Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Diabetes for Fun and Profit!

I had my first appointment with my endocrinologist this morning. At 8:00 a.m.

I've been to Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital a bajillion times over the last couple of years. I had an angiogram there, quadruple-bypass surgery, bi-lateral endarectomies and gawd only knows what else. I know the place like the back of my hand.

The problem is that they're constantly reinventing the city of New Brunswick, where the hospital (and Rutgers, the State University) is located. Basically they're doing road work that should've been done 30 years ago.

There's a message there... for me. About getting things done to me that should've been done 30 years ago.

Anyway, I like my new doctor, even if I had to wait a year to see him. I told him that I felt like I'd finally gotten into Studio 54. He laughed. He's a nice man. He had two little associates who trailed him the whole time I was there. One was a full-fledged doctor and she did most of the leg work in terms of getting my whole background, current medical status, etc. The other, an even younger lady who reminded me a lot of somebody, but I can't remember who, was all agog the whole time. You could tell that she was very, very new to the medical profession. She looked like she was about 18 years old. The slightly older one looked to be about 25-27.

Teaching hospitals are all the same. Watch "Scrubs" or "Grey's Anatomy" or "House" and you'll get some idea of what I'm talking about. Lots of grizzled old farts and bazillions of fresh-faced probies who will probably wind up killing as many patients as they save before they finally finish their residencies.

But I'm one of the lucky ones. I've had tremendous luck at RWJUH. I've also had tremendous medical care there, too. Don't get me wrong, the place pisses me off now and then. But I'm still HERE to be pissed off... and believe me... that's a friggin' miracle.

My new doctor is immediately taking me off one medicine, Actos, that I've been on for over a year and a half. It turns out that Actos is probably the cause of my enormous weight gain (over 45 pounds in the last year). He's also put me on something called "Byetta" which is, basically, Gila Monster spit that works wonders on my diabetes. It comes in a tube and I have to inject myself in my stomach with it twice a day. It doesn't hurt at all. I've already done it once. Checking my blood sugar actually hurts more. He's also taking me off a cholesterol med I've been taking since Christmas. He says taking that medicine is like carrying coals to Newcastle, i.e., pointless. If my uric acid is okay, he'll put me on nicotinic acid which is, apparently, an old standby for cholesterol reduction.

I have to fax my blood sugar readings over every week now. I have a follow-up appointment in October. I have a hot-line number and a hot-line e-mail address if I have any problems or concerns. I'm being monitored.

I feel like a beta site... or a lab rat.

There are only 100,000 endocrinologists in the US and over 30,000,000 diabetics. That last number is expected to double in the next 10 years and most health plans would rather pay for amputations than for education.

I'm lucky I got educated about my diabetes. That education opened some doors for me that most people won't ever get to see, let alone go through.

I am one of the lucky ones. Thank God.

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