Aw, Geez. Here Goes Polly-Janna Again

Health-wise, I’ve had my problems over the past three years. While it was better than the previous two, last year was…not really optimal.


Just when I was regaining my strength from a number of surgeries and rounds of antibiotics to try and rid my body of a bone infection — which only ended when I had a below-the-knee amputation — my temperature went up, my insulin needs soared, my HbA1c went up, and I began a round of trying to find out what the dickens was happening.

Many tests and a procedure or two later, it was discovered I had a kidney infection and a gi-normous kidney stone. One of the procedures, meant to rid my kidney of the stone, resulted in an unexpected trip to the intensive care unit. I still had the stone, which had to be surgically removed about six weeks later.

In the meantime, I had a stent in my kidney, which was painful and which resulted in two or three trips an hour to the bathroom. That, in turn, resulted in me being extremely tired and grouchy and accusing various and sundry doctors of being sadistic. That is, I kind of grumbled to myself. I tend not to like to piss off doctors: They can get back at you. You know, like put you in the hospital and make you eat sugar-free Jell-O.

The other procedure was a colonoscopy, where some polyps were discovered (and removed). Did I tell you that the scope wasn’t long enough to reach the length of my colon? So I was told I needed to go to Indianapolis to have another colonoscopy. Oh, joy. I get to go through another prep, another colonoscopy, and pay another bill, just because neither my town’s largest clinic nor its newest surgery center can be bothered to have the proper equipment. Oh, yeah: Because the procedure will be out of town and because of the consequences of the prep for a colonoscopy, there will be a hotel stay involved. Sans dinner out. At least, I don’t know of any restaurants that specialize in clear liquids. Maybe a bar…

Actually, I should have done the second colonoscopy some time ago, but the kidney situation cropped up and put it on hold. I still need to submit a couple of days worth of samples for that, too, to find out what kind of medication I need to prevent further kidney stones. Just as soon as I find the paperwork. It’s around here. Somewhere.

Did I tell you about the retinopathy? The bad news is, I have a spot of background diabetic retinopathy in each eye. The good news? The spots are no big deal; no treatment needed. But now I get to see the ophthalmologist twice a year instead of once, so he can keep an eye (pun unintended) on that situation.

So what’s going on now? My HbA1c is up to 7.9%. To put that in perspective, I ran between 5.9% and 6.4% all during the bone infection mess. My white blood cell count is up. My creatinine level, which measures kidney function, is up. Again. It’s still within normal ranges, but has been slowly creeping up over the last few tests and is now getting toward the high end of normal. My endocrinologist took me off metformin (brand name Glucophage and others), which is fine with me: I tend to gag when trying to swallow large pills.

While I dislike all of the doctor visits, I’m glad they’re being proactive. Keeping a close watch so potential problems are detected in the early stages could save my vision and my kidneys.

But I have to do my part, which is to schedule the colonoscopy, do the kidney labs, and tolerate whatever needs to be done to figure out why my white count is up (again) and then deal with that. While being obsessive about maintaining the best blood glucose rates I can, which isn’t easy with all of the extra insulin resistance going on right now.

Gee, that sounds like a lot, now that it’s all laid out in one place. Maybe I should be depressed.

Nah! Been there, done that, have the tear-soaked T-shirt. (Disclaimer: I take an antidepressant for stress-induced depression. I used to take two, but don’t need both now.)

So it really isn’t overwhelming. At least, not to me. I’m a “glass half full” kind of person; the kind who is sure everything is going to turn out all right. So I don’t worry much about things. I let my husband do that.

(“But what if you do so-and-so and something bad happens?”

“What if it doesn’t?”)

There are some last-minutes things to do for my trip to NYC with my granddaughter later this month. Because we have an early flight — and because it’s winter, with iffy weather — I want to make hotel reservations near the airport for the night before our trip. None has an accessible shuttle, but the manager at one hotel said he would get one for me. That place must like return guests. Please remind me that I need to remember to make our seat reservations on the airplanes. I have the important things: Tickets to Spider-Man!

I’m already checking my hot-weather clothes to see what I need to fill in for the April-May cruise through the Panama Canal (and points before and after). And I’m reading a really interesting book on the history of the canal given to me by a friend (thanks, Karen!).

Thinking a bit here, I just got back from a trip where friends cobbled together a ramp for me just so I could stay at their house. That’s pretty amazing. Love manifests itself in many ways.

There’s a lunch planned with Sally. Sue wants to meet for lunch, too. And Dorothy wants to have coffee. There’s a garden to plan. Who knows what else will come along? More good things? Maybe interspersed with some bad? I’ll just have to see what shakes out. Whatever, it’s usually an interesting ride.

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  • Ferne

    Interesting to read about your two colonoscopies. I also had two but on the first one the surgeon snipped an artery in my colon. I had two polyps. I started pulsating bleeding immediately but was back home before I discovered I was bleeding. That required an ambulance ride of 60 miles to the hosp. They let me bleed for 24 hours because my hgb wasn’t dropping. Of course it wasn’t – it takes awhile. So another prep while bleeding and back to surgery for metal clips. I recieved an apology from the first doctor and I assured her it was a fluke and I wouldn’t sue. Then Medicare refused to pay for the second colonoscopy because they said it wasn’t medically necessary. I called them and asked if I was just supposed to bleed to death. I had to spend 4 days in the hosp. and have 2 units of packed blood cells. My dear husband spent lots of time with me and we did lots of laughing. I wasn’t going to let all this get me down because it’s too easy to get depressed. I, too, am easy to see the glass as half full although I have not had to have all the things done that you have. I have learned this from a dear son-in-law who has a malignant inoperable brain tumor with a short life expectency and is the most optomistic person I know. So that puts life in perspective for me. Good luck to you.

  • Gretchen

    Jan, I’m sending healing rays in your direction. Hope they hit the target!

  • Joe

    Ah Jan… When it rains it pours. This is what 2001 looked like for me.

    In January, I blew out my right knee. While recovering from that, I had a very painful attack of spinal stenosis that kept me from doing most exercise.

    In April, I was the victim of a hit-and-run accident that fractured my wrist and totaled my car.

    In July I turned 50.

    In September my bicuspid aortic valve failed and had to be replaced. Open heart surgery. Six weeks unable to work.

    In November I had a very unexpected heart attack. By unexpected, I mean I had just had several heart specialists tell me “There is no reason to expect that you’re in any immediate danger of a heart attack.”

    In December I too had a colonoscopy along with an endoscopy. The colonoscopy was clear but the endoscopy found a carcinoid tumor. It needs to come out, and they need to make sure there are no others hiding out.

    Also in December my employer told me my level of productivity wasn’t up to their expectations. This was the only event that made me depressed.

    I truly empathize with your situation. It’s one thing to deal with a life-changing illness. It’s something else when you get hit with one after another. You start to wonder what else could happen.

    But we’re still laughing, right? Still smiling. Life gets hard sometimes. Pain is inevitable. Misery is optional. Keep up the good work.

  • Linda M.

    Jan(alias Polly Janna) you are the most amazing person. I just delight in seeing you walk/roll through everything life can throw at you and just keep looking forward to the good and fun things that are ahead. I always feel better after reading your blog because it makes me know that when I think I’m having a bad year I’m really just hitting a tiny little rough place in the road. You’re like the “Energizer bunny”—just keeeps going and going. Good for you! Sending good thought and prayers to you that you get everything under control and get off on the NYC trip in good spirits and health.