I’m not surprised that was the first question out of the mouth of my Significant Other’s new primary care doctor. Doctor S. is not a stupid man – so far as I can tell. But he is a man of numbers and secure facts from a world of white coats and sterile surgical steel.
When faced with a medical conundrum like my SO the first thing he does is try to quantify him; he wants the solution to the puzzle and he wants it rapidly and in simple English.
My SO is not a man of many words, himself.
He shrugged at the question and asked, “What’d I tell ya, Doc?”
They were speaking about the fact that my SO’s blood sugar count was just over 500. And that his triglycerides were at 818. And that, oddly, all of his other numbers were normal.
Allow me to go back to July of two years ago: My SO and I were involved in a motorcycle accident. I got out of it with just a bit of road rash, but he broke all the ribs on his left side and his clavicle. Two of the broken ribs punctured his left lung. He was in the hospital for two weeks and was on a ventilator for a week of that time. He was also diagnosed with diabetes. When he was admitted, his blood sugar was roughly 600 . . . he hadn’t eaten in several hours. For the unaware, normal blood sugar levels fall somewhere between 70 and 100 (a little more, depending on who you actually ask). Most meters won’t read past 400 or so – they simply say HIGH. And above 500 is diabetic coma range in most everyone.
The hospital’s doctors weren’t so much worried about the aftermath of the accident. They were worried about the fact that he was in the hospital for two weeks and they’d only managed to bring his blood sugar levels down to about 300 or so. He was discharged and firmly told to begin seeing a regular doctor to work on his diabetes and his blood pressure (which was also abnormally high for a fully functional middle-aged male).
He was “good.” He went to the new primary doctor for about six months. His blood sugar was brought down to a comparatively reasonable 100 – 150 and his blood work was good. But then he started to have differences of opinion with that doctor. And stopped seeing him. And put off finding a new doctor for about three months.
In that time, he got sick. His blood sugar went back up. He started feeling feverish all the time. He wasn’t able to keep much food down. For about a month he was essentially a vegetarian who had to pee more often than a pregnant woman, because he was drinking two gallons of water every single day – in addition to about another gallon of misc. liquid.
He finally caved in and went to a new primary doctor when he weighed himself and realized that he’d lost 50 pounds since leaving his old doctor. He went from just over 350 down to 309 in about two months. He was 309 on the Friday he went for his first new patient visit. And lost another fifteen pounds between that visit and his visit yesterday. When he found out about his current sugar and triglyceride levels.
Now, he has new prescriptions for an insulin pen and blood pressure medication. Two things out of the five that the doctor initially wanted him on. Doctor S. has agree to compromise and let him try just the essentials, first, to see how things are at the end of the month. My SO is grudgingly content with Doctor S. He may even eventually not mistrust him on sight – he doesn’t like doctors, even though he tends to like nurses.
For now, my SO is on the couch, sipping hot chocolate and shivering a little.
This is one of the hardest things about him. He is very self-contained and is a dominant – in just about every definition of the word. Ours is not a traditional boyfriend/girlfriend relationship. We have a dynamic, but we are not “together,” because that implies equality. I’m his and have been for four years and hope to be for however long we have left. I love him, simply put, and I’m his submissive/slave/take your pick. I can’t force him to go to the doctor; I can only tell him over and over that he should. I can’t make him take the medications; I can only lay them out and remind him of them.
He’s stubborn and feels that he knows best for himself. And he might, actually, but times like these are still hard. I wish I knew the words that would make him take a more conventional view of modern health, but I know he knows all the arguments already. It doesn’t make either of us any better off for me to scold him again and again – it just makes him more determined to go his own path to prove himself right. It’s a flaw, admittedly.
But he is not unconscious. And he wants to get better, healthy. He’s realized he needs to.
And so his medications are not merely his responsibilities – they are ours.
I will help him as he tries to help himself. Even though I don’t completely agree with his methods. I know he can bounce back. Because he has before. And hopefully he will realize, this time, that he can’t stop taking the meds just because he feels better . . . because the meds are what are making him feel better. It’s a simple, small thing, but something a lot of people can take various issues with.
I’m not one of those people. I grew up with medical issues that are still a more or less constant facet of my live (asthma, anemia, and epilepsy, oh my!). But he was “healthy,” up until the bike accident. Or, at least, he was undiagnosed.
Which, unfortunately, he views as more or less the same thing.