Saying last year was “interesting” is probably overstating and understating at the same time. I can no longer kid myself that I’m a young man; from here on out I can expect “interesting” times. That those time will sometimes be worse is a give as I’ve already gone through worse. But calling it a good year even by those standards is pushing things.
It started early. Either in January or February, I disremember which, Brother Todd began having problems with urinating again. While discussing this with a doctor, he learned that his urine was “like syrup”. Seems he has diabetes.
Okay, fine. Dad had diabetes. It’s a known thing. We can handle it. Todd started a diabetic diet. I, being a Good Big Brother (relatively speaking) joined him. At least as far as I was willing to join him. I needed to lose weight anyways, this that and the other, so I cutted my pop intake to once a day and called it good.
Meantime he went off script a couple of times, found his blood sugar doesn’t go crazy, and decided that he’s not diabetic. He may later regret that particular decision; that’s not exactly relevant quite yet.
Jake died naturally during this period, a shock I’m not sure any of my immediates have really recovered from. In true Jake fashion, the little creep picked February 29 to do it in, meaning there will never be a time when I won’t be thinking of it. I loved that little dog to death, but I could just kill him for that.
About July Mom went into the hospital for the first of three visits. Infection of some kind. Not. Fun. Ultimately some good came out of it, as for years she’s thought she was allergic to penicillin. Turned out this is no longer the case, and she’s keeping herself health with two pills a day. So there’s that.
During her stay they informed her she’s diabetic. “No,” she replied, “I’m just overweight.” Which began a six or seven month battle to get that off her charts. Ultimately they settle for “On the Road to Diabetes”, a diagnosis she takes great pride in.
(Digression #1: Before we continue, let me put in a word about doctors and hospital stays. During her third trip in she had a doctor walk into her room, open up her file on the computer and talk about changes in her diabetes medicine. “I don’t take diabetes medicine,” she told him, but this doctor assured her that she did, every day, it said so right there on the computer.
(Which it did.
(It might have helped if the doctor was actually talking to Mrs Walters as the file said, and not Mrs. Waters. But you can’t have everything, now can you?
(I’d like to tell you that was what sent my opinion down to it’s current low, but that particular nadir happened earlier in the year. We’ll talk about it tomorrow.)
The first stay encompassed my birthday, so you know how much fun I had on that particular anniversary. Also during that period our cat Lady passed away. This one we’d been expecting for some time; she’d been having seizures. I keep seeing her around the place even now, which considering some of the adventures we had together, is only fitting.
Speaking of pets, we’d been expecting Elwood to go since November 2015. At one point he stopped eating for a time and he hadn’t been walking much due to a problem with his rear legs pointed to a short time left with us. That he made it to March of this year proved quite well how much we underestimated him and his Dachshund will. In how many different ways we will probably never know.
(Digression #2: This is not the best example of underestimating Elwood, but it is my favorite.
(While Mom was in the hospital that first time, Todd and I would take turns sitting with her so that at no point was she alone. The other would stay at home and tend to Lady and Elwood. As Elwood wasn’t walking at all, this meant being not only bringing him over food and water, but also periodically carrying over to a doggy mat so he could take care of business.
(I can’t speak for Todd’s portion of this duty, but with me, I had him laying in a little doggy bed near my computer. That way I could get to him the moment he needed to go.
(Now on the night Lady died, I was concerned that I hadn’t seen her eat that day. Concerned she wasn’t handling solids, I set up a bowl of chicken broth for her. She passed that particular treat right up, which was about the time I knew she wasn’t long for this world.
(In any case, I left the bowl down beside me, hoping she’d come for it. Elwood, knowing damn good and well it’s there, decided he couldn’t let an opportunity like this go by. He got himself up and hobbled over to the bowl.
(Seeing him do this (a memory that still brings tears about the eyes) I became convinced that whatever caused his leg problems was rectifying itself. I was, of course, wrong. A few weeks later even this mobility would be gone and Elwood would content himself to being carried for the remainder of his life.
(This wasn’t the worse diagnosis I’d make that year. That particular boner I’ll be talking about presently.)
With all the deaths and hospital stays going on, Todd and I decided that as we didn’t know just how much longer we were going to have Elwood, we might as well make what time we had with him as memorable as possible. Thus the whole family went out on rides. Sometimes quite long ones.
One of our trips involved hitting a state park that had buffalo in an enclosed place. Figured we’d show Elwood the true big guys (Elwood wasn’t impressed).
During this trip I made a lot of stops. I’d pull over to hit a rest room, then in maybe ten minutes I’d pull over and hit one again. Seemed like I did that a lot lately.
“You know,” Todd said after one such stop, “frequent urination is a sign of diabetes.”
I, of course, scoffed at that. Scoffed I say. I couldn’t possibly have diabetes.
How did I know?
I felt fine.
But, being me, I let Todd’s words prey on me and prey on me. Until finally I said to myself, “I know this is just some urinary track infection or something and it’ll just go away, but why don’t I check the sugars just once. That way I know and I don’t have to think about this crap any more.”
So I borrowed Mom’s meter, pricked my left pointer finger, and tested my sugars. And the number it said was 498.
That couldn’t be right. I checked it again.
Okay, maybe there’s something wrong with the meter. Those numbers are horribly high, even I know that, and I feel fine.
Todd still had his meter, even though he wasn’t using it, so for a third time I checked the sugars.
I think I might have a problem here.
Thus on this day one year ago, I went in to see a doctor for myself for the first time in a quarter of a century.