A new life

zoom_spoonful_of_sugar

 

The weekend following my diagnosis of diabetes was really hard: I just had this feeling of sinking deep with nowhere to grab on. I remember going grocery shopping and looking at all the food there without having a clue of what I could eat.  It seemed like everything had so many carbohydrates. I thought I’d have to somehow figure out how to stop eating. I wasn’t really given much guidance and I felt so loss.

After a few days, I went to see an endocrinologist who did more blood work and determined that I had Type 1 and not Type 2 diabetes. The only good thing about that was that I could stop taking medicines that weren’t helping me at all: one was to manage Type 2, so completely useless, and the other one was for high cholesterol, which in my case was only high due to the out of control glucose levels.  Speaking of out of control….my A1c was at 15%:   at the time that didn’t make much sense to me even though I was shown a chart that only went up to 14%. For those of you who are not familiar with the A1c levels, they should be between 6% and 4.5% in someone who doesn’t have diabetes. Now I wonder how I was even able to function so well in those conditions.

The endo told me, like it was no big deal, that I was going to have to start taking insulin, which meant daily injections( and yes, I did ask if there was a pill form of insulin I could take instead). That was the worst thing I could have been told….I remember trying – rather unsuccessfully – to hold back the tears. This made the doctor quite uncomfortable, since she just kept on asking me what was it that scared me so much, which in turn made me cry even more. There I was, a grown up, independent woman, crying like a baby on the doctor’s bed. I did feel like a scared, defenseless baby who had no idea of what was going on. It didn’t help that I didn’t have much of a support system at the time: my family is away and my husband couldn’t come with me to all the appointments because he just had knee surgery and needed to keep the leg resting.

Normally exercising would help me cope with stress, but the doctor had told me to stop going on bicycle rides and long hikes until my glucose levels came down. I just felt like I was never going to be able to lead a normal life again, and was actually very glad we didn’t have any children because I felt like I couldn’t even take care of myself at the time.

Advertisements

Together Forever

Some people, including some of my close family members, are afraid of going to see the doctor because they fear they might find out that they have something wrong. I was never one of those people: I’ve always been a pretty healthy person. Even as a child, the few times I’d get a fever, it would only last a day or two. So I’ve always gone to my routine checkups without hesitations and even got complimented on how good my cholesterol levels looked.

It was time again for my yearly checkup. As usual, I had to tell the tech that I needed to lay down or I might faint. Ever since I was a kid I’ve had a needle phobia: at my first dentist visit when I was 6 years old I puked all over their carpet – I’m sure they must have loved that. Vaccines were a fun time too: the doctor had to run around the desk to try to catch me, and in the end my dad had to help him hold me down.

Anyhow that summer, at age 32, I went in for my annual checkup and had my blood drawn, and didn’t think too much about it after. The following morning, a Friday, I got a call from the doctor’s office: they wanted me to come in as soon as I could, so I set an appointment for a few hours later. I became a bit nervous since the doctor would always just send the lab results in the mail.  From what I’d heard, they would only call if something was wrong. Those hours leading to the appointment seemed eternal:  I started googling what were the worst things that could be found through blood work, but that was just making me even more anxious.

The appointment time finally came so I biked from work to the doctor’s office. My normally smiling doctor this time looked extremely serious.  I sat down and he simply said “well, it’s never easy to tell someone that they have diabetes, I’m sorry”. At the moment I couldn’t really grasp what that meant since I knew nothing about diabetes, in fact I could only think of how the word “diabete” (in Italian) always made me think of the fir tree, which is called “abete”. Sitting on the doctor’s bed that thought sounded pretty ridiculous in my head. He said something about my blood sugars being so elevated that he didn’t even know how I could still function so well and told me he was surprised that I hadn’t ended up in the ER. Then he told me how I should watch what I eat, and prescribed me some Gliyburide and Lipitor.

Once the appointment was over I had to call someone to pick me up since the doctors said it was dangerous for me to ride the bike in those conditions. I felt completely lost and my head was spinning.