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Moving on (sorry for the long post)

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delta T
delta T Member Posts: 884
Welp, life did its thing and surprised me with something that I never could have predicted. A little over 3 years ago, I got very, very sick. I have my suspicions that I got Covid, but it was about a month before it really started to make news, and before it was supposed to be in the US. Anyways, I got very sick, was completely out of commission for about 3 weeks. Once I was back on my feet, I started to notice some strange symptoms, but nothing extreme or too uncomfortable. Wish that I wasn't a stubborn fool and had gone to see the doctor then. Over the course of the next year my symptoms worsened and I started to get incredibly fatigued, but I was working 12 and 14 hr days, usually 6 or 7 days a week, running a plumbing and heating business by myself, so I didn't think much of it. You all know what its like! So, I ignored the fatigue, and the weight loss, and just kept pushing and pushing to get more stuff done. One day I just couldn't do it any more though, I had kind of a wake up moment when the scale that morning showed me that I had lost almost 50 lbs in the last year. And then later that same day I was so tired and had lost so much strength that I couldn't lift my bumper mounted pipe vice out of its holder any more. I had to climb up into the truck bed and lift it out that way. This had never been a problem for me in the past. For some reason that was finally the straw that broke the camels back, and I realized that I had been pushing through something that was not normal fatigue, ignoring all the signs and I needed to go figure out what was going on.

Turns out I had developed type 1 diabetes. Doctor said based on my blood work I was maybe a month from collapsing and ending up in the hospital for a couple weeks with diabetic ketoacidosis. I got on an insulin regimen, took a month off and focused on easing my stress, changing my diet and making sure to figure out how to control my blood sugar. It was life changing. My fatigue dropped away, I gained back the weight I had lost, gained back my strength felt like I was finally back to my old self. Then I went back to work. As I eased back into it I felt like with careful attention and management I could make it work. And for the easy days I could. But then I started doing the bigger jobs, the ones that I really enjoyed, radiant floor installs, one commercial steam boiler replacement for a local Jewish temple, that kind of thing. It quickly became apparent that while some days were fine, others were not. I had a real wakeup call working up in the mountains alone doing a large waste and vent rough in. The ditches were all dug, but one was a little off, and I had to use a pick axe to chip about a foot into the side of the ditch for a closet waste. The 10 minutes I spent with that pickaxe was almost the last 10 minutes of my life. I was alone, out of cell range, and the low glucose hit me really fast. I got done chipping the bank, hopped out of the ditch, felt a little woozy, and by the time I got to my truck I was seeing spots, having trouble thinking straight, and not able to walk in a straight line. I managed somehow to check my level and I was at 38 mg/dl (for reference 80 to 100 is normal, low for a healthy person is 70). Keep in mind I went from breathing a little hard and feeling fine to a staggering wreck in about 30 seconds. I barely remember grabbing the tube of glucose tablets and downing them (thank god I had them), then don't really remember anything except kind of waking up in the front seat of my truck, wondering what was happening. I ended up going really high because I had eaten so much sugar, but I was not dead. That was the day I realized I had to stop. There was no indication that I was in trouble, I had been doing really well in fact lately, but that was just a weird day and the little bit of strenuous exercise was enough to nearly kill me.

And so I have with a sad heart been forced to admit that I will no longer be swinging wrenches. I am moving on, and fortunately will still be in the industry. I have accepted a job offer to do tech support within the hydronic heating industry, so I may be talking to some of you. I will not say which company as it is not actually officially finalized as of yet, but soon.

I want to say thank you for all the help, wisdom, knowledge, kindness and laughs over the years on this forum. I will certainly be continuing to participate here, maybe even more than I have in the past. You all make the industry what it is, and the generosity of everyone here to offer advice and help is inspiring, and I am proud to have been part of this community for nearly a decade now. I hope to continue keeping the flame alive for steam and hydronics for many years to come, though perhaps in a different capacity than I have in the past.

Lesson to be learned: Pay attention to your body, your health is paramount. Don't be dumb like I was and push yourself to a breaking point.
In_New_EnglandSlamDunkLarry WeingartenreggiCorktownMad Dog_2Alan (California Radiant) Forbesdennis53Tom_133Erin Holohan HaskellTinman

Comments

  • knotgrumpy
    knotgrumpy Member Posts: 211
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    All the best to you! When one door closes another opens type of thing...

    I went down a similar road and eventually found out I have a chronic type of blood cancer. Worked everyday through chemo, through the Covid mania and was fortunate to find a bigger company to buy my non-HVAC related business.

    Still very active and loving life. You'll do great.
    delta T
  • JakeCK
    JakeCK Member Posts: 1,417
    edited February 2023
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    I have a friend/coworker with a similar story to you. Got very sick end of December of 2019. Ended up developing type 1 diabetes. His symptoms started showing up while we were camping up in Montana. He had been was losing weight, and started drinking a lot of water while we were up there. While he has no proof we all suspect it was COVID. Even his doctor supports that theory. His wife is Filipino and she has friends from church who were traveling in Asia early december. He's still not 100% three years on and is struggling to control his sugar levels. He'll walk out of work with his numbers over 200 but has scares where he wakes up in the early am crashing below 50. I've been trying to convince him to get an insulin pump. 

    This **** was here long before it was detected. That I'm sure of. 

    Best of luck you to, take it easy. 
    knotgrumpydelta T
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 15,839
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    I have been battling health challenges for over 4 years since I retired. Not fun.

    Keep on keeping on! Can't do much anymore but still alive with optimism.

    I hope you're doing ok, and your condition is manageable.

    After 46 years in the business (and I loved working) it is a hard job and does a job on your body and mind. Too many of us worked too hard and it catches up with you.

    I feel bad for some guys still working and not knowing what can happen, When I was 65 I was still wasting the 40 year olds I worked with. Things change.
    delta TPC7060TinmanAlan (California Radiant) Forbes
  • delta T
    delta T Member Posts: 884
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    @JakeCK That is exactly what happened to me. Started getting really thirsty, losing weight. I was getting some days of really normal levels, and others with wild swings. No difference in what I was eating, activity level, insulin load etc...just how this disease is. And yes I do believe it was here long before it became a big deal, I have heard lots of anecdotal evidence that severe infections have caused t1 diabetes. Pumps are great, if your insurance will cover them. I haven't gotten one yet because they do not work well for doing things like crawling around crawlspaces lol, I'm hoping that with my new job I get a decent insurance plan that will cover one. We'll see. It is possible to have good control using injections, but it takes a lot of dilligence, and discipline, and sometimes it still doesn't work. Someone did a study once looking to find evidence for what external factors influence blood sugar and found 40 some individual factors, some as banal as the weather, atmospheric pressure, etc...it can be as much art as science to achieve a good balance. As patients we are told to take x amount of basal (long acting) insulin per day, and take x units of bolus (fast acting insulin) for every y grams of carbs eaten for meals and you will be fine. Well in practice the carb ratio changes daily, and at different times of day, the requirement for basal changes depending on activity level, stress level, and all sorts of other factors. Its incredibly hard to make it all work, and since exercise is a huge factor, it can be almost impossible to make it work with this job. One of the worst parts is that for me, aerobic exercise (jogging, hiking, biking etc.) will tend to decrease my blood sugar, while anaerobic (weight lifting, intensive burst type exercises in general) will tend to increase it, so if I'm carrying a bunch of tools and stuff into the boiler room, multiple trips to the truck carrying heavy things (aerobic) and then I have to assemble a 3" steam boiler header swinging 3' pipe wrenches and pulling as hard as I can in short burst (anaerobic) what will my sugar do? I don't know either :D
    PC7060
  • delta T
    delta T Member Posts: 884
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    @EBEBRATT-Ed Thank you, I am doing much better having slowed way down and just completing the projects I have in the mix, I am pretty much done with everything, just a couple small things to wrap up now. I think the worst part for me is that now that I am back to feeling normal, have my strength back, even ended up a little lighter than I used to be at a really healthy weight, I feel healthier than I was before. I love to go hiking, and work out regularly, but that is all predictable. I know how far my hike will be, how much elevation, etc. and I can predict my blood sugar and insulin requirements pretty well. But I don't know how hard I'm going to have to work to pull a water heater out of a basement. I have no good way of estimating that. Also, if I am having a day where my sugar level is all over the place, I can just choose not to go on that hike, or on that run. Hard to just not work when you have everything scheduled, and people are counting on you. I wouldn't wish health issues on anyone, I hope you are managing well. And I agree, only way is to be optimistic and enjoy the days as much as you can.
    EBEBRATT-Ed
  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 5,795
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  • delta T
    delta T Member Posts: 884
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    @Tinman I'm so sorry Steve, that's very rough. I'm glad your daughter is doing well, I wouldn't wish this on anyone, let alone a child (or a parent of a child for that matter). I've always appreciated your insights and knowledge here and elsewhere. Your articles have always been must reads for me. I wish the very best to you and your family!
    TinmanEBEBRATT-Ed
  • delta T
    delta T Member Posts: 884
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    @ethicalpaul Thank you, I saw that article too. I've seen lots of anecdotal evidence before this, still nothing concrete on the scientific side for a link to t1 but I've talked to a few doctors who are shocked at how many new t1 cases they have seen since covid. Time will tell
    ethicalpaul
  • SlamDunk
    SlamDunk Member Posts: 1,600
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    Diabetes from covid? That is scary. I have a coworker who is going to see a doctor for unexplained weight loss. He had covid twice. There is never a good cause for enexplained weight loss.
  • STEAM DOCTOR
    STEAM DOCTOR Member Posts: 2,041
    edited February 2023
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    That article is not clear if we are talking about type 1 diabetes or type 2 diabetes. Two very different creatures. For what it's worth, I have had type 1 diabetes since before home blood tests were a thing.
    delta T
  • Mad Dog_2
    Mad Dog_2 Member Posts: 7,245
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    You've made smart move at the right time.  My whole career has been about adjusting and readjusting . Enjoy 😉 your new path.  You CAN get used to it.  Be well.  Mad Dog. 
    delta T
  • JakeCK
    JakeCK Member Posts: 1,417
    edited February 2023
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    SlamDunk said:
    Diabetes from covid? That is scary. I have a coworker who is going to see a doctor for unexplained weight loss. He had covid twice. There is never a good cause for enexplained weight loss.

    COVID has been shown to cause a cytokine storm. Basically it causes the immune system to go crazy and begins to damage the organs. In the case of the pancreas the beta cells get wiped out. Once they are destroyed, the body's ability to produce insulin is gone. 

    This of course is a very simplified explanation.
    SlamDunkdelta T
  • RayWohlfarth
    RayWohlfarth Member Posts: 1,554
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    Sorry to hear Its a great lesson to value your health and pay attention
    Ray Wohlfarth
    Boiler Lessons
    delta T
  • Erin Holohan Haskell
    Erin Holohan Haskell Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 2,346
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    Thank you all for being so open and sharing your stories and for the important reminder.

    @delta T, all my best to you on your new path.

    President
    HeatingHelp.com

    delta T