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Unexpected illumination

Posted Sep 01 2013 12:00am

Nothing ever goes away until it teaches us what we need to know

runs one of the quotes above my desk. It’s been running through my brain, too, ever since the another-five-years-of-Tamoxifen bombshell. I’ve been wondering what I’ve not learned.

(For the rationalists among you: I do recognise the sound scientific basis for another five years of tamoxifen, and that the entire universe is not really bending to teach me a lesson. But I am still prepared to learn one, if there’s one there.)

While I tried to figure out The Lesson, I went to see my GP, and explained that if I was doing this for another 5 years, I could do with a bit of help and support. She listened, and suggested evening primrose oil, and asked how I was feeling. “I don’t know,” I said, “my body just seems – bewildered. It has for a while.” So we agreed that we would do blood tests for everything.

And everything was fine. Everything except blood sugar, that is. To cut a long story short: I have developed type 2 diabetes.

Although this wasn’t something that was on my horizon, the smallest amount of thought shows that it’s not much of a surprise. Type 2 diabetes runs in the family: the chance of it is increased by taking tamoxifen; I’ve been overweight for a fair amount of the last five years. So the news is hardly a shock.

It is at an early stage; the doctor and I agree that I should be able to manage it by paying attention to my diet.

And paying attention to my diet means: eat less cake, less processed food, more fruit and vegetables, more pulses. Eat regularly. Don’t drink too much.

I knew all this, of course. It’s hardly astronaut-diet. It’s just common sense.

But was I doing it? No. I don’t eat badly, really, but it’s amazing what you notice when you start paying attention to what goes in to your mouth. How many times cheese finds its way on to the plate. How easy it is to have a biscuit when you’re hungry, even though you have to walk past the nectarines to get to them.

It’s too early to say what the implications of these changes are, especially after the food-poisoning curve ball of last week. Although my blood sugar was reading 8 this morning (as opposed to 12.6 on my fasting blood test results from the doctor). And I think I feel better.

So. I think I have learned something that I needed to know. Because of the resented, and unwanted, extended-Tamoxifen diagnosis. Not only have I learned about the diabetes, but I’ve learned to think much more carefully about what my body needs. And I’m so glad I can’t even be bothered to resent the Tamoxifen any more.

Weirdly: happy days.

September 1, 2013
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