I’ve been diabetic for YEARS now and nothing about becoming diabetic or being diabetic has been normal for me.  I was diagnosed with Type One Diabetes in 2001 after being gravely and unexpectedly ill for about 4 months.  I initially thought my appendix was rupturing because the pain in my abdomen was kicking my ass that badly.  Jeff finally insisted on taking me to the emergency room when I was lethargic and writhing in pain and begging him to just let me die quickly.  Turns out, I was experiencing DKA (diabetic keto acidosis) and my entire system, including my kidneys, were shutting down.  The pain I was experiencing was the toxicity of what my kidneys couldn’t process.  My blood sugar was nearly 1000 (normal is 80-120). I spent approximately ten days in the hospital, with most of that time spent in the critical care unit.  After being bombarded by a plethora of information and medications and instructions and words and terminology that I was barely able to digest, let alone understand, I was sent home to begin living my life as a new, and VERY confused, diabetic.

The first doctor that I was referred to couldn’t believe that I was just diagnosed as type one diabetic at my age (26).  Type one diabetes is generally called juvenile diabetes, because its onset hits young.  So initially, I was treated as a type two diabetic and given oral medication.  I might as well have been taking tic-tacs, for all the good the oral meds were doing.  Because I still wasn’t feeling very well, and my first doctor was apparently a moron, I researched and located a new endocrinologist.   And I hit the Doctor JACKPOT!!!

This doctor was the smartest and most compassionate doctor I’ve ever been cared for by.  He was type one diabetic also and this was why he chose endocrinology and, more specifically, diabetes care as his specialty.  My endocrinologist labeled me a medical  anomaly and figures that something, a high fever or an infection of some sort, attacked my pancreas with a vengeance and annihilated it completely.  At this point, my pancreas was completely useless to me and was no longer producing ANY insulin.  However, he seemed positively certain he could help me manage things……….and immediately informed me that the first most crucial step was to begin taking insulin injections, SEVERAL insulin injections per day, to compensate for the job that my own pathetic pancreas could no longer do.

Upon hearing this news, I did the only thing I could think of doing, the only thing that made any sense to me at this point……began to cry.  Not quiet cry. Not tiny little sniffles and nice lady-like tears sliding down my cheeks. Sobbing and snot-running-out-of-my-nose crying. Ugly face crying.  I’m pretty sure I dehydrated myself with all the water works I’d shed.  Just as he and his nursing staff would FINALLY get me managably calmed and collected, he would begin talking about injections and needle types and I would get hysterical again.  See, the first doctor had me convinced that all I had to do was take a pill or two here and there and I would be fine.  I was woefully unprepared for THIS.  And so, after THREE HOURS in Dr. Wonderful’s office, with his amazing staff doing their best to reassure me that I WOULD be able to DO this, I was finally able to give myself the very first of my many lifelong insulin injections.  And I’m pretty certain that when I finally stepped out in to his waiting room, throngs of people were applauding that this silly woman and her hysterical sobbing for three hours  were FINALLY leaving.

I tossed myself in to my diabetes care with a gusto.  I researched it.  I called toll free numbers for more information.  I bought books about managing diabetes.  One was actually titled “I have Diabetes but Diabetes doesn’t have ME”…..well, actually, yes it DID.  I was confused and, since I was the only person in my family with this stupid fucking disease, I had no outlet to explain things to me or help me along.  One of the first things Dr. Wonderful instructed me to do was to refer me to a nutritionist.  There, I learned how to count carbs and strictly manage my portions.   I became suddenly very familiar with those damn nutritional stats that most people ignore on the back of boxes.  Sugar gram contents are important, but carb gram contents are WAAAY more important.  Carbs are stupid little bitch assholes that convert right to sugar as soon as you consume them.  So I was learning to find ways to keep my carb counts low.  The head penis person swore he would support me in this new endeavor and swore to eat only things that I could eat also.  This lasted, literally, less than 24 hours…….because beer and pizza and fries and Pepsi not laced with sweetener were calling out to him with sweet abandon.

Regardless, over the years, I learned to manage my diabetes fairly well.  I became pregnant with my first penis person and monitored my diet with the strictness of a school marm.  I did such an amazing job that I had a fairly uneventful pregnancy and delivered a healthy little Nicklas via emergency c section.  He spent 5 days in the special care nursery due to low blood sugar.  Once he was able to regulate his own blood sugar levels, we were both sent home with a clean bill of health.

It wasn’t long before I realized that diabetes is much easier to manage when you’re doing it minus a small penis person depending on you every waking hour of every day.  I found myself extremely overwhelmed by his presence and crying and needing to be fed and held and rocked……..and started missing many doses of insulin.  I’d tell myself I’d make them up the next meal….and then miss the next dose.  I was even less better about checking my sugar with my glucose meter.  Before long, my sugar was hovering somewhere near 800 all day every day.  After about one solid week of missing more insulin shots than I could remember, I found myself guzzling glass after glass of water, and them almost immediately vomiting.  More water…..more vomiting.  Food was completely out of the question at this point.  When it became nearly impossible to breathe, I thought it might be a good idea to go to the emergency room.

There, I learned that the only way my body could possibly purge that much sugar from my system was to induce vomiting upon itself.  Because I was vomiting so much, I had become severely dehydrated.  Because I was so severely dehydrated, my body was trying to right itself by pulling hydration from any and all available resources.  In a last ditch effort to make things better, my body had begun drawing hydration from my lungs, effectively constricting them to the point of nearly strangling me (which explains my lack of being able to breathe).  It was kind of like a severe asthma attack…….times 1 million.  Next would have likely been my heart and likely, heart failure and death.    I was placed in ICU and given a central intravenous line.  The doctor that put the central line in remarked to the med student that the only people who didn’t FEEL the central line being administered were generally comatose.  THAT was a nice remark, and an even nicer feeling.  I DO NOT recommend a central line if you can avoid it.  That shit hurt like HELL.  I was also asked if I was an alcoholic…..I actually didn’t even drink at that time.  But the doctors informed me that my kidneys resembled those of a lifelong, aging alcoholic.  I was told they would “repair” themselves somewhat once my blood sugar was back under control, but that I was lucky not to need a transplant at this point.

I again remained in the hospital for about 10 days.  I cried every day because I missed my infant penis person.  I was scared.  Dr. Wonderful came to see me and was FURIOUS that I’d let myself get so sick.  I thought he was being such a dick, but to be honest, his fury forced me to see that I HAD to be better at this……had to recognize how seriously I needed to take this disease.  The most important thing he asked me………did I want my son to grow up without a mother.  Those words rocked me right to the very core of my heart and I never EVER forgot them.

All these years later and I’m managing well.  I still have days when I just don’t WANT to think about being diabetic…..don’t want to BE diabetic.  But I do it even when I get irritated about monitoring my blood sugar or fed up with watching what I eat or tired of feeling cheated by diabetes or exasperated by having to take shots before each meal……..because I have two small penis people who count on me to make myself be as healthy as I can be.

But seriously………diabetes really does suck ass.

 

Advertisements