Monday, August 31, 2015

13 years and a lifetime more to go. Fuck Diabetes YO!

I wrote this more than a month ago and then sat on it like a lazy fuck.

13 years…

I don’t often recognize the day I got diagnosed. I should say I don’t often recognize it OUTWARDLY. I always know inside.

Ryan and I were rock climbing, camping and trail running up  north for the weekend. As we were packing our gear

I said, “huh. Tomorrow’s the 19th eh?”
Ryan, “Yup.”
Me, “I’ve officially had diabetes for 13 years and I’m still alive and kicking.”
Ryan, “……..
I actually can’t remember if he said anything but that basically summed up the conversation.

A few moments later the thought was gone but not forgotten. At least not in my head. Whether I want to admit it or not it’s a rather huge turning point in my life and those memories will never fade of my diagnosis. 13 years later I still feel cheated as a result of HOW I got diabetes and furthermore, HOW I was so poorly treated those first two months.

Maybe you don’t know my diagnosis story, here it is the shortest point form possible that I can muster. All dates are assumed but generally speaking it's pretty fucking close:

July 1st 2002: Canada Day long weekend rock climbing up in Tobermory with friends, get loads of poison ivy
July 17th ‘ish?: Go to walk-in clinic fearing need for medical treatment of the poison ivy that is still raging a war on my legs
July 17th pm: Start an aggressive dose of prednisone
July 18th am: Wake up unable to see clearly
July 18th pm: Get emergency appointment with my optometrist, eyes have changed an entire diopter overnight. She tells me either A)pregnancy (NOT A FUCKING CHANCE) or B)Diabetes
July 18th pm: See GP, emergency appointment, get lab req for blood work
July 19th am: Lab work
July 19th pm: Back to the doc, doc tells me “some kind of diabetes. Eat only protein and fat while avoiding carbs.” Doc does not refer me to an Endo nor does he give me pills or insulin. He also does not book a follow up appointment but sets me up to join a support group in a couple months. A1C was normal because of sudden onset pancreatic demise.
July 23rd: Leave for 9 days of backpacking on the West Coast Trail in British Columbia. It was my College graduation gift. (still no insulin or glucose meter. Just the directions to not eat carbs)
July 25th: Get emergency evacuated by helicopter from the WCT after 3 days into the 9-day trip. I couldn’t see because my vision was FUCKED. I had new contacts for the new prescription but the intense hiking lowered my bg so rapidly that the new stronger contacts were way too strong and my old contacts were also too strong. With vision as bad as mine I was literally BLIND.
July 26th:  Buy my very first glucose meter in Victoria BC, still have no idea how to use it. Fly home a few days later.
July 26th – September 10th: Try not to die. No insulin, No follow up doctors appointments.  Spend every day feeling like SHIT. I don’t’ remember this time very well, it’s all a blur. I do remember always seeing 20+ mmol/l or “HI” on my meter 24/7. Drop down to 110lbs. I was most likely in the early stages of DKA for the entire 2 months.
September 10th:  support group at the diabetes clinic for patients with type 2. One very concerned nurse pulls me out of the class and tells me I should be dead after 2 months without insulin.
September 11th: I return to the clinic and learn how to inject insulin through tears. I remember this day because my boyfriend at the time and I were watching a 9-11 1 year anniversary memorial on TV.

That's my story.
Here I am now, 13 years later and more bitter and jaded than ever. I am happy in my life more now than have been and that's partially to do with how I manage my diabetes and partially nothing at all to do with diabetes.

It consumes my almost every thought and determines my every move. Sometimes Ryan asks me what's wrong because I often look so concerned. Resting Bitch Face? haha. More like Resting Diabetes-is-on-my-mind Face. Him asking me has forced me to think about it and usually when he asks me I realize I was just thinking about my minute to minute diabetes management. Being with Ryan has made me realize how much diabetes consumes my thoughts because he genuinely cares enough to ask. Sometimes a string of thoughts just upset me. Maybe I'm a little high and I just ate something. Maybe it had a bit of carbs maybe I question how much insulin I took. Maybe we want to spontaneously roll around the neighbourhood on our skateboards and I have to get creative by shoving gels or fruit chews down my bra.  Maybe I don't want to carry my glucose meter but I'm afraid to go by feel alone. 

It's motherfucking endless. The thoughts. The all-consuming problem solving that has to happen with each morsel of food and each second of passing time. How it all seems so hard just to keep myself alive and how deafeningly silent it can be.

Ryan asks and these days I speak. Often endless ramblings that may or may not make sense but he gives me the open forum to spew my problem solving methods. I've found solace in speaking out loud even if he doesn't entirely get the minutia of it.

Another year passes. Another few hundred shots and thousands of blood sugar tests. Vials upon vials of life sustaining insulin. It happens. Diabetes happens while intermingling with real life.

I  never forget the way I got diabetes. It will always be a cause and effect to me. Something outside caused me to now have diabetes. If that something was taken out of the equation, would I have diabetes? A question that I'll never know the answer to. I hold grudges sometimes and I've been holding a very bitter one for 13 years now.

Fuck diabetes. Seriously, FUCK DIABETES.


  1. I think I've told you this before, but I'm not sure. When I was diagnosed, after 6-ish weeks of gradually worsening health, I was told that my 'betes had been there even longer, that I just hadn't noticed it because you don't get symptoms until about 90% of your beta cells are toast.

    You almost certainly had islet cell death months before poison ivy or prednisone. The infection and the steroid almost certainly spiked your blood sugar, though, pushing your wee islets over the brink to where they would have been in a few weeks or months. Hopefully you're not holding grudges about that.

    I definitely hear you about wishing diabetes wasn't a part of your life, though. I've met some wonderful people because of it, but I would certainly be happy if we could keep knowing each other... just without diabeetus.

  2. What a diagnosis story/experience! That really sucks!

    I am going to steal this line though because it truly sums up my own face sometimes when people ask me what's wrong.

    "Resting Bitch Face? haha. More like Resting Diabetes-is-on-my-mind Face."


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