I am new to the D-blogging world, but not to the DOC in general. I most frequently haunt TuDiabetes, but can also be found elsewhere. I’ve been following several D blogs for a while, and though I’ve always been interested in them, I was never sure whether I would have something worthwhile to contribute to the D-blogging world. Whether I do or not is still undetermined, but here I am all the same!
My D story, in a somewhat shortened form, goes like this: I was diagnosed in late July of 1992, when I was 6 years old. We had to cut a family vacation short because I was getting very sick (I was probably in DKA). I was unofficially diagnosed by the first doctor who looked at me in the ER. I spent a week in the hospital, getting better, while my parents learned how to give shots to an orange, and to each other. I had little idea that the shots and pokes were going to continue after I left the hospital, so I was quite the tantrum-throwing six year old when we got home and I STILL had to get pokes and shots! I got over it quickly, especially when I learned that my aunt/godmother was also a T1 diabetic, and had been since she was 9.
‘Tight control’ wasn’t pushed by my doctors when I was younger, and my parents didn’t know any better than what the doctors said…and so my A1cs were never under 8. Never. When I was 13 or 14 I took full control of my diabetes and my parents became the onlookers. I was trained in how to carb count and use a basal/bolus regimen…however tight control still wasn’t something I attained.
When I was 18 I moved into the dorms, and what had ‘held me together’ as a diabetic all fell apart. At my parents’ house I’d had a somewhat predictable routine, as far as timing, and so there really was no way to forget to give myself my Lantus, and my meals were almost always around the same time. But in college…things were very different. I began forgetting to give myself my Lantus, eating erratically, and then forgetting to bolus when I did (or being unprepared to bolus when I did because I didn’t carry my insulin pens with me). Things went from mediocre to horrible. Through my first four years of undergrad (it took me 5 altogether to get my degree) I was sick frequently (nausea, vomiting, headaches)…but I made it to most classes, and I worked full time as well.
I had several scary incidences of DKA. One time I had to call 911 for myself. Another time a roommate came home to find me unresponsive and struggling to breathe on the bathroom floor and called 911. She said that 6 paramedics responded and before they even got me on a stretcher they were giving me oxygen and an IV of fluids. When I came to, hours later, I was still in the ER and my blood sugar was still around 700 (I’d come in around 1000). The doctors told me they hadn’t even admitted me to the hospital yet because they hadn’t expected me to live. I’d lost 25lbs in 1 day from such severe DKA (ketoacidosis causes your body to break down fat to feed on). My parents had been sitting in the ER crying for several hours straight.
You’d think that would be enough to scare me into compliance. It wasn’t. I didn’t get scared into compliance until the summer of 2007 when I was told by my opthalmologist that he saw something that concerned him, in my eyes. He referred me to a retinologist who confirmed I had proliferative diabetic retinopathy. I began laser treatments immediately. Over the course of the next few years I had dozens of laser treatments. In April of 2009 I had a vitrectomy on my left eye to clear a hemorrhage that couldn’t clear on its own. The retinopathy is what kicked my D butt into gear – and I began to regain control. I started by getting an insulin pump (something I’d actually been trying to get approved for some time – but I had a doctor who wouldn’t approve me…I had to switch doctors to get that approval).
The downside is that no one told me drastically improving control quickly can lead to a worsening in retinopathy. I think that if someone had told me, my retinopathy would not have gotten as bad as it did by 2009. Between August and November of 2008 I had brought my A1c from 10.4% to 6.5%. Huge difference, right?!
In mid-2009 I went through a rough time, in my personal life, which affected my A1c and sent it back up to almost 9 for a while. I was very stressed out, had extremely erratic eating patterns (when I ate at all), and was often too depressed to bother with my diabetes. (That’s a whole other story; short version: a major relationship in my life ended extremely badly; I never received the closure/answers I needed at that time and I felt like my world was ending. To be honest, I was a horrible mess. If you asked the two roommates I had at the time they’d probably say I was worse than a horrible mess.)
I now have an occasional ‘bleeder’ in my right eye, while my left eye remains stable post-surgery. I have lost much of my depth perception however, in addition to the peripheral vision in my left eye, and my color vision is horribly skewed now. I believe this was due to the massive amounts of laser I had to receive to keep me from going blind. Ah, the irony.
I now have had an A1c below 6% since December of 2010 (5.9% in 12/10 and 5.6% in 4/11) and am happy to say I’ve started driving again. I scare the crud out of my poor boyfriend sometimes, because my lack of depth perception makes it hard to tell how close I am to parked cars or how hard/fast I need to brake to avoid rear-ending someone…….but so far I’ve been lucky! *fingers crossed*
And that is my D story…