June 19, 2012

Our Informal Peer-to-Peer Group

Lest you think we talk about nothing but diabetes, you would be wrong. Several are avid NASCAR fans and some of us enjoy photography. A couple of the group are true geeks when it comes to computers and they enjoy solving problems for the rest of us. One of those into photography is an avid bird watcher as is another member that has several binoculars plus one with a built in camera. We do enjoy talking about various topics outside of diabetes.

Diabetes is often our topic of discussion and we have had plenty to research to discuss lately with all of us now on insulin with the exception of Sue who is not on any medications. We all encourage her to do all she can to stay off medications. She is still doing quite well in her efforts and likes the positive feedback she receives from us. She spends some extra money to test more frequently at present while she is learning how different foods affect her blood glucose. Her doctor is supporting her and has been able to convince her medical insurance company to allow her extra test strips for a few months and then they will bring her back down in reimbursed test strips.

Among the ten of us, we see three different diabetes specialists and it has been very interesting to compare notes. Eight of the ten are within ten pounds of ideal weight for their body build (some above and a few below) and only two of us (Max and myself) are overweight. We are working to bring our weight down. Both of us have been approached by our doctors to consider bariatric surgery, but we agree this will not happen and our doctors have stopped pushing the topic. The hospital is pushing the topic and we have told them to stop because for us it was not going to happen.

We have even been approached by others that do not have diabetes wondering how we were resisting. We now give people a card with the applicable URLs on it when they ask about what we plan to do. We tell them it is a personal decision on our part, but they can do as they please; however, we think they should read what the surgeons will not tell them. One surgeon has asked that I stop what I am doing and not answer people’s questions. I politely said, if the person asks, he cannot prevent me from talking about it. I am only a patient and not an employee of the hospital, therefore he cannot do anything to me if another patient asks me questions. I did say that we were not seeking these people out, but they were coming to us with questions.

There are now three of us with neuropathy. One (Jason) is from diabetes and Max and myself from other causes. Nine of the ten of us are on insulin and Ben and Allen are working diligently to keep their weight from creeping up and have been successful to date, by lowering their carbohydrate intake. Ben and Allen are working with Barry to exercise daily and Max and I are taking part, as we are able. Max is struggling now as he had two warts removed from his left foot and his doctor will not allow him to walk except as needed for a few weeks and then with the assistance of a crutch. His doctor is very pleased with the progress of healing.

Allen is now in the upper normal range for both Vitamin B12 and Vitamin D and feeling much better. Ben has not had any more depression problems and like he said, by working diligently he is holding steady with his vision and actually feels it is getting better. He has his next appointment late this month to have his eyes examined again and we are all wishing him well.

I like photography, but lately I have been busy with other activities and have not had time to participate with the rest. I have also been busy driving my wife to her appointments with the doctors and surgery for her injured shoulder, rotator cuff and torn tendons. Therefore, my projects have been taking a back seat as well. I would not do otherwise, but it is starting to wear on both of us. She needs assistance with her clothes, and her hair. I admit I do not do well in handling her hair and putting it up in a ponytail. For some this is easy, but for some reason I am not as coordinated as I need to be, and my fingers are too large.

Brenda will be busy this summer with her grandchildren. Her daughter and husband will be taking a second honeymoon. Like she said, they have earned it and she will be happy to have the two children for that time. Several of the group have volunteered to assist on the weekends, but she assured us she would ask only if needed. She did say that we would be invited for a Saturday afternoon.

Two of the group will be in Alaska for much of the summer. One has a relative living in Juneau, and they are planning to travel to some areas. We have asked for pictures. They said we may have to wait until they return.

Most of the rest will be here, except for day trips to see some of the nearby sites and be a tourist for part of a day. To everyone, in the northern hemisphere at least, have a great summer!

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