Saturday, May 16, 2009

Working Hard to Be Healthy

Oh Lord, won't you let me in on your plans?
My friends are all healthy, this illness must end!
Work hard to be healthy, let me be on the mend.

to the tune of Mercedes Benz
by Janis Joplin

Today began with a 9 am trip to Urgent Care. About 5 am I thought I had a toothache, but when the pain spread to all of my upper teeth on the left side of my mouth, I knew my week-long sinus headaches had turned into a sinus infection. Yuck!

I wish I could say that this is unusual for me, but it isn't. It seems like every time I get a cold or flu it turns into something else.

I headed over to WebMD to look up sinusitis, the diagnosis the Urgent Care doctor gave me. I learned that sinusitis is the new term for sinus infection. I also got a clue as to why this keeps happening to me: it seems that being diabetic may be making me more suscep
tible to developing sinusitis.

One of the many anniversaries on my calendar is my diagnosis of Type 2 diabetes. I first learned t
hat I was diabetic in January 1999. At the time, the diagnosis explained why I was getting up in the middle of the night to use the restroom, why I was feeling tired and why I was always thirsty. The diagnosis also meant making a lot of lifestyle changes: food, exercise, blood sugar testing, etc. It took some time but I made the changes and was able to get my blood sugar under control.

As with many thi
ngs with my health, I wonder why I have Type 2 diabetes and I have discovered that things are not as straight forward as they appear. I have one second-degree relative and one third-degree relative who have developed Type 2 diabetes, which isn't a very strong family history. Obesity is a risk factor for developing Type 2 diabetes, but at the time I was diagnosed I was only about 40 pounds overweight. I had known since 1988 that I had Hepatitis C, contracted from blood transfusions I received while being treated for leukemia, so I was already making sure I was eating a healthy diet full of vegetables and fruits when I was diagnosed with diabetes.

On April 22, 2002, Newsweek magazine ran a landmark cover and articles about Hepatitis C. Suddenly more information about Hepatitis C was becoming available and I was spurred by the articles to stop relying solely on my doctors and started seeking out more information on my own. It's been seven years now, and in some respects it feels like science is finally catching up to my reality:

Does HCV Cause Diabetes?
Alan Franciscus, Editor-in-Chief

It has been proven that hepatitis C causes insulin resistance, a pre-cursor to type II diabetes or diabetes mellitus (DM). However, it has not been proven that HCV causes diabetes. One way to prove that HCV causes diabetes is by studying what happens after successful treatment of HCV – the hepatitis C virus is eliminated – and observing whether or not the incidence of diabetes is lower than in the patients who did not eliminate the hepatitis C virus...

...These results are important because if diabetes can be prevented with successful treatment of hepatitis C the future disease burden of diabetes and hepatitis C can be significantly lowered.
So I am left wondering if these recurrent infections, a hallmark of diabetes, are really a sign that I need to treat my 21 year chronic Hepatitis C infection. Unfortunately, treating Hepatitis C is not an easy or highly successful endeavor. I know because I have already tried once and failed.

Being healthy for me is hard work.

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