Wednesday 9 May 2012

The Complications

During my week in the hospital I began to learn all about the possible complications that can come with diabetes.  I have to admit that the long list scared me!  Seemed like everything from head to toe could be affected.  From that point on I was determined to do everything in my power to take control of my diabetes and hopefully avoid as many of the complications that I could.

I knew that something was not right with eyes and hoped that this could be remedied.  Once they started to bring my sugars down I noticed that my contacts and glasses no longer helped me see, my vision was beginning to get fuzzier each day.  After being discharged from the hospital I made an eye appointment and saw a new optometrist, one that had experience dealing with diabetics.  He confirmed that I did have cataracts in both eyes, the left worse than the right.  He referred me to an opthamologist and I returned to see the optometrist every week.  I saw the opthamologist in November and by this time I could hardly see out of my left eye.  It was like looking through a glass of milk. He took one look and advised that I needed to have eye surgery on my left eye as a matter of urgency as the lens was on the verge of bursting.  The right eye would need to be done shortly after.  He confirmed that this was as a result of going undiagnosed for too long and then having my sugars regulated too fast.  Needless to say I was pretty upset.  I had both eyes operated on and the cataracts removed during the following three weeks.  Each surgery went very well and for the first time since I could remember I could see without glasses.  The opthamologist said that I had the vision of a 4 year old child, perfect.  I had to use drops for a total of nine weeks and I was not allowed to drive or swim.  It was a bit surreal attending for the surgeries as I was easily 40 years younger than the other patients.  I do have to wear reading glasses as I no longer have the ability to focus.  I am so extremely grateful to my amazing eye doctors for their help and to my boyfriend who drove me wherever I needed to go.

Now....the feet.  About three weeks after being diagnosed I noticed some tingling in both of my feet, mostly in the toes.  Over the next while the tingling turned into burning and stabbing pains.  It became absolutely unbearable, to the point where I could hardly walk and was not sleeping at all.  It felt like someone was torching my feet with fire while poking me with a taser.  My doctor started me on neurontin and referred me to a neurologist.  I began reading all the material I could to find others with the same issues and did find stories of people with similar issues.  All had started as a result of their blood sugars coming into normal range too quickly.  By the time I got in to see the neurologist I was in rough shape.  The pain had spread into my legs, arms, hands, ribs and chest.  I was sleeping on average an hour a night and had been put on short term disability from work as I was unable to function at all.  My doctor had tried me on some very strong painkillers, T3's and Percocet which did nothing to touch the pain.  The neurologist was very thorough and confirmed that it was nerve pain I was suffering from and was likely as a result of having my blood sugars knocked down too quickly.  He explained that I had spent a long time with a lot of sugar in my blood which in a way had put my nerves in hibernation.  My nerves were put into shock when my blood sugars dropped drastically in such a short amount of time and were in the process of regenerating themselves.  Apparently regeneration is a very slow process and very painful and he felt this was positive in that I had no permanent damage.  He did reassure me and was confident that the symptoms would gradually resolve themselves, he expected within a year to two years.  He gave me a prescription for amitryptiline and advised me to up the dose of neurontin.  I left his office feeling a bit more positive but extremely frustrated with the whole situation.  Over the next three months things did get gradually better and I am now able to do a lot of the activities I could before.  I still cannot wear closed toe shoes for long as my feet get hot and begin to burn, it is like they cannot regulate their temperature.  I still cannot take a hot bath or stand in the shower for too long for the same reason and each night I have to put my frozen magic bag on them to cool them down.  I do not complain now though as even just a few months ago I was living in hell on earth.  I am so happy to be able to run and workout again and be my usual happy self!  I am sure my friends and family are happy about this as well - I was a miserable person for a long time!  At its worst I was very depressed and can honestly say I did not see the point of living anymore.  I was a mess!!

I cannot help but wonder had the doctors in the hospital not dropped my sugars so quickly would I not have suffered with these complications so far?  I have a lot of work to be done on my teeth as well from going undiagnosed and also the neurontin is not good for the teeth.  I am happy to be backing off the neurontin slowly as I do not like the side effects, weight gain and bad skin the name the worst.  I have gone from 2800mg to 900mg which makes me happy.  Going through these experiences, particularly with my nerves, drives my determination to take care of myself!  What complications, if any, have you experienced?

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