Tuesday, January 06, 2004

Crazy theories
My wife has the Merck Manual of Medical Information. I had always ignored it as a handbook for hypochondriacs. I even thought it was crazy to have.

Well. Let's just say I have some to rely on the crazy thing quite a bit recently.

Cateye made his useful comments about low glucose levels and cholesterol. And another friend of mine, who is a diabetic, sent me an email saying that my glucose is freaky low. That's part of what I was hoping for from this blog. Advice from friends.

Wait one minute. Let me just break in and say something here. I am a word person. I think in sentences. I often take complex technical problems at work and describe them to myself in words. A story helps me understand things better. This blog has become a tool for me to organize my own thoughts about the Mystery Condition.

So diabetes, if I understand it, is when the body is not making insulin (which breaks down glucose) and you wind up with high glucose levels and a nasty coma if you don't watch out. Look, you are dealing with a tired person typing here, so forgive me for errors in reasoning, but...

Because my buddy mentioned hypoglycemia (too little sugar), I looked up hypoglycemia in the Merck manual and wound up in a section about diabetes. Scratching my head, I wondered whether the discussion of hypoglycemia was just a comment tossed off during the diabetes discussion. A sorry performance for the Merck manual, for sure. There are a lot of symptoms of diabetes that I don't have. But as to the ones that may fit, I noticed that diabetes can lead to excessive water consumption (explains the dozen water bottles on my desk at any one time), numb and tingling limbs, sudden or gradual weakening of limbs, stroke, increased peeing (a symptom I have noticed in myself and have not yet mentioned in this blog), damage to the nervous system and brain, poor circulation (remember the radiologist mentioning ischemia and vasculitis?), and ... swallowing difficulties!!! Over the past year (and a half?) I have noticed that I have an annoying problem of almost always choking at each meal when I drink water. My office mates have actually noticed and commented on the fact that I do so much choking when just drinking bottled water.

But, you say, you have low blood sugar, and in diabetes people have high blood pressure. Yes, I answer, but in diabetes, the insulin does not break down the sugar for use by the cells, so the net effect is the same: Cells are not getting the sugar they need. So, case closed?


Then I went back into the index to verify the page number for hypoglycemia (too little sugar) and then noticed, and not quickly, that I had mistakenly looked up hyperglycemia (too much sugar). I only noticed my mistake because I saw the entry for "hypercorticism" and started looking for "hypereroticism." Sadly, there isn't one. But only then did I notice that the prefix I was searching for was "hyper" not "hypo." Oops. That's the reliable old brainhell at work. I do this kind of stuff all the time. So much so that I expect it, and have developed procedures for checking myself. But can I blame it on the Mystery Condition? Sadly I think not. I am just a scatterbrain.

So now I am looking at hypoglycemia. Amateur medicine is a great thing! There is a pullquote which lists seven symptoms of low blood sugar. I only have one (tremulousness, occasionally), but I get to discard the rest as it suits me! OK, maybe I have one other: Confusion. OK, and sudden, severe hunger. I and my younger sister (who is also very thin) have had this since we were kids. My oldest sister, who is robust, used to chuckle that our tanks would run dry so quick and we would need food right now. Three out of seven! Case closed, right?

OK, I am reading the section on hypoglycemia ... brain tells body to produce adrenaline (is this why I walk faster than everyone I know?) ...

By the way, can I just break in here and mention that there is a strong whiff of narcissism in having medical problems? "Oh look at me, I must be important; I have a problem. Everybody listen." OK, that is true, but I would rather do without the attention. And the spinal taps. And you don't have to read this blog. But if you don't, you'll never hear about the hypereroticism.

(We just talked to the advice nurse about our boy, who is sleeping now, and we will get some fluids and comforts into him.)

Anyway, where was I? ... Adrenaline ...

Hypoglycemia is sometimes seen in people with psychologic disturbances who surreptitiously administer insulin or hypoglycemic drugs to themselves...

Excessive alcohol consumption ... nix that ... pituitary or adrenal problems ... hmm ... idiopathic alimentary hypoglycemia .... hmm ...

By the way, bored, sleepy blog-trotters, I am lactose intolerant. Lactose is a kind of sugar found in milk.

Excessive insulin production can ... be caused by a tumor on the pancreas ... yuck! No thanks! ... keep reading ... autoimmune disease in which the body produces antibodies to insulin .... the blood is tested for antibodies to insulin ...

inappropriate behavior that can be mistaken for drunkenness

...explains a lot...

symptoms ... rarely develop until the blood sugar levels fall below 50 milligrams per deciliter...

Which explains why I can still function at 55.

frequently, surgery is needed to detect an insulin-secreting tumor.


Sometimes more than one tumor is present, and if the surgeon doesn't find them all, a second operation may be necessary.


And that's just one condition and I need to go to bed. Good thing there are real doctors in the world. I am tired of playing doctor (for now).

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