Six years ago, almost exactly, I went to my doctor because I wasn’t feeling well, and after blood tests and all I came out with a diagnosis of diabetes. I was upset, understandably, but started on my oral meds and made a promise to take care of myself.
Last Wednesday, I ended up in the hospital with a gross infection (you don’t need details) that was made much worse because my blood sugar was way high and I basically haven’t been taking care of myself like I’d promised. Turns out, with high blood sugar, your body can’t heal itself as well as normal.
After being admitted to the hospital by way of the ER on Wednesday evening, I was finally discharged Sunday afternoon. I paid for the ER visit, I’ll have what I think will be 4 days of in-patient copays, plus all my exciting new drugs to pay for (more on that later). Then there are the doctor follow-ups. Oh, and I missed a week of work last week, and I’ll miss this week as well, and I’m out of PTO. All of this is to say, besides having the physical health manifestations of my poor disease management, I also am going to be in a bit of a tough financial situation, too.
Now, I’m fortunate, I know that. I’m living with my parents at this time, so no rent to pay, plus they can provide a lot of support. I have health insurance, and it’s pretty good health insurance, with all premiums covered by my employer. (The most frustrating part is that I have to elect my new benefits, including my FSA contributions, by the 15th, which isn’t necessarily enough time to know how much I’m going to want to put on the plan, but I’ll know to bump it up significantly from previous years.) The medical care I received has been phenomenal, both from the actual medical expertise to incredible emotional support through the kindness and tough love I got from the doctors and — especially — the nurses who cared for me. Nurses are the most important people in the world, if you didn’t know.
Overall, I’m fortunate that everything is “good”. I’m not in immediate danger anymore. I’m healing well and I’m hopeful to be back to work next Monday — I figure the 3-day week before the Thanksgiving holiday will be a good time to re-acclimate to going to work for 8 hours a day (and driving over an hour total in commutes), as well as practicing some better food habits. Also: giving myself insulin at work.
Because, yeah, I’ve left the hospital on insulin, not an oral drug. That was actually sort of my choice, in that I think if I’d insisted on not doing the insulin, they would’ve put me on the orals. But even as a big needle baby, I got comfortable with the insulin pens they were using for me at the hospital, and one of my nurses even made me start doing it to myself. (I wonder if she suspected that I might need to stay on it longer than I was ready to admit.)
Throughout my stay, I was constantly verifying my name and date of birth, which meant constantly remembering that my birthday is coming up this week (Thursday, in fact!). I’ll be 36. I’m not having any kind of age-related crisis, but this all going down right before my birthday does make for a pretty handy marker for a big set of changes in my life. I don’t know what goals I want to have before I turn 37 — I’m not sure what’s realistic at this point — but I do want to come up on my next birthday feeling like I made significant improvements over this one.
So, it’s my 36-year wake up call. I’m not hitting the snooze button.