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Details. Lots of ‘em

April 21, 2020


Well, it sure has been a while. I’m not quite sure why I stopped, but the thing that comes to mind every time I start to write is “does this matter when others can’t even afford insulin?” And I’ve realized there is no good answer. To some people it’ll be yes, others no, and others don’t realize just how bad it is for others. Anyway, that’s actually not what this is about, just where my brain has been.

At the very beginning of last summer, I might have made a huge mistake which ended with a shattered ankle. Cousin’s wedding + tequila = broken ankle. Yes, it was a damn good time, but man did it ruin my summer. But I’m here to talk to you about the paperwork and additional requirements needed for surgery because of diabetes.

  • I broke my ankle Saturday night and was basically trying to will it to not be broken. I knew it was when I tried to walk on Sunday and could feel pieces moving in my foot.
  • I was in NH, and was able to get an X-ray through my dad’s medical friends (yes, I am VERY lucky).
  • When the PA came back in the room to tell me the results of the X-Ray, he asked if there were any medical conditions that they should know about? I mentioned Type 1 diabetes and he and the student looked up surprisingly because they were not expecting that answer.
Yes, the shirt I was wearing the day of the X-ray does say “I run on insulin and skiing”
  • The surgeon briefly came into the room to discuss surgery with me. I was not supposed to eat for “x” hours beforehand. I asked what to do if my blood sugar went low the morning of surgery. (I had the first surgery of the day). He told me not to go low. I repeated, a little louder, “what can I eat if I go low before surgery?” He finally informed me clear liquids. (I did not go low before surgery.)
  • I was informed that I also needed an EKG in order for them to perform the surgery due to diabetes. That was scheduled for the next day.
  • Every appointment came with a new phone call to my PCP and endocrinologist’s office for paperwork. My endocrinologist had left the week before so “no one knows you” was a response I got a lot.
  • The surgeon also required an insulin plan in order to perform the surgery. (At this point let’s remember that I am not my typical optimistic, understanding self and I’ve switched to sass.) I responded “just don’t touch my insulin pump; it does all the work”
  • When I talked to a nurse from Joslin who was writing out my plan, she seemed just as frustrated with me as to why they needed it. “Don’t they know that people without diabetes have insulin during surgery too?”
  • Being out of state caused even more problems. Someone in NH replied at one point, “this is coming from MA, ugh” At this point I lost it and said, “this is literally your job.”
  • Having run out of Dexcom supplies the week before was actually a good thing since all the drugs had acetaminophen in them.
  • I show up for surgery and they get me settled in a room and the intake nurse says, “it’s so good you don’t have diabetes.” My eyes went wide and I became more awake than ever before at that time and said “I’ve had type one diabetes for 30 years and I’m proud of it and it’s in my chart and it is NOT a problem.” She read the details of my chart more intensely after that.
Post surgery, giant cast and blood circulator to prevent clots

Other things that were happening at the time:

  • I was on vacation from work that week, so I didn’t have to miss any work that week. (I did end up missing 5 or 6 weeks of work though).
  • My grandmother, who had not been doing well, passed away the day of my EKG and luckily I didn’t know beforehand.
  • I woke from surgery sobbing because I was so sad about my grandmother. Luckily the nurse with me then told everyone else who came in the room.
  • I had the giant gauze cast for one week, a hard cast for four weeks and a walking boot (non weight bearing) for one week.
  • The body really does a good job of focusing on healing the broken pieces. Therefore I had zero energy for a long time.
  • I chose to have the surgery and recovery in NH, because I didn’t think I’d be able to recover and be mobile in my second story Boston apartment. This turned out to be a wonderful decision because even hygiene routines like showers were very difficult and I needed help for a lot longer than I anticipated.
On my way to my grandmother’s wake
The hard cast
This knee scooter and mom’s bike basket changed my mobility immensely.
I was able to walk down the aisles for my friend’s and cousin’s weddings unassisted, but still needed these crutches.
One Comment leave one →
  1. April 21, 2020 4:26 PM

    Hi Briley – Wow, it looks like you’ve had a LOT going on! I’m so sorry about your grandmother. Even though the road to recovery must be exhausting, I’m glad to see that you are getting better. And man, all of the communications leading up to your surgery sound like they were majorly frustrating. How difficult is it to read through charts?! Thanks for sharing your experience, it’s bound to help others who may find themselves in a similar situation.

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