At first, I thought it was a sinus infection that was driving me nuts on an unusual cool night in mid-August as I was working the first football game of the high school season with everyone’s friend Paul Yeager.
An hour after munching on a walking taco and a bottle of water, I knew I wasn’t doing so well. I couldn’t keep food or liquid down and the pain in my head was horrible.
For the next 30 days or so, it has been a nightmare that I couldn’t figure out. Constant headaches, my vision seeing tiny particles called “floaters” and “curtains” in which the whole entire vision is covered, making it hard to see what is really in front of you.
Each time I kept thinking it had to be sinus or migraines. An urgent care physician detected that I had an inner ear and a sinus infection. Okay, I feel relived. Take a week’s worth of antibiotics and I’ll be fine after that.
The headaches and the blurred vision didn’t go away. It got worst. It was excruciating hell, to say the least. The thought of not being able to blog was bothersome, but not as much as not knowing what the hell was going on inside of me.
I finally decided that being an alpha male was enough. It was time to reach out and ask for help. Last week, I did get help to see several physicians and a specialist.
I was relived to know the news, but also feared it.
My eyes need extensive repair. Not just one procedure or surgery. A good number of them. No band-aid solution was going to heal this up in a week.
Truth be told, I haven’t done a good job at taking care of myself. Yes, I can point to the fact that I have been working temp gigs for the past three years and not having insurance to cover my ass, but the point is, I didn’t ask for help when I really needed it, and that attitude of “roughing it” alone isn’t acceptable any more, even for single young professionals like me.
After receiving the diagnosis, I made several phone calls. The first was to my mom and sister, Paul, Kristin Schaaf of YPC, the ADA staff, my temp office, and two friends, Anna and Brad, among others. I had to cancel out on attending or volunteering for several functions last week, this week, and as of now, next week.
I was scared. Scared that i couldn’t drive with my vision jacked up, but scared because if I wasn’t so scared about asking for help in the past, I wouldn’t be facing such grim news.
The optimist in me wasn’t going to accept this. It was time for a “reset” button. My body needed to get off the trainwreck that was going to crash.
After making the calls I need to make, and the fact that I haven’t been around people to socialize or see family for nearly a month started to get to me. Being single, as many would say, is an independence that you want to cherish and enjoy. However, the downside is that there is no one around to drop in to check on you, call you, or see if you need anything most of the time.
By instinct, we’re prone to say “I’m alright” or “I’m okay” when we’re really not. We fear of being told “Well, I don’t see what your problem is. There are starving kids in Africa, people dying of cancer…” and other reasons for us to stop talking about ourselves and our true feelings.
You hate to bother your friends and acquaintances, but when you, selfishly, think about the things you have done in the past to help others, give of your time, with no strings attached, you start to worry if you have to deal with it alone.
As I write this today, my vision a bit clearer. Not better, but clearer.
But I write this to not only tell you the lack of posts for the past month or so, but it is to tell the people I know in local young professional circles, friends, and acquaintances the reason why the topic of diabetes is important to me. It’s stories like mine that people need to know and understand why I’m so damn committed to the cause in educating people about diabetes.
I’m not just someone who gives, but I’m someone who needs the services of a group I’m volunteer for.
How many of you knew what diabetic retinopathy was before you clicked on the link to read it? It’s not an eye injury or a minor blip. Retinopathy is, excuse my language, some serious shit.
I realized how difficult it has been over the past several years to encourage family and friends to either walk and/or donate to my Step Out walk. It’s why next Saturday’s walk at Nollen Plaza is so important to me and 26 million Americans who live with diabetes.
We’re fighting to live as close to a normal life as possible. We care about telling people about what we live through everyday. Taking shots, needles, test strips, and other stuff, it’s part of our daily lives. Most of us see needles and go “eh, this is nothing.”
If I didn’t ask for help, as Dwolla‘s Ben Milne has preached to startup companies and others, then you won’t know who is there to help you. The Juice cover story two weeks ago about “Mighty Volunteers”? It wasn’t just awareness. I was asking for help for myself. I may look normal on the outside, as i told an audience last December upon receiving the inaugural YPC Ashley Okland Community Service Award, the inside of me isn’t normal.
It’s easy to say “if I had asked for help” several months earlier, but you learn as you go and accept what is at stake now.
My vision and health is of high priority and I need to “reset” myself. This blog won’t need a reset button, but an explanation on why I haven’t written much.
It’s alright to “reset” your life’s button when you have to, or when you need to, in the case of yours truly. It’s the only way you can be able to return to doing what you do best as an individual.