Our Diabetes/365 Community IS our cuppa!
Ostrich Free Zone
Are you familiar with the commercial on tv currently that asks whether any hotels in the area allow you to bring your pet ostrich? There are some cute marketing campaigns courtesy of that particular business I think. We may either think ostriches are kind of cute too or not quite or we may not ironically think about them at all. Why ironic? While I am by nature an enthusiastic & optimistic person with a great attitude by choice, I am no ostrich. What does this mean when it comes to type 1 diabetes specifically? Can any of us afford to be ostriches?
Although it is beyond unhelpful or polite (in my opinion) to have a third cousin five times removed or someone else who is not an expert in diabetes spout off the doom & gloom of what can happen complication wise being an ostrich is not a great option either. Honestly, I have had my fill of hearing the usual list of nonsense from people who kind of think they know more than they actually do about diabetes. “The Peanut Gallery” can be infuriating especially when “information” is given to us without us soliciting it. The information usually includes dramatic & horrible complications that the peanut gallery for some reason thinks we may want to hear. Do I want to hear that complications could include: blindness, amputation, heart attack, stroke, coma, etc? I doubt there is a person out there that wants to hear any of that. It is scary beyond words. I don’t choose to live my life in fear of the very worst things happening in terms of my health or anything else. That is saying something too because by nature I am a worrier. That is a work in progress letting some of that unproductive worry go. That’s a great thing too because for all 4 of the chronic illnesses that I live with day in & day out the thing that they all have in common is that stress flares them all. Since none of us to my knowledge live in a bubble, stress in some measure seeps automatically into our days & lives. The key that I am looking to use is the one that locks out the heaping stress on top of stress. It can be a complicated world & I find myself trying to simplify life constantly. Not everyone is going to be on that simplifying bandwagon though so it can be a work in progress. Undue drama I find pretty pointless for example. Drama for the sake of drama (or likely more accurate for the sake of getting attention) drives me up the wall. When I find myself around that kind of behaviour I do one of a few things: call the person out, or make a joke about it or make a speedy getaway.
We each experience struggle. There are times in our lives where we did not invite a stressor in but it happened all the same. Life is filled with mountains & valleys. It can be difficult to remain zen if something or many somethings hit us out of left field. How about health? When something happens to compromise our health or becomes a health emergency for someone we love we are likely to be in the centre of a stress ball. The best I can do in those types of situations is to keep what is important in full focus. Also, taking the best possible care of the health of loved ones & our own health at the same time is a focus. Type 1 diabetes is already a pain in the butt to look after & I know that I am always going to do everything within my power to minimize complications from this beast. Taking care of my eye health is a priority. Every year I go to the optometrist & touch wood so far so great…no eye complications thank goodness. And no pun…I also keep an eye on my feet to make sure that they stay healthy. Each one of us have our ongoing diabetes related appointments like blood labs to have A1C, cholesterol, kidney function, and more checked, as well as either endo visits or doctor visits to find out the results, have heart rate & blood pressure taken and more. It can be an inconvenience to have to go to many medical appointments however it is so worth it. If something is becoming compromised I sure want to know about it as soon as possible so that I can do everything that I can to mitigate these health issues. Even with all these diabetes care related appointments the aspects that I truthfully gave little thought to were risk of heart & stroke attacks. Even with 4 chronic illnesses I still view myself as a remarkably healthy person. A good part of me does not see any point in fixating on the hand I was dealt health wise but rather all the things I can still enjoy & do enjoy instead with the health that I do have. You will not see me get to a point in life of becoming a victim…not health wise or in any area of life. I am a bit of a feisty rascal that way & it works for me.
For sure I see myself as the quarterback within my ever growing medical team. When it comes to type 1 diabetes my risk tolerance for potential complications is naturally pretty low so I work my guts out at diabetes management. I have been fortunate enough to find & build a team of trusted medical professionals not just for diabetes care but also for the other 365’s that I live with as well. Not every initial team member has been a “love match” so to speak. The team I have now though I trust & that is a great thing because it is my health that I am entrusting them with. While I don’t want to hear from the peanut gallery I do ask my medical team about risk factors & the best ways to combat them to try to avoid complications from the beast of type 1 diabetes. Recently I found myself learning more about heart health & stroke prevention not from my own doctors but from one of my best friend’s team of doctors. Then I was reminded that diabetes more than doubles the risk for heart attack & stroke. I paid attention for my friend’s sake & also as a “student” living with type 1 diabetes.
Heart attack & stroke signs can be missed if we don’t know what to look for. I was told that heart attacks for example present differently in men & women. It turned out that the things that I had learned about stroke symptoms were not specific enough either. I remember being taught at first aid courses to look for signs of stroke of: slurred speech, confusion, numbness and vision problems. Little did I know that there are additional & specific symptoms for mini strokes. What I do have going for me though is a strong gut feeling when something isn’t right. When my friend was experiencing what turned out to be a mini stroke I got them to the hospital right away. What I learned though is that the best thing to do is not drive the person to the nearest hospital but rather to call 911 & that then the person would be transported to the hospital specializing in stroke care. My friend did not have slurred speech or a crooked tongue, or any trouble speaking at all & they had the wherewithal to test themself by doing complex math correctly. They did have a brutal headache, a brief almost falling asleep foot, some dizziness although not affecting balance and a change in vision. The hospital that they were admitted to really thought that since the signs were not standard stroke symptoms that it was more likely vertigo & they released my Dear Heart after 8 hours in emergency. They did though as a precaution refer my Dear Heart friend to a stroke clinic the next city over just in case. It turned out that it was indeed a stroke. My Dear Heart told me they knew it was a stroke all along…also a gut feeling. Things don’t always present all neat & tidy so go with your gut if you are at all in doubt. My Dear Heart is fortunate because prognosis within the next 6 or so months is encouraging for a full recovery. The stroke clinic gave me a card to keep with very specific stroke warning signs which include:
Weakness: Sudden loss of strength or sudden numbness in the face, arm, leg, even if temporary
Trouble Speaking: Sudden difficulty speaking or understanding or sudden confusion, even if temporary
Vision Problems: Sudden trouble with vision, even if temporary
Headache: Sudden severe and unusual headache
Dizziness: Sudden loss of balance, especially with any of the above signs
My heart’s hope for you is that we can all live our lives with the best possible health & complication free. May we not get stuck listening to peanut gallery style dramatics but rather be ostrich free as well with information about our health from trusted medical professionals. May we pass on trusted information with the sole intention of helping to save another person’s life…someone that we may never even meet. Let’s walk around without our heads in the sand however continuing to live with enthusiasm & passion focusing on what truly matters to us.
Smiles, Saundie :)
Wishing you a gentle week. Next Monday’s story is pretty much in the creative ether although an idea is percolating. Blessings for an ostrich free, peanut gallery free week ahead. And “Go Jays Go!” ;)