Tag Archives: consumer health

You’re Just Not My Type.

Dead Ole' Pancreas

There is an inspirational meme that goes around Facebook every so often that says, “Live every day like it’s your last.” It’s usually sparkly or has rainbows or a black and white beach scene or some equally pukey thing. That’s so adorable. In theory. In practice? It’s a damn depressing way to live.

A year ago I wrote about being diagnosed with type-2 diabetes and what a downer it was. (Lousy Anniversary, June 2012)

Oh, what a naïve little kitten I was!

Believe it or not, I found something worse! Being MIS-diagnosed with type-2 diabetes. I’m actually a type-1 diabetic. [insert my favorite curse words and some insulin here.] You know when it’s awesome to discover said misdiagnosis? When you’re on a long distance bike ride/camping trip! You know what else is awesome? Not being able to breathe because your body is in diabetic ketoacidosis! And best, most brilliant of all? I thought it was because of seasonal allergies. Uhh, can you say *headdesk* ?


The thing is, I knew something was wrong. I felt terrible all the time. I was so tired and thirsty and hungry and I was losing weight way too fast. I was taking medicine and exercising and doing all the stuff doctors told me to do. And there is only so much salad one person can eat. So I gave up.

Not my most magnificent idea.

In retrospect, I should have listened to my instincts and advocated for my own good health. Alas, you can’t unscramble eggs. Here are some useful books I’m reading. Now I’m going to live forever. You’re welcome.

HospitalStayHospital Stay Handbook, Jari Holland Buckland

Being in the hospital is the worst. You get no sleep, terrible food,  and in my case, I had to cry so that someone would let me take a shower. This book actually would be more useful for my husband (or any caretaker), as it’s focused on providing information for patient advocates. It’s scary hearing that your wife could have died and even though I have a living will, it’s a whole new ball of wax when you need it.

TakeChargeThe Take-Charge Patient: How YOU Can Get the Best Medical Care, Martine Ehrenclou

This is an excellent resource for finding a good doctor and dealing with your doctor, insurance companies and all of the other people involved in your healthcare. There are sections on how to be your own advocate and how to prevent (ahem) misdiagnosis, as well as interviews with actual health professionals.

EmpoweredPatientThe Empowered Patient, Dr. Julia A Hallisy

I’m that sick person that wants to crawl in a corner like an animal and be left alone to lick my wounds. However, all that results in is poor care. If you don’t care about your health and well-being, why should a doctor? The chapter on second opinions was illuminating. I could have been properly diagnosed with a simple blood test, but I never thought to ask. There is an anecdote about a young man diagnosed with incurable stomach cancer only to find out (via second opinion) that he had an ulcer! The moral of the story is: Before you let someone remove an important organ (or put you on a boatload of medication) get a second opinion!

LifeYouSaveThe Life You Save: Nine Steps to Finding the Best Medical Care- and Avoiding the Worst, Patrick Malone

Here are a few of the awful, yet preventable complications of diabetes: blindness (that’s the biggie), heart disease, loss of kidney function and feet. Swell! This book explains how to audit the health care you receive, particularly if you have a chronic disease. Written by a medical malpractice attorney, Nine Steps discusses not only the physical aspects of your health care, but the mental, emotional and financial sides as well. The chapters on the drug industry are informative and really, really depressing.

getting stabbed eight times a day, hating the smell of insulin and looking for a pancreas,

My next tattoo?

My next tattoo?


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Looking out for numero uno

Have you ever been sick?  Do you have any health conditions or concerns about the health of loved ones?  When you hear other people say that they have certain illnesses, do you just know that you have that illness too?  If you said yes to any of these questions, you are in luck!


The U.S. National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health have teamed up to make an invaluable, free web resource called MedlinePlus.gov.  Medline Plus is a consumer health website that is easy to navigate, and is full of information like health news, medical journal articles, an illustrated medical encyclopedia, a dictionary, physician and hospital directories, interactive tutorials, drug information and more.  It even has surgery videos!


One feature that is especially great to file in your brain for the future is the tests and diagnostic procedures tutorials.  Let’s say you have carpal tunnel syndrome or are thinking about hip replacement surgery.  Each condition and procedure has a multimedia tutorial with an optional questionnaire that helps to customize your tutorial.  This page is easy to navigate and has plenty of tips for those of us not very comfortable using a computer.  The slides and videos contain enlightening and empowering information presented in non-threatening, easy-to-understand language.  The tutorials have anatomical drawings with explanations, as well as symptoms and causes, treatment options, risks and other information. There are even text documents like this one on back pain prevention that can easily be printed and read away from the computer.


Another great feature is the link to the quarterly Medline Plus: the Magazine.  The pdf format is colorful, the information is relevant, and most importantly (some might say), the stars on the cover are glamorous.  Some highlights from the Winter 2008 issue include alternative health, fighting stress, diabetes, best buy prescription drugs, and having a healthy pregnancy.


Remember, the best way to take care of yourself is to be knowledgeable and informed.  This is a great place to start.




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