Tuesday, September 15, 2020 my best friend of 43 years passed away from a massive heart attack. She was 56 years old.
For years I’ve loved her like a sister, she lived with us a number of times before and after she had her son. She was there when I went through some of the most awful times of my life and some of the greatest times. She was someone I knew I could be brutally honest with, because we knew each other so well.
As much as I loved her, she frustrated the hell out of me. I’ve written about her before.
She was diagnosed as diabetic (type 2) probably between fifteen and twenty years ago. She absolutely refused to take the medications she was given the way they were prescribed. She always hated taking medication and was never able to swallow pills, she’d chew them up, even though some medications shouldn’t be chewed up and are time released.
Her doctors have tried to recommend diets, exercise, but she has refused to comply with them.
Over the years I’ve known her she’s tried nearly every fad diet that’s been advertised. She never completely followed through with them as directed, but she’d order every “kit” on the market.
In recent years she turned to the internet and had begun to follow a number of “doctors” online, some of whom had written books, some produced videos to watch. All of the ones she told me about advocated diets and treatments that were contradictory to everything her family doctors and specialists she’d seen had recommended.
A few years ago she’d had a lump come up on the side of her back. She’d shown her boss at work and asked her what she thought it might be. They felt it and determined it was mushy, it felt like fluid and encouraged her to get to a doctor. Since it was causing her some pain, she did seek treatment and found out her kidney had died. It was encapsulated in a sack of pus. She had to have it removed.
They recommended a renal health diet as well as a diabetic diet. They wanted her to follow up with a kidney specialist, but she told me she didn’t. When I asked her what she was going to do if she didn’t take care of herself and her only remaining kidney shut down. Her response was, “then I guess I’ll just go on dialysis.”
As well as refusing to listen to her doctors or take medication correctly, she was eating everything she wasn’t supposed to, nothing but starches, carbs such as rice, pasta, breads. She was ordering take out every single day and her portions were out of control, by her own admission.
Her doctor put her on cholesterol medication, blood pressure medication, new diabetes medication, but she wouldn’t take them appropriately. She refused fluid pills as her legs and feet started swelling.
She’d been complaining, for the last five years or so, that her legs felt funny. She said she didn’t have pain, per se, and not really numbness or tingling, but just heaviness and an unsteadiness when walking. She’d begun using a rollator after seeing mine.
She had a terrible time trying to describe her symptoms when something was bothering her. She tended to look them up online, then call her doctor and “self-diagnose” instead of communicating her symptoms. As a result, her doctor told her to her face she was a hypochondriac looking for attention. Often doctors and nurses would have a hard time understanding what she was experiencing and as a result simply dismiss her without actually treating her for anything.
I had a hard time understanding what she was feeling, as she’d say she knew how I feel, but if I asked her if she was having pain she’d say no, if I asked her what she was feeling she’d start telling me what she wasn’t feeling.
The last time we talked she’d told me her cholesterol and blood pressure were through the roof. At one point she’d told me her blood pressure was in or nearly the 200 range. She said she’d gained a lot of weight and was having trouble breathing. She dismissed her symptoms as something to do with the air conditioning in the house.
This blog isn’t meant to trash her, or gossip about her, but to help others understand just how important it is that you take care of yourself, if you’re taking medications take them as they are prescribed, try to eat sensibly, keep track of symptoms that are bothering you and relay them to your doctor in a clear and concise way. Please don’t try to self diagnose, or look up symptoms online and think you know what you’re dealing with.
She was adamant that doctors only schedule appointments, prescribe medication and order tests to make money, in her mind they were not interested in helping anyone and therefore she disregarded everything they said to her.
Please know, anyone reading this, that you need to take care of yourself, you need to act responsibly and remember that even if you don’t really care about your health, think nothing like that can happen to you, don’t worry about symptoms until they are impacting your life, that someone loves you, worries about you and will be devastated when they lose you.
I went today to see her ashes buried on her brother’s property, under a tree, as she’d requested, so that her ashes would feed and nurture the tree to maturity. I wish she’d have thought more about self care, sought therapy and treatment when she needed it, rather than what she did.
She thought that no one cared about her, that she didn’t make a difference, that the world wouldn’t miss her when she died. I don’t know about the world, but I do and will.