My first #throwbackthursday! Throwin’ it way back to nearly three years ago, when I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. The above photo is the last picture taken of me before I realized something was really wrong.
I remember that day as clear as anything. It was the week before the Thanksgiving long weeekend and I was supposed to be a “Dead Camp Counsellor” on The Haunting Hour, a locally shot kids TV show. That particular day I remember having to get up extremely early to head to set, and sit for quite a while in makeup and hair while they decided the best look for me. I was exhausted and I had no patience for it, and usually it’s my favourite part of the process. I was also extremely thirsty, to the point of chugging water in between takes and having to run back to my chair to get more. It was an excrutiating thirst, I remember describing it as if I was walking through the desert and had no water for days; meanwhile I had just chugged back a litre. It was definitely due to the fact that my blood sugar was so astronomically high because craft services had an abundance of candy out for the kids, which I was happily munching on. Little did I know that those penny candies would be the last I ever willingly ate!
That night I headed home and typed some of the symptoms I was having into Google. Extreme thirst, weight loss, blurry vision–low and behold Diabetes came up and I scoffed. I didn’t have diabetes. I was just thirsty because I always drank a lot of water, and I was losing weight because I finally got my act together at the gym! A few more webpage searches revealed more symptoms I could identify with, and yet I continued to scoff and brush it off. You don’t get diabetes when you’re 25. I was a perfectly healthy and happy young adult! Sure, I napped every day for a few hours, and was slimming down, but that was a gift from all my years of hard work, right?!
I made the mistake of telling my parents that I had all these symptoms and they (obviously) became concerned. I joked to a manager at my restaurant job that I ‘probably’ had diabetes and she didn’t laugh, but suggested I head to the doctor asap. I went about my business as per usual, drinking water, peeing, sleeping, eyes blurring–ignoring that something was wrong with my body. I had been to the eye doctor a few weeks before when I suddenly went outside and couldn’t see the trees or stop sign on my street and he also brushed it off saying extreme prescription changes can happen (he is no longer my eye doctor). This made me worry less, because if he didn’t think it was weird, then maybe it wasn’t! I remember driving to go for a hike, squinting the entire way. When I made it to the forest and looked up, all I saw was a blur of green. But it wasn’t until I started losing around 3lbs a day and all of my ribs were exposed that I became really concerned and decided to do something about it.
My regular doctor was on mat leave, and the replacement told me I had a UTI. I insisted on still getting blood work done and he sighed and signed off on blood tests. The following morning I went for fasting blood work, and that night he called me and straight up said, “You have diabetes,” and instantly my life changed. I was once worry and stress free, and after that night I would no longer sleep the same, imagining maple syrup running through my veins. The next day I was back at the doctors office, where luckily that old doctor with zero beside manner wasn’t in, and was placed with a very kind and concerned young doctor. My best friend was along for the ride, and that day I had blood taken multiple times. The doctor thought I had Type 2 diabetes due to my age, even though I was quite thin and told her I ate extremely well. She also stressed how lucky I was to have recognized something was wrong, as it would save me from a stay in the hospital. She squeezed me in with an endo friend of hers who could see me before everything shut down for the long weekend, and that night I ate my “last meal” as a “non diabetic”. It was nachos with my mom and best friend. Looking back, it probably wasn’t the smartest food choice, but at that point I knew my life as I knew it was about to change and couldn’t care less!
The next morning I was up at the hospital super early and was taught the ins and outs of diabetes. Again, everyone stressed that I was lucky to have caught it early, and my Endo even said that had I waited another few weeks I would have been admitted. More blood was taken and I was told I most likely had Type 1 Diabetes. I was almost hoping for the original diagnosis of Type 2, knowing I could cure it. I had a kind nurse who took the initiative and pricked my finger for me and didn’t react when my fasting sugar was 22mmol/L. She taught me how to administer my first shots of insulin and read the blood metre. I met with a nutritionist who taught me the basics about carbs and how much I should be eating at each meal and in a day. My new Endocrinologist was kind although frazzled, and put me on my first insulins, NPH and Novolog. At the time I didn’t know any different, but now I’m always thinking why the heck did she put me on the oldest insulin there is? Instantly I was forced to eat every few hours and a specific amount of carbs, and it was not easy to adjust to. The first week was a struggle to do everything correctly, I feared the needles in my stomach and pricking my finger was something I did not look forward to. I did however, start to feel different. Less lethargic and definitely less thirsty. I had my first ‘low’ blood sugar moments, and they were terrifying. Funny thing is, my blood sugar probably wasn’t even low! I slowly started to get into the swing of things and within a month, I had the basics down. I started to feel healthy again and didn’t need a three hour nap mid day, something I had been used to doing for months. I was in and out of the Diabetes Centre over the next few months learning and taking classes about carb counting. My diagnosis included some of the darkest days of my life but I was lucky to have had a lot of support from my family and friends and slowly adjusted to this new normal, making a lot of mistakes and suddenly spending a lot of money on supplies along the way.
I still wish I didn’t have diabetes as it scares me every day, and even though I try not to let it bring me down, it does. But it is has definitely changed me as a person, for the better (and a bit for the worse to0!). I’m aware of my body and I listen to it every day. I feel like I’m learning something new everyday, what works for me and what doesn’t, and I’m sure I will continue to for the rest of my days.
October 5 will be my 3rd Diabetes-versary, and I plan on celebrating with a large piece of sugar free cake!