I thought I'd take a minute to record my story with diabetes.
At age 24 I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. Well, actually type 2 and then type 1.
But my story starts a little earlier than when I was 24.
I grew up around type 1 diabetes. There were always needles and test strips floating around the house, a never ending supply of capri sun, and the smell of insulin when I opened the fridge. When I was 18, my dad sat down next to me on my bed to explain the fever he had at 16. Shortly after, complications came and he was diagnosed with T1D. He said to be careful when getting sick and to take care of myself.
Fast forward 5 years (age 23) to my pregnancy with my first child. When the glucose test came at my 28 week mark I was nervous. Something felt like this was going to be hard for my body. I drank it, went into my doctor's office, got the finger prick and mostly expected to hear that I'd be fine like all my other friends my age having babies. When the nurse came in to take the test again, my heart started racing. The doctor came in after that and said "You have gestational diabetes." Then the best part was he stared at me to get my reaction. I held back the tears and said, "Well, what happens next?"
The next morning I met with a diabetes instructor at my doctor's office and they set me up with a glucose monitor (to check my blood sugar) and a discussion on how everything I eat will affect my baby and life at the moment and possibly later on (because I'll now have a greater risk for type 2 later in life).
I'll be honest and say I didn't take it seriously.
Like at all.
I couldn't "see" the problem and I wasn't gaining tons of weight (I only gained 20 my WHOLE pregnancy), so I would "forget" to check my numbers and justify eating fries, burgers, rice and beans, etc. All the "bad stuff". Eventually they put me on medication called Glyburide and that helped bring my numbers down in the night... which meant to me that I could eat WHATEVER I wanted after I took my pill at 10 p.m. because my numbers would be fine in the morning. It was a magical pill that helped me sneak in the things I wanted. (Of course not really and I don't recommend anyone do this). I will give myself SOME credit, because I was really strict at breakfast and lunch. But when 10 p.m. rolled around everything went out the window. I told very few people about this diabetes situation during my pregnancy until 2 weeks before I gave birth. I was more embarrassed about the whole thing than anything. (Meanwhile my sister was pregnant and had the most perfect pregnancy and delivery -- she was very blessed!).
Milo's Birth was complicated. He was 2 weeks early and guess what? A BIG baby. I had pre-eclampsia and an emergency c-section. I pushed for 4 hours and the doctor decided it was time to get him out. A 9lbs. 7oz. butter ball came out of my body unable to breathe because the cord was wrapped around his neck twice. He's a beautiful 18 month old now and I love him to pieces. It makes me sad to think I feel like I didn't love him enough before birth to really take care of him while in the womb.
If you are interested, Milo's birth story is found here.
A month later I went back for my post-birth glucose test. The first one I drank, I threw it up, so they scheduled me for another one. During the second test my sister came with me & Milo (because Kent had to work) and I'm so grateful she was there.
"Your numbers are not looking good. We are worried about you but can't give you the further help you need here so we will send you to the third floor." There I received an a1c test that resulted in a 5.7%. **An a1c test is a percentage average of the past 3 month's blood sugars -- Normal a1c is considered below 5.7%** The doctor was a little worried, but not too much since I had just had a baby with gestational diabetes, so he had me come back in 3 months (October 2015) to test it again. In October it was 5.9%. It was getting worse, so he told me to come back in 3 months (January 2016) and to "try eating better and exercising". So helpful, right?
I didn't go back.
I didn't care and it made me depressed. No one was helping me through this with the education and support I needed so I gave up. I put the glucose monitor in the back of my medicine cabinet and never looked at it again.
March 2016 comes and my sister invites me to start running with her. I found a love for running during this time and it became a regular thing. I was losing weight and feeling so good. In the back of my mind I thought, this is probably helping my diabetes problem and maybe I'm free from that. I started noticing how I was always hungry and eating whatever and whenever I wanted BUT I was running AND losing weight so I felt good about justifying whatever food I wanted and whenever I wanted to eat. I was literally losing a pound a day towards the end and went from 155 to 135 in two months (umm sign me up for that for forever please) I was loving it.
About a month into running I also noticed myself filling my water bottle up several times during the day and night. Because of that I was peeing almost every hour and sometimes three times an hour. At night I got up at least three times to pee. One day after getting frozen custard as a family, my husband dropped me off at a spot so that I could run home because I wanted to get my run in. It was the most difficult run I'd ever been on because I had to pee SO BAD. It was all I could think about and I looked funny running. I struggled to hold it in and basically peed my pants all the way home. A few nights later I was in bed dreaming about water and about going to the bathroom. I almost started to wet the bed!
Something was off but no one told me the signs to watch out for.
I was skyping my parents on a Sunday and my weird "almost peeing the bed" story came up. I told them about the constant drinking/peeing and the weight loss, and my dad said, "Those are all signs of diabetes..." My mom told me to go check my blood sugar RIGHT THEN. I pushed it off a little, but eventually did and it read, "HI". We looked it up and that means your blood sugar is over 600 at the moment and too high for the monitor to read. **Normal blood sugar should be between 70-140** I told them I'd go on a run and it'd be fine. I ran a couple laps around the park when my mom called said, "You need to go into the ER. This is the chance for you to be heard and get the help you need and possibly be diagnosed."
I went in with Kent. Their monitors also said, "HI". So they took some blood and gave me an IV. They came back with results of a blood sugar of 782 and a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes.
Okay well at least we got some answers. But type 2??
My snapchat story of that moment in the ER:
The next day came with a lot of tears and a visit to a new doctor. He straight up said, "I am positive you have type 1." All of my symptoms, genetic history and first pregnancy situation lead him to believe it was type 1. After a week and a couple tests, on July 18, 2016 I was officially diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.
My diabetes will never go away. It is full of daily needle injections, finger pricks, monitoring and carb counting. The overall goal is a healthy life and to avoid complications later in life. I'm on insulin in the pens and I'm getting my pump soon! I have a CGM (continuous glucose monitor) that helps me know where my blood sugar is headed.
I would never, ever wish this upon anyone. Not any type of this disease. I can see how the desire to live could kind of go away. It is a daily battle against your body and I can see how easy it would be to go into depression. I am grateful it's a treatable disease and that there is so much support out there and that I've felt so much love and support from others.
Although there is that side of it, I really am grateful for my diagnosis. It has made me grow up and realize what is most important and it comes with a better perspective. (Even though sometimes I find myself looking around at large groups of people that are eating food and before I have to give myself a shot of insulin, I say to myself, "most of these people probably don't even know the awesome job their pancreas is doing right now." or "I hope they truly appreciate their pancreas." ..Cuz I'm struggling over here with mine.)
As selfish as this sounds, The most important lesson I have learned is that I need to take care of myself before I can physically handle taking care of anybody else. I'm happier because of this realization. Once my body is taken care of, I can take care of others.
Part of the reason why I'm here to live is to have diabetes and I believe I can help others in some way. I'm not sure how but I want to try to help others with this disease or another disease as much as I can. Even if it's just hearing my story. Maybe that will help them.
If you have any questions about it feel free to ask me! I'm open about talking about it and would love to hear if you have anyone in your family that has diabetes.
Kind of a random ending, but I really believe this: Life is good. You are here for a reason. Find your purpose and live it.
I created a video of myself explaining a little more about diabetes (because sometimes I want to explain it so people understand a little better -- It's not a perfect definition but it's something). And I've also added my diagnosis story.