Sunday, May 23, 2010

Things I Hear

Things I hear from people, having been recently diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes:

Did you have any symptoms?!?!

This is probably out of sheer surprise.  I'm at an odd age for either type of diabetes, and I wasn't clearly ill.  I have to admit that, at first, this question bothered me because I felt like maybe I should have gone to get tested far before I did.  Yes, as a matter of fact, I did have some symptoms... but I sure as hell never thought I had full-blown diabetes!  I remember one day thinking, "Why am I so thirsty lately?"  I also started getting up to pee in the middle of the night, whereas I hadn't needed to before.  And every once in a while, I lost a couple pounds when I expected to gain from all the sweets I'd been eating, but I attributed that to eating an otherwise decent diet.  Plus, I was hungry all the time and didn't have a lot of energy, which was especially frustrating to me.  But when you hear stories of diabetes symptoms, you hear that people drink gallons of water, pee every 30 minutes, lose 10 pounds in a week, and are flat out sick right before diagnosis.  After the fact, when I shared the above symptoms with my doctor, she was still surprised at the lack of obvious symptoms.  My dentist was also surprised by how well-hydrated my mouth was.  Go figure.

You're doing so well!

I hear this one a lot, from all sorts of people.  It means a lot from the people I know well.  For a while, I felt slightly uncomfortable hearing it from people I'm not as close to... Maybe because I felt they could have no idea how I was doing.  Did they really think I was "doing so well" simply because I showed up to work and managed to stare at the computer and not cry in front of people?  They weren't there for the time that I a cried over having to do 9 injections a day (before they got closer to my correct ratios), or miscalculated how much insulin I needed and made my blood sugar go borderline-low, or threw a genuine tantrum because I dropped my lunch all over our carpet after I'd already given myself my bolus insulin.  But hearing it from the people closest to me really matters.  I feel good that my mom is proud of me, and that my husband is impressed with the way I've adapted... especially since they've both let me cry and rant during my moments of frustration and self-pity.  It also means a lot from the members of my health care team, because I thrive on any sort of teacher-student dynamic and appreciate feedback that tells me I'm doing a good job.

This is a real, life-changing event.

People seemed quick to point this out at the beginning, often following it up with some sort of reassurance like, "But you can do it," or, "But you'll adjust in no time."  This statement has created the most conflict in me, because I just don't know what my opinion is on it yet.  Some days, I don't think it changes life that much.  I have a friend who is type 1, but I never would have known if it hadn't come up in a conversation.  Her lifestyle is very similar to what mine has always been.  Another type 1 I knew more casually had the pump, and that was the only sign of her diabetes.  But then, some days, I'm daunted by the idea of counting carbs and possibly battling the insurance companies for the rest of my life (come on Obama, get that health care reform moving!).  Some days, I'm terrified by the thought that my pancreas will soon be totally kaput, and then I'd die without my medication.  Some days, I read about other people's struggles to keep within their target range and worry that it will be that hard and time-consuming for me, too.  Yes, things are going to be different, but I just don't know what to think about how utterly life-changing this will be, yet.

I'm diabetic, and I can tell you you'll be fine.  Let me know if you need to talk.

I'm lucky to be receiving so much support from all of my friends and family, but I'm especially comforted by support and encouragement from people who are diabetic or who have a spouse/child/parent/sibling who is diabetic.  It's primarily that they're experienced in this, and yet they think I'll be OK.  It's so good to hear that.  Now that I know what a low blood sugar feels like and that I'm able to identify it before it gets really bad, my greatest fear is the major complications.  Hearing from diabetics without major complications eases the worst of my fears.  I really, truly, honestly intend to give myself the best possible treatment, and these people make me believe that it will be worth it.

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