The Mundling Zone

Thoughts, rants, and raves from the desk of Michelle Mundling

Sunday, August 29, 2004

The Struggle Begins

Okay, now it's officially out that I have diabetes. It was only a matter of time before I acquired it; it wasn't a question of if or maybe but a question of when. It runs on both sides of the family. I was hoping that I would get it later rather than sooner. However, now that I have it, I have to deal with it.

Oh sure! I could ignore it ... and face the consequences later: kidney failure, circulatory problems, heart disease, limb loss. Nope! If I want to have any quality of life when I get older, I must deal with it now. Apparently, I was already dealing with the more immediate consequences of high blood sugar when I went to see my doctor that Tuesday morning when I could barely stay awake, much less move.

I've done some reading on the Internet about diabetes, mainly located at WebMD.com. Apparently, my consumption of starchy food in combination with my weight has made my body more resistant to the insulin produced by my pancreas. My doctor prescribed Actos to make my body more sensitive to the insulin.

In the meantime, I've got to reprogram my diet to where starches and carbohydrates are not the main part of my diet. That's the hard part. Despite my mother's best intentions, I was a meat-and-potatoes girl. Even now, I've got lots of lean meat in the freezer that can be cooked to perfection on the George Foreman grill. Now, what do we have to go with it? Hmmm ... we have rice, instant mashed potatoes, pasta, frozen french fries ... are you starting to see a pattern here? I'm having to watch my sodium intake, so a can of green beans could do me more harm than good. Looks like I need to make a trip to the supermarket to stock up on fresh and frozen veggies.

I got my glucometer this week. I'd hate to think what the Actos, the glucometer, the test strips, and the lancets would cost if I didn't have my HMO. I forked out $85.00 for all that ... that was my copay. Looking back, it probably wasn't much, but it still took me by surprise.

Now, anyone who knows me will tell you that I HATE NEEDLES! I don't like getting shots, and I don't like having my blood drawn. If I ever say I want a shot, it's either because I'm sick or in pain. The last time I requested a shot was when I became violently ill at 3 AM one morning ... throwing up and diarrhea. I couldn't keep anything down, not even water. By 8 AM, I was calling my doctor's office, begging to be seen so I could get a Phenergan (an antihistamine with anti-emetic properties) shot. Yes, I was THAT sick. It worked, though. Within 30 minutes of that shot in my butt, I actually felt a little snacky. I was also high as a kite. I'm sure the pharmacy people at Eckerd Drugs wondered if I could legally write a check in my condition I was so loopy. However, Dad thought I was the only one who could get it filled, so he made me get out of the car and go in. I'm getting off the subject here, but I think you get my point.

I hate needles, and now I have to prick my finger four times a day to check my blood sugar level. Oh well, it could be worse. I could have to give myself insulin injections, so I guess I'd better count my blessings and work with the cards I've been dealt. Well, after five days, I'm used to it. I still don't like it, but my fingers are not as sensitive to it like they used to be.

Speaking of insulin injections, I hope I never get to the point that I need to do that. However, I've read that there are other options, like the insulin pump and the insulin pen. If I ever have to go there, I think I'll try the pen. I've had inoculations with an air gun, and I'd much rather use an insulin pen that functions similarly than insert a sharp foreign object into my body. I'm kinda funny about that.

That's about all I have for now. I will update on my progress periodically.

Saturday, August 28, 2004

Lord, Give Me Strength!

It's been a while since I've made a substantial entry. During the last couple of months, I've had to deal with some major situations in my life.

I have a family member who is seriously ill. Drusilla is an elderly lady with diabetes, degenerative joint disease in her back, an artificial hip, osteoporosis, arthritis, and macular degeneration. She already had an uphill battle every day she woke up dealing with these ailments. However, she always made it a point to get up and do something.

For the last few months, Drusilla has not been eating like she should. In fact, she's been eating so little, she started losing weight -- too much weight. Well, Drusilla's diet took its toll, and she is now bedridden. Her low blood sugar prompted a call to 911 and a trip to the emergency room. They admitted her to the hospital, where they discovered she also had pneumonia.

I've been helping Drusilla's husband Fred take care of her. Soul Sister strongly suggested that the visiting nurses service be utilized; she said taking care of a bedridden person would be too much for just two people, especially when one of them has to work for a living. However, Drusilla insisted she did not want visiting nurses or to be put in a nursing home. Fred and I worked hard to respect her wishes.

After three weeks of trying to care for her, it became painfully obvious that the two of us just could not do it. Fred is an elderly man himself. I work a full time job with a long commute. Anyone who has cared for a bedridden person will tell you it's a physically demanding and time-consuming job. You're caring for a human being, so you can't rush anything if you want the patient to be clean and comfortable. You have to mentally put yourself in their place and imagine how you would want to be treated and cared for.

Well, at the same time this is going on, my coworker ended up in the hospital herself with kidney failure. Now she's out on sick leave. We know she's not coming back, but we can't hire a replacement until she runs out of leave. We're looking at two months or more. My supervisor and I are handling the workload okay. However, my having to learn and remember to do new, unfamiliar tasks under a deadline is stressful. You never realize how much you rely on someone until they're gone. She was a pro. In any case, the timing of this situation at work could not have been worse as far as my dealing with increased stress levels.

I tried to continue my water aerobics classes, but I found I didn't have the strength or the stamina to help Drusilla with her leg exercises and other tasks on the days I attended the classes. I ended up skipping several classes during those three weeks.

By the start of that third week, I was experiencing what I originally thought were mild anxiety attacks: chest pains, tingling in hands, feet, and scalp, fleeting lightheadedness ... I knew I was under a lot of stress, so I tried to deal with the symptoms as best as I could. However, I was also experiencing fatigue and shortness of breath ... NOT a good combination with chest pains. I also had been having trouble sleeping. I know that happens to everyone once in a while. However, when you have sleep apnea and you're waking up gasping for air and feeling the oxygen deprivation in your hands, you're not sleeping.

I went to work that Monday, but I had trouble concentrating on my job. I was fatigued and wanted to go home. When I got home, I went straight to bed and stayed there until Tuesday morning. I woke up, well, I TRIED to wake up. I had so much trouble getting out of bed. Then when I finally did get out of bed, all I could do was sit. I could barely move. By 7 AM, it was obvious something was wrong with me, so I called in sick. I reset my clock so I could go back to bed and wake up when the doctor's office opened.

My doctor put me on an EKG machine (my heart was fine, thank God!), prescribed me a diuretic and ordered some blood tests. He requested a two-week follow up visit.

The diuretic worked great. It got rid of the excess fluid around my chest so I could breathe again. I've been sleeping very well since. No more waking up gasping for air.

My blood tests, however, revealed that I have diabetes. Considering my coworker and Drusilla both have diabetes and are dealing with the potentially lethal complications associated with the disease, you can imagine the impact this news had on me. I took the news better than I expected, but again ... the timing was not good.

By the time I found out the results of my blood tests, Drusilla was back in the hospital, with faithful Fred by her side. Despite our efforts, she still wasn't eating enough food, and her blood sugar started dropping again. While in the hospital, she'd eat and her sugar level would be okay for a while. Then, without warning, it would suddenly plunge. When it suddenly dropped to 16 one evening, the doctors ordered tests on her liver.

The doctors discovered her liver was depleted of stored glucose. This was because it had to compensate for the lack of nutrition her body was getting the last several months. You see, when the body's blood sugar level drops, the liver kicks in with stored glucose to bring the blood sugar level back up.

Fred and Drusilla discussed the possibility of a nursing home. After seeing what Fred and I had been going through trying to care for her, she changed her mind and agreed to go to a nursing home. However, it was only going to be for rehabilitation ... so she could walk again. If not, she'll be cared for at her home with the visiting nurses service three times a week. Fred and I will do the rest.

After all this, the big question is: why can't Drusilla eat? It's tough to answer. At first, her small intestines were blamed. Then they focused on her esophagus. Heck, we've even wondered if she had a death wish and was not eating on purpose (she said no, by the way). They refocused on her esophagus and discovered it was raw and irritated; they're still trying to find out why. They also discovered her stomach has shrunk considerably and cannot hold as much food as a normal-sized stomach. Combine that with a diminished appetite, and you can see why she's in the state she's in now. When your back is eat up with arthritis, you're in pain; you have no desire to eat when you're hurting. This opens the door to diminishing the immune system and creating more ailments to deal with.

The questions I'm anticipating include: "Didn't you see she was starving herself?" or "Couldn't you tell she wasn't eating much?" Well, for one thing, it's hard to judge how much a person has eaten when you're not around that person 24 hours a day; it was never an issue or a topic of discussion. Second, she wore baggy clothes. It wasn't until recently that we could tell she was getting thinner. Finally, she's a fiercely independent woman. She's not going to tell you she needs help or is in pain unless she absolutely has to. Remember the scene from Driving Miss Daisy when Hoke was applying for the chauffeur job? Hoke inquired about Miss Daisy's mental capabilities, and her son replied, "Oh she's all there all right! Too much all there is the problem!" That's Drusilla!!

Drusilla has been through a lot, but she's still fighting. God bless her!

As for me, it has been an exhausting summer: physically, psychologically, and emotionally.

Advertisements in Song Lyrics?

I read an article on FoxNews.com by Russell Scott Smith. He wrote about how Hip-Hop artists are naming popular name brands in their lyrics. I can see that. If you like something good enough, you'll want people to know how great it is.

However, the article also included that many of these artists are paid by advertisers to mention their products in the artists' lyrics. I used to hear these artists talk all the time about how they had a message, that they had a story to tell about life on the street or in their 'hood. Uh huh. Now that they're more mainstream, they can be bought. I heard 'Lil Kim's track The Jump Off after reading the article, and it sounds more like a commercial now.

Hmmm ... wonder what I could get for writing a poem about my truck?

Get real!

Now that I've read the article, I'm going to wonder how much the artist got paid if he or she mentions a name brand in the lyrics. So much for artistic integrity.

Friday, August 27, 2004

A Quote I Agree With

In Jeanette Walls' column The Scoop about the controversy of the possibility of Britney Spears making an appearance at the Republican National Convention,

"... the [Traditional Values Coalition's] executive director, Peter LaBarbera, tells The Scoop, though 'a few people have argued that the Democrats have all the Hollywood celebrities so we need her star power, but I think that could be played to the Republicansí advantage. . . . [Many] Americans are sick of celebritiesí political views being shoved down their throat.'"

YES! YES! YES! YES! YEEEEEEEEESSSSSSSSSSSS!!!!!!!!

'Scuse me; I got carried away.

I know I've made other entries about celebrities and their opinions. It's obviously a sore spot with me. It's not because I disagree with some of them. It's because they act like they're authority figures for their causes and their demonization of anyone who disagrees with their opinions. That's when they cross the line.

The other thing that bugs me about celebrities and artists is how they try to shield themselves under the guise of free speech whenever they're admonished for their words and/or actions. With freedom comes responsibility; how you act and what you say can be held against you when it adversely affects other people. When their feet are held to the flames, they scream that their free speech is being violated. Heiferdust!!! And for those who get vulgar for the sake of vulgarity or because, "It's free speech; I can say whatever I want!" My response to that is, "You're confusing free speech with flatulence, and I'm tired of you stinking up the place!!"

But that's just MY opinion ...

Thursday, August 26, 2004

Embryonic Stem Cell Research: A Response

My sister Pamela wrote a response to KenoshaNews.com about one of their articles pertaining to the alleged "benefits" of embryonic stem cell research. I regret I do not have access to the article. However, her response seems to directly answer questions the media tends to tiptoe around.

-----------------------------------------------

To: Focus@KenoshaNews.com

In regards to your KNews focus for the upcoming week:

Iíve heard many ideas about why we should do embryonic stem cell research. As a medical paraprofessional, Iíve done my own research of articles and here is my conclusion: there is absolutely NO SCIENTIFIC REASON to do research on embryonic stem cells! The cells are too unstable. Although patients experience initial rapid progress, it is followed by even more rapid deterioration.

Adult stem cell research clearly demonstrates that although initial progress is slower, it is far more stable and recipients are not prone to regression. Even more promising are stem cells taken from one area of a donors body (such as fat cells and marrow) and injected into the problem area (such as, the patients own diseased heart).

To subject people and their families to false hopes is beyond cruel. How dare scientists play on the emotions of the desperate simply to feel superior. Embryonic stem cell research is completely unnecessary from a scientific point of view.

So, Should the government fund this atrocity?

Absolutely NOT!

Pamela A. Mundling

Monday, August 16, 2004

Terra Stix

This is my latest addiction:



You want to talk about a snack food with minimal salt and MAJOR CRUNCH??? If you love potato sticks, you will like these. I like these Terra Stix better than potato sticks. Not overly salty and not greasy. The company has a web site worth looking at.

Give me a coca cola with these stix, and I'm all set!

Sunday, August 15, 2004

A Cool Quiz

I took this quiz, and the results are below:



what decade does your personality live in?

quiz brought to you by lady interference, ltd


Totally tripendicular! I'm, like, a lady of the 80's, like totally fer shurr!

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Consumer Backlash Against Celebrities

Catherine Donaldson-Evans of Fox News wrote an article yesterday called Consumers Fight Political Stars With Dollars. I have a few thoughts I'd like to add to her article.

I am one of many consumers who are sick and tired of Hollywood stars and celebrities using their "star power" to act as authority figures for their causes. I'm not talking about expressing their opinions; that's their right and I respect that right.

What really infuriates me is when some of them openly criticize this country yet reap all the benefits of performing in this country (hello Madonna, Elton John, Jessica Lange, Sean Penn, et al). In fact, many of them wait until they are in another country before they proceed to trash this country. Hey! Nobody is making them stay in the USA. Delta is ready when they are.

According to BBC News, World Edition, Elton John is quoted as saying, " stars are scared to speak out against war in Iraq because of "bullying tactics" used by the US government to hinder free speech. " He used the backlash against the Dixie Chicks as an example. The only problem with his theory is that the backlash was not by the government, but by the outraged fans and consumers. In general, we Americans know bullsh!t when we see it. Spare me, Elton. You make these remarks about all this fear and neo-McCarthyism in my country, yet you were performing in New York at the time you made these remarks? It's not the government you should fear; it should be your fans. You know ... the ones who buy your albums and your concert tickets, but not your bullsh!t. Fans are fickle, but an angry fan feels betrayal and will put more effort into the backlash against you than into his/her collection of your artistic work.

Celebrities, stick with what you know: entertaining. You have something to say or an opinion to share? Get a web site and start blogging. However, stop acting like authority figures; you're not. You're all goldfish living in a fish bowl. You have no idea what's really going on in the world. It's time for you to get down from your podiums and swim back to your fantasy lives in your own personal million dollar fishbowl.

And word to Whoopi: the republicans didn't make SlimFast dump you, the owner of Slim Fast made Slim Fast dump you. The owner of Slim Fast is a democrat, not a republican.