About 12 years ago, someone gave us 3 sugar gliders, because they could no longer keep them as pets. Technically, they gave them to Bugster, but we all enjoyed them. Imagine a small squirrel - a baby squirrel works well. That's about the size of a sugar glider. All 3 of them could squeeze into the pocket on a button up shirt. Granted, they had to cram themselves into the pocket to all fit, but they loved each other and made it work. Besides. They're social little creatures and like to snuggle.
We enjoyed them for the time we had them. They would 'fly' from one person to the other, if the second person had a treat for them. And they were great little insectivores! They'd actually grab miller moths out of the air and eat them like a cob of corn. It was fun to watch, because, well, the miller moths got what they deserved.
They really were neat little things, but we only had them for about six months before we realized we couldn't keep them anymore. The smell was overwhelming. It's not that it was insanely unpleasant. They smelled like whatever they ate. So they smelled sweet like the strawberries, apples, oranges and other fruit that they ate. Well, except for miller moths. Well, except that they probably would have smelled like miller moths, if they'd eaten enough, and well, miller moths aren't fruit. So there's that.
And while the smell wasn't too bad one whiff at a time, it was sickeningly sweet, if you were around it for any length of time. Because everything they ever came in contact with picked up their smell. Their bedding. The cloth over the cage kept it dark and warm enough for them to sleep. The couch that was sitting a bit too close to the cage. The walls where they'd spray the moment that you wiped the walls down. Again. It didn't take long for the smell to permeate every thought, every dream and every nose hair in existence.
So yeah. We had to get rid of them.
And I haven't thought of them for years. But in the last week or two, they've been on my mind a lot. I could almost swear I was smelling them in my sleep again. Except that I wasn't. I was smelling myself.
Ok. So that came out wrong. Really, really wrong.
But I really did smell like the sugar gliders did. Only like they'd taken a bath in maple syrup before they ate the miller moths. The smell was a little more subdued, but it still reminded me of them. And I realized I recognized the smell. I remember thinking it was odd when Scooter would smell faintly sweet like that when she was little and was on steroids for her asthma.
And let me see. Yep. I'm still on prednisone. I haven't been able to start the step down on the dosage yet, because my asthma is still that out of control.
And then I remembered something that I tucked away in the back of my mind for a good 12 to 14 years. I was in a homeschool chat years ago when a regular came in and told us about her harrowing experience with her daughter. She said that her daughter came in complaining of thirst and ended up drinking 2 gallons of milk in the span of less than an hour. And when she realized it, she got her daughter, (who smelled sweet), to the hospital immediately. She was in a diabetic crisis and was on the verge of going into a diabetic coma.
And then after a talk with a friend, I knew I needed to look into the connection between steroids and blood sugar and smelling sweet. Turns out that prednisone can induce diabetes. Great. Granted, it can reverse itself once the prednisone is stopped, and that is likely what happened with Scooter when she was little, since she doesn't have diabetes. But it can also be a permanent situation.
I went in to the asthma and allergy doc yesterday. He ordered a fasting blood glucose test and an A1c to see, if I am indeed diabetic. In the meantime, I'm doing my best to cut all sugar from my diet. It already has seemed to help. I didn't wake up at all last night from dreams of sugar gliders picking miller moths out of the air to munch, because the smell wasn't there. And I haven't had the headaches I was starting to get that seemed to go hand in hand with the smell. I will miss my morning caffeine-laden soda that I've come to depend upon, but I will not drink anymore. The last thing I need to do is end up with permanent diabetes, because I couldn't say no. If I feel like I desperately need caffeine to help with my breathing, I'll make myself a cuppa tea.
In the meantime, the doc told me yesterday that he's concerned that I haven't been able to decrease the amount of steroids I'm taking. My asthma should be responding better to the meds I've been on, and my lung function test should have been better than it was yesterday given the small pharmacy I have at home. And I should not still be needing 4 to 6 nebulizers a day.
So that new inhaled steroid my doctor put me on about a month ago? Yeah. He had me stop it and had me start yet another one. Technically, he had me start another two. I'm really hoping they kick in and help my breathing drastically. Because if they don't, there aren't a huge number of options left, and the one that's on the horizon sounds a little scary. It's an injection they give once or twice a month. It can cause heart attacks and strokes and anaphalaxis. To top it off, you have to fill a script for 2 epi pens before they even give you the first shot, and once you've started taking it, you must carry said epi pens around with you. Everywhere.
The good news about it is that, when it works it works really, really well. And the percentage of people who have had the severe reactions are relatively small. And I could come off the prednisone and hopefully get my blood sugar back into normal ranges...and get my life back...and get back to dehoarding..and to painting bedrooms...and to getting more projects marked off my projects list..and....
and the list goes on...
Compulsive hoarding is a mental disorder that is just beginning to be understood. As a hoarder, I have acquired things over the years with a specific purpose in mind at the time of the acquisition, used some of those items for their intended purposes, forgotten the goal for different objects, but now that I find that they have outlived their purpose in my life I am struggling to rid myself of those same things.
You can read the start of my journey here.