Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Why do I blog about my health?

The HAWMC (yesterday I left out the "M" for month - oops!) prompt for today - #4: Why do you write about your health?

When I started this blog, not so long ago, it was a release for the frustration I was feeling at having a complex medical history with a need for multiple specialists - and having to navigate all of that on my own.  Since I don't belong to Kaiser (where patient management and prevention is The Way), and I'm too picky to automatically accept referrals for specialists from my primary care doc without vetting them in person or by phone, I really have to become my own coordinator and advocate.  Really, I've been doing this all along. However, I have not made managing my health needs a top priority over the needs of my family, and even my "career" such as it is.

That had to, and has to continue to change.  I can't change who I am, so my responsibilities to others will probably always come first. I really don't want to change that - just to find a better balance.

From late October through mid-January, I was sick. Very sick in a 5 days vomiting, 4 days starting to recover, wash. rinse. repeat. sort of way.  So clearly, I had to drop everything else and figure out how to get out of the cyclic vomiting (syndrome) in which my formerly intermittent/mild gastroparesis become a full stop of any digestion whatsoever.  Which, since I have type 1 diabetes, means that I needed to better manage that disease while figuring out why my stomach just quit working on me.  I also have a collection of other special issues and medical needs - most of which center around an autoimmune fixation for my melodramatic immune system.

That damn thing is always over-reacting. I hate drama.

I guess that the impulsive decision to start my tongue in cheek Self-help Book served as a way to organize my tactics, form an overall strategy, and to document some of the process. Because in the past I will tackle a problem with lots of research, reading, analysis, and self-experimentation - but unlike the detail oriented scientist I am by day, I often failed to record my findings. So my approach has been inconsistent, and I can't always remember what worked and what didn't.

Another result of blogging that I should have expected but didn't, is the sharing (over-sharing?) of my health issues.  I am very very open with people when they ask about diabetes or any other chronic health issue that I have. But usually it is 1) Just The Facts, Ma'am, or 2) You Can Do It!, but only very rarely and with people I trust do I talk about how I Feel about my health problems.  I guess I don't want people to identify me as a diseased person. Janet the Diabetic, Janet with Stomach Problems, Janet with The Claw, blah blah blah.

And there seems to be a common misperception that I don't ask for help. Or don't know how to ask for help.  But that's really not true. It's true that I would have preferred to spend a happy life providing others with help without ever needing any myself. But wouldn't most people?  And it's true that I have this stubborn force of will issue going on. But is that really so bad?  It is no fun to be dependent on others to get through your day.  But guess what? If you have never had this experience yet, consider yourself blessed and don't take it for granted.  It is likely that the majority of folks will need some help at some point in their lives.  I would have loved to put off learning the skill of accepting help until I was 80+, but that was not in my cards.  So...I have a support network that is really awesome, starting with Mr. Wonderful, and my daughter, and my mom, and some dear friends who've stepped in when needed, and our Parish here in Alameda where there is a casserole brigade to bring my family dinner when I'm down for the count. And I will ask them all for help when I need it, for sure.  Anyway, back to the point of this paragraph (the prompt did say to just free-write for 15-20 minutes...but I've gone over now):  writing about my health and sharing through this blog gives the people who want to know more the option of reading more about how I'm doing, what's up with me lately, what experiments am I trying, and what do I think and feel. As the blog and my experience writing evolve, I hope that I can be a resource to help others. That isn't why I started, but it is where I would love to end up.

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