Lately, I have been reading blogs about other Type 1 diabetics .. and decided “Hey, I can do that!” And why not .. it’s not like I don’t have enough life experiences and stories to share. And if any one of my posts can help someone out there realize he/she is not alone .. then it’ll be worth it. As of today, I have been living with this disease for 7,072 days. Whoa. That’s a big number.
Let’s start at the beginning. On October 16, 1992, my mom, Mamaw (that’s a loving name for a grandmother here in the South, for you that may live north of Oklahoma and don’t use that phrase), and our cousins Mary and Sue Ann, and I all set out on a road trip to Gilmer, Texas, for the annual Yamboree, and to visit our family (My Mamaw had grown up there). But I digress. It’s about a 2ish hour drive. We had a nice visit, but on the way home I was SO tired. I was laying in the very back of Mary’s SUV sleeping. That is until we had to stop just about every 5 minutes for me to pee, and to get something to drink. (Vicious cycle)
Now to back up just a tad so you get some history …. In the summer of this same year, I had gone on two trips that in hindsight should have been flashing neon signs to me that something was wrong, but I didn’t KNOW to look for problems so I had no idea what was going on. The first trip was with my church youth group, to Colorado. We were driving through all those mountains, and I was drinking Gatorade like it was going out of style. Knowing what I know now, DING DING DING that is what caused the next problem – I spent half of that week long trip in the bathroom throwing up. Assumed I had a bug or something. Little did I know …
Then later that summer, my mom and I went to Missouri to visit my friend, Michelle. I was so tired that entire trip. She lived with her dad in an old creaky floored wooden farm house, and I was up and down the stairs so many times during the day/night to fill up my Mason jar (another Southern thing) with water. And then not long after, back on the crickety floor to go to the bathroom. Another vicious cycle.
So let’s fast forward back to our trip to Gilmer. On the way home, as I’m half asleep in the back of the SUV, Sue Ann asks my mom if I’d been tested for diabetes. Her husband, Steve, was just recently diagnosed with Type 2 (which is in essence, very different, and I will address that in later posts I’m sure) and said that he had very similar symptoms as to what I seemed to be having. So my mom of course then asked “I’m sure she doesn’t have anything like that. But how do you test for that at home?” Sue Ann told us there are these strips you can buy over the counter that you basically pee on and it will change colors. We later found out these were called ketone strips and that color shows you how much protein has spilled out of your kidneys, in a nutshell.
So that was a Saturday. On Sunday, October 17, 1992, after I’d gotten home from church, my mom asked me to go pee on this stick – let’s get it over with, even though we were sure nothing was “wrong”. I mean come on, bad things happen to other people, right? I didn’t know what the big deal was. So what if I was tired, had lost weight, not hungry, and my eyesight was blurry (I had gotten glasses about 6 months before all of this as well, but I didn’t like wearing them any more than I had to.) But I did as I was asked …. and that sucker turned the darkest shade possible, almost immediately. Ruh roh. We didn’t know what this meant, only that it wasn’t good. So if you read the fine wording on the label, if it goes above a Moderate Level (which is two levels BELOW where mine now read) you were to “call your healthcare provider immediately.”
So my mom calls the hospital – being a Sunday afternoon, no doctors’ offices were going to be open. She explains to the nice nurse that answered the phone what this strip had done, and how quickly it had done it. The nurse wasted no time in telling my mom that she needed to bring me into the ER immediately. Wait, what was happening here? It was just a stupid stick that I peed on and it changed colors. What is going on?? But again … I did as I was told and we headed to Medical City Hospital in Dallas. My only doctor at the time was my gyno and that’s where he was based, so that’s where we went. We get there and get checked in, and Dr. McCullough was not on call, but one of his partners was (more on this dummy later). They ran some initial tests and immediately I was told that I did in fact have diabetes, and my life would be forever changed.
I did not know anything at all about diabetes, other than you can’t have sugar. Which I learned very quickly that is not true. But at the time, that’s all I thought I “knew”. The next week was a whirlwind introduction to my new life. I had the choice of being admitted and having inpatient training, 3 classses a day for a week. Or my mom could bring me back to the hospital 3x a day for outpatient training. We chose inpatient, for the shear convenience of not driving back/forth. So Mom and I went to class – poked syringes into oranges for practice; I met with Nutritionists to re-learn how to eat basically. See, I was (and still am) not a fan of vegetables. I clearly remember going through the book of suggested food, and carb counts, and free foods, etc… and the whole time I was flipping through the pages saying “Nope, don’t like that. Or that. Or that. Or that.” Pretty much the only veggie I liked was green beans. And I loved my starches. Boy, was this going to be tough.
After that week in the hospital, Mom and I were sent on our way with bookoos of prescriptions for insulin and syringes, a glucagon pen (in case of an emergency), all the works. In the hospital, I had starting taking 4 injections of insulin every day – before breakfast, before lunch, before dinner, and at bedtime. That would later increase to 5, but we’ll get there eventually. Side note: Insulin is not a cure; it is merely life support. Walking out the hospital doors and getting into my mom’s car, I was not the same 17 year old girl that had walked in those doors just 5 days earlier. I now had a label. I was a diabetic. I had no idea what I was going to be getting into. Or that twenty years later, I would be sitting down at my computer to start a blog to tell the world my story. But here I am. More to come …..