Tuesday, October 25, 2011

34 (A New Diagnosis)

I turned 34 last week. Thirty-four isn't worth a lot of fanfare, but it was a pretty nice birthday. I got some wonderful gifts this year, all things I wanted, nothing I truly needed. I recognize how very fortunate I am to be in that position, to be able to get things off of the "it would be nice to have..." list. Despite us being very well off, I'm not very good at doing or buying the things I need just for me, especially the extras. But this year, I felt I really need to treat myself well.

It's not something I talk about much, but I was diagnosed with Type II diabetes at 24. Over the years I've tried a few different medications, and was on insulin throughout both of my pregnancies. I am by no means a good patient. I always take my meds, but I haven't always been very careful about what I eat, and I don't test my glucose levels as often as I could. Many days, other than when I was pregnant, I didn't give it a lot of thought. When I did try to be "good," I'd often have a middle of the night awful episode of low blood sugar. Plus it's not like I haven't had other medical issues that took up more of my time - not being able to walk trumps glucose levels (which were actually very good during that time, since I wasn't able to get myself food very easily).

A couple of weeks ago, I had a new blood test done, and it revealed that instead of Type II I have what's referred to as Type 1.5, or latent autoimmune diabetes of adults (LADA). I'm not an expert, but basically it means that my pancreas doesn't work. As the link above says, "simply stated, autoimmune disorders, including LADA, are an "allergy to self.”" For years, I have blamed myself for not trying hard enough, not having enough will power, to just eat better, exercise more, and make the diabetes go away. I always thought that when Max turned three, I'd make my efforts to get better (and I have, with this whole gym thing). Now my doctor has said I can stop beating myself up, that's it's not going to happen.

It's been pretty devastating news to receive. I know there are many, many worse things that can happen in life, that this is just a tweak to what I already knew, but it's still hard to hear "this is forever" rather than hold that hope alive that it wasn't for the rest of my life. I just always assumed that some day I'd be done with this.

So I've had the last few weeks to process this information and get ready for the next phase of tackling it. Later this week I'll be getting a continuous glucose monitor to use in tracking my blood sugar levels at all times. It requires inserting something under the skin of my stomach, and I'll be wearing a device that resembles a pager to track it all. It's actually a really cool technology, and should help give me better information to modulate my medications as needed. And it comes in a purple case, so you can't beat that. I'm doing insulin shots with meals in addition to my long-acting nighttime insulin, and depending on how things go with the monitor, I will consider the possibility of adding an insulin pump. But one thing at a time - this one change is overwhelming enough. But as my friend Stephanie said, today it seems like a mountain. Soon, it will just seem like a blip on the radar.

Did I need some treats to make me feel better as I faced this? Absolutely. Was it better to buy a new watch than eat an extra slice of birthday cake? Definitely.

It's funny, but you (or at least I) look back at your life and see the blessings and challenges that each year held: first full time job at 22, married at 24, baby #1 at 26, finished graduate degree at 28, baby #2 at 30, back surgery at 32. Thirty-four is starting off this way. Hopefully, I'll be able to look back and see that this wasn't the defining moment, even if it feels that way now.

1 comment:

  1. Cheryl- I just saw this post this morning. I am so sorry to hear about this diagnosis, but I'm so impressed with your pro-active response. It sounds like you are really taking steps to deal with it, which is the best any of us can do. I hope it doesn't become too much of a pain in your a**, and here's to a kick-ass 35th year!
    Hope to see you soon -