & your sister will be in my thoughts. *hugs*