13 December 2013

Die-uh-bee-tus

Diabetes sucks, runs in the family but from what I gather it can happen to anyone if they let their weight climb above what is normal.  Let me clarify, I am talking Type 2 Diabetes.  My grandmother lived a long life for someone who had Type 2.  Though, she did succumb to complications of diabetes (coupled with the incompetence of the hospital she was at).  My grandmother ended up in an out of the hospital for about two weeks before they finally amputated her leg.  Her old, frail body just didn't bounce back so well after the surgery and she passed away.

I don't want to go out suffering like that and I don't want any other relatives to suffer the same fate.  My mom and sister are right on the border edge of Type 2 if they don't watch their diet and health; they will end up with diabetes.  But my uncle who is more like a brother than an uncle has had Type 2 for some time now.  Though it's sad to say, I have always known in the back of my mind he would probably be the first to go out of my grandmother's children from natural causes.  Diabetes is a bitch and you gotta stay on top of your diet and medications to control it.

My uncle is still just a big kid.


Changing your diet is a lifestyle change and I know with proper diet and weight control diabetes can be kept at bay.  People have even gone off of their diabetes medication because of a healthy diet change.  But change is hard for people, humans are so resistant to change.  I guess we get into our comfort zones or something.

I know my uncle's health has not been the best.  I worry about him all the time.  Yesterday while starting my nightly dinner making routine I got a text message from my mom letting me know that my uncle is in the hospital again.  Last week he was in because he fell and dislocated his shoulder.  This time his gallbladder needed immediate removal; it was gangrenous and a gallstone had blocked and damaged a valve by the liver.  This all sounds really bad to me, to top it off his kidneys started failing because he was septic.  Surgery is tough on a body and tougher on a body that is already in a weakened state.  So I calmly awaited another message from my family with the results of his surgery.

Around 8pm last night I got a message saying that my uncle made it out of surgery and was doing just fine.  I was able to relax a bit but sleep was difficult for me.  I was ripped by my sleep by my phone ringing at 3am, my aunt was sobbing on the phone.  My uncle had been taken to ICU because his vitals had dropped and they were discussing putting him on a respirator.  I immediately thought back to my grandmother's final surgery: she was fine and then out of left field took a nose dive for the worse and never bounced back.  So I sleepily told my aunt to stay strong and keep me posted.

Still half asleep I wandered to the bathroom, relieved myself and thought, "I wonder if my aunt is all alone at the hospital."  Why else would she call at 3am if she didn't want someone to talk to right?  So I sent her a message asking her if she needed coffee or snacks and that I could come see her.  Not much I can do for my uncle but at least I could provide comfort to my aunt.  I assumed my aunt, other uncle or mom would have been at the hospital.  Maybe I was the only one that woke up for the phone call.  So I asked the mister to make a pot of coffee (Confession: I don't know how to work our coffee maker because I don't drink coffee often enough.).  He didn't see the point of going to be with my aunt, but we did agree that everyone handles difficult moments differently.  He said he would not call anyone at 3am for emotional support.  Who knows, he hasn't been in that situation yet!  So, I got ready for my day and headed out with an insulated mug filled with liquid crack.

I got to my aunt at the hospital and her eyes were puffy, red and very sleep deprived (she had been at the hospital since the previous morning).  We both peeked in on my uncle who stabled out enough not to need a respirator.  He was wearing an oxygen mask and looked to be coming around a bit.  He wanted help adjusting his mask, wanted something to moisten his dry mouth and asked if it was 4pm.  He could see the clock behind me and I told him it was 4am, he obviously lost some time because my answer confused him a bit.  In retrospect I should have told him what day it was too.  Being put under can really throw you for a loop when you are coming to and are not in a room where you can see the window.

After we helped make him a little more comfortable my aunt and I returned to the waiting room.  There she told me that my uncle may have internal bleeding.  His vitals kept dropping and his blood count kept dropping too.  If it is determined that he has internal bleeding he will have to go back into surgery.  Here is where things get interesting: my uncle is a Jehova Witness and will not accept blood transfusions.  If he has another surgery he may not survive without a transfusion.  My uncle has yet to sign a Power of Attorney or a DNR.  Soooo, even though he doesn't wish to have a transfusion; if it is found necessary and he can't refuse it, my aunt can tell the doctors to go through with it.

I don't know how to feel about this.  I know my aunt doesn't want to lose her husband.  But I also know the rest of my family that are Jehova Witness will be furious if she has the doctors administer blood.  And I really don't know how my uncle would react if my aunt goes against his wishes.  My uncle accepts his fate and if he doesn't survive, he seems to be accepting of that fact.  My grandmother expressed the same wishes and her requests were upheld by the rest of the family though it was difficult for us to let her go.  I love my aunt and uncle very much and I want both of them to be happy.  I hope my aunt respects my uncles wishes, not because I am religious or want to keep peace in the family.  I just would want my wishes to be respected if I were in the same position.  I would want to know that the choices I make would be carried out even if I could not voice them.

I recently passed up the opportunity to get my Power of Attorney set up through work because I assumed my husband would uphold my wishes if I were on my deathbed.  After I left the hospital, I talked with the mister and it seems maybe we don't necessarily see eye to eye on our view regarding life support and resuscitation.  You would think at my age I would know better than to make assumptions.


I should know in the next few hours if another surgery is needed.  For the time being I am just going to hope that his body responds well to the surgery and treatment.  And of course I am hoping that the low blood count is due to the high amounts of saline they are giving my uncle which are watering down his system.  Sounds like I am talking about my uncle like he is whiskey on the rocks... watered down?  Is that even the right term?  I just hope it's not internal bleeding, I don't think my mind is in a good place to handle grief and loss.  My mind is barely coping with the chaos of being insta-Wicked Stepmother.  No one is really ever prepared to deal with the death of a loved one I guess.  If my uncle makes it out of that hospital I am kicking him in the ass with a healthy diet!

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