Monday, November 14, 2011

World Diabetes Day- and the story of my diagnosis

Tomorrow, Monday, November, 14, 2011 is World Diabetes Day. I'm not sure if Google will be doing a special doodle for that day but check and see! Usually if you click on the doodle, you'll find information about the special day. The day is meant to raise awareness about Diabetes. I've written on my blog a handful of times about diabetes. You can link to all of those posts by scrolling to the bottom of my blog and clicking on the "label" diabetes. The condition has effected my life in many ways. Most days, however, I don't really think about it much. I thought that for WDD I'd write the story of my diagnosis. I don't think I've ever done that before, forgive me if I have. Many people ask me how I found out I had it, or how old I was when I was diagnosed. So, here's the story. I will warn you though, that some of the details are a little bit TMI so there's your warning!

In late April of 2001 I started having all kinds of weird things happening to my body. Probably the first thing I noticed was that my vision was poor. It was almost over-night that my vision changed. I went to the vision center in Wal-Mart (hey, I was a starving student at that time) and had an eye exam. I told the opthamologist that I thought my eyesight had changed really dramatically. He told me that I was wrong and that it had probably happened gradually. (Note: HE was wrong and should have noticed it as a sign of hyperglycemia- high blood sugar). I was working at a hotel in Provo at the time. I noticed that I was EXTREMELY thirsty all of the time. Like I would literally drink GALLONS of water each day and still go to bed completely parched. The hotel I worked at had a Mexican Restaurant on the same property and we were allowed free drinks from their soda fountain. I loved their lemonade and was so stinking thirsty all the time that I was constantly over there getting drinks. I still remember the taste. The bathroom was around the corner from my front desk and I was using the restroom so frequently that I'd often miss the telephone. In my job that was a big no, no, but what else could I do? I was also taking a dance class at the time and I remember having the same issues in that class. Having to drink a ton and running to the restroom so frequently.

I also remember that I was loosing weight. I'd gained a lot of weight in the Dominican Republic so I was glad for the weight to be coming off. I chalked it up to drinking more water. I was right, in a way. I'd also recently had a sore throat. My roommate and I were using jolly ranchers as cough drops. I remember I'd go to bed with one in my mouth and wake up with a huge canker on my mouth. I was also waking up in the night with really bad cramps in my legs. One night it was so bad that when I stood up to straighten out my legs, I couldn't stand on my feet because they had tightened up so bad.

All of this frequent urination combined with the excess amounts of sugar in my blood stream (which I didn't know was there at the time) gave me three yeast infections back to back to back. They were INSANELY painful and I'd tried over-the-counter drugs without any help. The semester came to an end and I packed up my car to move home. After a long day of moving all of my stuff out of my apartment and back into my parent's basement, I decided I'd go to the Insta-care clinic to ask for a Diflucan pill. This was a single dose oral medication used to treat yeast infections. I had NO IDEA that I'd walk out of there (actually I was taken away in an ambulance) with a life-long-illness.

My parents dropped me off at the clinic and went to get something to eat. I waited my turn and went to see the doctor. I told them about the yeast infection. They took a urine sample and I assume they asked me about other symptoms, I don't remember. They came back with the results of my urinalysis and told me that they found a lot of sugar. They said that when they tested my blood they were going to see if the sugar was high. If it was high, they told me, they'd probably diagnose me with diabetes.

I can't really tell you what went through my head at that moment. I couldn't believe it. I didn't know what it meant. By this time I was starting to get pretty hungry. All I wanted was for my mom to come back, a sandwich, and a dang pill and to be on my way. No way was I ready for this diagnosis.

They checked my sugar and told me that it was high. I couldn't believe it. They were right! I had diabetes. So what the HELL did that mean? Someone called my parents. I don't know if it was me or them, but they came back. They hooked me up to an IV for fluids because they were worried about me getting dehydrated. They told me that since I was hooked up to an IV that I would have to travel to the hospital in an ambulance. It was my first and only ride in one. The nurses and EMTs in the ambulance were very nice. They were telling me how high my sugar was. I don't exactly remember the number but I think it was something like 529 maybe. I sat in the ER at the hospital until someone FINALLY fed me. I don't remember when they gave me my first dose of insulin but eventually they got me out of the ER and onto an admittance floor.

I had to stay in the hospital for about three days. They checked my blood sugars ALL NIGHT LONG every two hours. It was so painful. They use these awful lancets that are so sharp and hard. They woke me up constantly taking lots and lots of blood samples. In the next few days they taught me how to give insulin and worked on me with some dosing.

Once I was released from the hospital, they referred me to an endocrinologist who tried to help me get all of my ratios of insulin, carbs, and correction doses correct. It was a rough couple of years after diagnosis.

Anyway, that's my diagnosis story.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Jen, thanks for sharing your story! My first experience with someone being diagnosed was a very dramatic one for me - I was a young teen and my brother, our neighbor and I went to see Star Wars together. I remember he ate a TON of popcorn during the show. When we reuturned home, we got a call later that night that he'd been very sick and had been admitted to the hospital. It was very scary because we'd only seen him that night and were wondering if it was something we'd done wrong, or if it had been directly related to all that popcorn he'd eaten. Later that week, we got the news that he'd been diagnosed with Diabetes, I vaguely recall it was Type 2, but I'm not really sure. What stood out was that we knew he and his family had to make huge adjustments to their life based on this diagnosis and that he was from that point on, while still the same boy, things were definitely not the same nor would be for the rest of his life. There was a finality to it, even as we knew and were grateful for the fact that he was still alive and would otherwise be able to live a functional and full life. I appreciate that you're so open and willing to educate your friends and community about something that is so present and real in your life! Cheers! xx