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My struggle with Diabetes.

My struggle with Diabetes.
My struggle with Diabetes.

I am a newly diagnosed diabetic, but I have been suffering from the disease for at least three years now.

I am a newly diagnosed diabetic, but I have been suffering from the disease for at least three years now. I repeatedly went to my doctor with symptoms that went undiagnosed. Even a blood test indicating a high blood glucose level a year before my diagnosis went unnoticed.

I visited my doctor for everything from severe headaches to aching legs to unexplained vomiting, fatigue, and unbearable lower back and abdominal pain. I was treated as if I was making up the symptoms, at one point being told that perhaps I was just "depressed". I was depressed, but it was BECAUSE of my symptoms, not their cause. I was given pain killers, told that if I would just lose weight, all of my symptoms would go away.

All the time, I was getting sicker. Just before Christmas of 2005, I confided in my best friend that something was terribly wrong and told her that I was basically waiting to die, that I was convinced I had some undiagnosed cancer that was eating away at me a little more everyday and that no one was taking me seriously. She had seen me slowly losing energy, dropping out of life altogether. After the holidays, I was pretty much sick and in pain everyday. I was skipping classes, missing work, unable to do much of anything anymore. She was even having to shop for me and help with normal, everyday tasks.

My family and friends will all tell you that before I got sick, I was ALWAYS the most energetic of the bunch. I was the one that wanted to shop all day. I was the one that wanted to walk a Disney World park from open to close. I was the one that kept everyone else moving but for the last year before my diagnosis, I was the one that had to sit on the sidelines and watch everyone else enjoy life.

I was staying in a hotel with the same friend when she counted the number of cups of orange juice I drank in about a 30 minute period. It added up to 64 ounces...64 ounces of pure sugar for someone whose blood sugar was already high was a bad thing. I started to feel horrible, the abdominal pain was awful, I was sweating and freezing all at the same time and my entire body ached. As soon as I could, I went to see my doctor again. I didn't know that the symptoms of diabetes included excessive thirst, so I thought that I had another kidney infection. Luckily for me, a nurse noticed something odd in my test results and told the doctor that he needed to test my blood sugar. When he did, the number was 506 and I hadn't eaten in about 10 hours. I was immediately hospitalized and stabilized and given all kinds of new drugs and monitors and test strips. All were things very foreign and overwhelming to me at first.

I instantly started to feel better and, believe it or not, was happy with the diagnosis. It wasn't until a couple of weeks later when I had to stop at a flea market, test my blood sugar, and find a snack because it was falling to low, did I realize that no matter how good I felt, medication and this disease were going to be a lifelong problem and I thought about all of the risks, the complications that had already developed because of the delayed diagnosis and I realized how precarious the health of a diabetic truly is, even on a good day and with wonderful control. That's when the depression set in.

Fortunately for me, something happened to snap me out of it. I had a horrible allergic reaction to one of my medications that resulted in a prescription for a steroid that sent my blood sugar sky rocketing into the 500's again. I began to feel pretty rotten and was grateful for the respite the couple of weeks before had provided. I decided then that I needed to be grateful that I didn't have the terminal cancer I had feared, that I felt like getting out and being active again for the first time in a long time. I decided that while I needed to be careful and watch for signs and symptoms of complications and accepted that the disease was going to be a daily part of my life, I needed to be grateful for the new beginning that I had been given and that's when I decided to get involved with the ADA and the Walk for Diabetes Program.

One aspect of this disease that is so frustrating for me is that a common misconception about Type II Diabetes is that it can be prevented, that lifestyle and weight gain alone can cause the disease. While the gene responsible for Diabetes hasn't been isolated, research indicates that a genetic predisposition most likely needs to exist for someone to develop the disease. With people like myself, there are often stares and unsolicited comments that can cause feelings of shame or guilt. One nurse asked me, "Don't you wish you had taken better care of yourself?" I suffer from Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome which is known to cause metabolism to slow, weight gain to occur, and make the body unable to process insulin correctly so no matter what that nurse thought, it wasn't all my fault that I got sick. Yes, my lifestyle played a part, but I was destined to develop the disease at some point in my life. If I had been healthier, it would have delayed the inevitable, but there was no way to stop it.

I walk for everyone with Diabetes but I especially walk for those who are ashamed to admit they have the disease because they don't want people judging them or making them feel badly about themselves for getting sick. I encourage them to walk as well, to show the world that they are doing something to help themselves and to help others eventually find a cure for their disease.
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