Editor’s note: This is the second in a series by Patricia on how she used mindful movement to recover from serious complications caused by diabetes. You can read her first entry here.
Diabetes is a disease that interferes with the body’s ability to use and store sugar, which can cause many health problems.
Too much sugar in the blood can cause damage throughout the body. Diabetes can result in many complications such as hypoglycemia, hyperglycemia, skin complications, eye complications, neuropathy, foot complications, ketoacidosis, nephropathy (kidney disease), gastroparesis, high blood pressure and can lead to stroke and heart disease.
In my first entry, “The Diagnosis” (of Type I insulin dependent diabetes), I left off with the opening of my Pilates studio in 1997, and with me dating my soon to be husband. It was at this time that, despite many years of exercising and eating properly, both my eyes were diagnosed with diabetic retinopathy. Diabetic retinopathy is the result of damage to the tiny blood vessels that nourish the retina. They leak blood and other fluids that cause swelling of retinal tissue and clouding of vision.
Six laser surgeries were performed in each of my eyes to help stop the progression of retinopathy. In 2003, the retina in my left eye detached. I was rushed into surgery. The first procedure ultimately failed. There was a second and third surgery each a month apart. During the third surgery, I experienced trouble while under anesthesia, had a stroke and went into a coma.
Upon waking a week later, I had in fact lost the sight in my left eye and my entire left side was paralyzed. At the time I was simply dating Bob, but he spent every moment at my side at the hospital, and most definitely saw me at my very worse. When I finally came out of the coma, there he was. I could not move my left arm or move anything on my left side, nor could I walk nor could I talk without a slur.
My life had turned upside down in what seemed like a minute.
Discussions were held regarding sending me to a rehabilitation hospital. Bob agreed to allow me to be released to his home, where he would continue to care for me. I was taken three times a week to a physical therapist. Friends assisted in my transport to physical therapy and various doctors and an in-home nurse was sent in for a period to help with my rehabilitation.
Bob was “stuck” with a blind, immobile girlfriend, who happened to be a Pilates instructor and studio owner, but now unable to work or teach. I was also a ballroom dancer, so after a few months Bob put me in the car and took me to private dance lessons where my instructor would drag me around the dance floor. He also knew I loved Disney, so he would take me to Disneyworld, and hold my hand and pull me around the park.
It was around this time that I decided to have my Pilates equipment brought to the home. Slowly but surely I started to get on my Pilates equipment. As I started to be able to move again, I began to feel like a person again.
Check back again for Part 3 in Patricia’s series.