Nine years ago, this month, I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. What exactly was going through my head that fateful day? I didn’t write much in those first few months getting to know my incurable chronic condition, but I did take the time to document my experience in the hospital post-diagnosis. The following excerpt would eventually inspire my book, Sugarcoated. I’ve trimmed some of the content for this blog.
Me writing in Paris a year before I found out I had Type 1 diabetes
I hear the drum of the metal cart on the tile floor, its rusted wheel curved backwards towards the slanted door. Its heavy frame makes a swishing sound when the nurse appears, and I cuddle beneath the thin scraps of my blanket. She checks my IV with a smile, and I no longer try to conceal my runaway tears. She says if I need anything to call, and she will be back in an hour to administer my long-lasting insulin injection. I hardly know what she’s saying, let alone believe that I need insulin to live. The door’s shadow disappears behind her, and once again, I’m left alone to the static television and a view of the parking lot.
I see the lights from a golf course in the distance and think of my boyfriend’s family on Easter, enamored with the flat screen television and shouting with each successful hole. I think of my boyfriend now sitting around the campfire at his aunt and uncle’s house with a good meal in his body – a meal I will potentially never feel again. He boasted about his aunt’s cooking all week, and I looked forward to a weekend with the family and then an afternoon at the Great American Ball Park with my co-worker and her boyfriend. They offered free tickets, four rows up from the dugout, and I even bought an outfit for the event (seeing as I never wore red). I packed my clothes on the way to the hospital in the hopes the doctor would discharge me by early morning.
I look at my flip phone with scratches on the screen, and I wish to see a blinking light, a sign of life, but the battery died from excessive texting. My roommate left me before I realized I had forgotten my charger. The University health center doctor set me up near his practice in Northern Kentucky so he could oversee things, but I feel so disconnected from everyone in Cincinnati. Even my boyfriend’s car could not make the drive across the river, and when my roommate left around dinnertime, I wished for morning. Continue reading
Note: this is a follow-up to an earlier post on Being Adventurous with Diabetes.
In early November, I texted one of my best friends, asking her how she would like to celebrate her upcoming birthday.
Her response: whitewater rafting.
Her birthday was in three days. It’s something she’s always wanted to do. She had a different start to her adult life – had to grow up way too fast and missed out on what some of us call the “fun” from our early 20’s. So, now that she’s hit 30, she’s trying to make up for it. I don’t blame her, and after the year she’s had, I want to support her. Except…
I am terrified of whitewater rafting. Honestly, I’m terrified of any water that moves (yes, I acknowledge the oxymoron in that statement, but let’s just say kiddie pools don’t count). I experienced a few “almost” drowning incidences as a kid, and that ruined any dreams of being The Little Mermaid. But I wanted to support my friend, and ever since I ran that 5K in October, I’d made a commitment to myself to be a little more adventurous. Continue reading
The holidays are always a tough time for someone with Type 1 diabetes. I’m constantly surrounded by holiday treats and carb-heavy foods. Holiday parties tend to be the worst culprit.
This could be why I’ve been a bit anti-social lately. I don’t want to be tempted. This past year, managing my blood sugar levels became increasingly more difficult. Maybe it’s because I’m older and my body is less resilient? Maybe it’s because I “cheat” more than I used to? Maybe it’s because I’ve had this disease longer, and it’s starting to take its toll on my mental and physical health?
Maybe all of the above? I recently took out a life insurance policy. That felt weird. And although I do my best, I know there is no guarantee with this disease, and in case anything terrible should happen as a result, I want my loved ones to be taken care of. But in the meantime, I’m still rooting for me. Continue reading
Halloween is a surreal holiday. It’s my favorite holiday, but it is also a reminder of how much life with an incurable chronic condition affects my perception of positive childhood memories. I’m lucky that I could grow up with trick or treating without Type 1 diabetes, but I am also cursed in that I will never relish in the same devilish appetite now that I have a disease that negates sugar.
So, it seems appropriate on this almost All Hallow’s Eve and in preparation for November — National Diabetes Awareness Month – that I should write about what it’s truly like to live a day in the life of someone with Type 1 diabetes. A few weeks ago, I took an ordinary Monday (well, as ordinary as a Monday can be) and tracked every time I thought about my diabetes – every time I checked my blood sugar, every time I calculated carbohydrates for a meal, every time I felt something was “off,” and every time I administered insulin to keep my body alive.
Even I was amazed at how much managing diabetes has become a part of my everyday life. With advancements in technology, I’m able to do more, and I’m able to have more variety in the foods I eat. But that doesn’t mean I don’t think about it any less. That doesn’t mean I can take a break from being there for my body.
So, here’s one example of one day (because no day is the same) with Type 1 diabetes (there are no days off). It’s a long one, so bear with (just keep in mind that this is really how much I think about diabetes on a daily basis – believe me, it sucks). Continue reading
I’m 30. People said my metabolism would slow down the closer I got to this milestone. But it’s not just being 30. There’s something else I have to contest with – something called Type 1 diabetes.
I don’t have the energy I had when I was 22 or 25 or even 27. Something has changed in the past year. I’m exhausted all the time. I’m lucky when I can work out more than three times a week. Hell, I’m lucky when I can manage to do weights after a 10-hour work day.
Any kind of physical activity is a struggle. I want to be in shape. I don’t want to be overweight when I age, but over the last year, I’ve gained 10 pounds. It doesn’t seem like much, but it’s hard for someone who used to have to body image issues to tell herself it’s okay I’m a little heavier. Continue reading
I stretch my legs and sprint down the paved path along the four-lane highway in Silver Spring, Maryland. The sun sets behind me, and the bugs eat at my exposed calves, but I relish this 70-degree temperature. After 5 miles of gravel pathways, wooden bridges, and cracked sidewalks, I only have one more uphill battle of this last mile to conquer.
And then my speed starts to wane. I can’t seem to muster the strength to push myself harder even on this decline. Something feels off. My muscles are tired and weak, and my heart rate is accelerated past the point of normal. I stop at the next intersection, and as the stoplight turns red, I look down at the phone strapped to my right bicep.
Low glucose alert – my Dexcom app reads. Continue reading
As much as I love Gizmo, I’m kind of tired of my insulin pump. I know, I know, I shouldn’t complain. Having a $6,000 piece of equipment attached to me 24/7 has been an immense help in the management of my disease over the past four years.
But I am starting to understand why fellow Type 1 diabetics take a break from the pump every now and then and sometimes forever. It’s not easy having something attached to you 24/7. Right now I carry three devices around with me to manage my disease: my insulin pump (aka Gizmo), my continuous glucose monitoring receiver (aka Cosmo), and my glucometer. That doesn’t count my phone.
Gizmo is about the size of a pager. I usually conceal it clipped to my bra strap or waistline of my skirt or pants. The clip is currently taped together with duct tape, and the Medtronic label is practically worn away. I’ve had Gizmo for four and a half years. I’ve only had to replace it once when the battery container froze shut. For the most part I have no complaints.
But lately I’ve been more annoyed with Gizmo than happy. Take for example: Continue reading