I realize that I’m not really doing that great of a job of writing about being a father these days, but when you’ve had the kind of crazy stuff happen to you that I have, you have to get it out. So remember I mentioned in my last post that I’d been in and out of the ER?
Well, it turned out that the doctor who called it food poisoning was an idiot because what I had was a systemic septic infection from an untreated abscess on my back. Last Saturday my wife took me to the local Urgent Care Clinic to get the abcess drained (it had started leaking on its own), and when they heard my symptoms they sent me straight back to the damned ER. This time, they admitted me to the hospital, where I stayed until Wednesday night.
Turns out that the abcess, along with the asleep-ness of my arms and legs and a whole host of other minor symptoms are all results of the same core problem: I’m officially diabetic. And apparently have been for quite some time; we just happen to eat the right diet to not *really* notice the symptoms. Except for peripheral neuropathy (arms and legs fall asleep), infected abcesses (totally a diabetic thing; who knew?), and possibly mental derpitude (it’s not just ADHD!?)
So after numbing me up with Lidocaine — some 12 injections — St. Peter (or rather the doctor who currently represented St. Peter’s Hospital) stabbed me in the back, cutting a neat little ‘X’ into my flesh. It turns out the abcess was so deep that she had to cut past where the Lidocaine had numbed, and I literally screamed and kicked and bit my pillow because holy f***ing s**t, that HURT!
But the pus started to flow, and after five days of a continuous IV drip of some superpowerful antibiotic (vancomycin), they let me go home with a raft of prescriptions. I’m currently taking more antibiotics, as well as the “usual” supply of “welcome to being a diabetic” pills. I get to stab myself in the finger 5-8 times a day to test my blood sugar, and stab myself in the stomach twice a day to inject a long-acting insulin into my adipose tissue.
Of course, being who we are, we promptly looked up other things that increase insulin sensitivity and bought all of them. So in addition to the prescriptions, I’m taking a raft of natural pills from cinnamon to fish oil to Chromium Picolinate, all to help the insulin do its thing better. Our goal is to have me no longer stabbing myself in the stomach…I hate stabbing myself in the stomach. The needle is fine enough that it doesn’t actually hurt, but it’s just freaking creepy, because it’s more than an inch long.
Even just being able to switch to an oral insulin would be really nice.
All through this, my wife and I have been having this bizarre emotional experience. Being told that you were within an hour or two of dying from septic shock is one thing — hello, mortality! — but we’ve also been having this long-term guilt. We really poo-pooed modern medicine for a long time; we like to think that natural remedies are pretty much superior to Big Pharma in every circumstance.
But here’s the thing: our son’s ADHD wasn’t touched by all of the natural remedies we tried. And my infection didn’t bow an inch to all of the garlic, olive leaf, and oregano extract we could shove at it. And even with the reasonable diet we’ve been eating for years (OK, mostly reasonable), I still managed to get my 90-day average blood sugar up to levels so high that the hospital diagnosed me as diabetic on that fact alone.
So we’ve got this guilt complex going on because we really ended up needing modern medicine — and one of the things they don’t really tell you about natural medicine is that there’s this ongoing implication that if it doesn’t work for you, it’s because you’re doing it wrong.
Which, when you apply it to something like faith healing, pretty clearly makes it sound like a scam. But we totally bought into it — we were constantly trying new things, because everyone makes it sound like the natural cure for whatever you have is out there…you just haven’t done it right yet. And that, the implication continues, is either because you’re not researching hard enough or you’re somehow cheating even if you don’t realize it. And that’s crap. The simple fact is that there are some things that even Ancient Wisdom™ can’t fix.
We’re not going to stop trying to live a life centered on natural remedies for our problems. But I think that we have learned over the past month that there is a place in our lives for pharmaceutical medicine as well, even if we don’t want there to be.
My meeting with the doctor to talk about my ADHD got canceled seeing as I was in the hospital attached to an IV at the time — but it’s scheduled for tomorrow, and I fully expect to come home with a prescription of some kind.
We’ll see where it goes. I’ve seen my son over the past couple of weeks continue to be a sparkling disco ball of chaos and energy. The only thing Adderall has done to him is give him enough focus to turn that energy into awesome stuff. He picks up Legos now, and actually builds functionalish things out of them. He borrows the Kindle to play Minecraft, and ends up building giant statues of people complete with hollow insides and appropriate-colored organs and everything…which he then fills with little chickens and cows until they’re about to come spilling out of the mouth, and then uncorks the butthole and watches his statue poop angry chickens for five minutes while he laughs maniacally.
He’s also, if anything, more in touch with his emotions now. He used to be almost mystically unflappable — now, he gets frustrated and expresses that frustration in perfectly normal ways. He used to go for hours without saying a word; now, we can’t get him to shut up. He’s constantly talking about the videos he’s watching, or the gadget he’s building, or what the Power Rangers would do in this situation. It’s wonderful.
So I’m not really worried anymore about that. I’m mostly fascinated to see what life will be like. I cracked a joke to the doctors about being diabetic and ADHD at the same time — because one requires constant attention and religious discipline and the other basically robs you of both of those things. They laughed…and then they told me to talk to the doctor about it, seriously. So it’s not just about saving my marriage and cleaning my kitchen anymore. My life might actually depend on it.
That’s almost as scary as being told you were about to die and didn’t know it. Maybe even slightly scarier.
Wish me luck.