Friday, November 17, 2006

Achilles what?

I have another visit to the Orthopaedic Specialist on Monday and as I promised last time I would go to the medical supply store and pick up a foam pad for my ankle I thought I'd better get on to it. The OS assured me that I could pick up an Achilles foam support anywhere. He described it as a larger padded version of those bunion pads that are sold in the foot care department of any pharmacy. The padding would keep the back of my shoes away from the bump allowing me to wear boots and closed shoes in the winter.
A combination of unseasonably warm weather and this diabetic's fear of surgical supply stores meant I was able to put off the purchase until the last possible moment. But I couldn't wait any longer so I started my search at the local store. I weaved my way around half a dozen wheelchairs and a display of canes until I reached the salesperson. I really thought that I could just grab one off the shelf but no such luck. She only had heel cups and arch supports - the same that I could buy at CVS but at a 50% upcharge. She suggested an orthopedic supply store and I limped off imagining once again that I could pick up this surgical aid in a couple of minutes.
Yeah, a five minute trip turned into a nightmare where I had to force myself to go into a building that advertised "Prosthetics" in neon lights. Inside there were no prosthetics on display, thank goodness, but also no foam donuts. Half hour later an orthopedic specialist came to look at my ankle and declare that they would have to have something made because they only dealt in made-to-measure orthotics, preferably charged to my insurance. They would be happy to make one, perhaps included in a lace-up shoe, but maybe I could manufacture something myself out of lambswool and adhesive? What the f***? Do I look like Martha Stewart? And I'm not about to go clumping about in some old person's frumpy shoe either. Strike two but I did leave with the address of another surgical supply place so I got back into the car and drove another five miles.
This place was a regular pharmacy with a surgical supply department that had leg braces, knee braces, covers for plaster casts, even a sling to support the pregnant bulge for mums-to-be but no donut, foam or otherwise. The pharmacist even got out the catalog and the only thing that was remotely suitable was this decidedly unsexy sock, which will look great with my stilletos. Strike three. Empty-handed and footed and two and a half hours out of my day later I decided that the foam donut was a figment of the OS's imagination. However, given how common this injury is I'm sure there's an opportunity for someone to develop something. Perhaps with interchangeable diamond edging?

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Health"care" provider

I made my monthly run to the pharmacy to load up on supplies: insulin, syringes, pen needles, other prescription meds and of course test strips. Since I became a "good" diabetic nearly a year ago I have been getting 300 of these suckers each month. I have a current script from my doctor for three more refills so I expected to get my full amount.
The pharmacist motions me over and explains that my excellent healthcare provider in its wisdom has decided that the limit will be 200. Starting now. But, he explains, all I have to do is call my endo and if she deems that my diabetes is severe enough to warrant 300 test strips a month she can write that on the scrip and fax it in.
My wonderful healthcare provider, the people who hound me if my A1c is above 7 with repeated phonecalls: "What can we do to help you achieve your goals?". Who are so proud of their diabetes education program. The one with the suckiest website in the universe, which they just made better by insisting I change my password to a combination of letters and numbers that I cannot remember so I have to phone them and request they reset it, again. Yes, you Oxford, I'm talking about you, here's what you can do to ensure I keep my BG at an acceptable level.
Leave the decision about how many strips I use to me and my doctor. Once we have decided that, do not interfere and never, ever make me take time out of my day to phone my endo unless it's an emergency; and don't tie up the health professionals' time either, not the the pharmacist, the doctor nor the nurse. Oh, and don't demand that diabetics are classified into groups based on how many blood testing strips they use.
What's next? Will they insist I change to a meter that uses cheaper strips unless I get a note from my doctor to say I really need the smarter meter?
And what do they think I'm doing with the extra 100 strips? Making collages?

Monday, November 13, 2006

Rocking again

I've got tickets to see The Raconteurs tonight, oh and yeah, Bob Dylan is playing too. I've had the tickets since they went on sale in August and I am seriously looking forward to this even though I can't wear my kick ass cowboy boots because of the damn lump at my Achilles tendon; hell, I can't even wear sneakers.
The ankle had responded really well to physical therapy and I thought it was pretty much healed but a week or so ago it suddenly became much more painful. I changed orthopaedic surgeons and found one that is gentle and sympathetic and who actually examined my feet! He sent me back to PT but suggested that I don't do any training other than weight lifting at the gym for the next couple of weeks. This has kind of thrown my work out routine into chaos. I tried just using the resistance machines for abs and pecs but I never felt like I warmed up enough before I started and after ten minutes I wasn't sure what to do next. I don't want to just work those muscles for an hour because I think I'm just going to get sore. So I'm having a week off from the gym but I'm feeling both guilty and fidgety because I'm not getting any real exercise apart from strolling around with the big dogs twice a day.
So tonight there will be no dancing in the aisles for me or jumping up and down but it'll still rock, right?

Friday, November 10, 2006

I'm clean

Good news today.
I have been officially certified free of any communicable disease. That's great news for anyone who might have rubbed up against me recently or over whom I may have coughed or sneezed.
Whatever you've got you didn't catch it from me.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Cranky Jane is Back

I'm really cranky today. Those in the cheap seats who are yelling "Give us a break, how are we supposed to tell the difference? You're always cranky, Jane" can just settle down for a moment while I relate the source of my crankiness.
Last week I had my endo visit and all was good, very good even; for me it was great. I had blood drawn and as I don't have to go back to the opthamologist until next March I thought I was done with doctors for a few months. Ha, not so fast, missy.
First, hurrah! I had a call from the immigration lawyer to tell me that our case has been read and we should go get medicals asap. These have to be performed by a designated Civil Surgeon and there was only one in our area. She had an appointment the next day or in four weeks time, so we duly leapt on the less than twenty-four hours notice one.
Basically, people, the only things that the US government cares about are that immigrants do not have any communicable diseases, that they are sane and don't have problems with drugs or alcohol. I think I scored on the sane front when the doctor asked me how much I drank and I answered "Not nearly enough". I don't have a non-prescription drug problem either as my co-pays on all the prescription drugs I take leave me with no extra cash to spend on recreational drugs. As for the communicable diseases bit, if I had any, I picked them up in the six+ years I have been breathing pure American air.
Still, I had to have blood drawn by the Civil Surgeon for an HIV test and a gonorrhea test. Then I had to have a purified protein derivative injected under the skin of my right forearm to see if I have TB. Because I no longer have a record of vaccinations I had to go to my regular doctor who drew blood to see if I was immune to MMR and who gave me an unnecessary tetanus shot because my last one was in Belgium and try getting proof of that in English within 10 days.
For those who are counting I have had blood drawn three times in five days. I swear if you press down on the vein in my right arm blood will shoot right out. I got a free blood pressure reading thrown in each time, too. In fact I got two each time as they couldn't hear my BP the first time they tried. Isn't about time we found a more scientific way to take BP than a cuff or a finger sensor?
I also have a sore arm because the arm I had the tetanus shot in was the same arm I had the flu shot in three days before. And I hate getting shots almost as much as Kerri does. In Belgium my family doctor used to let me give myself the flu shot on the basis that I had more practice than she did.
Three doctors' visits, two shots, three separate lots of blood drawn, six blood pressure readings and a skin test. Is it any wonder I'm cranky? The irony is that every one of the three doctors I saw was willing to say I was in excellent health. Diabetes, thyroid disease, arthritis, PCOS, achilles tendonitis, they are apparently not contra-indicators of healthiness. Isn't that nice to know?

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

First casualty

Rumsfeld is stepping down.
I must remember this is firstly a blog about diabetes and other auto-immune diseases. So here is a piece of news about stem-cell research in mice that may, some years down the road, help people with visual complications from diabetes see again.
But it's also my life, people, and it's a political one.


My faith in the democratic process, restored and without my help. You really can't fool all of the people all of the time.
My favorite moment, even though it was never seriously in doubt, was this piece of schadenfreude.
I got four hours sleep last night so if there are errors in my html or spelling I apologise. I'm going to have a little nap at my desk.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Voting rights

I'm so frustrated at the moment. I'm holding my breath to see who is elected to the Congress, alternately checking MSNBC and CNN, and half a dozen websites because I'm a political junkie. The frustrating part is that once again I was not allowed to take part in the democratic process.
One of the worst things for me about living in a country where I'm not a citizen is that I have no right to vote. I've lived here for more than six years and I'm a legal resident who pays taxes but I'm not yet "of the people". Not being able to cast a ballot for the person that I think will serve society best makes me feel alienated, disenfranchised and impotent.
The only thing that makes me more sad and angry is people taking democracy for granted and not exercising their right to vote when they have the opportunity to do so. This time around, though, it seems that there has been a higher than usual turnout at the polls. I'm so heartened by this, it's great to see democracy in action, but I firmly believe that it would be better if I could take part too.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Make my surprise secret, please

I suppose I should read my emails more carefully then I wouldn't have been surprised when the UPS guy walked up the path and handed me a parcel from dLife. But it's been busy here and I was expecting a parcel from Amazon and not a surprise gift from dLife.
I've already written about my willingness to look a gift horse in the mouth and then bitch at it so it will come as no surprise to you, dear reader, that I was more than miffed by this one.
DLife sent me a meter. Another free meter. I'm guessing now that this is where the last free meter came from. I examined my dLife profile and although I had left unchecked the box that asked if I wanted a free meter, I got one anyway. At least the last free meter arrived in a plain brown wrapper. This parcel came in a custom box in the signature blue and yellow colors with the dLife logo proudly printed all over it and a message on the UPS label: DLIFE-FOR YOUR DIABETES LIFE just above the "Ship to Jane" part of the label.
I know, I should have read the privacy statement a little closer and not put my address on my profile, so it's my fault but I never expected that offers from dLife and partners would arrive in such obvious packaging.
And yes, I realize I'm being a little inconsistent here. After all I write a blog that has my baby photo on it, my real name and the town where I live, so it wouldn't be hard to track me down but I'm not sure I'm comfortable with the UPS guy knowing my medical condition.
Wait a minute, I am sure about this. I'm mighty uncomfortable about it. Something to do with a feeling that my privacy has been invaded. I choose who to tell about my life with diabetes and when to tell them. I don't need to be outed by an information and support website. While I applaud the work that dLife is doing to raise the profile of diabetes I'm not keen on them raising my particular profile. I like to do that for myself.
On the positive side though, I now have three spare meters, one I bought for myself just before I traded up to the Lifescan One Touch UltraSmart and two brand new ones, one still in its original, unopened packaging. Of course they all take different types of test strips so I would have to get a prescription from my doctor before I could use any of them except the one I bought for myself as that uses the One Touch strips I have for my regular meter. Hmm. Anyone need a free meter?

My Post-Hallowe'en Scary Day

November 1st. All Saints. It was more like "Saints Alive". I'm not a candy eater so I didn't expect anything different with my BG tests on November 1st. I certainly didn't expect this:
BG before breakfast: 55
BG before lunch: 56
BG before dinner: 61
BG before bed: 59
I'm really glad we had left-over trick or treat candy because I couldn't hold a decent number all freakin' day. I didn't dare risk the gym because I don't like to exercise if I'm below 120 and the highest post meal number was 81!
I'm with the doctors on this one BG and BP better high than low. Oh well, it all helps the magic A1c I guess.