This is my first attempt at publishing a blog post. It’s a bit long, but hopefully not too bad!
When I was diagnosed 5 months ago, I think I learned more from the online community then I did from my doctors, which is why I wanted to try and write my experiences too. People who would write down what it was like, and prove that you can really live like this. Diabetes isn’t the end of the world. It feels like it though, doesn’t it? When you first find out, when the doctors stick you in the ICU and you’re so full of needles and wires that you can’t roll over let alone sleep, it feels like it’s the end. But it’s not. Eventually the nurses stop coming in every hour to test your blood sugar. Eventually the doctor will let you eat again. Eventually you’ll even go home. And eventually it will stop feeling like you’re one meal away from dying.
I suppose the best place to start would be to tell you about my diagnosis. Last fall, November '08, my husband and I started trying to make a family. I was a little overweight, and i knew the better my weight and health going into pregnancy, the better the pregnancy would be. So I started swimming, and I stopped eating processed sugars. I added a lot of fiber to my diet and for the first time in my life, it seemed like my diet was finally working! The weight loss started slowly, but added up quickly. I was so happy that I didn’t even want to consider that something wasn’t right. In the first 4 months I lost 30 pounds. We celebrated my success with new clothes and new confidence. At the beginning of March my GI doctor sent me for a colonoscopy because the unexplained bleeding was pointing more and more to colon cancer. What a slap in the face to my health. All this work, all the time that I put in to being “healthy” and there might be cancer growing in me. My husband and I took some time off of work, and went on a mini vacation to Ocean City. There was to be no thinking about sickness, no thinking about problems and responsibilities, we were there to relax, to take a break, to get to know each other again. On the second day, my vision changed. I couldn’t see anything more then 3 feet away from me. On the third day I started drinking water. Not a little water, gallons. Literally. We brought gallon jugs of water with us, and I went through 3 of them in a day. And that wasn’t all that I was drinking. Sodas, juices, water it didn’t matter, I drank everything I could. On the fourth day the anxiety started. I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t sit still, I couldn’t calm down. The only time I felt better was when I was running, or when I was swimming. We headed home at the end of the week, and the dry mouth, the never ending thirst just got worse. But to me, all of this made sense. I was under a lot of stress, wasn’t I? The threat of cancer, an overwhelming job, my husbands student loans piling up. Stress can cause all of that, can’t it?
But then everything went back to normal. My vision improved, there was no cancer, I hired an assistant. The stress should have stopped, everything was resolving why couldn’t I calm down?? So I started seeing a therapist. There had to be something going on in my life that was causing this much stress, and I just couldn’t see it. But there wasn’t. And no relaxation technique could take away the panic, and the pounding heartbeat. No deep breathing made me able to sit still.
From the beginning of March until May 7th, I lost an additional 35 pounds. By the last week of April I was nauseous all the time, and vomiting occasionally. I even took pregnancy tests because I though finally! after 6 months we’re pregnant! But they all came back negative. There was a nasty case of the flu being passed around at work, and I thought that I caught it. Everything that I had going on looked like a flu symptom. The achy-ness, the tiredness, the vomiting. I had a fever that kept popping up. So I stopped swimming, and i stopped running. But that didn’t help, it didn’t make me better, in fact I starting feeling worse. I could barely walk I felt so bad.
On May 7th, I was convinced I had the death flu, or at least the swine flu. I couldn’t walk 20 feet without having to sit down for 5 minutes to catch my breath. So I made an appointment with my PCP. I drove the 20 minutes to get there, and then I sat in my car for 10 minutes, because I didn’t have the energy to get out. When I finally dragged my way into the waiting room, and signed in it was all I could do to stay awake. I was taken back into the office, but I still had to wait, the doctor was running late, and it would take another 15 minutes before she could see me. So I sat in the chair, and I fell asleep.
I don’t really remember many details from that day after that, but the doctor walked into the room, and could smell the ketones I was outputting. My blood sugar, after fasting for almost 20 hours was 487 and the urine dip came back with large ketones. We called my husband and headed over to the emergency room.
36 hours in the ICU
3 IV drips
5 days total in the hospital
and more shots then I care to count
and now I’m a diabetic. It hasn’t been fun. It hasn’t been easy. There are days when I wish for everything to go back to normal. But then there are days when I don’t even notice it anymore.
I’m choosing to see this change as a positive event. I have learned a lot. I do take better care of my body, and better care of my husband. I value what I have so much more.
And I think that I’ve learned that I’m a lot stronger then I thought I was. And that is not a bad thing.