Diabetes ailments arent just limited to blood sugar highs and lows.
By Travis Grubbs
July 2009 —Damn type 2 diabetes. When I was diagnosed with type 2 I did not realize that I had a condition that would carry the blame for a list of future ills. These include, but are not limited to, muscle soreness in my neck and shoulders, aching joints, leg cramps, irregular sleep patterns, and dry skin. To my relief most of these diabetes "ailments" only intrude in my life on an infrequent basis, with dry skin being the exception.
One night, I was watching a television program about elephants marching across the African dessert in search of water. I could really relate to the herd rushing into a muddy watering hole, excited at the prospect of spraying water and mud over their dry and cracked pachyderm skin. For some reason, diabetes does not like the skin on my hands, arms, shins, and neck. I have to treat these areas daily with a moisturizer, which has required some adjustment on my part.
I do not care for perfumed or "powdery smelling" lotions. I want something that makes me smell like a man, or has no scent at all. I would prefer that it makes my skin feel soft and healthy, but if it just allows me to stop scratching into my skin, searching for imaginary creatures that are boring underneath, without smelling "pretty", I will be satisfied.
A few weeks ago, I noticed a new problem with my skin. Red "splotches" began appearing on my left side and behind my left shoulder. They also itched like crazy. I began treating them with hydrocortisone. The itch subsided and they started to fade, but then similar areas began appearing on my right side and shoulder. I then decided it was time to consult my physician, Dr. R. I knew I was going to get the same "It's more diabetes ailments," response. I was right, but there was a twist. I had ring worm! I was intrigued, and somewhat repulsed. "How did I get ring worms?" I asked. Dr. R. slightly rolled his eyes and responded, "It's not a real worm, it's a fungus," (which raised my repulsion level).
"Then why is it called ring worm?" I asked. He ignored that question.
I had become contaminated with a fungus. I felt dirty. How do you go home and tell your beloved, "Give me a hug, I have a fungus"? Try putting "Hug me, I have a fungus" on a t-shirt and wear that around town. How much sympathy do you think you will receive? How many responses like "Get your nasty self away from me" do you think you will receive?
I was prescribed one medication that caused my little red splotches to fade, but they came back as soon as the bottle was empty. Dr. R then explained that not only did diabetes make me susceptible to this fungus, but it also made it harder to treat. Can you say "weakened immune system"?
I was then put on another medication that played havoc with my digestive system, but my itchy splotches quickly disappeared. A couple of days on this medication made me feel nauseous. I was taking it in the mornings, so Dr. R told me to take it a bedtime to combat the nausea. That worked for about two weeks, until I started vomiting. I then ceased taking that medication.
Since then my little spots of fungus have yet to re-appear. Hopefully I have beaten them into submission. While I continue to monitor my skin for new outbreaks I cannot help but wonder how long they will stay away, or when will my type 2 diabetes help me get another fungus. Despite my A1C of 5.6, and my glucose average of 90, all indicators of good control, I am forced to deal with these types of diabetes ailments in my life.
Damn type 2 diabetes.
dLife's Viewpoints columnists are not all medical experts, but everyday people living with diabetes and sharing their personal experiences, most often at a set point in time. While their method of diabetes management may work for them, everyone is different. Please consult with your diabetes care team before acting on anything you read here to find out what will work best for you.
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