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Guest Post: 500 Days of Diabetes.

After a hectic week with the conference in Philly and then Chris's great news, I need to spend some time today catching up on everything.  Thankfully, Jessica Phillips has offered to guest post today, writing about marking 500 days with type 1 diabetes.  She's come a long way, and I'm proud to host her words here on SUM.

Heeeeeeere's Jessica! 

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As I was injecting myself with insulin on a lunch break at work, a co-worker walked by and exclaimed, “I couldJessica Phillips guest posts for SUM. never do that! EW! I hate needles!” Less than two years ago I might have agreed. I never had a strong phobia of needles, but that is not to say that I particularly liked them either. I was known in my childhood to run out of doctor’s offices into the parking lot at the first mention of “shot”. Now when I hear such a strong and callous remark to my now normal routine of insulin injections, I struggle with trying not to angrily reply, “Well you would have to give yourself shots if you had to in order to live!” or, “How do you think I feel? You think I want to do this?” I’ve learned as of late to simply smile and say, “It’s not easy.”

Reactions like this are commonplace for those of you who have experienced Type One Diabetes for many years, and even some for the majority of your life. For me, June 9th, 2009 marked my 500th day with type 1 diabetes. I was diagnosed in my hometown of San Diego, California on January 25th, 2008 at 26 years-old. For a couple months prior to diagnosis I had been experiencing the typical signs of hyperglycemia and a failing pancreas as I was constantly dehydrated, urinating, and tired. Being a college student and in a constant state of stress, I quickly attributed the majority of my symptoms, from dizziness to infections, to be solely related to my immune system’s battle with my constant stress. After many weeks of procrastinating, I finally urged my doctor to order a blood test. I went in to the lab on January 23rd and was called by my doctor 24 hours later while I was driving to school. The tone in her voice immediately caught my attention and set me in a state of alarm. She informed me that my blood sugar the day before was above 300 mg/dL and I was to avoid sugar and be referred to an endocrinologist immediately.

Luckily I was able to see an experienced endocrinologist the next day, and he diagnosed me with type 1 within minutes of being seated in the exam room. I was in complete shock, and felt confused, angry, and overwhelmingly sad all at the same time. I felt a struggle between trying to remain alert to the bombardment of information he was feeding me, and trying desperately not to cry. The doctor left the room to retrieve my new meter and insulin pens, and I lost it. Luckily I had some moral support with me, but I have never felt so alone and lost. I kept thinking, “how did this happen?” and, “what did I do wrong?” To have gone many years without having anything major occur medically, not even a broken bone, it was a major shock to hear I had something irreversibly wrong with me. I not only had something wrong, but I could not do anything to change it.

The next few days were extremely challenging to say the least. I was unable to give myself insulin and had to have someone else do it for me for the first couple days. I would sit and look at the needle and could not conceive of how this tiny piece of metal was going to go through my skin. I just kept thinking it was so wrong, and foreign. I also cried. A lot. And I researched online and in books so much that I felt as though I could speak at a lecture on the biology of diabetes. I found the knowledge empowering, and the more I grasped what my body was actually doing, and not doing, I became more confident in my ability to control my state.

Now, 500 days later, this diabetic routine is normal to me. I can hardly even remember a time when diabetes wasn’t on my mind. The memories have faded of when my blood sugar was not a concern, and when I was able to look at food as just food. The last year and a half has been a giant emotional roller coaster, full of ups and downs, but they have changed me. Sometimes I get the look of sympathy from others when I detail my hardships with this disease, anywhere from medical costs to just the simple annoyance of pricking myself all the time, and I have found myself realizing that although I would not choose to have this disease, I consider myself lucky. I am lucky of course to not have something worse, but having gone through this change has made me look at my life through a new and clearer lens. My bottom-line now is a cliché idea, but it is so true … life is short, and you only get one shot, so make it worth it, no matter what.

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Thanks for sharing your story, Jessica.  (And for the record, Jessica is the one with the fantastic hair on the right in that photo.  Also for the record, I just realized that today is my 8,209th day with diabetes.  Holy crap, my pancreas is lazy.) 

Comments

Thank you for the guest post Kerri.
Great post Jessica, your words brought back memories of not being able to give myself injections when first diagnosed.
Thank you for sharing, stay healthy!

PS My lazy pancreas has been on "leave" for 10,682 days!

Jessica - Congrats on getting through the hardest part! Good luck in the future!

Today is day 6,901 for me.

My pancreas is a lazy piece of crap! It hasn't showed up for work in 13,284 days.

Great post Jessica and Kerri is right, your hair IS fantastic! Welcome to the new normal life, it's not so bad. You will be fine and we are all here for you. :)

Day 4,956 in my world.

Jessica, I am right behind you with 479 days under my belt. It sounds like you and I had a very similar experience, so i know how hard it was for you... Best of luck!

that's a good way to respond - "it's not easy." i'll have to use that.

180 days for me!

Thanks for the great story Jessica - happy 500th diabetes day to you! :-)

Kerri - happy 8,20.... wha? Damn, that's a lot of days. I don't think I've got the brain cells to do mine. Somewhere near 11,000? Numbers aren't supposed to get that big except on my imaginary paychecks! w00t!

That is great hair!

Day 2327.

My baby girl has 463 days under her belt! Great post!

592 for Aleksi and no two days ever seem to be the same!

You all are too sweet. Thank you for the nice compliments and support. It is so inspiring to see this community take form.

Kerri, thanks again for this opportunity, and thank you for blogging...it has really helped me out many times.

:)

It is day 1,617 for my daughter and I totally agree: no two days are the same! Great post. PS my daughter gave herself injections from the get go at age 8.

Wow!! I am so glad to read your post, Jessica! I was diagnosed a few months before you, at the age of 34. Reading your post was like reading something I would have written myself (but was too lazy to do), and I could really identify with EVERYTHING you said... I don't know anyone more newly diagnosed, but have a great community of friends that have been diabetic for longer. Would love to talk with someone "new" if you were interested!!! Starting on the omnipod soon, after being TOTALLY not into the pump idea -- got very burned out on shots recently...

this is such a great blog!! Thanks for everything, Kerri!!

Thank you for this post! I am not going to calculate the days. I found out much like you, but at the age of 35. I felt exactly like you described and with a lot of confusion! How can this be happening? It now sounds weird to feel lucky, but you are right. It woke me up to life. I am more confident, and prioritize better because I have only got this one life, so I have got to get out and live it!

Hi all...
I just did the 'day count' and I'm about 10,585 days... I just had my 29th anniversary of being diagnosed.

I say this as I hear my 3 1/2 month old son stirring in his crib! :) :) :)

Stay focused would be my advice!! I won't say it's been as easy road, either... you all know I'd be lying if I did say that. haha.

Thanks Jessica for your guest post, and thank you Kerri.... you have no idea how much your blog has helped me!!

Great post - It's always nice to hear everyone elses story.

I always say the same thing about having something worse than diabetes. I was diagnosed when I was 16 and let me tell you, I grew up fast!

I was not diagnosed until I was 37, and I found out when I was pregnant. Apparently I had been an undiagnosed diabetic for quite some time, which explains a lot of my past health problems. I think being pregnant helped in terms of learning to give myself shots. I had another little life depending on me. Thanks for the post.

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