29 November 2011

23 Year Diabetes Anniversary Post - an epic

Well, friends, I was reading this post over at Delighted Momma (fellow Type 1 - say WORD!) ... and I realized, I've never really reflected on the experience of being diagnosed and really thought outside of my own world how life/I was different as a kid (and now), living with our friend, Type 1 Dia-bee-tus. So, here it is:

First, Type 1 and Type 2 are NOT the same:

Next, let's all take a moment to thank this doofus for encouraging the world to say DIA-BEE-TUS. WTH?!?
Finally movin on, I emailed my mama for a lil help on this post because my memories of diagnosis are limited as I was only five.

I think I'm gonna write a post about my diabetes soon. Couple questions:

     What symptoms did I have that let you know something was wrong?           
You were black under your eyes, you had impetigo, & your urine was brown. You had also lost some weight, but nothing crazy. I just thought you were finally losing your baby fat. ; )

How long did I have them before you took me in/I was diagnosed?
Don't remember, maybe 1- 3 mos.

Do you know how high my blood sugar was when I was diagnosed?
They just said it was over 500.

Thanks! :)

My version of this story is that I was sitting at the doctor, waiting for the chick to come back in the room, and then having her tell my mom,  "She has DIEabetes." My only question was, "Am I gonna die?" Seems silly, I suppose. But, there are stories of people DYING IN CHILDHOOD from diabetes complications ... NOT that long ago! Like, 1970's people! That is so numbing to me. I was diagnosed in 1988 at age 5. No one ever told me I would only live to be THIRTY-EIGHT! Or that CHILDREN WERE NOT POSSIBLE.

The next thing that happened was being in Duke Hospital for a week. Then, coming home to my mom giving me shots for umm .... NOT LONG. I QUICKLY learned to do that myself! No thanks! I'll handle it!

Then, people began to either freak out ... orrrrr .... not listen to any special instructions given regarding the disease AT ALL .... whattup Mrs. Hubbard? The ONE time I passed out from low blood sugar, my 5th grade teacher did EXACTLY what my mom told her not to do, and she had me with my head between my knees. THANK GOD MY BUS DRIVER SAW ME COLLAPSED IN THE CAFETERIA AND SHE TOOK ME TO THE NURSE'S OFFICE AND GAVE ME SUGAR. Hey Mrs. Barker!

People do and say dumb things, no matter how many times you tell em:

Yes, diabetes sucks. But, I AM SO BLESSED. I have NEVER been hospitalized since being diagnosed. I have never had a seizure, or ketones I/my mom couldn't get rid of at home. It's been 23 years so far.

Looking back now, I can't imagine what it must've been like for my mom to send me to sleepovers and birthday parties, etc. as a young child with diabetes. But, she taught me so well. And we both had such great training at Duke. We were strict with it, and I didn't do anything I wasn't supposed to - for the most part. And, as I got older and did make stupid decisions, I feel like I only let it go so far before I couldn't resist checking my blood sugar and correcting it back down.

People say some whack stuff, so, here is my free


1) People have diabetes or they don't. There is no such thing as "havin it real bad".

2) Don't judge. You may see a diabetic eatin cake and ice cream - guess what? It's no different than pizza or spaghetti. Carbs are carbs - let them handle it. Don't preach.

3) Don't STARE. It is called an insulin pump, people! Some of us actually have an additional gizmo hooked into our skin somewhere - it's a blood glucose sensor. We realize we look bionic. Your staring is rude and unnecessary. If you wanna know, just ask!

4) The pump and/or sensor do not control the diabetes for us. They help TREMENDOUSLY ... but checking sugars is still necessary, as is counting carbs and dealing with unexplained and frustrating blood sugars. It is not a fake pancreas/cure-all.

5) Sugar is sugar. Honey, brown sugar, white sugar, molasses, sugar, sugar, sugar! It's all sugar. As far as what it does to blood sugars anyway. Bagels, pasta, Coke, chips, carbs, carbs, carbs.

6) Diabetics are "allowed" to have an adult beverage - they aren't any better or worse for us than they are for you. Tend to yaself!

7) Dear Airports - please get educated on modern medical technology. I am not carrying heroin in my insulin pump. And no, I am not going to bomb the plane - that would be a continuous blood glucose monitoring sensor that you see here inserted into my belly fat.

8) Don't ask a diabetic, "Can you have that?" Who exactly do you want us to ask? Are we getting permission?

My childhood was all about stuff like this. And my personal favorite (although this is very thoughtful, ignorant, but thoughtful) - sugar-free candy/desserts. Doesn't matter. Carbs are carbs. I'd rather eat the real thing and just take the insulin for it than to have to take insulin to cover carbs that are gross. Just sayin'.
It's less carbs for me to drink a can of Coke (heaven) than to eat a whole bagel for breakfast. Spiiiiike! But, no, I get people's paranoia, because it is very serious. But there are a ZILLION misconceptions. Diabetes is all about balancing insulin and carbohydrates (to put it simply). Carbs are carbs - although some are fast acting, and fatty carbs have a different affect than lean ones, etc. But, 30g of carbs is gonna change your blood sugar whether it's potato chips or a nice healthy apple.

When I was in elementary school, I was SO GLAD to get to eat a snack during class because I was ALWAYS hungry. Some other kids were like, "That's not fair." I'm like, "Are you serious, right now? YOUR PANCREAS WORKS AND YOU DON'T HAVE TO TAKE SHOTS, DUMBASS!"

In middle and high school, we moved around a bit, and I felt so stupid being the new chick who would randomly whoop out a snack during a test and start eating. Especially those teachers who forgot I was diabetic (because it usually wasn't an issue) and they would not so kindly remind me that we weren't allowed to eat in class. Then, as the whole class was staring, HU-MIL-I-A-TING!, and my blood sugar is like 45, I am trying to eat, stay conscious, and explain that I'm diabetic and I'm about to fall out. Oh, and make a decent grade on the test.

Good times.

I also remember checking my blood and it taking TWO MINUTES to register. Now it takes 5 seconds. And nobody ever even dreammmmmmmed of an insulin pump, much less a sensor.

But, seriously, we've come such a long way. I read posts by people diagnosed in earlier days, or those who have had more difficulty than I have and it brings me to tears because of how blessed I have been. There are still times when it makes me nuts. When it doesn't make sense. When I need to leave work because my pump is not working properly and my blood sugar is 395. Or, when it's low every time I turn around, and I have no clue why. Or, when I leave my medical supplies in someone's car, and I have to have them go to the trouble of overnighting it immediately. Or being at Thanksgiving, or Christmas and being hungry, but knowing I should wait for my blood to go down some before I eat unless I want it to be high all day. I also try to bolus (take insulin to cover food) 20 mins. before I eat, especially if it's more than 20 carbs.

Once, in college, I just checked out, I guess, and hadn't ordered insulin in FOR-EV-ER, and suddenly, my blood sugar was in the 400s constantly. I ended up having to call the hospital at Duke and get some random endocrinologist on call who'd never met me a day in his life, to call in some insulin (I told him the brand I wanted and begged him to do it without seeing me) at a 24 hour CVS in SC, where I paid out of pocket (about $110).

How stupid was I?

But now, I'm a tad more grounded, and totally psycho about controlling my diabetes as much as I can. I am scared I will not be able to have kids, or that I will have a 15 pound baby with 12 fingers and I will die in child birth. Yep - these are things I spend time worrying about.

But, anyway, I am so blessed. And although they were SO WRONG about finding a cure "in 5 years" in 1988 ... we've come a long way, baby.

Hey, the invention of Splenda was a breakthrough for me. Sweet-n-low is NAZZZZTASTIC! Equal's aiight, but def doesn't hold a candle to Splenda.

Thanks again, Pinterest, for allowing us to find humor in the madness.

Also, please do check out this article I came across on Alexis's blog (awesome!!!) I Run on Insulin - she found it in Diatribe, a Diabetic Newsletter - it's about the discovery of insulin and the very first patient whose life it saved. Also, check out A Sweet Life for more awesome diabetes blogs.

Ab.so.lutely. A.mazing!

If you're interested in other ways I make fun of diabetes and how it tries AND FAILS to ruin my friggin life, check out other posts here. Anyone have questions, please feel free to email me.

Your sister in dia-bee-tus,



Southern Belle said...

I LOVED this, it was great to learn more about it, I've always wondered about some of this and never wanted to be a freak and ask so I'm so glad you posted and I just got a little insight into your life :)

Wonderful post!

Anonymous said...

Yeah that's a lot to go through. I was very ignorant of your diabetes throughout childhood. I had no idea how much time and thought had to be dedicated to it, both on your part and Tracy's part. I'm glad to read this, it's enlightening.


Lindsay @ Delighted Momma said...

What a GREAT post!! I might use some of your images on my blog in a later post and I would of course link back to yours. I loved the "Stupid things people say" when they hear you have diabetes! Such an inspiring story! xoxo