My Story - Part 1

This may be long, but I feel like I need to get this all down, so that I never forget. I realize I go into extreme detail about some common symptoms, but I never want to forget how bad I felt, so that I keep myself on the right track. Maybe someone else in a similar situation to me will read this, and benefit from it also.

It's been about 4 months since I was first diagnosed with Type 2. I've learned a lot, and made a lot of progress in those few months, and I feel like I should document my journey so far. Back in February of this year, things started going downhill really quickly. I had a lot of little health annoyances, but (at the time) being a 23 year old guy, I generally shrugged them off thinking they would go away on their own. I was constantly tired and apathetic - especially after meals. I have always had a problem with dry skin in the winter.This year, however, it seemed like even soaking my hands in vats of lotion wouldn't soothe my cracked, chapped skin. I felt like my eyes were getting strained from constantly looking at a PC monitor (I work in the IT industry). Then, one night when playing video games with my friends, I realized the screen looked blurry. After adjusting the settings on the TV, I was still having trouble reading text. Not long after this, I went to get an eye exam (I skipped the dilation test thinking it was unnecessary), and was prescribed glasses. After a couple of weeks with glasses I was having trouble adjusting to them. It seemed like sometimes they helped, and at other times they just made my vision worse. Throughout this period, I stayed thirsty all the time. I was constantly going to the bathroom, day & night. I would wake up several times throughout the night with a mouth so dry I thought I was dying of thirst, or needing to urinate very badly. It seemed like I could never get a full night of sleep.

We began a large project at work, and the stress of the project, compounded with all the little issues started getting to me. my performance was hindered, & I felt terrible. One day, I felt so tired & dizzy that I had to leave. Towards the end of the project, about half way through Feb, I had to go to a health screening at work for my insurance. It was a simple screening at work, and I opted to do this rather than get a physical from my PCP, mostly because I was told the only bloodwork involved would be a finger-prick.

Sidenote - I HATE giving blood. It's not the needle that bothers me. I have pierced ears, and you can poke or stab me all day, & I won't even blink. Finger-pricks don't bother me. It's the feeling of having blood drawn. I also hate injections, for the same reason.

Anyway, at the health screening, they did a fasting blood test for cholesterol and blood glucose. After getting my BG reading, the nurse frowned and told me she didn't think the results were right. She reset her meter, tested to make sure it was working properly, and performed the test again. My readings were 346, and 339! The nurse conferred with one of the others working there, then came back to me. She said she wasn't allowed to counsel me, but recommended I talk to one of their counselors, and privately whispered that I should see a doctor, soon. At this point, I was alarmed. I knew I hadn't been feeling well lately, but I never suspected anything major could be wrong. I was taken to another room to speak with the counselor. He went over my results and noted that my cholesterol was a little high, but he was really concerned about my sugar levels. He accused me of eating before the test. He asked if I had even had a stick of gum that morning. When I swore nothing had passed my lips but water & toothpaste, his demeanor changed. All he would say is that the number was really high, and that was bad, and recommended I see a doctor. When i asked how soon (I had an appointment to see my PCP about 2 months away, and would actually be my first with him), he said weeks may be too long. I couldn't get him to tell me anymore about what the results meant, or make any recommendations. He just left me with "see a doctor." As I was leaving, he and the nurse were giving me this look like I was a dead man walking. It terrified me.

The first move I made was to call my mother. She had recommended me to my new doctor, and she put me in contact with the office to see if I could get in sooner. After telling them the results of my tests that morning, the secretary said she would see what she could do. I got a call from her later saying that the best they could do would be two weeks away. At this point, I was feeling absolutely terrible, and was terrified, so my mom had a fairly easy time of talking me into going to a quick care clinic. She drove me after work the next day. Once there, I explained the situation to the receptionist, the NP who took my BG, and again to the doctor. In contrast to the people at the health screening, this guy wanted to take action. The first thing he told me is "You're going to the Hospital. Probably for a few days." I asked if that was really necessary, and he assured me it would probably be for the best. He then left the room to make all the preparations, and call an ambulance. At this point, I was in a state of total shock. I couldn't believe something that serious was going on. (Typical when you're finally at the doctor) I was feeling better that day than I had in a week. After what seemed like an eternity, he finally returned to the room. He said he had spoken to a doctor at the hospital about their protocols, and ,to my extreme relief, that they said not to send me to the ER. Instead, he said he was going to give me a glucose meter, and a diet to follow. He said if my levels were still high after a week, that I needed to check myself into the hospital. He then finally told me that I was probably Type 2, and that I needed to be checked when I saw my PCP. He wrote Hyperglycemic as the diagnosis on my chart. I thanked him, and left, absolutely shocked.

The diet he gave me was something he claimed he wrote up back in the 60s for his cardiac patients, but that it was still relevant today, and that if I followed it for the rest of my life (with exercise), I would probably remain pretty healthy. It was basically the same healthy diet I had grown up learning about in various health and wellness classes - lean meats, lots of vegetables, easy on the fruits, & juices, stick to diet sodas & condiments - but there was one big difference: Low carb. Little to no bread, pasta, rice, corn, & potatoes. In his words, "Basically, if it's white, you don't eat it." I started on it that very night by having a salad for dinner. The meter he gave me was an AccuCheck Aviva. He instructed me to test 3 times a day - first thing in the morning, about mid-day, and before bed. He also wrote me a note for work, and told me to take the next two days off. I was supposed to take it easy, and not exercise until my sugar levels came down, & I was cleared by my PCP. I called my boss on the way home and explained the situation to her. Being the awesome person she is, she was immediately understanding, offering her support & telling me it was fine to miss work, even though we were wrapping up the project & on a blackout schedule. For the next couple days, and the ensuing weekend, I ate nothing but salads & watched as my fasting levels slowly dropped into the mid 100s. I also immediately noticed myself feeling a little bit better each day.

I am going to stop here for now. It's getting late, and this is just the start.

Part 2 here:

February is was the same month I got diagnosed. I did have an appointment with my PCP (when I must have been in the 300s) and she told me to drink Gatorade because I was very thirsty from going to the gym. A week later, I was back at her office at 8am VERY ill. She still didn’t offer much help, so I said…“I’m going to the ER.” I called my mom and she told me to get out that office and go get help-so glad I did. By the time I got to the ER my glucose was 593 and I was headed into a coma. No wonder I couldn’t stay awake for more than 15 minutes nor walk a straight line. I spent 6 days there.

I’m happy to hear that your diagnosis wasn’t a complete nightmare.
Like you, these past 4 months have been an eye-opening journey for me.

Thanks for sharing.

I was diagnosed in April with BG at 489. I was on prednisone for a severe allergic reaction so I was sent home and told to drink lots of water. I missed three weeks of work although I’m sure I was worthless longer than that! My fasting stayed in the mid 100’s for a couple of months, but it’s back in the 90’s to low 100’s now. I read somewhere that the dx of D is the same stress as a heartattack. I’ll buy that!

Amy - I absolutely agree that it is extremely stressful. I’m glad you’re getting it under control!

PennStateDoc - I’m sorry to hear you had such a close call. I have been blessed by having some really good doctors on my side, and an early catch. One of them actually said that the Health screening probably saved my life, and that stories like mine are the reason he thinks they are important. I am still learning more and more about the disease and myself each day. I hope you’re having luck in managing your levels.

Thanks Erick,

I am doing a lot better.

What’s completely weird is…I’ve been getting my blood checked (health screening) done once a year for about 5 years. NONE of my fasting blood sugars results (even the one I had last July) have been out of normal range. I had my screening in July and almost died in February. I guess stranger things have happened…