About a week or so ago, I stumbled across TuDiabetes during my meanderings across the web. Since then,I have been pouring over many of the posts and groups here and to my delight discovering many helpful and supportive insights. What a delightful resource! Though I have only made one posting so far, I have been tempted numerous times. Most of the folks posting here have discovered many of the things which I have that have allowed me to improve the quality of my life with diabetes over the years. My hesitation in posting is because living day in and day out with diabetes is a very complex process. Taking one bit of discovery out of context, though it can be helpful, does not give a full picture of what has worked for me and what has not. As far as I know, none of us was born with an instruction manual on how to live in a body, but if we were, there might be a troubleshooting section on how to deal with the various types of diabetic disorders. Since each of us seems to be unique, I thought it might be most helpful for others if I tried to post as complete a history as possible of my diabetes and my struggles to discover what might have been in that missing instruction manual. Since I know I will not be able to post everything I wish to say in one session, I will blog this as I find the time.
My first encounter with anything medical related to my present condition happened, around 1966 in my sophomore year of high school when I went for my required school physical before I could join the baseball and track teams. I was spilling sugar in my urine. I was required to do a glucose stress test to clarify this discovery. The test showed that my blood sugar was spiking pretty high a short time after drinking the glucose solution, but then returning to normal. I was told that I might be prediabetic, or have some kidney abnormality, but seemed to be otherwise a healthy 16 year old. My Mom made us eat a fairly balanced meal for dinner every day, but we also had plenty of sugar cereals for breakfast, cookies for snacks when we got home from school and we always had cases of soft drinks in the garage, a pretty normal American diet for the most part. In retrospect, I think I would sometimes get low blood sugars before practice after school and would have a candy bar as a snack to boost my energy. My Mom told me that there was a great uncle on my grandmother’s side of the family that had died from what they called “Sugar” at the time from stepping on a rusty nail and having it become infected. That was before the discovery of insulin.
Medically, I went through the rest of high school and college without major incident. I was very active athletically, 6 foot tall, and 165 pounds. In other words, I was lean, almost bony, but strong and rarely ill. I ate anything I felt like eating without any problems. After graduation and out on my own, I started to become more aware of diet and within a few years become a vegetarian, eating a very healthy diet for then next 20 years or so and driving my entire family crazy every time I would visit home I was married in 1984, had a son who was born vegetarian and never had a bite of meat for his first 20 years. With the help of my wife, I build a passive solar home in the woods and set about trying to make a living and raise a family. Then in the fall of 1989, at the age of 39, still 165 pounds, I started to get sick. I was working at a group home at the time for handicapped adults, one of whom was a diabetic and who I helped with his daily injections of insulin. At first, I thought I just had a bad cold, sore throat, runny nose, but it seemed that one cold would follow right on the heals of the next. Also, I seemed to be hungry all the time, no matter how much I ate, yet I was losing weight, down to 155 pounds and I was having to constantly get up during the nights to urinate, classic symptoms. Because of my training at the group home, I began to recognize the symptoms, so after about 3 months of being sick, I made my first doctor’s appointment in many years and told him I thought I had diabetes. After a basic physical and a few tests, he confirmed my self diagnosis, prescribed some insulin for me and wanted to put me in the hospital for a week or so as was standard practice for newly diagnosed diabetic patients. He was kind of surprised and baffled by the fact that I was 39 years old, but seemed to have full blown type I diabetes. Again, because of my training at the group home, I told the doctor that I knew how to deal with insulin injections and from the beginning took charge of my own treatment, partially because I could not afford to do otherwise and partially out of my own orneriness. So began my adventure with diabetes. (too be continued…)