Sunday, May 17, 2009

Gist.. Diagnosed with Diabetes...

This is something that I rarely talk about anymore, just because I'm used to it. It's not anything that phases me anymore or that seperates me from anyone else. It did before, especially when I was younger. But now it's second nature and I'm almost taken aback when someone asks me about my insulin pump, I almost want to say 'what pump?'.

I was diagnosed with Type I Diabetes (Juvenile Diabetes) when I was 12 years old. I had symptoms of diabetes for about 6 months before being diagnosed. The Dr. said I was going thru puberty when my Mom took me for 'mood swings' (effects of hi/low blood glucose). I went to the Dr. because I couldn't catch my breath (hi blood sugar), he said I was lazy. I was overweight when I was younger, but this was different. I knew something was wrong, but I went home and slept it off. I went into the Dr. again because I couldn't eat anything, I wasn't hungry (loss of appetite), because I was going to Washington, DC in a few weeks, he told my parents I was probably just trying to lose a little weight. Ummm, sure. I didn't tell my parents about getting up every 30 minutes in the middle of the night to pee or about sneaking a water bottle into my classes because I was so thirsty, I knew they would take me to the same stupid Dr. who seemed to chalk everything up to me being overweight. Thanks Doc. So, it was 3 days before Spring Break, 3 days before my trip to Washington, DC with my class (and I was so excited about going) and I went to sleep and didn't wake up until 2 days later in PICU. I had gone into a diabetic coma. I was in and out actually... I remember my parents putting me in the car and saying we were going to Vanderbilt. I remember getting into a wheelchair. I remember laying down in the exam room. And I remember a man's voice (Dr.)

I finally fell asleep and slept for days. I woke up hungry asking for a Gravy and Biscuit from Hardee's. I'll never forget that, my parent's faces lit up like I had never seen before (and I haven't since). Later I found out it was because I hadn't ate anything for weeks. I remember one night (a few weeks before) my Mom brought a Subway up to my room and begged me to eat it. I couldn't. I wasn't hungry.

So I stayed at Vanderbilt for a week to learn how to check my blood glucose, give myself insulin injections, and grow up. I was 12 learning how to count carbs. And give myself insulin with a NEEDLE. And that's weird. that's self mutilation. WHO DOES THAT?! I was glad I had great math skills. I need it for the ratios. ex: for every 15 carbs take 2 units of insulin. So how many units do you take if you eat 22 carbs? anyone? anyone?... 2.9 or 3 units. But it's more complicated than that. Here is a common problem I face even today... Everyone ready for their daily math lesson? Good.

Take 1 unit of insulin if your sugar is between 150 - 200. 2 units is 201-250. 3 units if 251-300, etc... Take 2 units of Insulin per every 15 carbs.

How much Insulin would you take if your sugar was 283 and you were eating 65 carbs?

Answer: 11.6 or 12 units (I always round up, it was easier to measure on the syringe)

Yeah, I faced that anytime I ate or checked my sugar, whatever the case might have been. If it was high, I gave insulin. If I ate, I gave insulin. It was a hassle for a 12 year old.

I did miss my trip to Washington, DC and spent my Spring Break in the hospital. What a double whammy! I went back to school just to be asked a million gazillion questions, not by my peers, but by my teachers. They were more interested in my life altering experience than my friends. And I then got negative feedback from my peers about being a 'teacher's pet'. Or that I faked it all just to get attention. My favorite was a boy in my class coming up to me saying his Grandma called it the fat ass disease that only fat asses got diabetes. Kids are cruel.

Yes, I was overweight but Juvenile Diabetes isn't caused by being overweight. Typically it is passed thru genetics or the body rejects the insulin hormone, but basically your body stops producing insulin for one reason or another and therefore has to be physically injected. My body supplies some insulin, not a lot but some (I found out later in my journey) but my body rejects it, my antibodies attack whatever insulin my pancreas makes naturally. Don't ask why it doesn't attack the insulin I inject.. Have no clue, but sometimes I think it does.

I was on this method of injections for 13 years until I received my Insulin Pump last year. It is my saving grace. I love the thing. It allows me to have a more normal life and I also don't have to think as much. I tell my pump what my sugar is and how many carbs I'm going to eat and it does the math for me and then gives me the insulin. It's awesome.

It just seems that people, especially kids, are scared of what they don't know (hence the teasing). I got teased a lot because I'm sure it did seem I was just trying to get attention and sympathy from authority figures, but I wasn't. I wish Kids, especially those who have classmates with diabetes, could be more educated. This is serious chronic disease that can become a life or death situation. I would be too scared of being teased to tell any of my teachers that I thought my sugar was low or hi, and I would get home and be close to passing out before anything was done. My kids will be educated because their mother suffers from this disease, but others won't. It's up to us as parents to make sure our children know the seriousness of it as well as the seriousness of teasing. Teasing needs to be made aware of regardless... No one should tease because a person is different in any kind of way. Whether it be because of their skin color, hair color, height, weight, whatever... I understand it's something kids do, but it shouldn't be accepted. We shouldn't use that excuse. I will do my best to make sure my kids are disciplined if they ever tease and I am made aware of it. It will not be tolerated. I grew up with the rule, 'treat people the way you want to be treated' and if I didn't, then I got my bucket (ass) tested.

I'm a better person for that. And we are all better people for the trials and tribulations we have faced in our lives.

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