Being Diabetic*

*This is a re-post from another blog I was trying to get up and going. (In case you’ve read it before) It wasn’t bringing in the sort of traffic I was hoping for which is why I decided to venture out here to WordPress. Also I would like it to be known that I do not claim to be a specialist on Diabetes. Nor do I claim to be any sort of Doctor. The opinions stated here are just that..opinions, my opinions. I know a lot of people question  why I feel like I “know so much” and my response is that I only know what I have been through when dealing with type one diabetes*

It’s a topic I haven’t touched on really. Not because I am ashamed, but because I am still in the learning process of this chronic disease. I suppose I should start at the beginning and then really dive into the subject that has me feeling very uneasy about being diabetic and societies view of it as well.

I have Type One Diabetes, (which means I have to use insulin injections to maintain “normal” glucose levels or I could die), this used to be categorized as juvenile diabetes because most of the people diagnosed were usually children. I was 17 when I began to show symptoms of this disease. I started to feel sluggish and found that on a daily basis I would be “dying” of thirst. My mouth felt like the Sahara. I paid no mind to it and figured that perhaps an unhealthy diet at the time was catching up to me. After graduation the symptoms worsened and by the end of 2005, beginning of 2006, I wasn’t looking like myself anymore. I had dropped weight in the blink of an eye. I couldn’t eat, my mouth was beyond dry, I was drinking everything in sight and sleeping all the time. My parents began to think I was depressed. What caused them to take the step and drag me to the Dr.s office was when I developed strep throat and was unable to consume any sort of liquid or solid food. Immediately after walking in the Dr took a test and then rushed me to the hospital where I spent a few weeks in ICU and was later transferred to a normal room where I spent a week there learning to manage this unfamiliar disease. I was eighteen when I was officially diagnosed. And then my world changed.
At such a young and fragile age I took this news as the most horrific thing that could happen to me. I felt weak and challenged. Defeated. At the hospital I put on a brave face because that was the only way I would be able to leave, if they felt I was really able to cope with it outside of their safety, truth was…I could not. At home my parents treated me like a child. At an age where you really need to start spreading your wings and learning to grow up, when you should be out making mistakes and memories and friends…I was home, feeling sorry for myself. I hadn’t found many support groups, or people I could relate to. I felt alone. My mom did the best to encourage me with bible scriptures and all her love but it wasn’t enough for me at the time. So, like most teens, I rebelled and gave up on my insulin regimen. I was tired of having to worry about this everyday and I just wanted to be a kid. Wild, reckless. But this mind frame would land me in and out of hospitals for years. Until I finally decided, with the help of my loving husband, that I shouldn’t let being diabetic define or own me. That I needed to take control of my life and manage this the best that I could.
(My regimen: Three shots of insulin a day, sometimes more if I have taken in too much food for the units I took. I have to check my glucose levels, or blood sugar, six to eight times a day. Or more if I am feeling off/sick. If for some reason I miss an injection I will have to deal with HIGH glucose levels. If I take too much insulin and don’t eat enough I will have to deal with LOW glucose levels)
Here are links to what symptoms follow a HIGH and a LOW: High GlucoseLow Glucose
I turned  twenty-six a few days ago. I moved across states, from California to Ohio, married the love of my life, had a baby, and graduated college. Did everything that people said I couldn’t do because, “you’re diabetic, you’re sickly” and with out sounding so cliche the point of this snippet is to show that I survived and am still kicking. Still fighting this disease. But not with out a lot of bumps and bruises. Ups and downs. I still battle with the highs and lows of this disease but I have found a small community where I can vent and feel as though my voice is really being heard. This helps!
Now, with all that out of the way we can get to the meat of this post and why I feel the need to even put this out there. Hi, my name is Elizabeth and I am a type one diabetic. You see my face and maybe you even know me in real life. If you put a face to something, perhaps you are unlikely to mock it. Which is a common theme in this highly media based world. Cruel and unnecessary jokes aimed at this vicious and silent disease. It came to my attention this evening that a very popular television show, among others, had made some very rude jokes about diabetics losing their limbs. This is not funny, and I am not here to scold any one person, but I am here to say that this is a common worry of mine. As well as many other diabetics I’m sure. There are a lot of complications that come with being diabetic and nothing is funny about a single one. You wouldn’t mock someone with asthma, or cancer, or any other life threatening why is it so easy to joke about diabetes? Is it because you can not see the struggle, the pain and the highs/lows of it? If the answer is yes then maybe you need to better inform yourself.
Sugar doesn’t cause diabetes, a pancreas unwilling to do it’s job does. No, I am not diabetic because I am fat it was something in my genetics. It’s not contagious and no I can’t just will it away. It’s a real disease that brings with it real terror. The jokes might seem funny but they are hurtful. It’s hard enough trying to stay positive about having to shove needles full of insulin into your body, or having to wear pumps, that we really don’t need people judging/laughing at us about something we had no control over. I think that it is safe to say that this is a disease most people look past but if you put yourself in any one of our shoes you would see that it’s a tedious lifestyle that we have to partake in or we will die. And this isn’t about any one feeling sorry for us. Because a lot of us are stronger than you think. The point is consideration. Be considerate of the people who have to live with this disease. It’s what YOU would want.

The Diabetic Cookie Monster..

For awhile, not sure if anyone remembers, the Cookie Monster tried really hard to stay away from the cookies. He was eating a lot more veggies and I guess that was Sesame Street’s way of convincing kids to eat healthy? I bring this up because I remember my husband telling me a story about a little girl asking her dad why the Cookie Monster, when cookie is in his name, was eating carrots. He wasn’t the carrot monster. I guess the explanation was that he had become a diabetic and couldn’t have a lot of sugar anymore. Now, when my husband told me this I giggled slightly. I thought that was such a silly answer to give a child with real curiosity and concern. And then I thought about how I would one day be explaining diabetes to my daughter..would I use that example?

I am a type 1 diabetic and I have been for about eight years. Before my daughter and before my husband. When he told this story to me my daughter was only a year old. I didn’t need to think about explaining anything to her. She was a baby, all she cared about was eating, napping, playing and being on my hip 24/7. I let time pass and though I never hid anything from her I also never bothered to explain anything to her. I just didn’t think about it. My norm is her norm. She has seen me check my blood sugar, inject insulin and struggle here and there with the overall disease. When I’m not feeling very well we play Dr. and she has the best bedside manners I have ever seen. :) But it finally came up and I found myself stumbling over my words and wondering if she truly understood. Here’s how it went down..

I’m sitting down ready to take my morning injection. My daughter is running around, playing, like normal, being careful not to bump into me or anything because she’s very considerate when she knows I am taking medicine. (She does have an overall understanding of being sick, not feeling well, needing medicine, she just didn’t know what diabetes was) So in the midst of whirling and twirling about she stops dead in her tracks and asks me what being diabetic meant…

I look at her and say something like, “It’s when your pancreas doesn’t make insulin. That’s why mommy has to have insulin shots.” She responds with, “What’s a paincrass?” (She’s five)

I correct her in saying that it is pronounced pancreas and that it’s an organ in our bodies. I remind her that we all have organs, like a heart, and so everyone has a pancreas and it makes something called insulin that attacks food in our body and turns it into energy. She looks at me blankly. I smile and assure her that hers and daddy’s work just fine but mine doesn’t wanna work anymore. She then walks over to me and with a giant grin announces that maybe it was just on vacation!

If only…

New Beginnings.

Though I have had many journals and online diaries, I have never tried blogging before. I suppose I figured this was probably the same as all the others. And then I did a little more research and found that this might be exactly up my alley. I mean, I studied creative writing and journalism. (I shouldn’t use past tense, I am still studying those things) With hard work I hope to one day be an author/writer/journalist. I am just not sure when that will happen. Which is why I am excited about starting this blog. I am hoping it will give me some of the experience needed to venture out into the journalism world. I would like to get a little more familiar with writing for people and not just myself. Which is what an online journal, I feel, is more geared towards. This is a place I hope I can share my stories and possibly meet new people and share in their ups and downs. I look forward to joining a community where thoughts and ideas can flow freely without judgement.

So, this is my new beginning.

With that said I would like to put it out there that what gets written here will be my very own thoughts and opinions, unless otherwise stated, and I hope that you all will be just as open minded as I will be as I navigate through your lives. I am an open book and I want to make the promise that everything said here is the absolute truth and nothing but. I believe in being honest with yourself and others. It’s really the best way to be in this game called life. So I hope you will enjoy reading this as mush as I’ll enjoy writing it.