The night before last, with a glucose level of 475, I started taking insulin. This morning I reacted to it.
After a good night’s sleep, I woke up too tired to get out of bed, short of breath, and with labile emotions. I screamed at the nurse and she ran from the room in tears.
According to an immunologist, the first indicator of immune dysfunction is fatigue. That’s why all your drug information says the side effects may include tiredness, fatigue, malaise, lethargy—just different ways of saying your immune system is pitching a fit and wants this drug crap out of your body.
My shortness of breath stems from pulmonary fibrosis, which is an autoimmune disease. Every time my immune system reacts to something, I get short of breath.
Have I mentioned PNIE? Psychoneuroimmunoendocrinology? Your emotions are connected to your nervous system which is connected to your immune system which is connected to your hormones. Punch the immune system and get crazy. And let me tell you, brothers and sisters, being crazy hurts more than everything else.
So the insulin is out. I can’t tolerate it. I tried. A really good nurse came in and held my hand while I sobbed. Later the doctor came and asked what made me think the insulin was the problem.
Ten years’ experience, I said. For the past ten years, every time I try to take drugs, this is what happens.
The doctor says she’s never known insulin to cause this kind of reaction.
I say, “And you’ve never known anyone who took antidepressants for twenty-six years and then stopped. And you’ve never known anyone who’s been poisoned by lithium. You have no idea what the damage may be.”
She said, “Well, maybe it was something else, like something you ate, or some feelings . . .”
I ate what came out of the hospital kitchen. While I am perfectly able to believe that the Dietary Department does strange things (today I asked for two bottles of cold water for lunch and got one cup of hot tea and one carton of milk) if it was something I ate then everybody else in the hospital would be nuts, too. And as for “some feelings”—you don’t wanna go there, doc. Emotionally, I’d be willing to challenge anybody on this floor—staff or patient—and expect to come up the healthiest one. Doctors use psychiatry as the dumping ground for everything they don’t understand. When they come to the outside edge of their knowledge where the “Here Be Dragons” sign is posted, then they say it’s your feelings without having a single fact to substantiate the idea.
I asked her to call in an immunologist. She said they don’t have any.
I told her I couldn’t take insulin ever again. She told me to call her when I’m ready to take it.
So now there’s this rock over here beside my left foot, and this hard place next to my right arm. My choices include (a) dying of diabetes as my glucose level goes higher and higher; (b) dying of dehydration if I stop drinking to compensate for the kidney disease; (c) dying from an untreatable infection caused by the permanent catheter.
There is a slim possibility that with adequate sleep enabled by the catheter, things might turn around and I might do some healing. I would put that possibility at one chance in ten.
It started with twenty-six years of psychiatric drugs and being poisoned with lithium, and it ends here at St. Joseph’s Hospital in the bed by the window. I’m sixty-four years old and looking at dying.
I am too sick to go home alone and Onondaga County Long Term Care will not increase my aide hours. There are no beds available in rehab. Only the worst nursing home in the county will take me. The doctors will not sign off on Hospice care because they don’t see me dying in six months. Just exactly what they do see is unknown to me.
My fiancé died. My sisters live in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. I always drove the three hundred miles to see them. When I got too sick to travel, they never came to see me.
What do you see? Do you see the decision points where I made the wrong choice? Are you looking at your own life and seeing any parallels that put you at risk?
The good life consists of a good night’s sleep, a healthy diet, mature spirituality, challenging exercise, being grounded in nature, expressing yourself creatively, and working to benefit others.
That’s the program. Are you working it? Or would you like to come sit by my bedside?