Why did I get diabetes? No clue. No doctor has ever come up with a logical reason why I ended up with diabetes at 25 years old. The only connection that we can draw is that I picked up a nasty week long stomach bug after visiting a farmer’s market and sampling foods to my heart’s content. There is a chance that whatever infection I picked up was enough to trigger my immune system to begin the process of shutting down my pancreas.
I did my first triathlon less than a month before I was diagnosed. I was in what I thought to be really great health and physical condition. Shortly after the triathlon I began to notice that I was getting really tired and my skin was getting very dry.
The biggest sign should have come when I was on a business trip with my dad and I physically could not stop drinking water. It was the craziest feeling but I would finish a 32oz. bottle and instant want a refill.
I remember sitting in a meeting on that trip and looking at the door thinking that if the meeting lasted one minute longer I was going to bust down the door in search of water. I couldn’t think of anything other than looking for water. (Later I realized that this thirst was due to my sugars rising uncontrollably due to the cereal, cheetos, and who knows what other delicious carb filled food I innocently consumed on that trip).
The word diabetes didn’t even cross my mind as I sucked down water and I still wasn’t thinking about diabetes when I sat in church that weekend and realized that I could no longer clearly see the speaker at the pulpit. I tried closing one eye and then the other but it was no use. They were both so blurry I couldn’t read anything more than 50 feet in front of me.
Thankfully I had an annual check up scheduled for that following week. I drove (not advised when you can’t see!) my little white Corolla over to the doctor’s office with hardly a care in the world. Looking back, I honestly can’t believe how carefree I was as I walked into that doctor’s office.
After writing down my symptoms and talking briefly with the nurse I heard the word “Diabetes” for the first time, and they were talking about me. I took the tests they needed and they poked my finger for the first time to check my blood. It was the first of the hundreds of thousands of pokes that would follow, that would leave all my fingertips completely calloused over time. But I still didn’t see it coming. Why would I have diabetes? No one in our family has it. Doctors you do your tests, but that isn’t my problem.
The door opened and the nurse carefully said, “We think you might have diabetes.”
This is what I heard. What she was really saying in that very brief moment was “We think you will look at food in a completely different way, you will very rapidly be hit with medical bills that will make your head spin, you will eventually be wearing an insulin pump 24 hours a day, and you will soon learn how to test your blood sugar while running, driving, and even when you’re half asleep.”
“Oh and by the way, you will have times when this disease will shake you to your core with fear and frustration and times when this disease will empower you and show you how brave you truly are. You will learn to lean on the support of others and you will find a strength deep inside yourself that will shock you.”
I wish she could of also let me know that I would be blessed with two beautiful babies after a battle with infertility, possibly induced by diabetes, I will raise those little babies and be a part of all their activities, run a half marathon, go for endless walks with my dogs, create mouth-watering food, travel, laugh every night with my husband, start a veggie garden, surprise my grandma for her birthday, and be 37 and mentally and physically strong.
I wish I could have told myself, as I sat in that chair, and later spent the night in the hospital, that “you will be ok. You won’t get over this but you will move through it. You will find a way to do what you want to do. You will laugh again. Your head will stop spinning and you will find a new normal (and it will involve ice cream).”
But all that was said was “we think you might have diabetes.” And at that time that was all that needed to be said. The rest would come, and I am still figuring it out 12 years later.