Bab's Blog

It's just me, in words.

It’s National Health Blog Post Month! November 1, 2012

Filed under: Cancer,Diabetes,Organic Living — babscampbell @ 3:53 pm
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Day 1- Why I write about my health

I’ve signed up to participate in NHBPM for the last couple of years.  Unfortunately, I never make it past the second week.  I get too busy thinking about other things, projects. . . SQUIRREL!

But, this is an easy prompt to answer.  I write about my health because I want others out there, going through the same struggles, to know they’re not alone, and hopefully share some ideas that have worked for me or others that didn’t.

You’re NEVER alone.
This world is a big place.  There are a lot of people, each with their own difficulties, pressures, illnesses and worries.  You know that great feeling when you run into someone who knows EXACTLY what you’re going through?  It’s magical.

Somewhere out there, there’s a woman who’s just been diagnosed with breast cancer and her Dr. said they’re going to do this. . .this. . thing, with needles and . . .oh, it’s so hard to remember what he said.  I really didn’t hear anything after he said, “cancer.”  Is this going to hurt?  How will I feel after?  Can I go back to work?  I wish I could ask someone. . .  That’s who I write for.  Hi, I’m Barb and I’ve had breast cancer and I’m 19 months out from that dreadful day and let me help you know what to expect and what some of those big words mean.

In another city, there’s someone who’s just been diagnosed with diabetes.   They’re office-mate says; “hey, my grandma had diabetes. . they cut off her feet. . .then, she died.”
Hi, I’m Barb and I’ve had diabetes since 2009.  While it was really overwhelming at first, I PROMISE you will make sense of it.  Take my hand. . .let me show you some tricks I learned from other online writers.

I say it all the time. . but, since this is what I’m writing about today, I’ll say it again.
This journey of health and wellness is like being on a dirt road.  Some people are further ahead, they were diagnosed a long time ago.  Some are behind, they just found out their pancreas stopped working, or they have a lump.  The people up ahead, had others pointing the way and now they turn back to those just starting the journey and call to them. . .”hey, follow me, I’ll show you the way.  Watch out for that rut in the road and the river off to the side.” One day, it’ll be your turn to turn back and help someone else along the way.  Until then, here’s my hand, here’s my heart, listen for a familiar voice. . .follow along, we’ll do this together.

 

Changing Vessels January 30, 2012

Filed under: Diabetes,Faith,Organic Living — babscampbell @ 1:09 pm
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“In a chronically leaking boat, energy devoted to changing vessels is more productive than energy devoted to patching leaks.” -Warren Buffett

I found this quote today and felt it was appropriate.  My health has deteriorated over the past few years and I am NOT going to let that continue.  I’m not going to keep “patching leaks” and placing band-aids. Things must change. . .

I posted last week about some of the immediate changes I had made to improve my health and I’ve even surprised myself. . .I’m more committed to this today than when I first started.  That’s not characteristic of me.  I’m a quick starter, less follow-through.  You have a project for me?. . great!  Let’s do that!  But, a few weeks in, I’ve been distracted by the next new idea.

In the past week, I’ve tried to eat fresh, organic, home-spun meals and have been quite successful.  We went to dinner one night at Dodge City Distillery and I will admit to you all that I ate some deep-fried haystack onions.  My BG numbers were up that night, and hovered awhile. I learned my lesson.  I’ve also been to Oklahoma Joe’s, AMC Fork & Screen movie theater and Minsky’s Pizza this week.  However, my choices were MUCH better than before.  A green salad, a plate of hummus and veggies and Chicken Tagliata (Veggies sauteed in olive oil) were my choices and I had no issues with my BGs.  YAY!  I’m REALLY grateful my better food choices are leading to better diabetes control.  I have surgery coming up at the end of February and the better I manage my diabetes, the better I’ll heal.

So. . on to the other changes we’ve made toward becoming a greener, healthier home.

I tried making my own body wash. . didn’t like that recipe, so I’ll try again.  Once I perfect that, I’ll share the recipe with you all.

I made my own dusting spray, which smells really great and leaves the whole room smelling clean with just a hint of lavender.  I’ll post that recipe later too.  I need to find the original author to properly credit them.

Today, I made this AMAZING toothpaste as instructed by “Crunchy Betty.” I’ve scoured this website for all sorts of information and have really liked many of the recipes she’s come up with.

Toothpaste:
3 Tbsp coconut oil
3 Tbsp baking soda
25 drops peppermint oil
1 packet of stevia
2 tsp vegetable glycerin (optional)

Place the ingredients in a bowl and mash it all up with a fork until blended.  It really does form a nice “toothpaste” consistency.

Crunchy Betty states that she placed hers in a jar and dips her toothbrush in it each time.  I thought, just in case DH wants to try it too, I’d try to make it as toothpaste-like as possible.  I formed a cone with waxed paper, as my mama taught me for cake decorating, and pushed the toothpaste down into the tip.  I rolled down the remaining waxed paper and VOILA!  TOOTHPASTE!

I never realized it was so hard to take a picture of your own hand, squeezing toothpaste onto a brush!

This is made with baking soda, so there is a definite baking soda feel and taste, but you can also taste a hint of coconut from the carrier oil and the peppermint essential oil is just yummy. I did use it this morning, prior to buying the peppermint oil and while it worked and tasted fine, I did miss a minty feeling and taste.  I’m so glad I added the peppermint, it is just the kick it needed.

Why am I messing with such things?

  • Well, for one, it will save us some money.  The ingredients sound expensive at the beginning, but when you see how little you use of each of item, it will absolutely be a cost savings.
  • More importantly. . these are all natural, organic ingredients. You know that warning on the label that says you can’t swallow the toothpaste? Supervise children while brushing and teach them to not swallow it?  Yeah. . .no worries here.  You can actually eat this if you were so inclined.
  • Deliberate-This is my word for the year.  I can either continue my old habits without thinking, using the same products over and over without ever reading a label.  Or I can be DELIBERATE about my health.  I WILL deliberately look at what I ingest, I wear, I wash with and make sure that it is healthy for me.  God gave me this ONE body and after this past year of cancer, diabetes, surgeries and side effects, I plan to be a much better steward of His gift.

Let me know if you try this recipe. I’d like to know your thoughts.  What products have you replaced with more healthy, or organic versions?

 

D-Blog Day-A Trip to the Endo November 9, 2011

Filed under: Diabetes — babscampbell @ 10:11 pm
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Today I had my quarterly visit with my Endocrinologist.  I. LOVE. MY. ENDO.

The visit starts off with the usual catching up. . “what’s been going on in your life since the last time?” he asks.  Well, I went into a narrative of my surgeries, my infection, my neuropathy, my radiation treatments. . . he listened, leaned back in his chair and smiled at me, then said,”you are pretty amazing to me.”  What?  Wha?  He continued, “You’ve really been through alot this past year and you’re in good spirits and thriving.  In the medical profession, I see so many people in different situations and coping at different levels.  I just think you’re a really strong, amazing person.”

Wow!  I do hear that from others and I’m happy they see my strength, (which is not my own, btw. .rather from my faith) and my warrior mentality.  He told me that he admires a Buddhist saying. “There are two kinds of problems; those with solutions and those without.  If yours is a problem with a solution, then apply the solution and move on.  If there isn’t one. . move on anyway and stop fretting about it.” That was a Dr. R paraphrase. . but, I like it.  I told him that I definitely have moments when I break down.  My poor husband and mother get to hear most of that.  But, I try to be a positive, upbeat person, so I allow myself to feel the down times, but refuse to wallow in it.  I give myself an hour to really cry, boo-hoo and blame everything under the sun for my situation and then, I need to go clean something.

After all this mutual admiration, he checked my eyes, my neck and lymph nodes and my feet.  Ahhh, my feet.  The last four treatments of chemotherapy left me with peripheral neuropathy. It’s most painful at night, with my feet burning and feeling like someone is stepping on them, but numb on the bottom.  I’ll never figure out how I can be numb and in pain at the same time. . but, there it is.  The pain radiates up into my calves and feels like someone is grinding away at my calf muscles.  I’ve been taking narcotic pain killers, just to be able to fall asleep at night and I end up waking up exactly four hours later, requiring another dose.

He poked around my feet and said, “how did you injure your foot here?”  What?  I haven’t injured my foot.  He continued poking around in front of my left ankle, “Oh, this is definitely an injury of some kind, you have a large swollen area here; looks like you’re building up quite a hematoma.”  Seriously, I have NO recollection of hurting my foot.  I insisted I had no idea that I’d injured my foot recently.  He smiled up, “Aha. . that’s what neuropathy is all about.  That’s why we check for you.  You’re obviously unable to feel your feet correctly and something has happened here.  It looks like a sprain maybe or you banged your foot against something.”  I have no idea. . but, I’m supposed to ice it up at any rate.

So some refilled prescriptions, a different med to help with the nerve pain, some sample insulin to keep in case my pump dies again, some more small talk and admiration and another appointment in 3 months.  Oh, and did I mention? My A1c is 6.3!  Woot!  I expected it to be much higher with all the surgeries and infection.  I head toward the door and he stops me to say. . “if you need anything, you call me, even if it’s not diabetes related.  I don’t offer that to everyone. . just the fighters.”  Thank you Dr. R.  I’ll be back soon enough.

 

The Warrior is a Child October 23, 2011

Filed under: Diabetes,Faith — babscampbell @ 4:32 pm
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My DH and I had a wonderful lunch today and I started griping about all my latest symptoms.  There’s this, that and the other thing wrong now. . blah, blah, blah.  I realized what I was doing and apologized for being “Negative Nancy” and of course, he thinks I’m silly. . . I should talk to him about these things.

Another thing that we discussed is the fact that so many people are so proud of me, speaking of my courage, strength, determination.  There are days. . I’m afraid. . if you were able to see me, you’d be quite disappointed.  I’m really not all that brave at all.  In fact, I’m really a big baby.  I battle fatigue, pain, medication, self-image and feeling mutilated, high BGs, low BGs, the guilt that comes with any out of range BG.  With all my restrictions I feel like an invalid. . or more correctly. . invalid.  I see a needle coming my way and I just wish my Mom would hold on to me and help me count to 10 until it’s all over.  And, as you can imagine, there are ALOT of needles in my life right now.

You wouldn’t think that someone with diabetes and cancer would be so freaked out.  I always imagined that people in those circumstances, somehow “get used to it” and stop fearing the needles.  You would laugh if you saw how long it takes me to push the plunger when I insert my CGM sensor.  I hold my breath, wince and count to 10 when pushing the button on my infusion set applicator.  If I have to actually inject insulin. . oh my. . It takes me forever to finally jab that teeny little needle in my belly.  Then there are the IVs, chemo port needles, tissue expander port needles, blood draws, antibiotics, anesthesia. . . oh my. . my world has been one moment of stress after another!

In talking about all this, I was reminded of a song I used to sing at church.  Twila Paris recorded a song called, the Warrior is a Child.

Lately I’ve been winning battles left and right
But even winners can get wounded in the fight
People say that I’m amazing
Strong beyond my years
But they don’t see inside of me
I’m hiding all the tears

They don’t know that I go running home when I fall down
They don’t know who picks me up when no one is around
I drop my sword and cry for just a while
‘Cause deep inside this armor
The warrior is a child

Unafraid because His armor is the best
But even soldiers need a quiet place to rest
People say that I’m amazing
Never face retreat
But they don’t see the enemies
That lay me at His feet

They don’t know that I go running home when I fall down
They don’t know who picks me up when no one is around
I drop my sword and and cry for just a while
‘Cause deep inside this armor
the warrior is a child

They don’t know that I go running home when I fall down
They don’t know who picks me up when no one is around
I drop my sword and look up for a smile
‘Cause deep inside this armor
Deep inside this armor
Deep inside this armor
The Warrior is a Child

God has been good to me.  Every day I can see yet another way He has helped me through another obstacle, face another fear.  When I’m tired and alone, I can crawl into my Heavenly Father’s lap and cry.  He catches each tear I cry. . He’s even counted them.  He lets me feel sorry for myself, lets me ask why me, lets me be angry and afraid.  Then, He gently lifts me from His lap and stands me on my feet again.  He helps be don my battle gear, gives me a cheer and points me toward the next fight.  We lock arms and face the next evil together.

I’ve always tried to be honest on this blog.  I’ve talked about the good, the bad and the ugly.  This is more of the ugly; I suppose.  I just hope that as this is Pinktober and next month is National Diabetes month, you’ll see those around you fighting for their lives and realize that they too, fall down, feel defeat, get worn out.  Don’t be disappointed when you see the other side of their courage. . the exhaustion and fear.  Remember, we’re not all that different. . .the Warrior is a Child.

 

At least it’s not cancer. . . September 16, 2011

Filed under: Diabetes — babscampbell @ 4:30 am
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Awhile back, my friend George, aka Ninjabetic posted a story related to a co-worker being diagnosed with breast cancer. Here is the link for reference:

http://www.ninjabetic.com/thebadblog/2010/1/15/you-are-allowed.html

You’ll notice, I commented on his post that day.

When I was diagnosed with diabetes, I had two dear friends battling cancer. K has since lost that battle and we miss her very much! T was able to try a new stem cell transplant treatment and is now doing quite well and just received another “all clear” scan. I tell you that to say this. . .at the time that I received my diagnosis, my first reaction was to think of these friends, what they were going through and say, “well, at least I don’t have cancer.”

In March of this year, I WAS diagnosed with cancer; invasive ductile carcinoma of the left breast and axillary lymph nodes. I was surprised to learn some new facts about both diabetes and cancer along this journey and I’ve got to say, I really wonder if that statement holds any truth to it at all for me.  BTW. . If you’ve been diagnosed with diabetes, or any life threatening disease of that nature. . .please allow yourself to grieve and get a grip on your condition, without discounting it or ignoring it.

I know my two conditions are my own, and this may not be the case with every cancer, or every case of diabetes, but for me. . .I’d take this cancer over diabetes, any day of the week!

Statistically, I am more likely to die of diabetes than from my breast cancer.  People with diabetes often experience low blood glucose levels, and in my case, in the middle of the night. If I were to sleep through one of these episodes and have my blood glucose continue to drop, I simply would not wake up.   I could also end up in a coma from DKA (Diabetic Keto-Acidosis).  This happens when your blood glucose rises so high that your blood becomes acidic. Then, there’s the heart failure, kidney failure, etc.

My cancer responded extremely well to chemotherapy and has crumbled away to the point of being undetectable. 8 treatments later, the Dr. pokes and prods and feels nothing but normal breast tissue now. I will have surgery and radiation in the coming weeks, but, I also expect to hear the phrase, “cancer-free” VERY soon.

My diabetes will last until God chooses to touch me and rebuild my pancreas, or give someone the knowledge to transplant or build an artificial organ.

It’s a strange phenom, but saying the words, “I have cancer”, suddenly escalates you to celebrity status. Suddenly, everyone at church knows who I am. People talk to their friends and refer to me as “this good friend of mine, with cancer. . .” everyone wants to help, be part of your journey and support you in your battle. I can’t tell you how much that helps. The sudden lifting of prayers, cards and letters sent and offering of assistance is what got me through this thus far. However, this didn’t happen with my diabetes announcement. I happily admit, my closest friends and family have asked how I was doing, and wanted updates, but generally, diabetes is invisible and you fight it with your closest allies at hand.

The visibility of cancer changes everything. I’ve not once had a person watch me test my blood sugar in a restaurant and then come over to offer me encouragement. However, one look at my shiny dome and there will be at least one person who will do just that. Total strangers come to the table, offer a hug, share their stories and assure me that I will beat this.

I guess what I’m trying say is. . .until the NFL wears light blue in honor of Diabetes Month in November, PWD will continue to battle their diabetes with their closest friends/family close at hand.  All the testing, basal rates, bolusing, worrying, overnight lows, late afternoon highs and algebraic computations will happen silently for the rest of their lives.

I’ve never felt so loved, so blessed, so surrounded by an army of warriors until I muttered the big “c”, and I’m so grateful.  This will be the year I hold in memory as the year I experienced being cured.  I will take all that strength and march forward until I am cured of diabetes too.  Now, at least, I know how it feels. . .to be cured. . .when it happens next time, I’ll recognize it right away.

 

The recap. . . September 15, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — babscampbell @ 5:13 am
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I haven’t written in awhile, I apologize. Much has happened since my last post, and while I’ve updated my caringbridge.org site, I haven’t done so here. I thought I’d give a quick recap here, for future readers looking for information on cancer treatments with diabetes. I know I haven’t found much out there, so I hope my experience is both helpful and encouraging.

I was diagnosed in March of 2011 with invasive ductile carcinoma, stage 3, grade 3. Stage 3 means it was over 2.5cm and had spread to more than one lymph node. Grade 3 refers to how much the cells have mutated from my regular breast tissue. The more mutation, the more aggressive the cancer. Grade 3 is the most aggressive.

During the testing period, I really didn’t change any of my diabetes management routine. I didn’t have a PET scan as my insurance refused to pay for it. Instead I had a CT scan and bone scan, which required fasting. To keep my BG from crashing, I just lowered my basal rate a bit. (I am on a pump. . .please check with your physician before changing any insulin doses.)

To administer chemotherapy, I had out-patient surgery to implant a port-a-cath just below my right clavicle. For surgery, I had to fast again. I ate a pretty hefty meal the night before, at about 7pm. I also lowered my basal rate, just a bit, and that worked fine. However, by the time I got home, it had been 20 hours since my last meal. That, coupled with a slight reaction to the anesthesia, made for a rough couple of hours. I was suddenly very nauseous and my BGs started to drop. I tried eating to bring my BG into line, but couldn’t keep anything down. Finally, I found I was able to sip ginger ale and my BG started creeping toward normal.

Next, I started chemotherapy. I didn’t know what to expect with toxic chemicals pumping into my bloodstream. The first four treatments were Adriamycin and Cytoxin. The drugs themselves didn’t cause any changes to my BG, but the effects of the drugs did. I had quite a bit of nausea, which of course meant I wasn’t eating as much. I also had some mouth sores and the inside of my mouth felt as if it were sunburned. Eating less often, and less food meant my BG was crashing more often. I also noticed that my body was reacting as if I had started exercising. I was able to lower all of my insulin calculations and finally got stabilized. Then, they changed chemo drugs.

My last four treatments were Taxol. This treatment requires some steroid use and steroids play havoc with BG. My oncologist was concerned with this and did a great job helping me manage this. I took one pill the night before treatment and one the morning of. Not knowing what to expect, I woke up every hour and tested. As I saw my BG rising, I would take a correction bolus. But, by mid-morning the next day, I was hovering in the mid 300s. I started raising my basal rates. I calculated how many units I was using to correct each hour and added those units to my basal rate. (again, please check with your physician before adjusting your own insulin use.) The problem with this basal rate change, is that you don’t know when the steroid will wear off and your BGs return to normal. Apparently, this happened at 3am, day 2. I crashed HARD! Luckily, my husband was there to help.

The next 3 treatments I did the same basal change during the day, however, I lowered it overnight and tested occasionally to correct. That worked MUCH better. I was amazed that during the day I had gone from my usual 1.5u/hr to 7-8u/hr to keep below 200!

My last chemo treatment was Aug 3rd, so I’ve had 6 weeks to recover. Next, I have surgery on Sept 22nd. This will be another test of my diabetes management skills. I am to fast as of midnight and the 5 hour surgery doesn’t even start until 1pm. I will have a call today with my favorite Endo and I think we’ll try lowering my basal rates again. However, I’m also hoping to get them corrected so this isn’t necessary. Ideally, basal insulin should keep my BGs within range with or without food intake. . .it’s just so hard to get the right combination of magical numbers.

All you can do is all you can do, right?

I’m looking forward to having all this behind me and looking forward toward Oct 8th! There will be big fun in Kansas City as the DOC (diabetes online community) is gathering here. I look forward to meeting those who will attend. In the meantime. . .I’ll meet you here!