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The Devastating Diabetes Diagnosis

This diagnosis devastated me. I'm going to share some ups and downs and coping skills that I have to apply every day for the rest of my life

Getting the diagnosis that I had diabetes was one of the hardest obstacles that I have had to overcome in this lifetime. It didn't help that the physician that diagnosed me had the bedside manner of a curmudgeon.

As this happened on Memorial Day, my boys and I were gathered at my parent's house celebrating the holiday with the traditional BBQ dinner complete with all the "fixin's". The menu that day included a variety of side dishes such as potato salad, ambrosia salad, marshmallows and yams, deviled eggs, and the list goes on. Of course, this was to be followed by the obligatory desserts which included pies, cakes, and homemade ice cream to name just a few. I'm sure that you can see where I'm going with this...

The cost for supplies is through the roof

the-devastating-diabetes-diagnosis-now-what

What Is Hypoglycemia?

Hypoglycemia occurs when blood glucose is too low. When this happens, a person can become fragile and confused. If it drops too low, a person may faint. This can be extremely dangerous because if it continues to drop, it can be fatal leading to death. It is important for me to check my blood sugar frequently as my blood sugar goes up and down so often, it mimics a yo-yo. Some additional symptoms that I experience when my sugar crashes include shaking, irritability, becoming ravenously hungry and extreme sweating, so much so that I am dripping sweat and getting whatever I'm wearing soaked. When blood sugar is less than 80, it is too low. You need rapid sugar (15 grams) for example:

  • 4 oz juice
  • 1/2 can (6 oz) regular soda
  • 4 glucose tablets
  • Hard candy
  • Sugar or honey

What Is Hyperglycemia?

Hyperglycemia occurs when blood glucose is too high. If the blood glucose is too high, a person can go into a "Diabetic Coma."

One time, I ended up in the Emergency Room and my sugar count was 1500. The hospital staff had to draw blood work to send to the lab to get that reading as most glucometers only read as high as 600. I remember the staff being flabbergasted as to why I wasn't in a "Diabetic Coma." The doctor told me that it would be several hours before my count would come down to safer levels. He was wrong. Upon standing (and to the amazement of the ER staff), my count suddenly crashed to well under 800. I still ended up staying in the hospital for a full week under observation.

Annual Hospital Statistics for 2013

Cause of hospitalizationNumber of visits

Diabetes as any diagnosis

7,155, 000

Stroke

251, 000

Lower-extremity amputation

183,000

Diabetic ketoacidosis

168,000

the-devastating-diabetes-diagnosis-now-what

How Does Insulin Work?

Your body receives glucose from the food it absorbs. The liver and muscles also provide glucose. Blood transports glucose to cells throughout the body so that the muscles and joints will have enough energy to function. If the body doesn't produce enough insulin or the insulin doesn't work properly, glucose can't enter the cells of the body. Instead, glucose remains in the bloodstream causing an increase in blood glucose. This high blood glucose level is what causes pre-diabetes then in turn diabetes.

Insulin is a chemical hormone that helps the body’s cells absorb glucose. A good analogy for this that might make it easier to understand is this: Pretend that you're a "cell" or a "group of cells" and you guys are locked inside this office having lunch. Now, since you just ate, outside this office in the hallway is this massive amount of glucose that's trying to get in to make an important delivery for you. However, the door is locked and it can't get in no matter how hard it tries. Insulin is the key that can unlock the door but if (for whatever reason) your body doesn't get the prescribed dosage of insulin or if the body is insulin resistant, the key (insulin) won't fit the door to unlock it. Well, eventually the glucose just gives up and goes back into the bloodstream. Since it doesn't have anywhere else to go, it turns into fat.

Unless the diabetic is on a workout regime or routinely exercises, the body accumulates more and more fat. Now, no matter how hard the diabetic tries, they won't be able to get rid of the fat through diet alone.

What Is Ketoacidosis?

My next hospitalization visit was in April of 2018. This one was a bit more serious and landed me in ICU for three days followed by another three days in the hospital. The diagnosis was "Diabetic Ketoacidosis". This is a serious condition brought on by your body not getting enough insulin. When your cells can't use the sugar that's in your blood, (remember the cells locked in the office?) they burn fat instead. The process it takes to burn fat creates acids called Ketones. If the process continues long enough the build-up of Ketones in your bloodstream throws your whole body out of wack.

This occurs mainly with Type 1 diabetes; it's rare to happen in Type 2, but it does happen as I am a Type 2 Diabetic. I was being stubborn and boycotting insulin for a bit. As a result, now I can add another cost to my list of medicines, Keto strips to test for ketos in my bloodstream. Lesson learned: I manage my diabetes more carefully now. Some symptoms of Ketoacidosis are:

  • You've been throwing up for more than 2 hours
  • You feel queasy or your belly hurts.
  • Your breath smells fruity.
  • You're tired, confused, or woozy.
  • You're having a hard time breathing.

In hindsight, I can't stress enough the seriousness of Ketoacidosis. If left untreated, you could pass out, go into a coma, and possibly die.

Blood Sugar Goals

NORMAL RANGELOW RANGEHIGH RANGE

80 - 120

less than 80

greater than 120

Things I hate about being Diabetic

  • I have this chronic disease that can slowly drain the life from me and destroy the quality of life I live in the meantime.
  • The constant "behind the scene's" fear that co-habitats with me now.
  • Getting up every morning and having to test my blood sugar first thing.
  • Having to test my blood sugar throughout the day, no less than 3 times, usually more.
  • All the supplies that I have to purchase, keep up with and carry with me wherever I go.
  • The astronomical cost of necessary supplies that add up to an additional monthly bill.
  • "Big pharma" making a fortune off of me and every other diabetic they take advantage of.
  • That I can't seem to get this disease into remission.
  • All the hype and scams that are around making false promises that they have "The Cure."
  • I have to watch what I eat and drink 24/7/365.
  • Every time my sugar crashes, which is a lot.
  • I have learned how to accurately read labels on everything I'm about to purchase. I even know what those ingredients are, you know, the ones that you can't begin to pronounce.

My dreadful Day of Diagnosis

Let me finish where I started out. My family along with a few relatives and some friends were gathered together celebrating Memorial Day. It was approaching the evening hours and I started feeling really bad. I tried to lie down for a bit hoping that would help. It didn't, in fact, I started feeling worse.

It's hard to explain the symptoms of how exactly I felt bad but it was bad enough that we decided that I needed to go to an Urgent Care facility. I will never forget the words that came from the physician on duty that night. He says, "So, has anyone ever told you that you have Diabetes?" I say no and he proceeds to say, "Well, they have now!" It almost felt like he was performing a stand-up comedy act. It was such a surreal moment and it stunned me to the core. So, of course, I wasn't prepared for the drastic changes that would become my new existence.

There was a short period of time that I was so angry with God. I kept asking myself why would God inflict this dreadful disease on me? What should I have done differently to have prevented it? This was seven years ago and even now I think of my life as a "before and after" story.

There is the me "before" diabetes and then the me "After" diabetes aka "The Diabetic." I do want to apologize to you, the reader for all of the "trauma drama" that I inflicted on you. I like to think that I've become more mature since then. I have since picked myself up by the bootstraps as the saying goes, and I am actively (on a daily basis) trying to learn the lessons I am here to learn.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

Comments

Umesh Chandra Bhatt from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India on December 18, 2019:

Well narrated and useful for others who may get such ailments in their life.

Thanks for posting.

Boss Hog on December 14, 2019:

Wicked

Pamela Nichols (author) from Soonergal444 Oklahoma on November 26, 2019:

Hi Rochelle. RIGHT??? I mean it's a lot harder than it sounds to monitor EVERYTHING. Diet is my big weakness too.

Rachelle Williams from Tempe, AZ on November 25, 2019:

Diabetes is a monster! I am literally ashamed of my diet for the past month or so, Type 2 can be prevented but not with the way I've been mistreating my body...

Pamela Nichols (author) from Soonergal444 Oklahoma on November 25, 2019:

Thank You Lorna for the encouraging words in your comment. I was just about to remove this article when I noticed your comment. So, for now, I will go ahead and leave it published.

Lorna Lamon on November 25, 2019:

I don't think people realise just how devastating this condition can be, not to mention how your life can change so dramatically by a diagnosis. Your article highlights clearly the highs and lows people with diabetes live with in a very authentic way Pamela. I am sorry the Doctor could not have been more empathetic, however, not really surprised. The cost of your medication does not help the situation and I have to agree that big Pharma is taking full advantage of the suffering of others. I hope that there will come a day when diabetes will be a thing of the past. Your article is honest, thought provoking and courageous.

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