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Thyroidectomy Update: Week 12

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December 14, 2009

Well, I am three months out from my thyroidectomy (Sept 17, 2009)…and it has been a slow process.  Healing from the surgery has not been slow, but the medication titration has been quite slow.  I started after surgery at 112mg of Synthroid, then went up to 125mg, 137mg and now I am at 150mg.  At my last doctor’s visit, my TSH was still high- over 4.0, so the doctor titrated me up to 150mg.  This may be the last time I am titrated or I may require one more titration.  It’s good to see that I am getting close to “normal.”  I can also see subtle health improvements.  For example, I am now experiencing “spurts” of mental clarity and focus.  I have a little more energy and my loved ones have told me that they can “hear the spark in my voice again.”  My skin isn’t as dry now either.  On the other hand, I am still having trouble going to sleep at night, I often wake up in the middle of the night and can’t go back to sleep, and I am having trouble getting up in the morning.  In fact, it seems that the best time for me to sleep is during the day!!  I think the most frustrating part of the process is that you have wait six weeks from the time your medication is titrated to see the improvements. 

In light of the fact that I was laid off from my job two weeks ago, I really need to have mental clarity and energy as soon as possible to pursue my next career move! J     

 

Still Thankful!

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December 6, 2009

Ladies, I can’t tell you how challenging the last week has been for me (and my family).  The week started off with me being laid off from my job in pharmaceutical sales (selling diabetes medication) on Monday morning.  I had been employed by the company for the last 6 years.  Although we were told lay-offs were coming, I can speak from experience in saying that you never really think it’s going to be you until it actually happens.  After the initial blow to my self-esteem and the immediate fear of making ends meet without a job, I gradually accepted the reality.  The reality is that I am among the large population of unemployed Americans (The latest unemployment rate is at 10%).  On Tuesday morning, I waited anxiously by the phone to find out the results from my dad’s biopsy.  (My dad is a 16-year Hodgkin’s Lymphoma cancer survivor and we found out the day before Thanksgiving that he has some form of cancer, so we were waiting to find out which kind so he could start treatment.)  Finally, on Wednesday morning, the biopsy results came back.  The results were inconclusive, which set into motion a flurry of actions to get him an appointment as soon as possible at one of the large, well-respected hospitals in my area of the state.  By the end of the week, we had him an appointment scheduled for this week.  As a side bar, I was also in the midst of remodeling a bathroom, so in my spare time (ha!) this week, I had to oversee its completion.   By Friday afternoon, I was ready for an opportunity to sleep late and that is exactly what I did on Saturday morning!  I slept very soundly for thirteen hours…until 11am!  As you may recall, I had my thyroid removed in September and my medication is still being titrated to the appropriate dose.  In the meantime, I still get very fatigued, have difficulty concentrating, and have difficulty sleeping, even though I am exhausted.  Finally, since I have made no mention of my diabetes at this point, I think it is quite important to point out that my blood sugars have been quite erratic the last two weeks.  (Imagine that!)  I assumed my lack of blood sugar control last week was related to all of the tasty Thanksgiving treats I was consuming.  However, when my blood sugars were still consistently high on Wednesday of this week (almost a week later), I decided it was time to increase my basal rates.  So, I increased all of my basal rates by.10 units.  

Giving Thanks

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Hi Ladies!  I hope you had a wonderful time with family and friends over Thanksgiving.  I was able to see lots of family members, eat delicious food, and play the game “Loaded Questions” with family members.  If you’ve never played this game, it is hilarious!  I highly recommend it not only because of the humor aspect, but also because you learn a lot about people by playing it!As I write this post, I am reflecting on everything that I am thankful for.  I have A LOT to be thankful for—a beautiful family, lots of love, lots of friends, access to great resources to treat my diabetes, hope for the future, the ability to help other women with diabetes through DiabetesSisters, and a well-paying job in the sales industry, to name a few.  Well, speaking of the job….I have to wait by the phone at 9am tomorrow morning for the dreaded phone call from my manager to find out if I still have a job or not.  Any woman with diabetes knows how frightening the prospect of losing a job, and hence, the health insurance benefits that go with it!  This is especially true for single women.  I am thankful that I have a husband and I can go on his health insurance if necessary, but it will cost A LOT more under his plan.  The loss of control over the situation is also very frustrating.  I have no idea what is going on and no control over this huge aspect of my life.  FYI- For a lot of women with diabetes, “control” has become central to our being….and the need for control over our diabetes is often transferred into other areas of our lives.

Recurring Theme of Shame for Women with Diabetes

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November 23, 2009

My husband and I attended a Couples’ Seminar this past weekend conducted by Dr. Alan Wright of Winston-Salem, NC.  At the seminar, we dug deep into our subconscious to identify some of the false messages (Lies of Shame) we are living by that affect our marriage.  These messages were sent to us from our parents, caregivers, siblings, friends, virtually anyone who had an influence in our lives.  We, then, convert these lies of shame into oaths that we live by every day.  In order for us to reach a place of peace and happiness within our marriage, we had to first, recognize and identify (call out!) the lies and oaths, then, identify ways to transform our thought patterns.  Naturally, you cannot expect to see an immediate change, but rather a gradual change after going through this process. 

After the Seminar, I started thinking about all of the emails I receive from women with diabetes who are in pain and think that diabetes has ruined their lives.  As we enter into the holiday season, I know that many are anxious about re-connecting with loved ones because of the “Lies of Shame” about diabetes that have been inflicted upon them by loved ones- parents, friends, spouses. These lies affect us today because they impact how we think about ourselves as women with diabetes.  These Lies then lead to Inner Oaths that bring down our self-esteem and make us do unhealthy things.

Examples of Lies of Shame for Women with Diabetes-

  • I can protect others from being hurt by my diabetes. 
  • Diabetes is my problem.  I should avoid burdening other family members with my problem.
  • I am a victim of my circumstances. (I have no control over things in my life- I can only react when things, like a diabetes diagnosis, are thrown at me.)
  • Having diabetes proves that I am unblessed.  But, if I get my diabetes under control, I will be blessed.
  • The best thing I can do when my diabetes is out of control is to get alone so I can sort it all out by myself.
  • Perfect diabetes control is always better than good diabetes control.  

World Diabetes Day and DS Quarterly Gathering!

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DiabetesSisters Quarterly Gathering- Sat., Nov. 14, 2009, Raleigh, NC

Nov. 15, 2009 

Hello Sisters!  It was wonderful to spend time with some of you on World Diabetes Day this past Saturday!  The FIRST DiabetesSisters Quarterly Gathering was a huge success!  By success, I mean that we had a diverse group of 22 women- Type 1, Type 2, and pre-diabetes.  The ages ranged from 20-65ish. Everyone told a little of their diabetes story, ate lunch together, heard an inspirational speaker, and had fun talking with other women who are living with diabetes.  A few tears were shed while women were sharing their stories, but, to me, that is a good sign that DiabetesSisters provided a safe, welcoming environment for women to be open and honest about their disease.  Too often, women walk around bottling up their emotions about diabetes because they are too busy or don’t have anyone to share them with.  When they finally do open up about their feelings in a safe peer environment, it ALL comes rushing out!  Then, afterward, it feels as if a huge weight has been lifted from their back….In fact, they had gotten so used to carrying the weight that they had forgotten about it!  Ahhhhh!  What a sense of relief camaraderie can bring! 

Happy D-Blog Day....

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November 9, 2009

For those who are new to the diabetes blogosphere, I’d like to introduce you to a relatively new concept—Annual D-Blog Day (that’s Diabetes Blog Day) held every year in November in conjunction with Diabetes Awareness Month and World Diabetes Day.  This year, D-Blog Day is on Monday, November 9, 2009.  It was started Gina Capone, a friend and fellow diabetes blogger.  Why is it so important, you ask?  Well, it has only been in the last few years that diabetes has become so visible on the web.  It was only a matter of time before the world began to see the influence diabetes bloggers have and take us seriously!  Granted, I am by no means a famous diabetes blogger, but it is great to be in the midst of the famous diabetes bloggers and to be a part of the fascinating happenings of the diabetes blogosphere!  So, to all of my fellow diabetes bloggers, I wish you a Happy D-Blog Day!

This is an exciting week because World Diabetes Day is this Saturday!  What are your plans for Saturday?  If you are anywhere near the Raleigh, North Carolina area, I invite you to  attend our first DiabetesSisters Quarterly Gathering.  This event is being held at McCormick & Schmick’s Restaurant at Crabtree Valley Mall from 1-3pm.  We will all join to together at 2pm to check our blood sugars with the rest of the world.  Our speaker at this Gathering will be Laura Ely, DiabetesSisters Communications Coordinator and Member of Team Type 1.  She will share her inspirational story of triumph over adversity.  All attendees will also be entered into our drawing for a FREE 1-hour massage at Integrative Health Solutions in Durham, NC!  This is a wonderful opportunity to talk with other women who are living with diabetes, ask questions you can only ask other women with diabetes, and relish in the feeling of being surrounded by women who understand what your life is like!  We have reserved a private room to encourage openness and intimacy among the group.  It will be educational, it will be inspirational, and most of all, I guarantee, it will be fun!  If you are planning to attend and haven’t already RSVP’d, please send an email to info@diabetessisters.org.  We're expecting a fairly large crowd and want to make sure we have plenty of room.

Happy D-Blog Day!Happy Diabetes Awareness Month!Happy World Diabetes Day!

 

Week 6: Thyroidectomy Update

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November 2, 2009

Hello Sisters!  I am now six weeks out from my thyroidectomy surgery in September.  While every person will have a different experience with this kind of surgery, I hope that sharing my surgery experiences will help others who are preparing for a thyroidectomy. 

The past six weeks have been very much like a roller coaster.  The week after my surgery I was very tired and depressed with very little focus or motivation.  I didn’t really want to get out of bed.  The second week was the exact opposite and I had lots of energy and found myself out running lots of errands on Thursday and Friday of that week and doing a lot of cleaning at my house.  In fact, I even painted my daughter’s room!!!  Talk about lots of energy! 

Weeks 3-6 have been an alternating mixture of energy and fatigue, though more fatigue has been present than energy.  I have slept more than I ever have in my life!  I attempted to go back to work at Week 4, but after working 2 full days, I found myself in the bed, exhausted,  and aching all over  with a bad headache.  I was certain I had the flu because of my aching joints.  However, after sleeping for about 18-20 hours, I felt much better.  I returned to work the next day, but found myself unable to get out of the bed the next morning for work.  I had my TSH level checked and found out that it was 14.73!!  To provide some reference, the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE) recommends an upper limit of normal at 3.0.  Obviously, my thyroid was “way out of whack” and my medication needed to be adjusted.  I have been on my new medication dosage for a week now.  I still don’t feel back to normal.  I am out of work again and still sleeping A LOT—like 12-15 hours a day!  Hopefully, my medication/thyroid will level out soon and I will be back to normal!  Everyone I have talked to who has been through this surgery has warned me that it took them 4-6 months to get back to “normal.”  I guess I still have a ways to go!  I only wish I would have known to expect this before my surgery or before attempting to go back to work. 

Share Your Story

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October 25, 2009

With Diabetes Awareness Month upon us, I have given a lot of thought to the phrase “National Diabetes Awareness Month” and what it means to those of us living with the disease.  During November, we usually hear lots of alarming facts and statistics about diabetes.  These facts and statistics are meant to bring awareness to a disease that is not well understood by the general public.  Some view the month as a time to clear up myths and misconceptions about diabetes.  Others see the month as an opportunity to encourage those with undiagnosed diabetes to get tested.  But that’s how the general public is involved in National Diabetes Awareness Month.  What role do those of us living with diabetes play in this important month?  

There are lots of ways to get involved in this important month, including volunteering with diabetes organizations, donating to diabetes organizations, educating yourself and others about diabetes, and being physically active during the month of November.  But, by far, the most impactful thing you can do during National Diabetes Awareness Month is to Share YOUR Diabetes Story with others. 

 Each one of us has a unique diabetes story and everyone’s story is interesting.  We all gained a lot of wisdom through our experiences.  Sharing your story with others just might prolong or even save someone’s life.  Think about it… The question I am most often asked by those who don’t have diabetes is, “How did you know you had diabetes?”  To me, this means that people are interested learning from my experiences.  Undoubtedly, part of telling your story usually involves talking about the diabetes symptoms you experienced.  Hearing about those symptoms in a story format makes them memorable to those who hear your story.  For example, my story always begins with a memory of me chugging down 64 oz. of soda during a time-out at my high school basketball game, consuming lots of chocolate milkshakes at my mother’s request due to my extreme weight loss, and noticing my blurred vision when I couldn’t read the chalk board during my Biology class. 

Where is the gender equality in health benefits?

sisterSTAFF Blog

October 18, 2009

Hello Sisters!  It has been an outstanding week in the life of this organization!  We have three committed funders for the Weekend for Women Conference hosted by DiabetesSisters and TCOYD and we are waiting to hear from many more.  The emails from women interested in attending are starting to roll in as well as requests from women who want to speak at the Conference and women who hant to volunteer to serve on Conference committees!  The kind of overwhelming response we have received--a full seven months in advance of the event--tells me that this Conference is long overdue!  We have a strong core group of planning committee members (listed at the bottom of the Weekend for Women Conference page: www.diabetessisters.org/weekend-for-women-conference) who are dedicated to putting on a Conference that is educational and enjoyable for all attendees.  I am excited to move forward and see all of their fabulous ideas come to fruition over the next seven months.  Don’t worry---- I will update you all along the way! 

Leadership Essentials for leading YOUR life

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October 11, 2009

Hello Sisters!  This week has been very focused on “vision” and “direction.”   I heard from a number of different authorities on these topics this week.  First of all, I was invited to attend the Leadership Essentials workshop that was put on by Kate B. Reynolds Foundation and the Center for Creative Leadership.  My pastor also spoke on this topic today.   The resounding message from everyone is the same principle, whether you are leading a group, an organization, or your own life:  Everybody will get somewhere, but you need direction to get somewhere on purpose!  Does your life have direction, vision, a purpose?  I can honestly say that my life wasn’t nearly as meaningful until I figured out my purpose.  Yes, I lived a good life.  I was content.  I had a good job.  I was in good physical health.  I had friends. I had a loving family.  I was a highly accomplished person.  I had a lot of positive things going on in life!  The only thing that was really missing was a purpose for my life.  I didn’t really put my finger on what was missing until the summer/fall of 2007.    Then, it started really nagging at my soul.  I couldn’t get ONE question out of my mind: If I died today, who would attend my funeral and what would they say about me?  What would I be remembered for?  Essentially, what is MY LEGACY?  I knew I needed to figure out what I was put on this earth to do.  No one wants to come to the end of their life and say, “What did I really do with my life?  Was it all just a waste?”  But how?  How could I figure out my purpose and direction for life?  Well, for me, it was a matter of thinking about the skills and talents that God had bestowed upon me and praying for my purpose to be revealed to me.  I spent lots of time reflecting on my life and thinking about what I truly enjoyed doing.  I asked myself, “What things make me feel most alive?”  If you need help with this, a great tool is a book called “Strength Finder 2.0.”  After completing a questionnaire, it will show your top 5 strengths and how they help you in life and work.  Another exercise is to write a mission statement for your life.