January 2, 2012 by Melissa
I’m lucky enough to have Type 1 Diabetes. You may think that I’m being sarcastic when I say that but I’m not. It has allowed me to be more in tune with my body than I ever would have been otherwise. I was diagnosed with it when I was 12 years old after peeing my pants in the car trying to wait until we got to the rest stop (we were going to visit my grandparents for the weekend). My Mom brought me to the emergency room shortly after we got to my Grandma and Grandpa’s house and thought I probably had a bladder infection. After several different tests the doctor walked into the room with a grave look on his face and told us I had diabetes. I really didn’t know what that was and just thought I couldn’t have candy anymore and would have to give myself shots. It was lucky we went on that road trip that day as I was in such rough condition the doctor didn’t know if I would have woken up the next morning.
I spent that night in the ICU with tentative visits from my brothers and Dad and while my parents were putting on brave calm faces for me, I knew that spelled trouble. This was serious. The next day we moved to the hospital in my hometown of Fergus Falls where I spent the next several days and where we were crammed with information about food labels and shopping. This was back in the time when I had to keep my carb count to a specific amount at each meal, where no added sugar was allowed (thus no candy, ice cream, cake, etc.) and I had to take multiple shots every day (the first trip to the grocery store for my parents was awful-we’d never really had to read food labels before and we had no idea how many products contain sugar). I was taught the symptoms of low and high blood sugars and what to do about them. One of the doctors said this was my disease, I had to own it and not count on anyone but myself to do anything about it.
After a rough several years (cruel joke to add puberty to the mix) of less than great control, I was introduced to a new type of insulin and I decided then and there to really take this disease by the horns. I lost 35 pounds, started exercising again (it once was recommended to me by my diabetes care team that I not exercise as it caused too much variability in my blood sugar numbers) and blamed only myself if things went wrong. Not allowing myself to place blame anywhere else was the key. I had to learn to look towards the next day and not dwell on today’s bad numbers.
Back to knowing my body-blood sugar numbers are affected by a multitude of things: exercise and food, obviously, but also by hormones, stress, illness, breastfeeding, sleep, getting a sunburn, you name it. I can always tell when my body is fighting off an illness (or trying to) as my numbers get high for no other reason, sometimes several days before a symptom occurs. I know when I’m too nervous as my blood sugar spikes then, too, so I take time to calm down. I even know when my baby girl Alice is growing as my blood sugar is low for a few days until my body catches up to the new demand for breast milk. Type 1 Diabetes is an autoimmune condition so anything that affects my immune system will affect my disease. It’s no wonder to me when doctors say that stress is hard on your body, I see it immediately in my numbers. I get that luxury.
There are certainly worse chronic conditions to get and I’ve been lucky these last 22 years to have a really supportive family and a great team of doctors to help me on this journey. I do have to say that that day I made the decision to own this condition was a pivotal one. It was a resolution I had to come to…
Happy New Year, everyone! 2012 is going to be a great year!