Hello my fellow diabetics!
How are you? Hope everything is going stable at least in regards to our illness. 🙂
I decided to write this post and maybe others as such will come in the future, because there are diabetics out there that feel the world is about to end for them. This feeling is present especially when they are diagnosed with this “terrible” illness.
Well, it’s terrible, but the reason I put it like that, in quotation marks, is because we can make it not that terrible. How to do that? Well, let’s always think about the positive stuff that comes with it always.
From a personal experience of over 13 years of being a diabetic, insulin dependent (five shots per day), I can tell you that things are not that bad, but at the beginning are until you learn how to manage it.
I was diagnosed with diabetes four days after I turned 16 years old, in February 2004. My first reaction was… that I will die soon. I was in a terrible shape and my body was very weak after a long period of undiscovered high blood sugar levels. When the doctors gave me to make my first insulin shot, I was petrified. Me, who, since forever, I was afraid of needles and shots had to take a shot, and more than that, had to do it myself. They called it learning how to do it, I called it entrance in my grave…. I had so much to learn about it, but I didn’t hear anything around me anymore. They were training me for the two weeks in hospital to survive on my own with the disease after I will be released, but I was morally down and waiting to die. I was in shock, so they said. Didn’t want to eat anymore, not that I was against or stubborn, but I had lost my appetite. They said that I needed to eat at least the carbs after my insulin shots as it was and is a must. I said “Carbs? What are those?”. They gave me lists of nutritional values with quantity of carbs for each 100 gr of product, meal programs, diets etc. I was like a zombie. Nothing made sense to me. Maybe because I was a teen and didn’t understand. Still, as a good kid that I like to think I was and am lol, even though I had no mood for all of that, considering that I will die soon and world will end for me, for the sake of my parents which I so loved and now too, I made the huge effort to comply with everything they said and recommended to do.
The most upsetting thing during my hospital stay was that I was given a book. A book to educate children and teens on how to manage diabetes at those ages. Not receiving a book was upsetting, don’t get me wrong, I loved books, but the content it had. In that book, though it was a guide book on diabetes, there were a lot of passages throughout the book that said that children and teens diagnosed with diabetes will not have a long life expectancy and the life quality will be very low. They said puberty hormones make it harder to obtain a stable level for diabetes and get improvement and management. So, this was the least that I needed after the already mood I had, to be validated by that book that I will for sure die sooner or later….
My mother, who until then, like any mother, was very strict with me regarding studies and building myself through high education, to go to an economics or accountancy university after high school, said that she didn’t need and want all that anymore for me, she just wanted to have her baby alive and with her… The only thing that she wanted was for me to take care of my health now and just live with diabetes. The rest had no importance for her anymore. If I could just finish high school with only passing grades it was really fine with her. She said she didn’t need for me to force myself to prepare for university or any other education. “We will manage”, she said.
Because since I was 7 years old until 13-14 years old I practiced a lot of professional level training sports (swimming, tennis, hockey and basketball), doctors said I missed discovering the diabetes. As a professional athlete I did took a lot of medical check-ups, but each time all the results were in normal parameters. It was due to high physical exercise that my blood sugar levels were kept under control, so they said. When I reached 13-14 years old, as I was in both school and sports, my grades at school started to drop a little. I was very competitive in both and wanted to pursue both, but it was time for me to pick one. I wasn’t able anymore to cope with both and have them high level at the same time. So, I picked wisely one. In sports, I knew that chances are not that high to become a star and earn a living for the rest of my life. Becoming at some point a trainer wasn’t a very high paid job. Thus, I picked studies as this path would help me have a brighter and more stable future.
At the age of 15, the year 2002/2003 when I had to prepare for high school entrance, I had hard education training. I managed to pass with a high grade at one of the elite high schools. After the exams and results, when I thought it was high time for relaxation and finally taking things easy, my mom dropped ill with a left breast inflammation. All that summer, I took care of her and of everything at home. I was the nurse, the cook, the maid etc. She had such a hard time and almost lost her. She went into clinical death under my eyes… I managed to keep myself strong for the family and the inflammation had the high point when it popped. I spent that day helping her under doctor’s guidance on the phone to get easy the pus out of her breast as it was an extremely sensitive area and not complicate things for her health. When everything finished for the inflammation liquid to be out (after what I felt were long hours), I saw the hole and flesh that remained in her breast. For me, at that age, it was like depicted from a horror movie. But, I remained strong and kept calm for my mom’s sake who was barely speaking and constantly asking how was everything. I was focused in keeping her moral up as she didn’t feel pain anymore and was relieved because of that. I cleaned her wound and bandaged her (it was the first time ever when I did that for someone). When my father managed to reach home and take things up and let me have some time of rest, after I exited my mom’s room, I fainted under my father’s eyes. That was the moment when my mind and body relaxed, all the strength I put until then was gone and realized what had just happened that day. When I came back to my senses, I cried without sound (not let my mom hear and make things worse for her) in my father’s arms. That was August 2003. Until December 2004, with doctors telling me that I was the main player in helping my mother live (they said that she had low chances of life for that, she didn’t respond to antibiotics and was a generalized state, surgery was the last resort, but managed to have the inflammation out before surgery) and nursing her at home, she was back on her feet and joyful again. December was the month when she finally had her wound closed and didn’t need a bandage anymore.
Telling you all this background information is that both high school preparation for a year and my mom being sick at that degree affected my overall health and emotional state. It is and was considered emotional shock and stress for me, a huge impact.
At first, doctors considered that it is classic diabetes, the one that is determined because of unhealthy diet lifestyle (which wasn’t the case for me) and a non-functional pancreas. A pancreas that doesn’t produces the natural insulin in the body that controls our blood sugar levels and keep them in normal parameters. Which again, wasn’t the case for me. They ordered a C-peptide test for me. C-peptide test is a test that reveals if the pancreas still produces insulin or not in our body. What do you think? My results showed that my pancreas is alive and produces insulin in normal parameters. How about that guys? That was the moment when they started digging information from me about my recent past if there were any emotional problems or stress or shocks. I told them about what I told you above. Doctors concluded that the type of diabetes I had was determined by stress and shock. They said it was and is modern diabetes. Which apparently the majority of diabetics nowadays have.
Modern diabetes is when your pancreas is producing insulin normally, but your liver produces more glucose than the pancreas is set by nature to cope with and normalize blood sugar levels like it does for healthy people. Well it is plausible, we all live stressful times in all domains of life at all ages in the last 20 years or so. Anyhow, the treatment and my mood for that period remained the same. I was still thinking that I was going to die and had no future anymore as I was in a shitty state (pardon my language, but that was the feeling when you feel dizzy all the time, heart racing and stops and you hear it in your ear, cannot stand for long and so on).
When I was released from hospital, I had to be on my own with diet and treatment and everything was needed to manage my diabetes. Because my pancreas was “alive” and I had to take shots of medical insulin too, I was like a boxing sack. When I ate, blood sugar levels went up as it was normal, and after two hours or so they were back down but not down for normal levels that the insulin shot was supposed to act, they went down-down as my pancreas insulin was kicking in too. So, it was a constant battle and blood sugar levels testing all day every day to adjust the insulin shot doses not to enter in low sugar levels that are more dangerous than high blood sugar levels. It means that you can die faster if not intervened quickly with sugar or with a glucose shot to exit that state and have your blood sugar levels increase. Anyway, at some point I had a breakdown and said that if I had to die I prefer to not be on that rollercoaster anymore. I refused to put needles in my fingers to test my blood sugar levels, to take the insulin shots and so on. That was the moment my mom slapped me… She said that I didn’t have to save her and keep her alive to be witness of my own death… She couldn’t and wouldn’t take that from me… That was my wake-up call. I remained silent and continued treatment and all.
That entire day and night I just stayed and reflected over everything. I said “Ok. I am a diabetic. I feel like shit, can’t go out to school cause of my state (I felt like fainting, dizziness, was pale, couldn’t stay at school for more than one class because of my not stabilized blood sugar levels). I want to be at school with my classmates and study, but I can’t because of my state. What do I want to do with my life? Am I going to let diabetes take control over me? Am I that weak? Where is Andra that was strong and could move mountains? Where is Andra that stayed strong last year? Where is Andra that worked so hard to become someone? Where is ME? All I am now is DIABETES? NO!!! I AM HERE! AND I AM GOING TO REGAIN CONTROL OVER MY OWN LIFE! So what that I feel sick? So what if I am weak right now? I have to WORK on GAINING BACK my LIFE!!!! This IS my CHALLENGE! I am going to beat diabetes! And I am going to go to university and I am going to be someone that my mom and dad will be proud of! DIABETES I AM GOING TO BEAT YOU DOWN AND WILL CONTROL YOU NOT YOU ME!”
And that was what I started to do. I started learning, attended every class I could and my health permitted. Kept my diet and treatment. My blood sugar levels, little by little, improved. At 18 years old, took my drivers license which didn’t think I was able to ever when I was diagnosed with diabetes, but because my diabetes improved and had a good medical history I was allowed. I finished high school with almost perfect score. I applied to university for Law school. My mom was in tears of happiness because of that. My parents didn’t think I would do so, they were just happy I managed so well high school and that was enough for them. In my second year of Law school, I applied to two more universities Finance-Banks-Accountancy and Foreign languages (English-French) and took up working. Well, forgot to tell you that since I was 16, a few months after that monumental night, I started working too after school hours, primary accountancy for a company, as a helper.
My life since that night improved a lot, I can do things as healthy people do, maybe more (because, yes, I am a little crazy and competitive for my life, it’s true lol). I take diabetes as a healthy lifestyle. They say that the lifestyle of a diabetic is the ideal lifestyle of a healthy person. When I feel dizzy and not very well I know it’s time to slow things down until I am back on track. I respect and conduct my life on doctor’s orders and recommendations. And I act as a healthy person, but knowing that I have to take care of my health. Of course, there are times when things are not that great, maybe sometime more than good times, but I control my diabetes not the other way around.
To go back to my first paragraph, that diabetes in not that “terrible”, as you can see it isn’t, you can still live a good life and fulfilled life as any other person. You just need to take your life back in a constructive and positive way, be more careful with your health, respect treatment and diet, learn and read everything there is about living with diabetes, and you are on the right track with your life and bright future ahead.
My advice to you is to never take things in a negative way as I did for the short period I acted like that. That is the point where you make it or break it. And you HAVE to MAKE IT! It is doable. Stop making excuses and start living! Stop being sorry about yourself and start living! Stop crying and start laughing! Stop complaining and start enjoying! Stop wasting time and start building your future! Stop being alone and start making friends and why not your own family! Sky is still the limit even for us! Start taking the right actions!
Ok my dear ones, I am sorry for the long post, but I wanted to speak with you like the title said, from a diabetic to another, from a friend to another, sharing my experiences with you as a diabetic. Hope I didn’t make you feel bored and hope that you learned something from this post and my experiences. I am here for you always, you are not alone ever!
Last advice for this post is to always stay strong, to always think on the bright side of things, keep your moral up and always have control over your own life. Diabetes is not a handicap, it is only if we let it be. Diabetes is life’s wake-up call that we need to start valuing our health and our life, that we need to be careful with our diet and our mind. Diabetes reminds us that we need to treasure every moment and to keep us safe and sound for the love for ourselves and for our dear ones.
Thank you my dear friend for reading this long post and any comments are welcomed. I will reply to all of them ASAP!
Your true friend always,
Anda Stan 🙂