Yesterday – Friday the 13th! – marked the six-month mark since my surgery. Six months! I’m not sure how that happened. My memory of being in the hospital remains crazy-clear and so much more recent. I’m still pondering conversations I had with visiting friends. And wondering if I really *did* flash my scars to everyone who visited.
But. How am I doing? Just fine, thanks. I’m not really due for much in the way of bloodwork until the 1-year mark, but here are the numbers that seem to matter right now:
- Blood pressure: averaging 122/79. I’m not checking it obsessively as I once did, but am happy to report that when I do, the numbers are nearly always in the 120s/70s. Except immediately after drinking coffee, which is something I’m trying to determine if I should be doing at all any more.
- Weight: steady at 111, despite the fact that I’m eating rice pretty much daily. Or potatoes. Or hey, when I’m feeling really daring, sometimes both! Before the surgery, rice – the only grain I can eat, due to a miles-long list of food intolerances – made me pile on the pounds pretty easily, and gave me a bit more reactive hypoglycemia than I was comfortable with. Potatoes gave me really, really bad reactive hypoglycemia – full-on food coma, even in tiny amounts. Now neither one bothers me, which is my unscientific way of proving that (a) the tumor caused insulin resistance, and (b) now that the tumor is gone, so is the insulin resistance.
As I keep yammering on about over at the Yahoo board, I really, strongly believe that there is so much more to this disease than hypertension and low potassium. So. Much. More!!! I realize that those two things are the things that can kill, but so can insulin resistance/diabetes, which I am fully convinced goes hand in hand with this illness. And considering how common IR and T2 diabetes are in the U.S., I have to wonder if it’s really a “rare” disease. My mother, for example, is one of seven siblings – the only one not to develop T2 diabetes and die at a younger age than her mother (who lived to be close to 100; her mother’s mother made it to 103!). My mother’s father, on the other hand, died of a heart attack in his early 50s. My hypothesis: adrenal adenomas, all of them, passed down along the paternal line to all except for my mom, who seems to have won the genetic lottery in many ways. Perhaps it’s no coincidence that from a phenotypical point of view, she resembles her mother; I, on the other hand, am a carbon copy of her dad.
I’m also pretty certain that as long as this country’s health care system remains unchanged, this will remain a “rare” disease and people will continue to die young, of heart attacks and strokes and diabetic complications, or suffer compromised quality of life. There is so obscenely much profit in drugs for hypertension (none of which work in PA, but most doctors don’t know that), and even more profit in drugs for diabetes. If a relatively simple surgery like mine can fix the problem and eliminate the need for drugs entirely – imagine the losses the drug companies would suffer. As long as healthcare remains profit-oriented, this cycle is not going to end.
I’ve said all of this before, I know. And I’ve also stated my belief that I’m one of the lucky ones. Not a single day has passed in the last six months when I haven’t thought about this, how thankful I am for the circumstances that made me able to say this: the accident of where I live (5 minutes from a top medical school), the support of my friends (without whom I never would have had the balls to go through with a surgery that may or may not have worked), and my own darned stubbornness (if I don’t like the answer I am given, I keep asking until I do like it).