Yesterday, I went to see my doctor for my quarterly check-in. Every time I go, I hold my breath until I hear three numbers: hemoglobin A1c (long term blood sugar average) for Type 1 diabetes, and creatinine (long term kidney function) and eGFR (short term kidney function) for chronic kidney disease. Those are the three that have to be in range for me to breathe easy.
This time it was like waiting for the axe to fall. I had been in tight control for years until a really bad work situation knocked me off my routine. The hours and commute were awful, with no flexibility, and I was told that it was a hostile work environment before I even started, but I didn't have a choice about taking a project. In the way of government contracting, I'd been without a project for too long, and I was in danger of being laid off (and losing my health insurance).
It was gradual, but I eventually dropped both my meal plan and exercise routine. Without this, I end up yo-yoing (blood sugar bounces out of control). This makes me tired, which makes me less active, feeds high blood sugar, you see how it goes. I’ve been struggling for over six months. That’s three rounds of blood tests. Every quarter, the monster that is my conditions grows another centimeter.
The kidney numbers have the biggest impact. A couple of years ago, my doctor actually upgraded me a stage of my kidney disease, from stage three to stage two (stage 1 is considered normal/healthy). I’d been convinced that I would need a transplant eventually, and I felt like I’d been given a reprieve from, well, something. It’s the deterioration of those numbers that scares me the most. When the doctor told me that my creatinine and eGFR were the same as last quarter, I thought I’d escaped serious consequences for another three months.
My subconscious knew better. I had been doing better, picking up more cardio and putting limits on my food intake. But, it wasn’t enough to make up for months of ignoring my regimen. I knew I was still out of control because I still felt out of control. I wasn’t surprised when my doctor told me that my A1c was just past the line that marks where you’re safe from complications. More like resigned. Maybe a little disappointed, or a lot disappointed. It had taken a lot of work to maintain my regimen. I had lost a considerable amount of progress, not just in following the regimen, but also in the execution of the regimen. I’d lost strength, energy, my appetite had grown, I’d gained weight.
I want so badly to get back to where I had been, but my motivation is dragging. It’s like having a second job. No, third, with the blog. And I’m just so tired. But without good diabetes control, I won’t be able to do everything I want to.
I know I can’t pick up where I left off. The pain in my shins tells me I will have to work up to my previous running speed. I expect there will be starts, stops, changes of direction, like broken-field running in football. You take the best path you can find, even if it's not a straight line. So I’m going to start small. Task 1: No more skipping cardio. Even if it’s walking, I have to move before work. Oddly, that starts with Task 2: going to sleep on time. (Sleep on time = awake on time = energy to exercise.) Two tasks is enough for now.
Each chronic or autoimmune condition comes with a different capacity for control. I’m pretty lucky. I can control many aspects of my conditions. Not all, but more than most, I think. And the better we get to know our conditions, the more we can exert whatever control we do have.
So, the question(s) of the week: how well do you know your monster? As well as you would like? Well enough to know what kind of control you can exercise? And when you do falter for a short time or a long time, how do you gain your feet again? Do you have a plan?