Are You Listening?
Mom knows best be sure you pay attention!
Editor's Note: While this columnist is no longer writing for dLife.com and we have ceased to update the information contained herein, there is much to be read here that is still applicable to the lives of people with diabetes. If you wish to act on anything you learn here, be sure to consult your doctor first. Please enjoy the column!
August 2008 — Anyone who knows me at all knows I love summer. I love everything about this season EXCEPT poison ivy! As a child, poison ivy was a sure sign of summer when at least a couple of the neighborhood kids showed up with the familiar pink lotion on arms and legs. I could count on my mother warning me to stay away from anywhere poison ivy might be hiding. "Remember you can't use just any medication. Are you listening?" I was listening, but I heard "You aren't like the other kids. You are different." It's not that I wanted poison ivy. I just wanted to be like all the other kids. I also wondered what would happen if I used those medications everyone else used. Mom couldn't tell me, but from her expression I knew it couldn't be good.
I was a good listener - or very fortunate – when it came to heeding my mother's warnings. I spent my entire childhood without a single case of poison ivy. It wasn't until recently that I experienced my first poison ivy exposure. As soon as I saw those watery blisters working their way up my arm, I knew what it was. Feeling a little guilty, I tried several over the counter medications that I'd been warned about to treat my poison ivy. I saw the warnings that said, ‘if you have diabetes use only under advice of a physician.' I tried them any way. Surprisingly, I had no side effects. What a relief! But I had no help from the medications either. The whole episode was getting really ugly. I was sure everyone else thought so, too.
I finally decided to see my doctor. He agreed with my diagnosis. He gave me a weeks worth of steroid tablets and told me to watch my blood sugar.
Steroids could possibly elevate my blood sugar. I was advised to check it a little more frequently and correct it as needed. Not a problem – I'd do whatever it took to clear up the poison ivy!
I took my first tablet that evening and checked my blood sugar a little later - 161mg/dl. Not horrible. I did a correction and decided maybe it would be okay. The next morning I took tablet number two. Blood sugar check a little later showed me at 247mg/dl. This time it took two corrections and I was still a little out of range. It was now time for my third steroid dose. Blood sugar check result this time was 350mg/dl. I normally keep tight control of my blood sugars - I really didn't like this. It was Saturday and the doctors' office closed early.
I called the doctor on call for after hours assistance. Thankfully, the doctor on call was my doctor. He told me while 350 was not good but I really needed to continue the treatment or I might be dealing with poison ivy all summer, maybe longer. I was advised to correct a little more aggressively, but be careful not to over do it. Easy for him to say! So, like a good little patient, I took the fourth dose of steroids. Blood sugar check - a whopping 487mg/dl! I decided that was it! No more steroids!
Later that evening I was whining to my friend, Luanna, about my predicament. She asked me why I wasn't using her homemade lye soap. Actually, I thought using lye soap to cure poison ivy was an old wives' tale. She assured me her lye soap would take care of my poison ivy. I had tried everything else. I really didn't think it would help. It was just soap. But why not?
Three days later the blisters on my arm were almost cleared up. My poison ivy was quickly fading into an unpleasant memory. Thank you, Luanna!
Since I have no medical training, I wouldn't recommend treatment for anyone else. I can only relate what happened to me. I did learn a couple of things, though - diabetes and steroids can be a bad combination. I think I learned something from my mom, too. With diabetes, there can be serious side effects from a lot of medications. Are you listening?
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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