Dear 16-year-old Kari…


Today’s prompt asks us to “Write a letter to yourself at age 16. What would you tell yourself? What would you make your younger self aware of?”

I have a LOT I could say to a younger me, but in the interest of keeping things from being too long-winded, I’ll concentrate on the big things…

Dear 16-year-old me,

This is a letter from…well, from you.  Only I’m 26.  I have a lot of advice for you; please pay attention.  I know that you put your diabetes on the back burner and try to pretend it isn’t there. I understand that it’s easier to pretend you aren’t diabetic when you’re around your friends because you think they won’t get it.  (Actually, in a few years you’ll live with several of those friends…and start on an insulin pump that year.  They DO get it and they DO care!) You need to start taking better care of yourself now or some very bad things are going to happen.

Maybe you have the power to change things; actually I hope you do.  But if you do what I did…you are going to experience DKA 4 times in the sophomore and junior years of college. One time even the ER doctors are going to be pretty sure you will die, and will say so to your parents. During the summer between your senior year and fifth year you are going to be diagnosed with proliferative retinopathy and are going to need dozens of laser treatments.  Less than a year later you will need a vitrectomy (look it up, it’s not a nice procedure!) You will struggle with your vision for years before things finally start to stabilize.  A lot of this is because your A1cs in college were horrible.  Here’s what you need to do to make things better for yourself:

  • Go on the insulin pump NOW.  Do not wait another 6 years.
  • Don’t skip insulin injections.  That’s just plain STUPID.  You know better!
  • Stay far far away from a Dr. Knudson. He’s a total moron who is going to take you off carb-counting and put you on a sliding scale, take you off Lantus and put you on Lente, and most importantly he’s going to deny you over and over for an insulin pump. He’ll help you get into DKA some of those 4 times I mentioned.
  • Find Dr. Patel as soon as possible!  He’s amazing and he’s going to be the reason you get an insulin pump.  He is very knowledgeable and compassionate.

That about sums up my advice for you in regards to diabetes. There are other things you should watch out for as well though.  Don’t go to school to be a teacher – by the time you graduate teachers are not generally appreciated as highly-educated professionals and you live in a state with a douchebag governor who is going to screw you over. By the time you’re in your third year of teaching you’ll be burned out and hate your job. Go instead for a Health Care Administration degree…so you don’t have to go back to get it when you’re 26! Also, steer clear of a guy with initials WB.  It’s a long story, but trust me – he’s not worth it! (And while we’re on that topic, stay away from DH first…) And finally, go easy with the drinking at parties.  You aren’t invincible!

I know you are probably sitting there thinking ‘Wow, I’m going to be a miserable mess when I’m 26,’ but that’s not true. Yes, I made some stupid choices in terms of diabetes, and I paid for them with vision problems. I also made some stupid choices with guys, but that is also in the past now. I’m happily engaged to the love of my life and I’m rocking an A1c in the 5s, so I pretty much feel on top of the world! I’m going to go back to college to get another degree and I’m very excited to do it and see where it takes me.  But I do have some regrets, and those are things I’ve warned you about.

It’s up to you whether you follow my advice or not, but I hope you do (especially in regards to the diabetes).

Best wishes,

An older (wiser?) you

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4 thoughts on “Dear 16-year-old Kari…

  1. natsera says:

    I’m proud of you for having learned all these things by age 26, instead of not having learned them at all and going blind and being legless on dialysis by age 46. About the teaching thing, I sort of saw it coming, because things deteriorated SO much during my own 23 year career. I hope you get the fulfillment you deserve in health administration, even though that job isn’t going to be easy, either. You’re still going to be struggling with bureaucrats who are more interested in the bottom line than in patient care and quality of life. But keep on going, girl — we need people like you! 🙂

    • ‘Lantus isn’t working for you. You’re still running high on carb-counting. Let’s do something totally different because I’m out of ideas’ was basically his reasoning. I know NOW that the Lantus wasn’t working because I have some crazy basal needs (ranging from .8 up to 1.35 depending on time (and that’s now…might have been even crazier then)) that couldn’t be handled by a flat long-acting insulin like Lantus. I had been asking him for a pump, but he kept telling me ‘Oh no…you’re way too out of control for a pump’. ….But that was my point. MDI wasn’t enough for me to control my diabetes at all. *sigh* I kept seeing him, though, thinking ‘Well, he can’t be too bad….’ until about the 3rd time I was in DKA. A CDE at that hospital sat down to talk to me about ‘what was going on’ and asked me questions about my dr. He then proceeded to call the clinic I go to and get me put on another dr’s (Dr. Patel) case load. I’m so glad he did!

  2. Great post. I wasn’t diagnosed until I was 24 so when I thought of writing a letter to my 16 year old self, all I could think was ‘don’t mention diabetes’. It would have just made me worry over something that was inevitable. I was lucky to be diagnosed when i was ‘mature’ – less inclined to ignore diabetes. However, that was back in 1981. Dark ages. I’ve only been pumping for the last 4 years. Wish I’d had access to such brilliant technology back in the day. Ironically, it wasn’t until my doctor – who I stayed with for 25 years and loved – retired that I saw an endo who immediately suggested I go on a pump. Have never regretted it, of course.

    Thanks for sharing!

    Cheers. Fraudster

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