Posts Tagged ‘diabetes


Posted on: June 15, 2009

Searching for stuff to watch on the comedy channel of hulu, I came across the pilot episode of a show titled, “glee” and decided to check it out.  It seemed like an okay show, albeit chock-full of stereotypes (another “ugh”), but it was somewhat entertaining, and I was enjoying the understated humor – until, about 12 minutes in, the protagonist goes to visit his wife at work (she’s a manager at “Sheets ‘n’ Things”), and brings her a sandwich.  “It’s roast beef and pumpernickel. Your favorite.”  And she’s all “oh thanks, honey!”  Then she gets this look on her face and says, “Wait. Does it have mayo?”  Yes…  “Honey, if my diabetes comes back, we can’t get pregnant!”

WTF. asjdfweiounjkval;jse;fa.  SO MANY MISCONCEPTIONS.  One of them being that mayo causes diabetes.  Um, seriously?  Or that it will “bring it back.”  Guess what, folks.  Once you’re diabetic, type 1 OR type 2, you are diabetic for life, no matter how much weight you lose, how healthy you eat, how frequently you exercise, or how much medication you don’t have to take.**  The ADA website states that “diabetes is a lifelong, chronic illness,” and the Joslin Diabetes Center provides a more thorough and satisfactory explanation of that statement here.

Here’s a tip.  Don’t start talking about stuff you don’t know about, unless you are asking questions and looking to educate yourself.  Certainly don’t pretend to know what you are talking about if you don’t.  Because you will inevitably run into someone who does know what they are talking about, and you will look like a fool.

Sorry for the rant.  But I was inspired, and, as evidenced by the lack of posts, I haven’t been for a while.

**Gestational diabetes is a kind-of exception: yes, it “goes away” after pregnancy, but chances are high that it will “return” in subsequent pregnancies, and those who have had gestational diabetes are much more likely to develop type 2 later on.


I went out with a friend from high school tonight – someone I knew in my pre-diabetes days, who didn’t know yet that I’d been diagnosed.  This presented a small dilemma that I’ve wrestled with for a little bit: In the first few months of being diagnosed, I kind of struggled with how to tell people in my life that I had diabetes. For a while, I ended up hiding it when I could.  It’s not exactly an easy thing to bring up in daily conversation:

“Hey! How was your weekend?!”
“Oh, I just spent the weekend in the hospital – diagnosed with diabetes! What were you up to?”

Hmmm, no.  I realize now that concealing it was not at all conducive to my mental health.  (One might say it was “detri-mental,” ha ha. sorry.)  Anyways, that’s one of the reasons that going to Paris was so liberating for me: I only knew one person prior to the trip, so I just went about my business out in the open, and my new acquaintances could take it or leave it as they wished, and I was more than pleased to field questions.  It was different and refreshing to be up-front and open about it from the get-go instead of figuring out a minimally awkward way of bringing it up.  “Coming out” played a big part in my self-acceptance of this disease.  So I’ve decided it’s in my best interest to adopt this policy in virtually all cases, but especially with those that I’ve known since before I was diagnosed.  I think it’s a whole lot easier and healthier that way.

But I digress (WOW I digress. haha)  The point of this post was supposed to be that while I was talking to my friend about diabetes, he mentioned (as most people seem to) that he should get his blood levels tested.  Depending on the situation, I’ll sometimes offer to test for them right then and there, which was the case tonight.  At this point, most people seem to get nervous for a variety of reasons: they’re afraid it will hurt, or they’re afraid of what the result will be.  I just have to laugh, because in all likelihood, they have nothing to worry about.  And sure enough tonight, the number was a perfect 96 (and this was after a small popcorn at the movies).  Whenever I’ve let my friends test their blood sugar before, I always get a little pang when I see that peachy-keen number on the screen of my blood glucose meter.  And I could never put my finger on what that feeling was, but tonight I realized that it’s jealousy.  Don’t mistake me, I am undoubtedly happy that my friends don’t have worrisome test results.  But it struck me tonight that that number has such a different meaning for me than it does for them.  When I get a number like that, I feel damn proud of the hard work it took to achieve that number.  Because more often than not, that’s what it takes.  But for them, that number is just the way things are, not the way they should be.  They don’t realize all the effort it can take a diabetic to get a lovely little number like that.  Which is a little frustrating. :-\

So today is World Diabetes Day, and I figured I should probably do something, even though (or especially because) I haven’t written here for weeks… oops.

In a lucky stroke of impeccable timing, I serendipitously happened upon this video on the New York Times Health page.  It’s snippets from a day in the life of a normal 16-year-old girl, recently diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes.  It gives a pretty good overview of things, albeit at a very basic level.  The one thing that was weird to me was that she used blood samples from her forearm to test her BG – not her fingertips, which I can’t say I’ve ever heard of anyone using anything other than their fingertips.  I think I may have come across a booklet or two that mention using one’s palm or forearm, but by and large, the common practice is to use one’s fingertip.

Anyways, it was interesting to see, and kind of touching.  Seeing another young, newly diagnosed diabetic hit home a little bit.

Back to WDD: this year’s theme is “Diabetes in Children and Adolescents,” addressing the growing numbers of youth with diabetes.  Check out the website for more information about the campaign and need-to-know facts about this disease.

Fun Fact: According to the WDD website, November 14 is designated as World Diabetes Day to commemorate the “birthday of Frederick Banting who, along with Charles Best, first conceived the idea which led to the discovery of insulin in 1922.”  And how very grateful I am for that.  It absolutely dumbfounds me that this discovery took place less than one hundred years ago.  Sometimes I wonder how close to death I really came, because I know that I was not in a good state when I was diagnosed.  And because of the serendipitous (love that word!) nature of the circumstances leading to my diagnosis, I wonder if and/or when something else would have happened to send me to the hospital.  It’s scary to think that I might not be alive today if things hadn’t fallen into place the way they did (although I might rather argue that it was more of a disruption), because as hard as that is to believe, it could have happened.  It speaks a lot to the fact that there remains a lot to be done in the realm of diabetes awareness and education, even (and especially) today.  So do your part, and spread the word.  And if you don’t know much about diabetes, investigate a little!  Satisfy your curiousity.  Even just a little bit of knowledge helps. 🙂

Kerri Morrone, over at Six Until Me, has designated today, April 14, as Type 1 Diabetes Awareness Day. I had planned to relate my diagnosis story today, but I am running late, as usual. I have a post in the works, and I had hoped to finish by today, but no dice. I’m in the last home stretch of the semester, with two weeks of classes to go, followed by one last week of finals. And of course, various papers, tests and homework assignments have piled up and I feel like I am in too deep to redeem myself. But I have to do something, and so all there is left to do is work, work, work. So, I promise that I will publish my story within the next few weeks, once the frenzy has subsided. Until then, I strongly encourage you to engage in some self-education on the subject of diabetes. Do you know someone who has it? Have a question for them? Ask!!! I know I would much rather be asked a question about something than to let common misconceptions remain intact. Do some digging: inform yourself, read blogs, ask questions – it’s what the day is all about.

Some good places to start:
Here’s a good analogy…

P.S. On an unrelated note, April 14 is also the date that the RMS Titanic hit an iceberg in the Atlantic Ocean and sank. I was mildly obsessed/fascinated with reading about the Titanic as a kid (no idea why), and just wanted to remark on the date.  I know. I’m weird.

I got a call from the doctor’s office today, concerning the result of my A1C test from my last visit. It was 8.7%, which is nowhere near perfect, nor is it in the ideal range, but I am still working on that, and it is still going down from the last time it was checked (about 10% in November), so I feel good about that. 🙂

C’est tout!

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One evening about a week and a half ago, I had a low blood sugar reaction while I was studying. It wasn’t too uncomfortable; I felt it coming on, and treated it pretty quickly, so it wasn’t a big deal, but it lead to a conversation with my roommate. She asked how I knew I was getting low, or what it felt like, and I did my best to describe it to her. There’s the outward physical symptoms: sweating, shaking, and a jittery feeling. Sometimes there’s hunger, and I can get really pale if I don’t treat it soon enough. But when I do get low, I’ve noticed sometimes that there’s just a sudden, almost innate, gut feeling that I’m getting low. It’s hard to describe such an internal feeling, and maybe I am just nuts and I’m imagining it, but its hard to dismiss such an unmistakable feeling when I get it almost every time I’m low. I’m kind of wondering if anyone else gets this… I’m sure I’m not the only one.

Anyways, after I had finished describing these feelings to my roommate, she remarked that she felt that I had caught on to all this diabetes janx pretty quickly, and I have it all down pat. I had to laugh at that, because I was diagnosed just about six months ago now, and I read blogs of numerous others in the diabetes OC (online community – I just recently figured out what that stood for!) who have been managing their diabetes for years, even decades, and even they don’t have everything down to a science! Because there are so many unknown variables, and so many factors that constantly change, I think its (almost) impossible to ever have everything managed so perfectly. I remember reading a quote regarding this in someone’s blog. I can’t remember it exactly, but I really liked it, and it went something like this:

Diabetes is trying to manually simulate what normally occurs at a cellular level within the body.

Unfortunately, that doesn’t do it any kind of justice, and is not nearly as poetic or eloquent as the original. I’m hoping that I will be able to find it eventually, but don’t count on it anytime soon. :-/

It was definitely quite encouraging to hear that it seems like I am on top of managing this disease, but in reality, it is so far from the truth. Its more like I understand the general mechanics of how things are supposed to work; I’ve pretty much got the basics down – I’ve gotten pretty good at being able to estimate how many carbs are in certain foods, and by how many points one unit of insulin will lower my blood glucose, and how exercise affects my BG – by how long it will take to start lowering it and by how much. Unfortunately, even if you try to keep everything constant, it can throw you for a loop sometimes, and you’ll get a high or a low reading out of seemingly nowhere. It can definitely be a daily struggle – physically, mentally, emotionally. I’m finding it hard to believe that I was diagnosed six months ago. It seems like such a long time ago, and so much has happened since then, yet at the same time, I can remember that weekend and the one before it like it was yesterday. I feel like this entire (scholastic) year has sped by, a big, fast blur with certain events sticking out in my mind. Sometimes it all blends together, and its hard to remember the chronology of things.


Lately, I’ve been thinking about the differences in my life before and after I was diagnosed with diabetes (type 1). Especially today. One of the symptoms of diabetes is that you feel very tired all of the time. And its not so much of a sleepiness-tired, it is more of an exhaustion tired. I think today I realized just to what extent I really suffered from this. I could fall asleep doing almost anything – babysitting on Wednesday mornings for two young girls in my neighborhood, I was so fatigued that I would have to take a break from playing with them and on occasion, I would fall asleep! Not for any long periods of time, but I always felt guilty and it is never, ever good to fall asleep while you’re babysitting. I remember watching the Super Bowl with my father and sister last year, and after half-time I was so tired that I couldn’t keep my eyes open, and I fell asleep on the couch. When I got up, instead of getting up like a normal person, I was still so groggy/tired that I rolled off the couch onto my hands and knees and (slowly) got up from that position. I remember my father and sister thought something was wrong with me (if only they had known) but I just figured I was still “waking up” from my little nap. We laughed about it then, but in retrospect, it was such a serious sign! It was so easy to attribute this fatigue to burnout from school and activities. I also think that I was somewhat desensitized to it, and I didn’t realize (or refused to realize) how bad the situation truly was because I had had these symptoms for so long. Other times, it would just require such a great exertion of effort on my part to even physically move. I remember in particular I found it physically exhausting to move when I was doing my volunteer shift supervising the Kid’s Club area at the gym – I always wanted to color with the kids so I could sit down and wouldn’t have to move. I sat down whenever I could. When exercising over the summer, if I wasn’t taking a class at the gym, I would use the treadmill – and I found it too difficult to run, so I would walk at a fast pace instead. I felt lazy for walking instead of running like I would at school. Additionally, pretty much any time that I tried to study, I would fall asleep – in the library, in the study “lounge” in the basement of my dorm, anywhere.

Of course, there were the other classic signs, but I found other ways to rationalize these: weight loss – I had just moved to college and started exercising more regularly; extreme thirst – no rationalization for this, really; peeing ALL THE TIME – I was drinking so much water! (hah). There are more, but those aren’t necessarily directly related to diabetes. For instance, I often wake up in the mornings with excruciating leg cramps, and I could not for the life of me why I was experiencing these. It wasn’t a potassium deficiency because I ate at least one banana every day (and still do – I love bananas!), it couldn’t be dehydration because I went through like eight water bottles per day – but it was dehydration. See, I didn’t get the leg cramps during the day because I was constantly drinking water. But I wasn’t drinking water at night, so I would be going without water for hours, yet I would still wake up in the middle of the night to pee, sometimes more than once. Hence, dehydration, and consequently the leg cramps. Dang, they hurt soooo much.

Things have changed so drastically since then. I’m still realizing how sick I was, and how much different life is now. Today I came to an acute realization when I was thinking about the physical exhaustion I experienced before compared to my level of energy now. I think that this is sufficient musing for now, but I will definitely be following up with more posts related to this in the future.

À bientôt!

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