Diabetes: diabetics make this disease what it is

I spend an awful lot of time reading the posts of fellow diabetics here on Facebook. To share how we feel intimately, then stand back and view from a global level; well things have been frantic this week as always; parents with their T1 children in hospital (the parents in my mind always suffer the worst); the divorces, there is only so much stress the diabetic mind can take; the loss of medical insurance, the DKA, the throwing a can of Coke on your husband (‪#‎brilliant‬), the group meeting and the HR departments unwilling to understand. BUT I SWEAR TO YOU – from the perspective of living with diabetes on a global level, we are doing okay. In terms of fighting the fight and living an optimistic life, we are winning. We hurt, we heal, we learn and we love. We always push on.

I had to leave the cinema half way through Transformers 4 because I kept having to push past everyone to get to the toilet so many times; I gave up in the end because I didn’t want to interrupt their film in the end. I only wanted to jump out of a window once, but I came on here and near complete strangers, who often feel the same way, talked me over it. I had a sugar of 19 (UK) and had to walk up a hill for half an hour with my eyes half shut, to pull me out of it. I had you there all along, even if you didn’t always agree.

So for the Air Hostesses, the engineers, the dads, the good guys and the bad: yeah we swore a few times and it’s often hard to understand when we are not face-to-face. But diabetes damn you; I tell you; on a good day it is not such a bad disease to have.

P

Diabetes Eye-Screening Clinic

Today I opened a letter from the Diabetes Eye-Screening Clinic. I’m going to go blind.

The only thing holding in hysteria is fear. It’s over isn’t it? Please tell me it isn’t over. I can’t be over before I’ve even gotten anywhere, before I’ve even given up on myself. Everything once so promising has been taken, like a vicious knife attack but slow, far slower, couldn’t really twist it in more. “The first stages of Background Retinopathy.” black print on white paper, an accompanying leaflet listing all the ways it can go wrong from here. I can’t feel anything. I’m less than numb and unbalanced from the knees up. I guess this is the shock. I fold it back into the pile of faceless letters from the bank and hold onto Natasha for dear life, ‘It’s not even highlighted in red. It doesn’t even say urgent on the envelope.’ It’s been laying there for months now amongst a pile of loose bank letters. We stand together frozen, a nightmare where the scream does not come out. White letter and black text.
But how can this happen? I was there at the test; the woman was short and Spanish, she was apologising for the machine having being broken previously and this being a return visit. She put me at ease, told me I’d be fine when I told her how I was scared of eye tests, of how my mum now had glaucoma in the family history and that I was terrified of losing my sight; as my hands trembled.

She said from the first looks of photographs she had taken of the backs of my eyes, that there was nothing obviously wrong, no apparent damage; a couple of marks to be expected following near seventeen years of diabetes. Though nothing of obvious concern and some much needed reassurance these were yearly tests set directly to pick up any early warning signs of decay; so as to give the experts to whom these photographs would be sent much advanced notice. ‘Were they to find anything serious, they can treat a patient in advance with all the wonders of modern medicine and laser eye care therapy. Being able to eradicate it there and then,’ she said. Words taken and held onto like a comfort blanket.

But this letter doesn’t mention any of that; black text on white paper with no personal signature it reads I have the first stages of Background Retinopathy and the accompanying tissue-thin colour brochure states that one direction this may go in can be treated in some instances with laser eye care surgery: that this can work for a small percentage of some people with diabetes. Presenting next on profoundly colourful print another half dozen or so untreatable ways it’ll no doubt accelerate.

Back to the letter, they want to see me again in a year to track what route of deterioration my eyes have taken. A YEARS TIME before looking into possible treatments, if any and in the meantime I am to sit tight and it is most important I should keep my blood sugar(s) level. I can’t deal with today’s letter, it is again sealed, folded then stacked and shelved amongst the bottom end, two-thirds down a stack of white paper envelopes that I’ll never open.

Taken from my book, ‘Persona Non Grata with Diabetes.’ I hope you don’t mind me sharing. P

Official Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Living with Diabetes,You Are Not Alone

Explained with Honest Wit and

Real World Experiences

“I felt as though I was dying faster than I was living. I figured things out and I made myself better. I wrote this book for you,” Paul Cathcart.

January 07, 2014:  Paul Cathcart is diabetic, yes, but it is how he handles the disease and who he is that is quite individual among 371,000,000 fellow sufferers; a population larger than the USA screaming in silence, ubiquitously blamed by others as being overweight, lazy or lack the discipline for dietary structure.  The disease can strike anyone.

With a writing style extraordinarily unique, Cathcart streams his consciousness without hesitation onto the pages of his book, Persona Non Grata with Diabetes, named with his style of language of a quick wit and a sharp tongue, brewed from his upbringing in Glasgow, Scotland.

Raised in a working class family by a single mother, Cathcart created the picture that diabetes can and does happen to “normal,” everyday people, he smashed down the door to shed some light on what it means to live with the disease.

“The work is a head in my hands reflection and looking forward of my life with diabetes,” said the Author during an interview with Pacific Book Review.  He continued, “What led me to where I stand at the moment I decided to write this book (seventeen years trial and blood sugar error, read as emotional turmoil lost in a bigger world) and through that four year period to completion.”

Interestingly, when asked who outside his family supported him, he replied, “It took some time to get to the development stage, where I was able to reach out and ask the opinions of fellow diabetics, on whether they felt the same. Ultimately their feedback was unanimous, we are all screaming inside with this condition in one-way or another. But until then and outside of that I wish I had better things to say.”

“Say” he does. Cathcart keeps his humour and welcomes readers, both diabetic and non-diabetic, with the understanding that you don’t have to face life’s struggles alone.

Real diabetic, reader reviews have flooded in, praising the, Bravery of the Author” for Laugh out loud moments of desperation” and Finally a book about diabetes that isnt patronising, doesnt moralise and tells it like it is.

This book makes for an especially good read for those struggling with the condition but it also serves as a good educational piece for those looking to understand a loved one.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: An everyday diabetic of 20 years experience; Cathcart has come to understand his diabetes as a state-of-being rather than its medical definition. With his core belief, that only through a rightful understanding can we accept a just responsibility to our shared condition.

Author: Paul Cathcart

Author

 

Title: Persona Non Grata with Diabetes

Free chapters: http://www.pngwd.com/

Author:   Paul Cathcart

Publisher:   Paul Cathcart

ISBN:  9780957689947

Pages:  424, Paperback/Kindle

Genre:  Health & Fitness / Diseases / Diabetes

Diabetes mood-swings, anxiety, stress and depression

All I can remember in sum total are weeks and months if not years of duress. I can’t remember being well unless I think way back, way way back. And the thing is; no one at this hospital has really told me what my real symptoms were. I know they point out my dry mouth, point to deep cramps in varying places and weight loss; they are all very forthright concerning me peeing a lot of golden urine, which by all instruction should be clear in a good diabetic (yawn). But they haven’t discussed with me my late development; never question my lack of focus or poor behaviour, to them I am just ill. There is no due diligence on concentration waning or on any level the cloud that swallowed me both visually and emotionally through the time leading to diagnosis.

Retrospective prognosis to prolonged bouts of colds and flu put down all too simply and too exacting to my pancreas having bouts of stops and starts before eventually switching off for good. Semi functionality causing my immune system to become unstable: vulnerable to attack. Although this I look back on following seventeen years non-characteristic change as being the most inadequate proposal in their pronouncement.

Even if I didn’t care that they came nowhere near to explaining why; it kills me inside living with today’s knowledge that if they had put me on the sustenance I live on now, back when under their care, they could have caught me in the honeymoon period and made near escape dependency on insulin injections.

Hypotheticals aside, I was a statistic, a, ‘Nobody knows why. It’s genetic. Every diabetic is different: like fingerprints,’ and in the same breath, ‘Here, have the same medication as everyone else.’ How to explain to a boy that this was only the beginning, that what I was feeling was only a glimpse of how this condition could ruin me in the future. Nothing personal, no real interest, all experience capped off at the basics, no one under any obligation to look further.  My life had been written off entirely as, ‘Reasonably bright, absenteeism, poor grades, and best to let him go – Jesus imposter,’ leaving me to fall between the cracks. It’s terrifying the stuff they left out.

Coy shrug of the medical shoulders, and not making eye contact on that one; how to tell a child he is absolutely going to die fifteen years earlier than his friends, getting harder now I have pressed on it. Should she be telling me this, without my mum here? I’m thinking to myself. A nervous child already half way to developing a twitch and coming to the end of a serious trauma, this will either be coped with and adjusted to or I was going to scream for weeks. But I could see the purpose of fact-of-the-matter; I have to be able to deal with this.

In the surgery, and he still has the cauliflower ear he always had when I was a child; in and out of here every two weeks with a sore belly, a flu that wouldn’t shift or a cold sore. Sometimes it would fade, returning in part to a normal ear, but mostly he had been smacked hard playing rugby and he wasn’t going to allow that to bother him. He probably remembers me staring at it, while telling my mum it was just another tummy bug going around. Reminding me that peculiar under the weather feeling of childhood is exactly how I feel now with high sugar.

I have got no idea what I’m doing in life at the moment, and for me, for once, that is a good place to be. I’ll have some more insulin now, to sober up.

Fear of flying? More scared I have to go through customs with my syringes; twenty pounds for a bloody Doctors letter stating I have diabetes, to allow me onto the flight in the first place. What a rip off. Being too nervous to present it at Customs and having to ask my Tutor, Bobby Digital to take me over for support.

Relentless, Christmas drinking season on the horizon, and it’s all becoming a repetitive haze; Brunswick Cellars, 13th Note Club, late night Chinese restaurant on payday, eight of us waking up scattered over my bedroom floor twice a week. A few of us plan for a New Year celebration together, but to be honest, I think we can no longer stand the sight of each other. I throw in the towel; I have a flu that’s not flu. It’s a winter diabetic hangover like no other, that started out in autumn and it’s time for my barely standing ass to leave the party. Clearly I am the one who has let friends down.

Assumption by a member of staff behind the prescription counter at Boots on Oxford St, London that I was a drug addict; given the corresponding treatment because I tried to purchase syringes over the counter. He walks back a few steps, opens a random drawer, pretends to look inside and says, ‘We don’t have any in stock.’ ‘I am diabetic; I have somehow managed to leave my screw top needles behind at home and have insulin vials in my bag. I need to take my insulin now, I’m getting ill; look, you can even check my blood sugar.’ ‘We won’t sell insulin syringes; you will need a prescription from your Doctor.’ ‘That’s completely hopeless.’ My reaction based on if I were a drug addict, then he just sent me away to spread HIV. I kicked up shit. They got on their knees and I doubt that clown still has a job.

It has come to pass; hacket women and alcohol; I blow chainsmoke through chill air from a cold room, trying not to care. A bottle of Baileys in case of hypos; I have become a bastard, I am sorrow and I am so fucking alone. Listening on repeat to the songs that make up excuses for how I feel. Thinking on the women who cannot remember me.

Excerpts from ‘Persona non grata with diabetes’ by Paul Cathcart

 

Diabetes is costing the economy of the United Kingdom £1m per hour

Workplace

Diabetic: ‘Sorry, my blood sugar is 19.0 (US & EU 343) I must go home. I can’t think, I feel sick, I’m unable to digest, I feel faint, I’m trembling, sweating though my shirt, breath smells sweet, must have forgotten to take my night time insulin. I must go home and have my insulin before I fall over into a hyper-coma.’

Boss: “So bloody inconvenient.” – Inner voice. Shrug of the shoulders, ‘So, what does that mean? Are you saying you have to go home again – now?  You don’t have it with you?‘

Diabetic: ‘Well yeah, I’m really unwell.’

Boss: ‘You can’t have someone drop it off for you?’

Diabetic: ‘I need to lie down.’

Boss: ‘It’s not ideal you know. We have other key team members off sick at the moment.’

Diabetic: “Yeah with hangovers.” – Inner voice.  ‘I’m sorry there is nothing I can do. I need to head home and have my night time insulin and rest till it takes effect.’

Boss: “Yeah, like that’s my problem.” – Inner voice. ‘It isn’t the best time you know? We have tight deadlines to meet and you were off already with the diabetes. Can’t you have some Coca-Cola? I have some birthday cake on my desk with a hundred candles on it; wait and have a bit of that instead?’

Diabetic, ‘I was at the Diabetic Clinic the last time I was off. Listen, my eyes are going blurry and I have to go urgently.’

Boss: ‘Fair enough; it’s very inconsiderate but if you really have to… Oh, but can you finish up first and send updates to everyone on exactly what they will have to do to cover for you at such short notice. And haven’t you got meetings scheduled this afternoon? You don’t want to miss them and we’re all going to sing Happy Birthday to Cheryl on Reception… And we have that Marketing presentation.’

Diabetic: ‘I need to go now.’

Boss: ‘Well when will you be back?’

Diabetic: ‘Tomorrow morning.’

Boss: ‘So why were you off for so long last time, wasn’t that the diabetes?’

Diabetic: ‘No. I was on holiday.’

Boss: ‘You were on the phone and sending emails all the time.’

Diabetic: ‘You had me working from home to meet deadlines.’

Boss: ‘Well if you really have to go, I suppose… but didn’t I see you smoking?’

Diabetic: ‘Twelve years ago.’

Boss: ‘That’s what gave you the diabetes then; self-inflicted?’

Diabetic: ‘No.’

Boss: ‘And what about James in Marketing, his grandmother has the diabetes, what did he say?’

Diabetic: ‘To have some cake.’

Boss: ‘I told you I’ve got cake in my office. And Cheryl on Reception, whose birthday you’re going to miss, she has the asthma, what does she say about all this?’

Diabetic: ‘That I should get a new diet-book.’

Boss: ‘Great idea! And what about Brian in Human Resources, what does he think?’

Diabetic: ‘That he fancies Cheryl.’

Boss: ‘And Harold in Accounts?’

Diabetic: ‘He fancies Cheryl as well.’

Boss: ‘Harold had the flu last week and he is back at his desk. What does he make of your diabetes?’

Diabetic: ‘He thinks it’s probably caused by work related stress because you keep taking on three-month projects and telling the clients we can deliver in three weeks.’

Boss: ‘What about your Doctor say; he must be sick of looking at you.’

Diabetic: ‘He says have more insulin and get myself a better diet-cook-book.’

Boss: ‘And the Specialists? You had a day off to see them before; did they not fix the diabetes?’

Diabetic: ‘They just said to eat what I like and have more insulin and buy their latest diet-cookery-books.’

Boss: ‘What about that thing on the news where they cured that dog. Can they not do that to you?’

Diabetic: ‘I don’t think it works like that.’

Boss: ‘Well, I see what you’re saying but I don’t feel you are doing yourself any favours and no-one here is going to give you a cuddle. Hadn’t you better snap out of it?’

Diabetic: ‘???’

Boss: ‘So all that and you’re really not willing to have some cake?’ hand on the shoulder, ‘Are you not just being a little bit difficult? I never planned for you to be off ill all of the time. Can you not just do me a personal favour and get better?’

Diabetic: ‘You don’t understand. I’m not being deliberately difficult. I need to go home now. I’m really ill!’

*The current cost to the economy of direct patient care, which includes treatment, intervention and complications, for those living with diabetes is estimated at £9.8 billion.

The current indirect costs associated with diabetes, such as those related to increased death and illness, work loss and the need for informal care, are estimated at £13.9 billion

It’ll be alright if we can just be unwell on very specific days, such as on holidays, Bank Holidays, Christmas Holidays and the Queen’s Birthday, but not working holidays.

If you can’t manage that then just be ill at everyone else’s convenience, and know well in advance when you expect to be ill; for exactly how long; have an ailment considered acceptable (falling into criteria of your Boss’s, colleagues and Doctor’s satisfaction); be willing to work from home unpaid whilst absent; never present the same ailment more than once in a single year (so uncouth); get on your knees and beg forgiveness – but don’t drool (too untidy) and promise (cross my heart and hope to die) never-ever to be ill again.

Clearly as a country we are calculating profit and loss in a game of chickens before they hatch; discrediting real world factors (our health – we are all made up of protein and bacteria after all) and promoting them as excuses for poor economic stability. Last year we entered into a double-dip recession riding on the back of a Royal Wedding and some snow. Running out of excuses fast, they pick on us.

Guilt in favour of understanding; welcome to the Health Class System.

*Deaths from diabetes in 2010/11 resulted in over 325,000 lost working years.

 

Written by Paul Cathcart, Author of ‘Persona non grata with diabetes.

www.pngwd.com

http://www.amazon.com/o/ASIN/B00CH41L8W/

//* Official statistics quoted from Diabetes UK. http://www.diabetes.org.uk/About_us/News_Landing_Page/NHS-spending-on-diabetes-to-reach-169-billion-by-2035/

What is diabetic emotion?

While I respect the wish-list deliverable of a ‘diabetes cure‘ and observe growing concerns over a global diabetes time bomb, I can’t help but feel the actual reality of diabetic understanding (not diabetes) continues to evade us.

“For us diabetes amplifies everything; if you feel just-not-right then broken blood sugar will make it wrong, as alcohol does an alcoholic; every bone of contention, every pulse of ill will, slight upset or lull, every wave of exhaustion and misunderstanding all amplified. Deformation of sadness, doubt, and dependency; symptoms lost in a bigger world, it leaves us wilting. We push on.”

Hello World!

I want to get better.

 

Paul Cathcart, Author of ‘Persona non grata with diabetes.’

www.pngwd.com