Diabetes Self-Management Blog

I’m a klutz. No, no, don’t argue—I really am a klutz.

Somehow I managed to injure my Achilles tendon. I don’t know how. I just know that, all of a sudden, my heel hurt. Then, as I was painfully (remember the Achilles tendon?) going up the back steps to my house one night, I fell. How? I don’t know. One second I was on my feet; the next I was splayed out all over the steps. Luckily, I fell up the steps and not down the steps.

And I injured another tendon. The posterior gobbledegook tendon or something like that. Since I fell on concrete steps, there were the requisite abrasions and some really awesome-looking bruises. My heel and ankle hurt.

A few days after the fall, the bottom part of my calf turned red and swollen. So then my heel, ankle, and leg hurt.

I gave a deep sigh, diagnosed myself with deep vein thrombosis, and went off to my family practice doc for a second opinion.

“Wow!” he exclaimed when he walked into the examining room. “How’d you do that?!” and whipped out a measuring tape to measure the diameter of my legs (the affected one was larger).

I explained. I told him what my self-diagnosis was. He agreed it could be that…or it could be cellulitis. He began pulling out papers and telling the nurse to arrange for me to go to the hospital for a Doppler exam to get checked out for a clot.

“Stick around for the diagnosis,” he said. “If it’s DVT, you’re going into the hospital overnight.”

“Why?” I asked.

“To learn.”

“Learn what?”

At that point, he paused and then began to laugh. “How to give yourself shots,” he choked out.

It reminded me of the time a couple of years ago when my husband had to have injections and I had to watch a video on how to give them before the doctor would release him. Hello! (My husband told me, by the way, that I gave better shots than the nurses. “Most of them don’t practice on themselves,” I muttered.)

It turns out I have cellulitis, by the way, so I didn’t have to lounge around in the hospital learning to do something I’ve done for years. Good. Hospitals are not an ideal place for people with diabetes. They tend to try and force all of us square pegs into the same round hole. All of a sudden, we don’t know how to take care of ourselves and we’re expected to eat mystery casserole and canned fruit. Luckily, I’ve bullied my doctor into scratching the “diabetic diet” line off my instructions. For one thing, he trusts that I know how to take care of myself. For another, I’m bigger than he is.

Why is it that we take care of ourselves every day, but when we’re in the hospital, “they” think we don’t know anything? Is it because so many people with diabetes haven’t been educated, whether by choice, because they haven’t been referred, or because there aren’t enough educators to go around?

I’ve got news for you: diabetes requires such individualized treatment that one size does not fit all. Your best chance is to educate yourself as much as possible so that you can advocate for yourself.

At the least, if you do get thrown into the hospital to “learn” how to do something you’ve been doing for years, you can at least feel superior. Just don’t let on—the hospital staff can retaliate by making you eat mystery casserole.

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