Living with type 1 diabetes
I hadn't been feeling quite right. I couldn't quench my thirst and as a result I was having to run to the bathroom frequently. I didn't think it was anything serious.
A trip to the doctor was the furthest thing from my mind. I was 33 years old and in great shape. I thought I probably caught a bug and it would go away in a few days.
I mentioned my symptoms to my wife and she convinced me to see a doctor. I told the doctor my symptoms and the doctor immediately said, "You're diabetic and we need to run some blood tests right away."
I thought she was kidding or perhaps mistaken but in fact she was very serious. My blood sugar level was 486 -- dangerously high. The normal range is between 90 and 120.
The doctor diagnosed me as a diabetic. The hardest thing for me to accept was that I would have to prick my finger to check my blood sugar level two to three times a day and take medication for the rest of my life.
I couldn't wrap my head around it. I was young, I ate right, I exercised daily and this certainly couldn't be happening to me. I mean, don't people become diabetic because they eat unhealthy amounts of food and are overweight?
The doctor prescribed me one medication after another, and none of them seemed to work. A few of them had side effects that made it hard for me to function on a daily basis. I was severely nauseous with bad gas and diarrhea, which were side effects of medication. I felt worse than if I hadn't taken the medication at all.
After three to four months of trial and error, the doctor finally came up with a combination of Actos and insulin shots that worked for me.
She then told me to attend an informational class for diabetics that would help me learn what to eat and not to eat. It would have been helpful to have that information from the beginning.
Today, four years later, I am doing better but it is still a daily struggle with certain things. My blood sugar levels are under control. I still crave sweets.
At restaurants I have to be careful that even though I ordered a diet soda, the waitress may have brought me a regular one.
I am the only one who truly understands what I can eat and must look out for myself constantly. Friends, family and neighbors have wonderful intentions and buy "sugar-free" sweets for me but even those have sugar alcohols that affect blood sugar. It is my responsibility to myself to help them understand as well.
I write this article today to empower other diabetics to take responsibility for their own bodies. If you feel sick with the medication you are on, then ask your doctor to prescribe something else.
They don't know how bad you hurt unless you tell them. Educate yourself right away so you understand which foods affect your blood sugar level in certain ways. I also want you to know that just watching what you eat doesn't cut it.
You must exercise daily to help keep your blood sugar level stable. While you know your body best, know that you are not alone.
There are millions of other people struggling with diabetes, just like you and me.