Thursday, April 19, 2012
Current carb count: 53; Goal for the day: 170
This whole counting carbohydrate things that I'm doing for the (potential/maybe/i don't even know anymore) diabetes is stressful and overwhelming: Even though I make the computer do most of the actual math work (thank you, SparkPeople!), trying to figure out the balance of carbs v protein v fats before you can put a morsel of food in your mouth is mentally exhausting & a lot more challenging than I would have guessed. I never realized how privileged I was just to see food or want food, and then eat that food - I mean I've got my own food allergies and those have caused me issues here and there, but this whole not being able to eat an entire class of food thing (at least not like I used to anyways) is humbling: It's a whole 'nother level, that's for sure.
"Oh, you mean it isn't this easy for everybody? And I'm making assumptions about people subconsciously based on what they eat/don't eat? And more judging based on things I have no clue about? Awesome: let's try to fix that, shall we?" It's funny, because whenever I think I've unpacked my whole 'privilege knapsack', there's always something left at the bottom that needs to be dealt with.
Anyways, in a twist that only seems likely in this household, my dad was also just diagnosed with diabetes - as in he went to the doctor last week for a random physical and his blood glucose was up over three hundred (this is not a good number, for those of you who don't have to worry about this stuff - you generally, for a fasting blood glucose, want the # to be under 100). She (another doctor I really can't stand even though I've never met her) immediately put him on meds, and told him he had diabetes. That's it: nothing about his diet -oh no wait: she did say "Don't eat bananas anymore", which makes no freaking sense to me at all, but whatever - nothing about a glucose monitor or a diabetes educator: just take this pill, eat better, and come back and see me in a week. It - quite naturally, - freaked him the hell out.
But here's the thing about my dad - when it comes to his health, he's easily freaked out. So her giving him the news that way was not in anybody's best interest. He's definitely not a hypochondriac, but he has certain hypochondriacal tendencies: Everything he has is going to kill him. Maybe immediately. It's not the regular flu, it's the swine flu, and even if everybody else in the house has it and is vomiting and shivering with fever, HIS fever is the worst ever, and he threw up more than you. He's one of those people who thinks they are good at being sick - I've actually heard him say "I'm a great patient" and I had to roll my chair into the other room to laugh - but is really kind of pathetic and weird instead. So, he found out about the diabetes, freaked out, and then sat morosely in his chair for hours, until my sister asked him what was up, and then we spent the next couple of days trying to explain that it wasn't a death sentence.
Since I'm kind of on this path myself, I tried to explain to him that he needed to see a nutritionist and a diabetes educator, that his doctor should have written him a prescription for a glucose monitor, and that he still had a lot of work to do, but starting the meds didn't mean he'd never get off of them.
And also, just as an aside here: so what if he never does? Is he worried about getting off of his blood pressure meds or the stuff he occasionally takes for his RA? No. But there's something about diabetes (type 2 anyways) that I'm just learning about - there's a stigma I hadn't been all that tuned into: the whole "you could have prevented this, and so now I'm allowed to look down on you" vibe that comes along with the meds and the testing and the diagnosis. The feeling that you brought this on yourself, by being a big fat slob (which he is not). And it's not just other people: There's really such an internal bias about it - at least for me: All the rest of my diseases came from who knows where, and Maude only knows how. But the diabetes? That feels like I failed at maintaining my body, that it was my fault that this could be happening - if I wasn't so fat (never mind the steroids and the not being able to exercise and the no spoons for finding good food) this wouldn't be happening. Which A) is not true because skinny people get diabetes too, and B)I'm a pretty average eater, nutritionally - I probably eat 'better' than average, because I love veggies and fruits, and C) is ridiculous because I can not control my pancreas any more than you can control yours. But still, it's there - there's a sense of blame and responsibility about diabetes that I just don't have about my other illnesses - with them I know I didn't do anything that 'caused' them, so I'm not ashamed of having them (although I do feel guilt about not taking care of my body when it needed me to, and making things worse, but that's a whole 'nother story).
I'm not on any diabetes meds, yet, at any rate, so I couldn't tell him that they weren't that bad, but he's the type of guy who reads all the side effects on that sheet they give you, and assumes he's going to be the one in 45 million who get purple spots or heart palpitations or death. He has no history of drug intolerances, which I pointed out, but that didn't convince him either. We looked it up, and saw that it's a super common drug for diabetes, and that side effects were pretty rare, mathematically, which sort of helped, I guess. As a last resort, I tried to tell him that I had - on more than one occasion - been injected with radioactive formulas, other people's white filtered white blood cells, and a known poison, so probably taking a really common drug wouldn't be his downfall. I don't know if he believed me or not, but he took it anyways. And his blood sugar is much more under control now, which is great.
And we're talking again, after the big blowout, which is also kind of nice, and kind of awkward, because ... well, when someone tells you you are a piece of trash (more than once and in lots of different ways), it's hard to feel kindly towards them again. Especially if you feel they still don't get how hurtful they were, or that they're still not being all-the-way honest. So it's tricky and awkward and hard. Except when it's not: because he's my dad, and because he needs my help, and because I love him anyways. So: awkward, but hopefully, positive.
He's also a little obsessive about things - so if he starts to research something, be prepared to be overwhelmed with 17 daily e-mails about what foods are good for your blood sugar, and which are killers. Since I'm also an information-obsessive, I can understand the need to hoard as much knowledge as possible about what's going on with your body, but I tend to keep it to myself: I have folders and books and links and articles and quotes and studies and whatever about what's going on with me, but I don't bombard people with them. I honestly, barely tell people anything, but if I did, if I sent every little piece of information that I found that is slightly related to my health directly to them at all hours of the day, they would (correctly, IMO) block my e-mail and stop communicating with me all together. The problem is that he is not the best researcher, so most of his e-mails consist of things like "DANGER NEVER EAT THIS FOOD IF YOU HAVE DIABETES!!!" or "Super! Food! Reverses! Diabetes! Immediately!" which, is both annoying (because: obviously false) and frustrating (because later, he wants to talk about all the e-mails, and did you get them, and what did you think???? I think: obviously false!)
So, aside from helping him with the math (and telling him he should switch us over to smart phones so we can have apps that do the math), I had to tell him to cut me out of the loop on some of this stuff: I am so overwhelmed already with trying to figure out how to help myself navigate this whole diabetes thing, and help him navigate it, that the fear mongering or miracle cure e-mails are a distraction that I just don't need.
He got that hurt/pouty look when I told him that, but he's going to have to suck that up, because I've got about all the mental clutter I can handle already, thank you very much.
He also made my mother and Sister J, who have THE WORST DIETS IN THE ENTIRE WORLD, I am seriously not kidding (Mom has been existing on a diet of mostly chocolate covered pretzels and bacon for a few months, where as SisterJ says things like "How was I supposed to know kids aren't allowed to have more than three doughnuts for breakfast?") test their blood glucose number, just to see. He may not have had a pouty face when their numbers were exceptional (both under 100!), but I was pretty damn shocked - it did make me growl a little that someone who eats an entire box of Entemanns Raspberry Danish for breakfast can have such low numbers when I ate salad for breakfast, lunch and dinner yesterday and my numbers are out of control. Jealous grumbles were definitely heard from my corner, even though I was glad I wouldn't have to start helping them do carb-math as well.
So now I've written write straight through lunch time, and I have to go crunch some numbers into making sense and put some food in my face. (Unfortunately for all of us, it won't be Raspberry Danish)