Playing Doctor


Yesterday, I bought a blood glucose monitor.

I’m not diabetic – not yet, anyway.  But I come from a family of diabetics and I was diagnosed with prediabetes back in September.  The doctor I saw at a local charity clinic advised me to eat more vegetables and less grain and to get some exercise, and she scheduled another appointment in December.

I researched prediabetes eating plans and I’ve really paid more attention to what I eat.  I’m not getting exercise every day like Doc suggested, but I did buy an exercise bike from a local thrift store.  I’ve used it several times.  It’s right in the living room, convenient to use while I’m watching TV.  Also I’ve lost a few pounds.  So I was actually looking forward to going back to the doctor.  (How many times do you hear someone say that?)  I did what she recommended, and I was eager to see if it made any difference in my blood sugar levels.  Then the doctor changed my appointment from December to March.

Also back in September, blood work showed that my platelets had dropped again.  They’ve held steady in the 40-50K range for the past 6-8 years, which is low but tolerable, but this blood work showed they were down to 23K.  I haven’t had any unusual bruising or bleeding, so I would never have guessed they had dropped.  When your count drops to 30K, they start talking transfusion.  Mine were below that level.  I needed steroids at the least, and possibly a transfusion.  The doctor decided to refer me to a hematologist because this was a more immediate issue than prediabetes.  It took two months to get a referral.  My appointment?  In February.  Five months after my diagnosis.

I thought it would be nice to have a real doctor again instead of a walk-in doctor.  I thought it would be nice to go to a clinic here in town rather than the overcrowded county hospital a city over.  Yeah.  Looks like I was wrong.

My doc acted like it was absolutely vital that I get a mammogram and all that female stuff, and she talked like it was important to lower my blood sugar.  My platelets needed a specialist to take care of them.  And then?

Delayed follow up.  Or no follow up at all.  I don’t know yet if I’ll ever even see this doc again.  I don’t want to have to go back to the county hospital.  It’s so crowded.  It takes forever to get an appointment (unless you come in through the ER).  The charity clinic is nice, but it really isn’t working effectively.

I’d rather not have diabetes, and maybe if I’m careful, it will never develop beyond the prediabetic stage.  But if doctors aren’t available to help, I guess I’ll just have to do whatever I can on my own.  So that’s why I bought a blood glucose monitor yesterday.  I will try to keep my glucose levels in the normal range on my own and hope I never need a doctor to help me.

I feel stranded here, left on my own to tend to myself.  Luckily (more or less) I’m familiar with diabetes and its treatments.  I’m relatively intelligent, at least when I’m not caught in a lupus fog.  I can figure out how to cut carbs and add veggies.  I can get more exercise.  And now I can check my blood sugar and see if it’s going down or up or staying where it is.  I don’t know what I’ll do if it goes up.  Where would I go to get drugs or insulin if I need them?  And what about my platelets?  I can keep track of my blood sugar levels, but I don’t have a way to count platelets.  They’ll just have to fend for themselves, I guess.

But if I have to be my own doc, I’ll say this: if you have any extra platelets hanging around, I could use about half a dozen units.  Blood type doesn’t matter; platelets don’t have a blood type so I can accept any flavor.  Once I get those, I’ll just have to figure out how to manage a DIY transfusion.

Hey, I can do it if anyone can.  I once unclogged a stopped up sewer in a sleet storm by using a frozen garden hose.  Transfusions can’t be too different from that, can they?



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