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Monday, August 24, 2015

High/Low

I almost didn't write this evening. I wasn't sure exactly what I would write about, and the evening was rolling along. As the clock ticked toward the time when I had anticipated sitting down in front of the telly to watch one of my favorite shows, I decided that the program could wait until later. I really wanted to write. What show was it, you ask? Okay, I'll tell. It's So You Think You Can Dance? I know I can't dance, but I get such great enjoyment from watching others who can. And even though my age begins with a five, I still harbor a secret hope that I can magically have the abilities of Fred Astaire when I grow up.

I actually thought of this blog title a few days ago. I was hesitant to use it because I thought perhaps my readers might think that it was about mood swings or something similar. Not the case at all. It's just that I spent what others might think of as an inordinate amount of time thinking about my own highs and lows last week. Well, Katrina, you're possibly thinking, aren't you contradicting what you just said about mood swings? No, I'm not, because I'm talking about different types of highs and lows.

Because of my various health conditions, some of them directly related to lupus, it seems that I am always chasing after magical medical numbers. A set of numbers that is always of concern is blood sugar readings. As a type II diabetic, I am trying hard to get the magical blood sugar readings under proper control. Lately, I have been doing pretty well with this. In fact, I have done just a bit too well. My sugars have been low enough to require a bedtime snack so that I don't slip into the danger zone of my sugar getting way too low. As a brief example, when my sugar gets below about 80, I often start getting shaky and start feeling weak. I need carbohydrates to prevent problems. (Diabetics can become comatose from both extremely high and extremely low blood sugar.) My sugar levels will usually go down anywhere from 25 to 50 points overnight. So when I check my sugar at bedtime and it's already down to 75, it's definitely snacktime. Yippee!

Another set of numbers that I constantly chase has to do with my blood's rate of coagulation. Since the beginning of my relationship with lupus, I have dealt with clotting problems. One of my diagnoses is Chronic Superficial Phlebitis. Chronic, as in ongoing, Superficial, as in close to the surface, and Phlebitis, as in inflammation of the blood vessels. I have had several bouts with blood clots and even experienced ulcerations on my ankles because of impaired blood flow. To reduce the danger of these problems, I have taken anticoagulants for many years now. 

While anticoagulants can prevent many problems, they can create others, just like any medicine. Yes, the blood might not clot in my blood vessels, but it also doesn't clot very quickly if I have an injury. So those of us who take medications like warfarin, commonly called coumadin, have regular tests to monitor the therapetic levels of the drug. What is done in my case is a monthly test to see how quickly or slowly the blood clots called a prothrombin time, or protime for short. We all have our target  ranges, mine being 2.0 to 3.0, and we all know that if we eat stuff like kale, which is high in vitamin K and clots the blood, we will flunk our test. Then the doctor will give us a load of grief and adjust our meds and make us come back in a week for another test even though we'd rather wait about a month, darn it.

Last Friday was the date set for my protime. I knew I was going to overachieve on this test, and sometimes an A+ is not a good thing. You see, on Wednesday one of my neighbor dogs, Atticus (named after Atticus Finch from To Kill a Mockingbird), spotted me while he was out on his afternoon constitutional. This big, friendly black lab came over and leaned against me repeatedly, doing the whole hi-I-really-like-you-what's-your-name-again dance. First the left side lean, then the right side lean, and a few accidental sideways headbutts to the knee. It was a good time all around for this dog lover, and for the dog as well.

It was a hot and sticky day, so I came home and had a nice shower. When I stepped out and dried off, I saw The Bruise. This wasn't just a little bitty bruise. It had a great big lump underneath. I mean, this bruise is so big...(Okay, Readers, this is where you call out from the audience, "How big is it, Katrina?") Okay, this bruise is so big, I'd have to say that my knee has a shiner. It's so big that if you folded a dollar bill in half and set it on top of the bruise, there would be some bruise showing around the edges. Yep, sometimes when you're on anticoagulants you can get a bruise just from a hard look, I like to say. Needless to say, I did overachieve on my test. But Doctor Mike simply made a minor adjustment to my dose and let me off the hook for a month. Since I am on the high side rather than the danger of clotting side, I get a reprieve.

And I kinda doubt that my sugar will get too low this evening. You see, the Low Sugar Monster went to the supermarket with me today. The LSM said to buy popcorn. The LSM didn't fight back when Trent put a chocolate cake in the grocery cart. The LSM is a very bad girl. I guess I'll be chasing numbers again tonight, this time the slightly-highs rather than the slightly-lows. Oh, well, the race goes on...