So apparently I have Type 1 Diabetes. This revelation is still in it's infancy having just received the diagnosis on May 1st.
On Tuesday (which feels like an eternity ago), I went to see my primary care physician (amazing, btw) in regards to an ongoing infection and also the odd issue of occasionally waking up with a cramps in my legs. A fact I was choking up to some sort of vitamin deficiency but figured I might as well mention it (get my co-pay's worth and all). Being the incredible MD she is, after asking more questions and consulting test results (test results from over a week prior that should have but never were followed up on - that's for another post, I suppose), she suggested I get my blood drawn to be on the safe side. She mentioned that I had symptoms that sounded like Diabetes - not to worry me - but to be on the safe side (as previously noted).
I proceeded down to the lab around 3pm, immediately following my appointment, not really thinking that this diagnosis was possible. When she said diabetes, I thought Type 2 and thought "that can't be me - I'm a healthy weight, I eat well and exercise, no family history, etc." I thought Type 1 is for kids, I'm too old for that one (I'm only 28). Anywho, off to the lab I went and got not one but four vials of my blood drawn. Which although I'm better now with needles - let's just say that them and me don't have the best track record - I have some disturbing childhood stories involving myself, a vaccination needle and a large and determined medical assistant. Once I had the blood drawn, the fear became a bit more real. Perhaps due to the fact that now the doctors had collected a source of knowledge from me about my medical condition? Perhaps because I had extenuating symptoms that lined up with diabetes but that also could be so easily explained away by other things happening around me. I called my husband Nate and my mom and both assured me that odds of diabetes were low and that I shouldn't get myself too worked up. Comforting and all, if short-lived for that afternoon.
Around 5:45pm I got a call from the on-call doctor at the family medicine office (it was only later that I saw that I had two missed calls and voicemails from earlier). She told me my blood sugar (or blood glucose - BG) was 462 (normal is like 80-120) and that I needed to go to the ER immediately. Just as I was hanging up the phone, Nathan literally opened the door as he had just got home from work and we just as quickly departed and went to the hospital.
So ERs are ridiculous (or at least Dominican's). We got there around 6pm. The lobby was basically empty. Empty plastic chairs and the "Boom Boom" of old episodes of Law & Order could be heard. Trying to see the bright side, I mentioned to Nathan that at least our timing was good. Not so. Apparently no/minimal patients does not negate slow service. Let me be clear that I'm not bashing the hospital staff. I just find the bureaucracy of the hospital/ER experience decidedly inefficient in this particular instance. Anywho I had a hilariously droll male nurse who I tried like hell to get to crack with decidedly frank yet hilarious (in my humble opinion) responses to my current predicament. I should be clear that when I am anxious/nervous, as a coping mechanism I get quite jokey, and I'm the worst in this respect in medical environments. Back to the story however. My nurse got me kitted out with an IV and for the second time in less than 6 hours I had another set of vials filled with my blood (as the hospital runs their own blood tests).
It was during this time that the doctor came and checked on me. Total hipster doc. Striped socks, skinny-legged pants, with a few inches of his tattooed sleeve peeking out from his lab coat. Great demeanor, really liked his style. Low key, informative, optimistic. He got me started on saline while we waited on the blood test. Close to 3 hours and one liter of saline later, I found out my blood tests showed my BG had dropped to 376 and after the saline, a finger stick showed me at 278. Told to follow up ASAP with my primary care, I was given marching orders (after a threat of pulling out my own IV). It's 10pm at this point. I haven't had dinner and I feel all sloshy inside from the extra fluids.
The action started early on Wednesday. Nathan and I headed down to Watsonville for our 8am start time. Can't be more thankful that this was a Wednesday that he was at his work's satellite office. Just shy of 9am, my PCP called. I had only previously written her a quick note on the medical records email system, asking her if we can stave off this diagnosis for a bit. See if things change after my infections clear up, etc. Noting that perhaps my pancreas is just on hiatus versus permanent vacation. Sadly this was not the case. I had diabetes. My A1C results had come back (3 month gauge of blood sugar level - normal range is around 5-7%). Mine was 13.1% and my average BG was like 336. She told me her suspicions that this was not type 2 but type 1 but that she wanted me to see an endocrinologist to be certain and to get appropriate treatment. She wanted me to move quickly and she set about setting me up with appointments with a diabetes educator, the endocrinologist and a dietitian. All on her day off, mind you. That's right, I have the best PCP ever.
Hit with this ton of bricks, I then went into a meeting for a hour. After which, I kind of freaked out.
Luckily, I have amazing co-workers (Sam & Abbie) who could not have been more supportive and kind and just what I needed. Not to mention my brilliant mother who has told me what I need to hear and made me out to be and thus feel stronger and more courageous than in actuality. Nathan and I left and headed for home so I could have some time to process before our afternoon appointment with the diabetes educator to learn the intricacies of poking myself with needles. My incredible husband was there with me, cheering me on when I finally plucked up the courage to prick my tummy with the sample needle for the first time.
The following two days were spent first with the endocrinologist and then with the dietitian. Both were wonderful (really all the staff at that office were and so supportive). I guess if I have to go through this, for the sake of a laugh, let's call it an 'adventure'; it's nice to have good people in my corner.
After discussing with the endocrinologist, we both agreed that stress was no doubt the catalyst for type 1 diabetes to develop (and let me tell you I have had a lot, A LOT in the past 6 months. Like for reals. A ton). Although there isn't a specific known cause, some thoughts are that it is a virus that can essentially stay latent in the body and that a trigger (such as stress) can set the auto-immune function into high gear in it's quest to destroy the beta cells of your (actually mine, in this case) pancreas.
I'm in total information overload with all the particulars from low blood sugar to high blood sugar, insulin versus glycogen, carb counting and carb correction ratios, the various steps required to take my BG or to administer my insulin. There are so many moving parts. I keep blurting as many details as I can remember to both my mom and Nathan, I brief them after each appointment or new medical message I receive. Both to inform them but also in the hopes that they will retain and be able to recount the details that undoubtedly will escape me in the course of the next few days and weeks while this becomes my new reality.
I've only had two panic attacks so far. Both late in the evening. I blame it on reading too much from the internet's more obscure diabetes resources and the nature of late-night thinking. You know the type - when all you do is focus in on your fears and begin to dwell and then even when you try to switch your thinking, your mind continues to float back to all the scariness of this new situation. I will undoubtedly sing the praises of my husband more than a little as a I write and deservedly so. Have I mentioned, he is amazing. Not only did he hold me and talk me though my panic attack, he has been so positive and optimistic, encouraging and supporting and all the fun superlatives you can imagine. I knew I got lucky when I married him but just in the past six months he has lived up to, hell, exceeded our vows in ways I had never thought imaginable.
This website and blog is me taking the bull by the horns as I come to terms with and succeed in managing this disease.
Those that know me, know that I am not one to do things half way or to sit on the sidelines. If I have to have this disease, then I am going to own it. I'm going to define it's role in my life - not the other way around. So I need to take insulin. Yes, it sucks. It's not fair. It's bullshit and ridiculous. But it is what it is and as I see it, my only choice is to rise to the occasion.