Doctor-Controlled Diabetes


The insulin injections continued after I regained consciousness and was transferred out of the ICU.  I was being trained to do my own injections but I didn’t want any part of that so I applied pressure and the physician switched me to a pill, Glucophage.  Then I finally got off that, too.  Physicians do not easily withdraw drugs.  Most want to maintain you on the highest level of drugging that you’ve ever reached.  “More” is a concept they understand; “less,” not so much.  If you want to get off drugs, it is up to you to push and pull your physician away from them.  In many cases, people simply cut down their drugs themselves then lie to their physicians.  That is a pathetic statement about the iron fist with which the physician rules.  If you can’t tell him the truth then WTF?

The way I see it, you are in charge of your life, not your physician.  He went to medical school for four years:  you’ve lived in your body every second of your life.  You have full and complete knowledge about yourself; he only has small and particular knowledge about a certain area—and he’s not listening to you, is he?  I have come to the understanding that a physician is my advisor, not my boss.  I pay him; he doesn’t pay me.  He is my employee.  He works for me; I don’t work for him.  I do, prudently, keep this opinion to myself but that’s what’s in my head when I go into a new physician’s office.  This causes significant problems because physicians absolutely positively expect to be in control.

I don’t need control freaks in my life.  My work with Dr. Paul Cohen, psychologist, took an amazing turn for the better the day he said that he’d figured out that he didn’t have to be in control of our relationship.  He’d done an internship and gotten his doctorate at Syracuse University where he was taught that the therapist had to be in control.  In his work with me, he proved that not to be true.  Once he relaxed and let me take the lead, we did some good work together.  Physicians, not being of a reflective nature or people-oriented, haven’t matured to the point of surrendering control, except for Dr. Ghaly, who, by the way, is the most loved physician I’ve ever seen.  There’s something in that:  stop exerting control and people will start to love you.  The problem would be that physicians are less motivated by love and more motivated by money.  You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink if what he wants is hay.

But back to the diabetes:  at some point I stopped checking my blood sugar—I have no idea why.  The drug years are pretty vague.  I often cannot remember what I did or why I did it.  It took me a long time to separate my self from the drug years but once I did I began to recognize this vagueness.  Now, when anybody brings up anything about the 1990’s I have to shrug and say I don’t remember.  Not fun to have a whole decade of your life that you can’t remember but that’s what drugs and persistent poly pharmacy do to you.

So I took drugs, kept my glucose level down, stopped taking drugs, and stopped checking my glucose levels.  And I was tired a lot.  Particularly in the afternoon, I would be so wiped out that I’d have to go back to bed.  Then one day it occurred to me to check my glucose again:  it was 54.  In fact, it was dropping into the fifties every afternoon.  In the hospital, if your glucose drops below 80 then the nurse promptly goes and gets you a glass of orange juice.  If your glucose drops to 50 then she flies into a panic.  So I called my physician at the Joslin Clinic, Upstate Medical Center’s endocrine clinic, and asked what I should do.  He said, “Eat more complex carbohydrates.  Oh, you have celiac disease.  I don’t know what to tell you.”

Here we come to the primary problem:  a healthy diet is a primary component of a healthy body—and physicians aren’t taught diddly-squat about food.  How can we talk about a health care system when the primary “health care” provider doesn’t know how to eat right?  The diabetes specialist doesn’t know what foods to substitute for wheat.  It’s ludicrous!  We have a sickness care system, not a health care system.  Physicians know a thing or two about eliminating sickness; they know nothing about creating health, and the absence of sickness is not the same as the presence of health.

So the physician referred me to the Joslin Clinic’s dietician.  In the first place, it took three months to get an appointment with her.  The American medical industry’s priority is to give us more physicians and more pharmaceuticals, and a healthy diet be damned.  Where’s the profit in that?  Farmers should put lobbyists in Washington.  Anyway, when I got to the dietician, she was a complete waste of time.  She told me what I should eat.  She did not ask me what I wanted to eat, or what I was able to buy or cook.  Sure, fish is a really good thing to eat but it’s expensive and I’m on Food Stamps, and home “health” aides don’t know how to cook it.

I began to figure out what had happened.  The side effects of all the drugs I’d been taking had been driving up my glucose levels.  I had responded by progressively eliminating carbohydrates from my diet.  Now, without the drugs, there weren’t enough carbohydrates in my diet to sustain life.  (To be continued)

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About annecwoodlen

I am a tenth generation American, descended from a family that has been working a farm that was deeded to us by William Penn. The country has changed around us but we have held true. I stand in my grandmother’s kitchen, look down the valley to her brother’s farm and see my great-great-great-great-great-grandmother Hannah standing on the porch. She is holding the baby, surrounded by four other children, and saying goodbye to her husband and oldest son who are going off to fight in the Revolutionary War. The war is twenty miles away and her husband will die fighting. We are not the Daughters of the American Revolution; we were its mothers. My father, Milton C. Woodlen, got his doctorate from Temple University in the 1940’s when—in his words—“a doctorate still meant something.” He became an education professor at West Chester State Teachers College, where my mother, Elizabeth Hope Copeland, had graduated. My mother raised four girls and one boy, of which I am the middle child. My parents are deceased and my siblings are estranged. My fiancé, Robert H. Dobrow, was a fighter pilot in the Marine Corps. In 1974, his plane crashed, his parachute did not open, and we buried him in a cemetery on Long Island. I could say a great deal about him, or nothing; there is no middle ground. I have loved other men; Bob was my soul mate. The single greatest determinate of who I am and what my life has been is that I inherited my father’s gene for bipolar disorder, type II. Associated with all bipolar disorders is executive dysfunction, a learning disability that interferes with the ability to sort and organize. Despite an I.Q. of 139, I failed twelve subjects and got expelled from high school and prep school. I attended Syracuse University and Onondaga Community College and got an associate’s degree after twenty-five years. I am nothing if not tenacious. Gifted with intelligence, constrained by disability, and compromised by depression, my employment was limited to entry level jobs. Being female in the 1960’s meant that I did office work—billing at the university library, calling out telegrams at Western Union, and filing papers at a law firm. During one decade, I worked at about a hundred different places as a temporary secretary. I worked for hospitals, banks, manufacturers and others, including the county government. I quit the District Attorney’s Office to manage a gas station; it was more honest work. After Bob’s death, I started taking antidepressants. Following doctor’s orders, I took them every day for twenty-six years. During that time, I attempted%2
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