PrivatelyExposed

A Blog dedicated to exploring privacy and technology

What it is like to be a diabetic …

Posted by Wayne on March 4, 2010

Its been a while since I’ve posted anything so I figured to get back into it this year I’d start by exposing some thing about myself – that I wish more people would talk about…   

   Today marks the one year anniversary of my finding out I’m a Type 1 Diabetic. With over 20 million Americans currently diagnosed with Diabetes and evidence that the number is going to more than double of the next decade – you might actually know someone who has this disease. In a recent American Diabetes Association Magazine article I read that every 20 seconds someone becomes a diabetic. Every 20 seconds! Wow.

I thought I would share some of the things I’ve gone through and learned in the process … so lets start with a year ago. Everyone asks did you have symptoms? Yup … did I ignore them – yes, for a few months. The symptoms were weight loss – 35 pounds in 3 weeks. I was going to the gym so I was thinking – wow this was working great. The problem was I really only wanted to lose about 15 pounds and what I didn’t know I was losing fat and muscle. The next symptom I had was that I was run down all the time – in fact I would get home from work (which took everything I had to get through and commute home) and would sit on the couch and fall asleep – sitting up. Now I’ve always found it easy to catch a cat nap but my wife knew something was wrong and was urging me to go see the doc. Nope, not me – I was fine. The final symptoms were I had to urinate all the time – every 20 minutes, and was craving sweetened drinks like Gatorade and coke which I’ve never been big on.

So on March 3rd last year, I remember that it was a Monday and that we had a snowstorm – so I opted to work from home. My wife said that was it – I was going to see the doc who probably had openings due to the storm. I went to the Dr’s and shared my symptoms and he took the usual fluids to test and said he would call me the next day. Three hours later I get a call from him and he said go to the hospital – now and to have someone else drive – because he was pretty sure I had diabetes and my glucose levels were off the charts. The healthy person usually ranges from 75-150 my levels were in the 800’s! Needless to say I spent a few days in the hospital while they stabilized me and spent 2 days teaching me what my life was going to be like as an insulin dependent person.

I thought I’d share some of the experiences – which for me has been a life changer. Not because I have to eat better and workout to stay healthy – because I already did that for the most part. No, it is more that for me I’ve always had relatively perfect health and never had anything serious happen to me health-wise. No broken bones, no hospital visits, no pills required – to having to test my blood 4-5 times a day, count my carbs, and inject 2 kinds of insulin into my body 4-5 times a day.

When I first started dealing with the insulin – I would scurry into the bathroom if we were out or hide in my office and test and inject. Why? I was afraid to have anyone see me do what I’ve done over 1500 times in the past year. At the time I was very self-conscious (still am somewhat), worried people would think I was damaged goods at work, and didn’t want people to stare at me. For the most part I’ve found people are mildly curious or have seen it all before and don’t care – plus I can get through the whole process in less than a minute at this point. Some people stare at me – but hey I have to get over it – and it is my lifeline and the technology and products are so much better now than even 1o years ago. I’ve got it easy compared to those who didn’t have the medical tech we have today or have had to deal with diabetes since they were small children – I’ve had decades of great health (and plan on many more).

I also went through the whole denial, anger, why me stuff. That took most of the last year – and still comes on in short blasts still even a year later. The Dr’s not being able to explain to me what caused it, what I should have/could have done differently, etc didn’t help me understand the question of “why me”. For my trip in this journey – I’ve become more focused on my health overall – more gym time, dialing in the food/diet/insulin ratio’s and reading/learning what I can about the disease and the medical technology and progress toward curing this disease. I’ve also learned to listen to my friends and family and couldn’t have made it this without their caring and support – they have been awesome. The last thing is I’ve dialed back  pushing myself quite so hard. It means things slip off the list until I can get to them – this is probably the hardest thing of all for me.

So one last bit before I end this posting. I had to share one moment that was really hard for me. I finished working out at the gym was stopping at Dunkin’s on the way home for a nice hot coffee and walked in and stopped and just stared at the racks and racks of donuts. For some reason it just hit me so hard – here was all this stuff which I liked to have as a treat once in a while – and it was all off-limits – why did I have to be different? The moment passed and I can actually have a donut once in a while (as long as I take my meds and don’t make it a habit). What I did learn is that – yes my life is different now, I have to plan my days and stay on track with my changed ways – and maybe someday Diabetes will be cured. In the meantime – I’ll do my part.

My call to action to you is – get your glucose levels tested, find out what your A1C  number is, watch your diet, exercise, and live long. Oh – and cheers to another year that we get to walk the planet.

/wayne

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