What I’m Thinking After Five Years with Type 1 Diabetes

Today is my 5th diaversary.

In May, I was invited to be part of an adults with type 1 diabetes panel at a local JDRF event. I wasn’t the youngest person on the panel, but I’d had type 1 the shortest amount of time as I was the only one diagnosed as an adult. I was asked to share about the adjustment to life with type 1 as an adult, so I gave my abbreviated diagnosis story.

I talked about the time five years ago as a recent college grad and new wife. I listed out the symptoms I was experiencing: unquenchable thirst, peeing all the time, tired, blurry vision, weight loss, vomiting… “My husband finally convinced me to go to the doctor,” I told the audience. “And they gave me a pregnancy test.” The audience had a visible physical reaction to that statement. Everyone present knew those symptoms, knew what they meant and expected me to say that when I went to the doctor they diagnosed me with diabetes right away, the pregnancy test was a surprise to them.

As I sit here in the middle of my season of 5th year milestones, I have trouble believing that five whole years have passed. And in the next minute, it’s hard to believe that only five years have passed because it feels like a life time. There’s a lot that I’m thinking about on my 5th diaversary. Continue reading

Three Years Thriving

When I crawled out of bed three years ago yesterday, I felt awful. I hadn’t slept well, I had woken up at least four times to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night. When I had finished showering in the morning, I immediately threw up. That was the morning that Brad saved my life by forcing me to make an appointment with the doctor.

When I got out of bed yesterday morning, I had slept well, I woke up once in the night to check my blood sugar. When I had finished showering, I brushed my teeth. Yesterday morning, and many mornings over the past 3 years, I felt good. I felt alive. And that’s not something I take lightly.

I might not be a “morning person” but I’m happy to wake up every morning and I owe that to my husband who made me go to the doctor and ended up saving my life.

August 11, 2011 was the day that I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.

Yesterday passed quietly, without celebration, but with an interesting level of peace with my body.

The fact that my own immune system tried to kill me is not forgotten and even three years later, I worry about what other damage may have been done in the weeks that I was sick. The unfortunate fact is that I was sick for awhile after my pancreas failed and we didn’t think to get me checked for diabetes because 1.) We didn’t know the symptoms and 2.) No one expects that the sick 22-year-old could have type 1 diabetes… because people seem to think it only happens in kids.

Yesterday was my 3rd diaversary. I doubt that as the years pass, my level of gratitude to my husband for saving my life and to the doctor who stumbled onto a diabetes diagnosis will lessen. My pride in thriving over the past three years, in a body that wanted to quit, continues to grow. Diabetes is one of few diseases where the patient is the one in charge of its treatment, the one administering medicine, the one running diagnostic tests. I may have support, but staying alive and being healthy is a one-woman job for me.

I would love to see a cure in my lifetime, but as I’ve said before, I’m not holding my breath. I will “settle” for many healthy years with the husband who saved me.

Other Reading: Continue reading

You Looked Really Sick

I guess somewhere around the second anniversary is when people start talking about things… A conversation came up this weekend and turned to what was happening in my life two years ago.

I weigh less today than I did the day I graduated from high school, which for reference isn’t much. I gained some weight in college and lost it all, plus some, while in DKA (not how you’re supposed to do it). That came up in the conversation and then my friend said, “It didn’t really hit me how sick you were until I saw you at your dad’s funeral. You looked so small.”

It was tough to pack clothes for calling hours and the funeral, because all of my clothes were too big. Only a few people really noticed that I was 30 pounds lighter than the last time they saw me (2 1/2 months earlier) or that the backs of my hands had a greenish hue from IV bruising. My friend, saw everything that was happening.

Two years ago, I was in a dark time. I’m still pretty angry that so many things happened at once, not allowing me to handle them as they came or celebrate the good things that were also happening because the dark outweighed it. I’m still angry that my diagnosis and my dad’s death were separated by only four days and that diabetes didn’t let me grieve the way I should have been able to and it didn’t let me spend the time with my parents because it had me stuck in a hospital bed.

My second diaversary passed unceremoniously on Sunday, and I’m okay with that. The timing is interesting though because the conversation I mentioned happened on Saturday and in the past couple of weeks Brad and I have found ourselves talking about what happened in August of 2011 more freely. It’s still not a subject we like to talk about, but it’s no longer avoided. I’ve learned things that were said and done during that time that I didn’t know about.

This year, the happy event of one of my best friends getting married is keeping my thoughts busy and hopeful. I find that this August, I regret less and dwell less on everything I lost two years ago.

Having two years between you and several life-changing events somehow makes them a little easier to think about. It’s always easier when you see the progress you’ve made since them as well.