Reflections: Being diagnosed with diabetes

When people find out that I am a Type 1, insulin dependent, diabetic, they are shocked because they say that I don’t look like a diabetic.  I am lean, eat relatively healthy and exercise on a semi-regular basis.  Trust me; I was just as shocked when I found out as they are now.

So, what happened?  In August of 2004, I lost about ten pounds (which is a lot for someone who only weighs around 120), became extremely fatigued and could drink 20 ounces of water, urinate and have an irresistible thirst for another 20 ounces (that cycle got old really quick!).

One night, I went to the movies with a friend, gulped down a 32-ounce drink, used the bathroom and told him that I was thirsty again.  He looked at me and said, “I think you have diabetes.”  I was perplexed at his amateur diagnosis but went online to check out the symptoms of a diabetic.  Sure enough, it was as if they were describing my situation to a tee.  I called the doctor to schedule an appointment and they tried to push me out about a month until I told them that I thought I had diabetes, which earned me an appointment within days.  Being the untrained physician  that I am, I immediately assumed that I had low blood sugar and immediately began consuming as much sugar as possible to self medicate. 

Once I arrived at the doctor’s office, they tested my blood sugar and my glucose level was somewhere around 700 (a normal glucose reading is around 150).  I was told that I could have lapsed into a diabetic coma at any time.  That was sobering.  Apparently, my self-medicating was worsening my situation.  I needed to get my blood sugar down and quickly.  The doctor sent me home with some pills and a glucose machine to test myself three times per day.  The pills were not working.  My blood sugar remained in the 500-700 range and peaked around 800 a couple of times.  This was not encouraging to say the least.

The doctor suggested that I go to a class to learn how to be a good diabetic.  As the instructor was explaining diabetes and the difference between Type 1 and Type 2, I realized that I had been initially diagnosed as a Type 2 when I was in fact a Type 1.  I made a follow up visit to the doctor and the diagnosis was confirmed.  She prescribed me a vial of insulin, box of syringes and a biohazard container.  After filling my prescriptions, I went home and sat on my sofa looking at all of my new purchases.  How in the world was I supposed to give myself three shots per day when I had never used a syringe before?  More stress!  However, anyone who knows me knows that I am the type of person to just do it.  I manned up, read the directions and every since have been self-injecting without any queasiness. 

Some people use having diabetes as an excuse to not do things.  The only thing diabetes should prevent you from doing is eating unhealthy foods.  To maintain a low glucose level, you need to eat lean and green foods, exercise regularly and take your medications regularly.  I know that I am more susceptible to every other disease and/or medical complication because of this diagnosis but I use it as a motivator to live everyday to the fullest.  I don’t know when or if my sight will fail, if I will ever require an amputation, if I will develop heart disease or experience renal failure but I will not live as a victim of my circumstance.  I am a winner in every other part of my life and my health is no different.


One thought on “Reflections: Being diagnosed with diabetes

  1. “The only thing diabetes should prevent you from doing is eating unhealthy foods.” <—- LOVE IT! LOVE IT! LOVE IT!!!!!!!!!

    OK, you seriously need to write a book or upload some motivational/informational videos on this topic! Seriously! A family member of mine just went through a very frightening few weeks of thinking they had diabetes. They got mixed info from the doctors and then clarification from the diabetes class. They'd also tried the self-medicating thing. Turns out, after the glucose tolerance test (original diagnosis was based on one non-fasting blood test result from a physical), it was determined that they are not diabetic (glucose levels topping out around 135).


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