Saturday, November 17, 2012

Type 1 Diabetes

I have been meaning to write my story for a while now.  I don't write for sympathy, but to reach others going through the same thing and to document what was so real and powerful to me.  On May 1st I found out I am a Type 1 Diabetic.  I have a new label, but I am the same old me!  I remember all of the helpful articles I read online initially.  But more so, I remember all of the stories I read of 'normal' people living a 'normal' life with this disease.  It helped me know it will be okay.  And now...I know without a IS okay.  So I hope there will be some people out there reading that will see that this is a VERY livable disease!  
Let's start with what this means...I'll let this 6 year old explain.  :)

To sum that up a little bit:
Yes, I have always loved sweets.  :)  But no, eating those sweets did not cause my diabetes.  Type 1 Diabetes does not run in my family. Type 1 Diabetics do not produce insulin therefore I am insulin dependent and will always need my insulin.  There is not much of an answer as to why I became a Type 1 Diabetic.  A lot of times it can be genetically related, or simply because a virus attacked my pancreas causing it to stop working.  It does not run in my family.  No it is not 'contagious'.  ;)  Most importantly, it could be MUCH worse. 

So, let's rewind a little to the months leading up to my diagnosis.

I have always had a pretty consistent weight varying between 5-10 pounds. Blame it on my dad's genetic make-up of being able to eat anything and not worry about weight!!  The summer of 2011, I was at an all time high for me (according to the scale).  It did not worry me.  I knew I was still at a healthy weight, I just remember being aware at the time.  The year progressed and by January of 2012 I could tell I was losing weight, but I was doing nothing to make this happen.  Eating habits had not changed and exercise was non-existent!  That's why it was odd but I did not think much of it.  I do not keep a scale in the house and am not concerned much with my weight on a day to day basis but could tell by the way my clothes fit that I was losing weight.  So I never knew an exact number of my weight.  (Losing weight unintentionally-symptom of high blood sugar)...
I remember being sick.  A LOT.  Sinuses...Allergies...Cold...whatever it was...I was blowing my nose and feeling stuffy in my head all the time!  

I remember being tired (A symptom of high blood sugar).  LIKE REAL TIRED.  Tired all the time and non-stop yawning.  I remember my friends being pregnant and telling me I will never understand what tired is until you become pregnant...and then until when you become a mom...  (And, I'm sure I won't...but I remember thinking..."Man, if I'm this tired NOW...what will I do???) haha!  But I didn't think much of it.  I blamed it on school stress...being ready for summer...sinuses/allergies...Everything seemed fine, I just went to bed a little earlier.  ;)

I remember craving sweets (A symptom of high blood sugar).  ALL THE TIME.  I could never get enough sweets and I always wanted chocolate cake!  I remember going to my parents house for Easter and chowing down on this chocolate chip layered cookie cake with icing in the middle and never getting enough!  It was gross how much I ate and still wanted more, really.  I remember having a UTI.  Not common for me and it came out of nowhere... (A symptom of high blood sugar)  I just blamed it on...Oh it's the Holidays!  Everyone eats sweets. No big deal!  But it never went away...
I remember the scariest thing for far away vision being blurry (A symptom of high blood sugar).  I thought it was a migraine coming on.  I've gotten migraines on and off since high school and they always start with my peripheral vision going blurry.  I took advil but the "migraine" symptoms never worsened or got better.  My vision simply stayed the same (blurry far away).  I remember laughing it off when we went to the air show that I might need to bring some binoculars since I can't see far away.  We forgot them.  I was tired.  The planes were blurry.  I craved ice cream.  And then I was thirsty.  All day every day.  ;)
I remember being thirsty (A symptom of high blood sugar).  OH SO THIRSTY.  Like I never could get enough water.  I don't normally drink a lot throughout the day.  I may finish 1-2 water bottles but I was finishing 4-6.  That may be normal for some people so I didn't think much of it...besides my sinuses were all acting up.  So it was probably related to that anyway...

I remember having to go pee all the time (A symptom of high blood sugar).  BUT WAIT.  Why should that be a big deal?!  I was drinking triple my usual amount of water per day?  So I didn't think much of it... 

I remember going to the walk-in because my sinus infection was not getting any better any getting a steroid shot.  (Big No No...makes blood sugars sky rocket!)

I remember after this, my vision STILL being blurry and it starting to scare me.  My thirstiness became worse, my bathroom trips became more frequent and I was waking up at night for bathroom trips, and I just felt worse overall. What if something is wrong?  I researched online a ton and I knew my symptoms were adding up to Diabetes.  But that couldn't be me.  I was 26 and it didn't run in my family and I was petite.  Surely not. 

I remember Chad being gone for a few days the next week and falling asleep on the couch nightly by 6:30.

I didn't have a family doctor so Chad and I made an appointment with a family doctor right away. It would be the next Tuesday (May 8, 2011) that I got in since I was a new patient.  Thank Goodness I had a student teacher who was fabulous through all of this!  She took my class that afternoon while I went to the doctor.  

Chad came with me and we visited with the doctor who we felt very comfortable with.  I was a little scared I might hear "diabetes" but pushed it to the back of my mind.  Couldn't be possible! We told him my symptoms (we were more focused on the vision and sinus issues).  We told him about the vision issues I was having.  Through some different questions and answers we decided I had dry eyes and I needed some eye drops.  WOOHOOO!! I was about to go back to school AND have some answers! :)  Oh, but the doctor wanted to do some blood work just to double check. big deal...

I asked the nurse if they were planning to take a lot of blood.  I had to explain to her that I haven't eaten yet and I was feeling a little weak.  We had been there quite some time and it was well passed my usual 11:13 lunch time!  ;)  I've always had an issue in the past that if I go too long without eating I can get dizzy, light headed, sick, etc!  (All symptoms of low blood!)  The nurse assured me it was no big deal and it was actually a good thing because "when testing for diabetes you need to have fasted"
What?!  That's the first time I had heard the "D" word since I had arrived at the doctor.  

She took my blood quickly and then gave me paperwork to take to the 'check out' area.  Chad and I were waiting around when the nurse asked us to wait right there because she needed to ask the doctor a question.  Then...they called us back to his office and handed us a glucometer.  
I remember the blank stare I had and the doctor's words "Carla, does diabetes run in your family?....Your blood sugar levels are very high...400"

The rest was a slight blur.  Another nurse came in and showed me how to give myself a shot of insulin using a syringe and a vial of insulin.  They gave me a sick day sliding scale to use and I'm so glad Chad was there because they sure did sound like Charlie Brown's teacher at that moment in time.  

I remember leaving the doctor's office and telling Chad it's big deal.  And then we had to decide where to eat lunch and I didn't know WHAT or WHERE to eat.  I mumbled Chic*Fil*A would probably be good...I had no clue?! 

I remember we made it to the drive-thru and I lost it.  I began crying and could not control it.  I was scared.  I was confused.  I was frustrated.  I was mad.  I was upset.  I was everything in one.  I was mostly just unfamiliar with what my life would look like in the years to come. ... At least I had colorful lancets.  :)
I told myself to get it together.  I needed to make it back to school.  The kids would be coming back from PE/Music soon and I needed to make it back to relieve my student teacher.  But I couldn't get it together.  My sweet best friend (and co teacher) and my sweet secretary texted me and demanded me to stay at home.  So I finally accepted it and did.  

I won't was not easy for me in the beginning.  Mainly because I was lost and scared.  There were so many unanswered questions about what my life would like like ahead of me and how it would change.  I felt like I had caused something on my body that was irreversible and it was hard for me to accept something that was so unfamiliar to me.

I began taking classes that were 'required' from my doctor.  Most of the information they gave us was stuff that I had already spent hours researching online and learned on my own.  Most importantly I learned that I did not cause this disease on myself.  There is no answer as to why it happened.  And, I was thankful, it could be much worse!  My life is much the same now, I just have a few things I had to add to my eating schedule...oh and it added to my packing for trips as well.  ;)

I have an amazing support team.  Family and friends were there initially telling me "it's going to be okay" and that was exactly what I needed to hear.  Hubs is an amazing home doctor who stays on top of me checking my levels and such.  When I was initially on vials and syringes, hubs had to give me my first shots because I was TOO SCARED.  (He was too...but he pretended not to be.)  True Love!  ;)
I remember my mom's text to encourage me to be strong saying "I raised you a strong woman, you and I know you will learn everything you need to know and get it regulated and keep yourself healthy now go and show everyone that you can do this."  My family was so sweet in showing me they had researched things online, or telling me the things they had learned.  They shared recipes they had found and it meant so much to me the effort they put forth showing that they were going to be a part of this too.  My mom and dad drove in to go to my first Endocrinologist (diabetes doctor) appointment with Hubs and I.  It meant a lot, because it was something we were all going to be learning about together.  

Sugar free Snow-Cones...YEA!!!
Initially I stuck to a pretty strict schedule and diet.  Hubs and I cleared out the fridge and pantry and went shopping.  We read articles online and we researched carb counts and sugar-free foods.  We stuck to it for a little bit and then as I felt more comfortable I ventured out to test some new foods and a few old favorites to see how my body would react.
I have now been able to test out several foods to see what effects my body and what doesn't.  Initially it is a trial and error stage to see how your body reacts to certain foods because several things can be different for different people.  I think the initial 'shock' was the hardest part.  But now, I can't remember my life any other way.  You learn how to make it work for you.  It's not that bad.  An extra finger prick before you eat food and the management of a pump.  If that's all I have to do to stay healthy...I'LL TAKE IT!  :)  Since making the switch over to a pump, the OmniPod, trying new foods is much easier.  I just program in how many carbs I will eat and the pump gives me the insulin I need.  It makes life much more simple and I LOVE it!  Now that I have cut out sweets, I don't really crave them much.  Every now and then my blood sugars go low and I have to eat some.  I cut myself breaks every now and then.  And, now that I'm on the pump, I have been brave enough to program in more carbs and try a cupcake!  I felt sick after I ate it I don't think it will be a habit I will make! ;)  Thank you to everyone who was such a major support in the beginning!  Much Love! Much Love!  Several friends of mine, both distant and close, both diabetic and not, have helped by telling their story to me.  Now you have my story to share.  :)