Guest Post: Getting Back on Track.
Today's guest post is from talented photographer Amy Free, and she was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes a year ago, at 27 years old. She tells the story of the fog of falling out of control and the hard climb back.
About a year ago, at 27 years old, I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. It was a jilting reality that I didn’t really fully understand, but it scared me enough to kick me into a reactive mode where all I wanted to do was fix it. My nature as a "people-pleaser" took over and I wanted to show everyone that I was smart and able enough to manage this strange new disease that had entered my life. So that is what I did... for the first few months. I successfully dropped my A1C from a hideously high 14, all the way down to below 7 within 3 months. I religiously monitored, charted, tested, gave myself shots, and dutifully counted carbs. But after a while all the shots and pricks and “managing” got to be quite bothersome. No one around me really seemed to understand what I was going through. Friends and family were supportive, but no one really seemed to fully comprehend this disease and the constant (and emotional) the management that I was all the sudden responsible for 24/7.
Once I realized that no one else really understood what was going on with my body, I decided to start ignoring it myself. I fell to the allure of eating whatever I wanted and still managing to lose weight (extreme weight loss was one of my symptoms before being diagnosed). I stopped checking my numbers and taking insulin as frequently, so when I did happen to check, my blood sugar was usually well over 300. It was not pretty. When people asked how my diabetes was doing, I just said... oh its fine. Most people didn’t even know what to ask to call my bluff. I somehow managed to get through my days in a haze of exhaustion by chugging water and Diet Dr. Pepper. Looking back it’s actually pretty amazing that I could put on such a good front (and that I never suffered from DKA), when in reality I was doing such serious damage to my body.
Thank goodness for that phone call from the nurse that snapped me back into reality. The reality that if I ever wanted to even try to start a family I needed to start making my body a safe place for a baby to exist and grow. I needed to start making my body healthy again for me, for my husband, and for all the people who love me. I needed to get back on track with my relationship with food and insulin, respectively.
That was almost 6 months ago now and I can safely say that I’m in the healthiest place - mentally and physically - in living life with Type 1 diabetes that I’ve been in quite some time. I have accepted that diabetes is a part of my day... all day, every day. It’s not something that I can just take a break from or ignore without serious long term consequences. Sure there are ups and downs, highs and lows along the way, but I’m learning accepting and learning from those things is a part of the healthy management process. The learning curve is a steep one, but I’m on the climb and I love to connect with others who are in their own various stages of the process.
Amy Free is a lifestyle photographer who lives in NC – and whose heart lives wherever adventure can be found. She makes a home with her husband, Ross and their lovable Great Dane, Bristol. She has been living with Type 1 diabetes since August 2008. You can visit her photography website at AmyFree.com.