ROCK THE FIRST
How to explain this? The problem is the point where the stone in my shoe — the “rock” of autism/Asperger’s Syndrome — meets the hard place — the unmalleable-ness and immoveable-ness of diabetes.
Having Asperger’s Syndrome is old news for me. I was high functioning autistic long before anybody put a name to it for me. I had compensated and over-compensated for it for decades before I could accurately explain what I was compensating for. I managed a whole life — albeit awkwardly and with varying degrees of success — but well enough to raise a son alone, go to graduate school, work in some interesting, and in some cases, fascinating jobs…. I knew my limitations well enough to keep myself out of danger and prevent most catastrophic events that were up-and-coming at different times.
I don’t go to crowded places full of strangers unless there is absolutely no other choice. I drive carefully in traffic. I take time alone to keep myself on track. I get most of the information I need from books and online — because that is always more successful for me than talking to people. But — when that’s not an option, I can buck up and talk for as long as it takes. I don’t much enjoy talking on the phone – but again– when necessary, I can.
However, when I do have to venture out into a crowd — to shop, to travel, to sight-see, to work, to go to places that only exist in crowds like holiday events or the theater — I do it in a kind of white-knuckle and near-cold-sweat kind of defensive mode. I’m always on my guard. Watching the crowd. Looking out for unexpected changes. Listening for people who may be nearby. Feeling my way way through the press of people.
About the most panic-by-crowd I’ve ever felt was on my honeymoon when my husband and I went to Disneyworld. Just walking through the park would have been almost more than I wanted — but rain showers almost every morning kept the park from filling to the brim. We were there for the 4th of July, and at dusk, when they were to begin the fireworks show, Jim went to get me a soda. Before he could get back and find me, the crowd almost tripled in size as people gathered near the castle to watch the show. It was sardine tight — people up against me from every direction — and I was alone.
I’m getting a little panic-y just describing it.
At times like that, I’m almost a basket case — over-compensation or not.
But even under normal circumstances, like a mall or grocery store, I sometimes break out in a cold sweat or drift dangerously close to an asthma attack. More times than I care to remember, I’ve had to leave a full basket of groceries and get out to my car where I could get myself together and calm down to drive home.
And — as with any real experience of fight-or-flight — I go through all the physical changes. Heightened awareness. Adrenalin. Respiratory changes. My blood pressure and heart rate multiply and then multiply again. I start to feel like an animal caught in a trap. It turns into to survival-mode really fast, and all unnecessary systems shut down so that all my energy is funneled into surviving and
GETTING THE HELL OUT OF HERE.
And one of the systems that shuts down is — digestion.
Which means, if I start to shift into panic mode in a crowded restaurant full of people I don’t know — I can eat, but I can’t digest anything.
And anything I eat just sits in my stomach/digestive track until the danger has passed and some part of me sounds the “all clear.” After that, all the internal systems start slowly switching back on — and it can take hours to hit “normal” again.
So — since part of the problem with diabetes is having too much sugar in your blood stream for the insulin present to account for and deal with — if my system shuts down mid-process and leaves all the sugar and starch (carbohydrates) ingested in a meal free-floating in my stomach and blood stream until the all-clear switch gets thrown then — then I’m in big trouble.
And this is, as my grandpa used to say, a fairly significant “hitch in my get-along.”
It means that if I’m eating out in a café or restaurant and I’m overcome with fight-or-flight — I stop digesting, and run up my blood sugar.
If it were a real fight or a real flight situation — I would burn through all the adrenalin and eventually the sugar by running or fighting over a prolonged period of time. If I were in the middle of a war zone, or running a marathon that wouldn’t be a bad thing. But if I go to my car and sit to drive, or go to my house and turn on some white noise of TV or music to bring down my heightened state, then I’m stuck with all that in my system -just sitting there- until my body can process it.
And so far, my only response is to just not go to any restaurant situation that could turn on me.
Before blood sugar was such an issue, I could ride it out and be fine.
But I suspect that grace period has gone the way of the dodo.
Jim and I were visiting another coastal town yesterday, and rather than take the chance that the Friday crush of weekend tourists would trap me in such a situation, we called our favorite café and ordered our lunch “to go.” We ate in the car — and it was delicious. But it wasn’t exactly eating-out. It was more like really excellent drive-thru.
And I guess I can live with that. But it’s a strange hitch to have to deal with.
ROCK THE SECOND
It’s now been just over 4 weeks since I found out I was diabetic, and saw the nutritionist/counselor at the local hospital. It’s been less than a week that I’ve had blood glucose testing supplies, thanks to the bureaucracy of the insurance/med-supply and health care systems.
Today was my first follow-up with my doctor and I went in with the news of my numbers — in 4 weeks, I’ve gone from a fasting number of 310, to a morning fasting number today of 212. But — as I’ve said — numbers in the 200s are still considered very serious and dangerous for the most common diabetes complications — liver, kidney and heart damage, irreversible vision loss, and a wide range of other complications. So the first thing my doctor said was that she wanted to put me on some medications to bring my numbers down into the normal range as quickly as possible.
I told her that I’d like to take a little longer to see how much further I could lower the numbers with just diet and exercise — and she agreed it was useful to find out — and that I could do further blood tests in October to see. But she also emphasized that it would be highly unlikely that I could lower my numbers enough to avoid medication.
Well. I had thought 100 points in a month (30% + overall reduction) was pretty good.
She also wants me to test fasting and 2 hrs after lunch each day and email my progress over the next 2 weeks.
I can do that.
And I still want to see how much more of an effect I can have.
2 hours after lunch today, my blood sugar was 196. Just before dinner, after 2 x 25 minute walks today, I hit my best number yet — 184.
So I’m stuck between how long it will take to hit acceptable numbers by just eating on target and burning off the sugar on the treadmill — and how much danger my doctor thinks I’m in from the elevated blood glucose.
I should have known TIME was going to enter into this at some point.