Thursday, July 26, 2012

Given up title as worst diabetic patient

I had an office visit with my primary care doctor at Kaiser.  I was trying to figure out how long I have been under the care of this doctor.  It's been at least 15 years, maybe longer.  She has really seen me through the worst health conditions that obesity can bring you to, as well as other non-related visits.  She is the one that diagnosed my diabetes, led the discovery of the cancer I had last year, saw me battle weight up and down and just so many other things.  She is also the one I talked to about potentially doing the gastric bypass (which I decided against), but the one that helped me to find the courage it would take to go through Optifast.  She has had many conversations over the years, in a gentle and kind way, to help me see how important weight loss is.  Of course I knew that, but it's so much easier said than done, especially when there are reasons that putting on the weight and going to food is easier than dealing with things.  So, she has not seen me in person since before I started the program five months ago.  I was seeing her for some back pain I had been feeling, tingling in my feet and to see if maybe I can start running.

I was sitting on the bed, dressed in my oh-so-lovely designer hospital gown (aka "napkin").  The bed was on the side of the room, sort of behind the door.  So as she's walking in, she's saying out loud, "Well, let me see what you loo...."  She stopped in mid-sentence when she actually saw me and replaced it with "Oh my God!!"  She was absolutely astonished with the weight loss.  She wanted to get a good look at me and just smiled.  She commented that I actually have a neck and chin, that she could actually see my pretty face (her words, not mine).  Fascinated with my tale of how things have been going in the program, she just beamed at me.  She was showing me my charts over the years of how out of control my diabetes was, the weight-associated problems I was having and started removing all the medications that I used to have to take from my current list to the history section.  As she was typing things into the computer, I looked over her shoulder and some of the entries had me listed as "super morbidly obese".  That stung and I could feel a tear hit my eye.  I know the terminology is clinical based on my BMI level at the time and there's no denying the place I came from.  It was still hard to see though. 

So we got to the issues at hand.  One is that I have been having some major back problems.  I have had it for a while, but I thought it was all weight related and would get better as I dropped some weight but it seems to only get worse as I am more physically active.  I especially am having some severe pain that is absolutely shooting, so I'm going to see someone in physical medicine to review MRI findings in my spine and then do work with a physical therapist.  In the meantime, she did give me a shot in my back to help until all of that can get started.  Next on the list was tingling in my feet I have been feeling.  I was having some diabetic neuropathy in my feet from before when the diabetes blood sugar levels were out of control, but I told her that am still having somewhat painful tingling every day.  She said that, in time, that should lessen and even might stop, although there are no guarantees.  A diabetic does not want neuropathy in their feet because it is nerve damage, causing you to lose feeling so you don't know when you have a cut in your feet or something more severe.  For some diabetics, if it becomes very severe, they could lose their limbs.  She assured me, though, that I am not getting worse, which made me feel so much better.  I didn't want to be in a position where I was so far gone that I could not reverse damage that had already been done.  When she was testing the bottom of my feet, it was so easy for me to cross my legs to give her access, when before it was impossible for me to do so.

Finally, we talked about my desire to start running.  She looked at me and smiled.  I knew she was thinking something along the lines of "well now I have seen everything!"  Here was a person sitting before her that sometimes would never exercise, that was clinically super morbidly obese and now this same patient was asking her about running.  I do have mild-to-moderate osteoarthritis in my left knee that she diagnosed me with three years ago.  I had a very bad car accident in which my knee slammed into the dashboard, so we don't know if it was from that or the extra weight on my frame, but it is something I do have.  She told me that while I am absolutely free to start running, she would not advise it.  She said that eventually I will probably need a knee replacement, that my current knee is about 20 years older than the rest of my body.  So, we don't want to do more damage so that I can keep my knee as long as possible.  I was very disappointed with the news, I have to admit that, but I understood where she was coming from.  So, no running for me.  Boo!

As we were wrapping up the appointment, she asked me if I was having any issues with excess skin.  I told her that I was for sure having that and so she wanted to see.  I stood up, lifted up the gown and showed her my thighs.  Gravity sucks when it comes to that area because it looks fine when I'm sitting down but when I'm standing, there's just a crazy amount of excess skin there.  She grabbed the skin and told me I actually have little thighs now in comparison to where I was.  Then we marveled at how my upper arms were "wavy".  She told me that skin does bounce back for some patients my age and, if it doesn't, just to remember that I am in a much healthier place now.  I totally agree with her on that, no matter how much excess skin I have.  I would rather have it empty on my body than full of fat!  She told me I could get dressed while she put some notes into the computer.  When she saw me with my smaller clothes on, she just beamed at me.  She looked me in the eyes and said, "Well, congratulations Kathy ... you are no longer my worst diabetic patient!!  I am so proud of you."  Another sting to my eyes.  I didn't know I had that dubious title, but I am so grateful that it is something that is in the past now.  That doctor's visit was so empowering to me.  My life is changing, it already has changed.  And there's so much more good stuff to come.


Melissa said...

I've got tears in my eyes too...tears of JOY for you and the wonderful things you have accomplished. You really have saved your life, the most precious thing we have. You are my shining star, Kathy. What a special, special woman you are. A true angel who is soaring. Biggest of hugs today!

Kathy said...

What a sweet message. Thank you so much Melissa ;-)

Optifast Loser said...

I also got tears in my eyes when I read this. You should be so proud of what you have accomplished. I know how hard you are working. You are an inspiration!

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