Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Trick or Treat

Chronic. As a type I diabetic, one grows weary of this word.

Every illness, injury, or condition I've acquired always seems to be accompanied by that word: chronic. It means that they can treat you, but they don't know how to cure you. They can improve your quality of life, but there will still be suffering and frustration from time to time.

Do you remember when treat had a more positive connotation?

If I even so much as utter - scratch that, spell - the word "treat," my dogs celebrate. There is a run to the kitchen pantry where delicious little bits of doggie snack await them. When my friends pay for dinner, it's their "treat." When we decide to go to the movie on a Friday night, we're "treating" ourselves. Ice cream is a delicious (and sinful) summer "treat."

I remember my first Halloween as a diabetic. I had always liked trick-or-treating. Mom and I decided that we'd throw a huge halloween party instead and invited my whole camp fire girl troop. We bobbed for apples (I won), pinned the tail on the donkey, and had a pumpkin seed spitting contest. I dressed up like a witch. It was the best party ever. It was the first time that something had been a true improvement over life pre-diabetes. I declared that parties were way better than trick-or-treating and the tradition stuck in our house for many years. So there were more than just the two options - trick and treat are not binary oppositions. You could also party!

With diabetes, I don't think you can trick yourself. Or at least not for long. And not successfully. You can't really "trick" yourself that candy with sorbitol tastes just like the real thing. You can't really tell yourself that you're not really diabetic or that it's okay that you didn't test your blood sugar yesterday. And "treating" yourself is not as celebratory as it sounds. You treat, you watch, you treat again, you wait. Sometimes you can work the real "treats" in. Sometimes even as "treatment," which the youcan'teatthat'er's always try to fight us on.

You learn to grow patient about treatment. And sometimes you're not. You impress new doctors with your notebook full of questions and the intimate knowledge you have of your own body. I've seen an MRI of my brain, CT scans of my sinuses, sonograms of my kidneys, laparoscopic photography of my appendix, ovaries, uterus, and gall bladder. I've seen my vocal folds on live camera, as well as video of my bladder in a cytoscopy. I've seen x-rays of my hands, teeth, feet, ankles, and neck. I've even seen rare motion x-rays of my whole skull, opening and closing my mouth. I know what the backs of my retinas look like thanks to topographic imaging as my ophthalmologist watches my high eye pressure and for signs of retinopathy. I know which veins aren't worth tapping on both my right and left arms. And I know what kind of IV to ask for, what size intubation I need in surgery, and what my last A1C was. I know that my cholesterol fluctuates and what my BMI is. I have an endocrinologist, a diabetes educator, a urologist, an ophthalmologist, a dermatologist, a podiatrist, a chiropractor, a dentist, and ENT, an OB/GYN, and a GP. At other times, I've had an orthopedic surgeon, a colorectal surgeon, a psychologist, and an orthodontist. Insurance companies hate me. They see me coming with the word CHRONIC branded to my forehead. They know I'm expensive.

The etymological origin of the word "treat" is the Latin tractare - to drag about, handle, deal with. Chronic stems from the Greek word for time: chronikos or chronos. Treatment is essentially that - dealing with it through time. Occasionally, you'll need a party.

Test and treat, check my feet, bolus for some carbs to eat.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Oh honey---the litany of learning your body is very moving.....