Join me in the fight to create a world without type 1 diabetes!
This is me, sure I look normal but when somebody sees me injecting insulin or testing my blood sugar I sure do not feel normal. For me though I am normal because I have been injecting insulin and testing my blood sugar for almost 17.5 years.
So here is my story from the beginning. On October 31, 1996 I was sent from the MD office to the ICU unit because my veins were collapsing and my potassium and electrolyte levels were so low the doctors told my mom that if I had gone to basketball practice that I would have had a heart attack and probably died because of where we live. At the time we lived 72 miles SE of Amarillo, Texas. And my blood sugars were “Off the charts…” as one of the doctors said.
Ok so before the diagnosis day let me tell you a little bit of background. The year before my grandmother was in the last stages of Alzheimer’s and that is where my mom’s attention was. Grandmother kept declining and the day that we had Home Coming I went to see my grandmother to show her the mum I had worn. It was green and white and was the biggest one I had ever gotten. It had bells on it too! The reason I remember the bells is that my grandmother opened her eyes and looked at it and I would like to believe she smiled, but she closed her eyes and went back to sleep. She was very unresponsive at this time, so for her to have even opened her eyes was amazing. That night she passed away. A very difficult night for me. My mom asked me if I wanted to go to the nursing home and I said I wanted to remember grandma as she was. This whole time my mom and I had been going to see her every day for the past year. My mom took it really hard. After all, it was her mom.
But even before all this the December before I had contracted the chickenpox and a strain of the flu. Both of these combined attacked my pancreas and turned my immune system on itself making my pancreas not work as it should. So, while my grandmother was in the fighting Alzheimer’s and my mom concentrating on her, chicken pox and the flu were ravaging my body it was on a downward hill spiral.
So the next semester starts and for some reason I am eating like I cannot get enough food, drinking so much Five Alive that I feel like I cannot get enough, BUT above all that I am losing weight and I am looking GREAT! But I cannot stay awake in classes and I have to go pee at least every hour on the hour. I would wake up in the middle of the night and my legs were in such pain and cramped up so much that I would start crying when I stood up to get my feet planted on the floor again, instead of straight out. This is what happens when your body does not have enough potassium, magnesium and electrolytes.
As the months pass I go from a size 16 to a size 8, I look like skin and bones, my muscle mass has dramatically gone down and I have very little energy. It is all I can do to stay awake and throw a basketball.
My grandmother at the time is on a spiral downhill, and eventually passes away and we have her funeral and drive her to Indiana to be buried next to grandpa. On the way back I got to drive the car for the first time. But man, my aunt and uncle were so mad because I had to make them stop every hour on the hour so I could use the bathroom. It was rough. I drank so much water I thought I was going to float away.
So we get back and home and I return to school the principal calls and talks to my mom and tells her to take me to the doctor as there is something wrong with me. Remember my mom was concentrating on her mom during this time and she thought that I was just going through a change and losing weight because of growing up.
So, my aunt is still at the house my mom drives me in to the doctor and they sure like to poke and prod and harass people, especially me as all I wanted to do was sleep.
So, we leave the MD office, mom and I spend the day in Amarillo puttering around and when we finally get home, about midnight, and my aunt tells mom that I am not to eat anything and that I have to be back in the MD office at 8am to do one last fasting to confirm some results. UGH, really? All I want to do is sleep and nobody wants to let me sleep.
So, again we leave for Amarillo and arrive at the MD office, they take another blood sample and come back into the room and tell my mom that I must be admitted to the hospital across the street immediately. So I was admitted and that was the first time I had ever been in a hospital and it was one of the most horrible experiences of my life.
One nurse was burned into my memory because this nurse almost got kicked in the head by me for “fishing” for a vein in my foot. I had one IV in each hand, and they wanted to put another in my foot. Well since my veins were collapsing that IV wasn’t going into my foot. They told my mom that they wanted to put one directly into my chest and she said no that the infection rate was too high that the two in my hands were to be enough. (My mom had been a nurse when we lived in California).
Well, least to say, two IVs were all that I needed and my body started to recover. Two weeks, lots of training (if you could call it that), and nurses that I really didn’t like because they were coming every 4 hours to poke my fingers; oh my goodness I am going to have to do this for the rest of my life? I cried and cried. I couldn’t believe that my body failed me. I was different, no longer normal.
Well, before being diagnosed I was a shy person, afterwards very vocal, opinionated and was not taking crap from anybody. Being diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes made me more aware that I had to do certain things to stay alive. I got lazy and I came to a point in which I just stopped testing my blood sugars because I didn’t care. When I moved to Dallas to attend UT Dallas and was living alone I started testing again and I had to change MDs and I started doing better. Well kind of. Over the years I have gained weight, I have tested my blood sugars more, I have changed insulins and now nearly 17 years later I have been doing lots of reading.
Did you know that in a couple of years it may be possible for me to have an artificial pancreas? Yeah, ARTIFICIAL! I am submitting paper work to get a CGM (Continuous Glucose Monitor) so that I NEVER have to test my blood sugar again by poking my finger. I am super excited. Every time I think of this tears come to my eyes because its within my grasp of not having to inject myself again or test my blood sugars again, but be NORMAL again. Well as close to normal as I can be.
I am so excited, and I want you to be excited as well. Not every story is like mine. Some people have stopped believing, some have just given up, some are like me and we keep our hopes up. Without your help of donations and funding the research the CGMs that are available today would not be possible, the artificial pancreas would not be possible.
I am not asking you to donate your entire check or life savings, I am only asking you to donate what you can, support those of us who want to feel that “normalcy” again without having to inject or poke our fingers to ensure that our blood sugar isn’t too high or too low. Be just like you!
Thank you for listening and taking the time to read,
Susanne (Grecian) Rise
Below is the what the information about the JDRF and what they do:
Welcome to my personal JDRF Walk to Cure Diabetes fundraising page!
I'll be taking part in this year's Walk to raise funds for the millions of people living with and affected by type 1 diabetes (T1D). The money I raise will help JDRF fund critical research to progressively remove the impact of T1D from people's lives until no one has to fear developing the disease.
Type 1 diabetes is a life-threatening autoimmune disease in which a person's pancreas stops producing insulin - a hormone essential to the ability to get energy from food. It strikes both children and adults suddenly and changes life as they know it forever. It cannot be prevented and there is no cure.
JDRF is the largest nongovernmental funder of T1D research and the only global organization with a strategic research plan to fight T1D. This science is complex and costly, and every dollar JDRF is able to direct toward research comes from donors like you.
Please support me and donate to my Walk fundraising campaign. Your gift will make a difference for millions of people affected by this devastating, life-threatening disease. Won't you please give to JDRF as generously as possible today?