It was April 25th, 2008 when I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. I was in college and finishing up my last few days of clinicals at the Healthplex (where I currently work). I noticed that my clothes had been fitting looser the last few weeks, but honestly, I felt kind of good about it. I thought that I had been loosing weight because I was busy with finishing school and too stressed to eat. Along with the weightloss though, came other sypmtoms that were all too familiar to me. Thirst. I was gettting drinks from the fountain every time I passed it at clinicals. Frequent trips to the bathroom. I was going almost every half hour (between patients). That "something has got to be wrong with me" gut feeling. From being in the medical field, I knew how to put the puzzle together, even though I didn't want to.
My mom (who works at a pharmacy) got ahold of some strips and a generic blood glucose meter. We had no clue how to use the lancet, so she held the needle and gave my finger a quick poke. A result somewhere around 278 came up on the meter. "That can't be right," we thought. The strips must be out of date. The meter must be too old. SOMETHING must be wrong.
The next day, I walked to my doctor's office on my lunch break, which happens to be next door to where I work. I told the nurse practitioner that I thought I had diabetes. She tested my blood sugar, and sure enough, it was very high. She scheduled me to come in the next day to see the doctor, who ordered blood work to check my A1C, then come back to her office. As my mom and I sat in the room, she reviewed the results with us. My A1C was 10.8%, which meant that my pancreas had probably stopped producing insulin several months beforehand. She explained that I was lucky to have caught it before I ended up in the hospital. My mom cried, but I did not. I knew a couple people from high school who had diabetes, and it didn't seem like they had too hard of a time. I knew I could handle it. All I had to do was take some insulin, right?! I called my husband (then, boyfriend of almost 4 years) and told him the news. I said that there was a high risk that I could have a stroke one day and I asked him if he still wanted to be with me, considering I was sick and all. He said of course (thank goodness!). He's turned out to be my biggest supporter.
My family doctor refered me to an endocrinologist, whom we visited shortly after. There, we went through detailed training on injecting insulin, carbohydrate counting, and talked about the possibility of an insulin pump in the future. Even at that point, it didn't seem like it'd be all that difficult. I'll never forget where my mom and I went to eat directly after that visit: Dairy Queen. For a blizzard. That was when I gave myself my first shot of insulin for food.
A few months went by. While I'm sure I had large fluctuations in my blood sugar, I didn't worry too much about them. I went out of state on vacation, graduated college, got engaged, and started a new job, all with my new diagnoses and my new life. I did multiple daily injections of Lantus and Humalog until I got my first insulin pump (a Deltec Cosmo) in December of 2008. I lost it on a rollercoaster the summer of 2009 (ooops!!!) I replaced it with a Medtronic Minimed. The humidity cracked my Medtronic pump while I was on my honeymoon in the Bahamas. I replaced it with another Minimed. I started using the Paradigm Continuous Glucose Monitor (CGM for short) consistently in August of 2010. I switched to a Dexcom CGM, which gave me the accuracy and comfort that I needed, in April of 2012. I got tired tubing, and switched to the Omnipod insulin pump in June of 2012. I still use these two systems today and couldn't imagine anything else. I have gotten my A1C below 7% consecutively for over two years now. It hasn't been easy. I struggle with shaky, clammy, foggy-brained lows and headachy, thirsty, tired highs every day and every night.
There are days when I stop and think about my life with diabetes and it seems so surreal. Do I really have this disease? Am I really that different from most people? Is my life really at that much of a risk every day? Sadly, the answer to all of those is yes. My autoimmune system killed my beta cells in my pancreas, giving me type 1 diabetes. The fact that I have to poke my fingers 8 or more times a day, count the protein/fat/carbs in everything I eat, and give myself an injection of insulin does make me different from most people. A severe low blood sugar could take my life immediately, and sustained high blood sugars could take my life years down the road. But are these things that I think about every day? I try my hardest not to. I'd rather focus on the positive. This disease makes me unique. It makes me more aware of my health. It makes me a stronger person. It makes me be more grateful to be alive.
There are days when diabetes seems like a never-ending battle. Days when, despite my very best efforts, I cannot conquor it. Days that I feel tired, hungry, or always thirsty. I cry. I get mad. I think "why me?" I don't ever want anybody else to have to feel these things or think this way. I want there to be a cure. I want to look back someday and say "Remember when I had diabetes?" I am hoping and praying for a cure every single day, and I hope you are too.
JDRF has spent billions of dollars on research for a cure. They have come a long way, but there is still a long way to go. This money has come from people like you who care enough to donate. Any amount, whether it's $10 or $100, helps. Please help my team to raise money for a cure for Type 1 Diabetes. We can do this.
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Bruce and Bonnie James
Jack and Debbie Sharp
Jeff & Gail Mattevi
Kyle & Audrey Mattevi
Mr. Lucas Boylan
Mr. Roman Hershberger
Mrs. Danielle N McCarty
Mrs. Erica McCoy
Ms. Sarah Vechery
The Klaserner Family