Friday, April 2, 2010

The Burning Bush Toe

In honor of Good Friday & Easter, I offer a Bible-themed post as it relates to my own D-Life. Even if religion isn't necessarily your cup of tea, I invite you to read on for a little insight from my own perspective at the D-Corner Booth.

Those who've been churched likely know the story of Moses & the Burning Bush, which precedes the Red Sea Parting and can be found in the Book of Exodus (3:1-15). The Bible story goes that Moses is called on by God from within the flames, instructed to confront the Egyptians and save the Hebrews by leading them out of Egypt. Basically, I see this as a story of confronting what's tough and doing what's needed, obeying a higher power that may be sending out warning signs to guide you along the way. That's my interpretation, mind you - as someone who grew up mostly "unchurched" but in recent years has embraced the Methodist School of Thought through Grace Church.

As it relates to my own Diabetes, there is a Burning Bush in my life.

Currently, it takes the form of My Big Left Toe. In the past, it's been any one of multiple toes or even an entire foot, but the signs have been found in my "Burning Toe" most recently. Let me explain.

Being a Type 1 who's recently reached the 26-year mark of Living With Diabetes, I've had my Endo and Others tell me in past years that I have the beginning stages of neuropathy in my feet. Not exactly bright shiny news, but I've learned to live with it. At one point it was quite painful, with frequent shooting pains and constant tingling in the toes and feet. When the initial news materialized, it really motivated me to get my health and D-Management under better control. It's sad that it takes these types of Complications to motivate one to do what he or she should've been doing all along, but it does. And it works. My Endo at the Time (Dr. B) told me that the nerves can slightly repair with good control, but that "it will get worse before it gets better." Some of the pain means you're healing, he said. This happened, and I went on with life.

Through the years, it's periodically come back to bother me. Sometimes keeping me up at night. During the day. Sitting at work or relaxing at home. Nothing extraordinary, just a reminder that it's still present. Neurontin helped at times, but I haven't had to take this prescription drug for roughly a year. Things have been A-Ok.

One thing that I've noticed is the neuropathy has become a type of radar alerting me to when my BGs go higher than they should. A warning sign. Anytime over 250, usually.  When that pain appears in my foot or toe(s), it is often a signal that my sugars are running High and I need to correct. I'd estimate that it's accurate about 80 percent of the time. (Reminds me of movie scene from Mean Girls, where at the end the not-so-smart blonde can predict to a point when it's already raining based on what her chest tells her - "There's a 30% chance it's already raining...". My Burning Toe is like that, except more accurate.)

However, since I began a Pump Hiatus most recently, my Radar-Like Burning Big Left Toe has been slightly off. It seems to be burning more often, and it's predictive ability is off. This is also the case overall, as my quarter-century experience of being able to pinpoint my BG levels is off mark. When my BGs feel high, they more commonly are not. Feel like 300? Well, #bgnow 146. It's strange, as if substituting the constant hourly basals for 24-hour Lantus injections and MDI of Humalog boluses has changed my predictive senses. This may be a body adjustment period as I get back into the swing of non-pumping, and it will fade as I get more used to this change.

But despite this "offness" for the time, one thing remains clear: the lessons of my Burning Toe are just as important as those in the Bible's Burning Bush Story and this experience can be an influential part of my life.

In Exodus, the Jewish people are facing troubling times. They're having to pass through the "furnace of affliction" to get where they need to be, but they won't be consumed and will be able to escape. The road isn't easy. The Burning Bush allowed Moses to see what needs to be done, in an illustrative way allowing him to understand in his own way.

Just like the Burning Bush, my Burning Toe is God's way of talking to me in a way I can understand - the neuropathy is clear evidence and quite motivational in telling me what needs to be done. Better control is needed. Another lesson is about the bush burning itself, specifically the mystery of what Moses probably faced at the time: He likely couldn't understand how a flame appeared from the middle, but the bush itself wasn't burning up and roots weren't destroyed. That question can be directly posed in relation to the Burning Toe and Diabetes - how can neuropathy be causing this painful sensation, but the damage be undone?

As long as the roots are alive, there's a connection to life which allowed the bush to return each spring. There may be burning pain now, but it's not the end. This serves as a sign that I can get back on track and reverse a part of the damage. The Burning Bush was a sign to encourage a new nation, a way to guide Moses and The People and prove reliability of the overall symbolism and message. Just like we diabetics sometimes face those same types of signs, whether it be a Burning Toe or other D-Complication that moves us to obey our D-Management. To use the tools we've been given. We wake up each morning with a chance to do what's necessary. Often, it's difficult and we feel inadequate to address it ourselves. But we have help. We can start any day as a new person by turning our backs on yesterday's mistakes, behavior, and beliefs. That's all past history. It's up to us to move on, see the signs, and recognize what must be done. There's hope for today and tomorrow. A Burning Toe might just be the sign we need to start realizing and embracing that optimism.

Hope your Good Friday and Easter Sunday are great. Blessings.


Jim Huck said...

What an awesome post. Thank you for writing with such optimism. Wouldn't it be great if we had a 10 commandments of diabetes? That we'd break all of the time?10 absolute rules that no one could argue about. Hmmm

Freedom Blogspot said...

Michael, a great post, can certainly relate to the hope part of your analysis.
Type 1 for 2 1/2 years at the 59 years young, these brief couple of years have been an interesting learning experience.
I take a natural outlook on diabetes management wherever possible (eating as natural as I can cutting out every form of chemicals/additives/poisons from my diet, spring water)
This has worked well and I think I have reversed what may have been the beginning of some mild neuropathy in the toe areas, they gain sensitivity daily and just about back to normal.
Reading your article about the burning toe was interesting and can relate to that.
Foot massage, regular exercise and walking and an extremely positive outlook combined with the firm belief that the human body wants to naturally heal itself and regain equilibrium works wonders.

Anonymous said...

Great post Michael! I think it is great that you can see the bright side of things, and I liked how you tied it into the story of the burning bush :)

I hope you have a great weekend!

SarahK said...

Wonderful post, Michael. :-)

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