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July 30, 2007

The Night I Almost Didn't Wake Up - Chris's Story

Chris's Story of an 858 mg/dl Blood Sugar. 

It all started around the winter of 2003, my freshman year of college, the beginning of a trip to the hospital with a blood sugar of over 800.  I had no clue what was wrong with me.  I was losing almost a pound a day, I was constantly thirsty, I had to go to the bathroom every 15 minutes, constant feeling of heart burn, and could not sleep at night.  What is going on with me I kept asking myself.  Finally, one morning I went to breakfast and I was feeling fine and took a sip of chocolate milk and my mom just turned totally dry and had the worst case of cotton mouth I had ever experienced, and I said, “Mom, I need to go to the doctor.”

Well, that didn’t turn out too great either, my doctor somehow found “no serious problems or concerns”, when I went to her office, which by the way was the last time I was in that office.  After a few months like this, I woke up on a normal Friday morning at college.  I was playing football for the college at the time, and it was recruiting day so I was scheduled to meet with a recruit to spend the day and night with me at 10:30 a.m.  Unfortunately, at about 9:30 a.m. I began vomiting.  I figured it was just the flu and I would be fine the next day, so I had to give the recruit to somebody else.  I had vomited about 6-7 times throughout the day.

It was at about 11:00 p.m. Friday night at college and I was still vomiting and luckily one of my suitemates decided not to go out and said, “You look like death, I’m taking you to the hospital.”  I wanted to call my parents before I went to the hospital and I told them what was going on and my dad turned a 2 hour drive into less then 90 minutes on the Pennsylvania Turnpike.

Finally, I made it to the hospital and they took blood work, and immediately rushed me into a room, which if anyone who goes to an emergency room knows, you usually wait forever.  I was immediately put on an insulin drip, and within 10 minutes the ER doctor came to me and said, “From the results we see in your blood work, it is definite that you are a Type 1 Diabetic.”  Diabetes???!!!???  What the hell is that, I think I heard of it before, isn’t it something that meanInsulin - this stuff is crucial.s I can’t eat candy and ice cream or something like that.  That was pretty much my reaction.  The next thing the doctor said to me didn’t make much sense at first, but he told me that my blood sugar level was at 858.  What he told me next is what changed my life forever.  He said, “If you fell asleep tonight, without going to the hospital, you would be dead or in a coma.  You are about one regular Coke away from a coma.”  Those words will never be forgotten for the rest of my life.

I am now on an insulin pump and living a normal, healthy, active life, just like everybody else.

July 23, 2007

You Can Do It - Gina's Story

The Diagnosis
“We have to take a finger stick.”  Those chilling words I heard on November 25th, 2000 would change my life forever. Gina Capone

My sister and I both went to the doctor that day.  I remember that it was a gloomy day, kind of rainy. My appointment was at 11am for a sinus problem that would not go away, and my sister was also going because she had a sore throat. The waiting area was jam packed, and I was getting very impatient since I hated going to doctors in the first place. My sister looked half dead next to me and she was getting impatient also. We both were huffing and puffing the whole time.

They finally called me in! The nurse came in, weighed me, took my blood pressure a sample of blood and made me go to the bathroom to give a urine sample. Finally I was done! I come out, my sister is next, and she was in and out. I remember saying that was fast. All of a sudden, the nurse comes back out and calls my name “Gina, the doctor would like to see you, again.”  My heart dropped a bit, because I am thinking that something is wrong with my sister.

They put me back into a room, and right away my doctor came in and says, “We have to take a finger stick.” I say to him right away “Isn’t that for DIABETES!” I knew because my aunt was a type 1 diabetic so I was familiar with the term. He tested my finger and it felt like an eternity for the result.

“360”

“Gina you have type 1 diabetes.”  “Are you sure?” was my response. My doctor said, “yes Gina, I am positive,” He also, told me that I had ketoacidosis. Which was the reason he called me back in. I had ketenes in my urine and needed to be hospitalized right away. He told me that I needed insulin to get my blood sugar down and wrote me a prescription for Humbling R, and syringes. He said, “Go to Genovese right now get your prescription filled and come back with an orange.” 

My sister had already walked home because I took too long. So I was all by myself, and drove straight to Genovese without going home. My dad was home and my mom was working, I don’t know what made me go to the drug store first.  On the way there I was numb and had tears rolling down my face, I called my aunt on my cell phone before I got to the drug store and was crying. I said Aunt MaryAnn I just got out of the doctors office, her next sentence was “ he told you, you have diabetes” she knew all along, she noticed my symptoms, but thought that I was anorexic from all the weight loss I had for the past year. I told my aunt where I was going and said, “I’ll call you later.”

I got the prescription filled. Went home, ran downstairs where my dad was, I was hysterically crying trying to tell him what was going on. He had no idea at first what I was trying to tell him, so he said “calm down, calm down.”  “DAD, I HAVE DIABETES” I will never forget his face, he turned white and said “WHAT?” I repeated it to him, as the phone rang; it was the doctor’s office. I told them I got the stuff, and would be there soon.

 I told my dad that I was leaving that they were waiting for me; he was going to pick up my mother from her job and would meet me there. He thought I was going straight to the doctor’s office.  I didn’t go straight there. I picked my aunt up, and made her come with me.

I got back to the doctors office with my aunt, the medicine, syringes and the orange. The nurse saw me and said, “Your parents are waiting inside.”  I walked into the room where the doctor and my parents were waiting for me. He said that he made a mistake by making me go to get the medicine and syringes, and that I needed to get to the hospital right away. My mother started shaking uncontrollably. The doctor told me that I needed an insulin drip and that I was very lucky to have come to him today, because, another couple of days and I would have been in a diabetic coma.
The Hospital

On the way to the hospital I didn’t say much, it was me, my parents, and my aunt in the car. Shock was not the word at the point.  I didn’t really know what to say to anyone so just kept quiet. My mother and father just kept smoking cigarettes and my Aunt was holding me. We finally got to South Nassau Medical Center.

My doctor told us that we had an endocrinologist waiting for us at the hospital, but I had to sign all sorts of paperwork before being admitted. I saw the emergency room nurse and she did another finger test, checked my blood pressure and my temperature. She told me that my blood sugar level was 560 at this point. It was rising since the last test at my primary care physician. I started to feel like my world was turning upside down. What the hell is happening to me? I thought to myself. The nurse told me to have a seat and they would call me when a bed in the ER was open.

I didn’t wait long; she called me in about five minutes. They took me into the far right corner of the emergency room, with only one person on the left of me. I was kind of relieved that I wasn’t in the middle of the entire room. Another nurse came over with a gown, and told me to change into it so they could take blood, and would be putting in an IV drip with saline and an insulin drip. They kicked my parents out of the small section I was in, I remember telling the nurse that I didn’t want my mom to leave. I was so scared and was trying to keep as strong possible and could see that my mother didn’t want to stay in while I was getting the needles. So I told her to leave and that I would be ok.

Before they started taking my blood and putting in any IV drips, the endocrinologist we were waiting for came. He checked my heart and lungs, breasts and stomach asked me tons of personal questions and said that they would be putting the drips in. He was in and out. My mom and dad were outside of the curtain, as he started walking away I heard my mom ask him if they were sure I was diabetic and if I could take pills or a diet and he said No. I couldn’t hear much after that because the nurse came with all the IV equipment.

She told me that she was told by the doctor that I needed a special test to see if I had some sort of acid in my blood and would have to take it from the wrist and that it would hurt a lot. At that point any needle was going to hurt me so I swallowed hard, as she did it and tried to be as calm as possible. I felt like screaming, it hurt so bad. Keeping my cool I was holding the edge of the hospital bed so hard and just couldn’t wait for her to pull the needle out of my wrist. The nurse pulled the needle out and finally I was relieved of the excruciating pain. After that, next was the IV, at this point my aunt came in, since she was a pro at being in a hospital and nothing phased her she stayed with me. My mom and dad went to smoke another cigarette.

The nurse was going to put the IV into the crease in my right arm, but my aunt told them to put it into the top of my hand, that I would not be able to bend my arm and it would hurt more. Since she was hospitalized so many times I trusted my aunt more then the nurse.  It didn’t hurt as much as I thought it was going to.

All I had to do now was wait for a room upstairs. My mom and dad were done talking with the doctor and at this point the IV was in. They opened the curtain and both of them looked at me, and all of a sudden I felt like a little kid.

My mom sat on the bed with me and looked so helpless staring at me. I could tell she wanted to trade spots. She had tears in her eyes the whole time, trying to hold back from crying, and my father just kept pacing back and forth saying this sucks. I was 25, but to them at that point I was their little baby all over again. I kept telling them not to worry, that I was going to be ok. I figured if I reassured them that I was dealing, it would be a little easier for them to deal with.

At about 10pm a transporter came to move me to a room. My parents and aunt came up with me till I got situated and then were going to leave. They brought me up and I was in the pediatric ward. My parents didn’t want me to be with all the old cranky people yelling all night, so they put me with the kids. I thought it was quite comical actually.

After I was all settled in the room, my parents kissed me goodbye and told me they would be in early the next day. They left and I was alone, scared and dead tired from the whole day. I was trying to sleep and couldn’t all these wires hanging from my arm, and on top of it my new doctor ordered my blood be drawn from my finger every hour and my arm every six hours. Torture.

The 6th hour after my parents left which was about 3am, I became very sweaty and started to feel as though my heart was pumping out of my chest. The nurses station was right across from my room so I called out to her and said “ I think I’m having a heart attack!” she asked me what my symptoms were and I told her. “ She said, sweetie you’re not having a heart attack you’re having a low blood sugar.” “A WHAT?” She had to explain to me exactly what a low blood sugar was and why I was getting it. Since I did not eat anything from 8 o’clock the night before and now it was 3am the next day, and I was on an insulin drip that I needed to have some sugar to raise my blood sugar level. She lowered the drip and checked my blood sugar (which was 60) and got me some juice. After about 10 or 15 minutes I was feeling better. The nurse then explained that sometimes that would happen to me at home and I would have to be prepared at all times for something like that happening again. It is called hypoglycemia, she said. After the commotion she told me to try and get some sleep that she wouldn’t bother me for a while. Thank god! I was thinking to myself.

7am on the dot, my doctor woke me up. He asked a bunch of annoying questions again, and told me that I would have to give myself a shot 10 pm tonight or would not be allowed to go home until I did.  Well I wanted out of there really bad. I would do anything at that point.

The nurses were changing shifts and I wouldn’t see my night nurse till 7pm. I was feeling very comfortable with her.

My day nurse came in introduces herself and left, I didn’t her like as soon as I saw her. She had a cold look to her face, as though everything would get on her nerves.

I got out of bed to go wash my face and brush my teeth, took one look in the mirror and called the nurse, “Why is my face swollen?” I thought I was allergic to the insulin or something. I had no idea that the reason I was swollen was because, I had a saline drip that was helping to replenish my body of all the fluids lost from ketoacidosis.

People came to visit on and off all day. My mom stayed the whole day, and my father came that night.

I was stressing about giving myself the shot from that morning. My mom was going home with someone and my dad and boyfriend at the time stayed with me until I had to give myself the shot. You could see in my dads face that he didn’t want to stay to watch me shoot myself with a needle, but did anyway. I learned to draw the needle with insulin and then gave an orange a shot. I really didn’t think it was the same as giving it to my own flesh but kept practicing. At this point I was hysterical crying as I was doing it because I knew that soon I would be doing it to my own body.

Well, I finally got enough nerve, and the nurse said “READY” and I said “NO”  but, knew I had to do it…So, I drew up the syringe without any problems. Pinched my stomach as hard as I could, went to do it and then pulled away the needle. I lost my nerve looked at my Dad with tears and he said “YOU CAN DO IT!”  I pinched my skin again harder than before and gave myself a shot for the first time. It honestly was not as bad as I thought.  From that day forward, I have been living my life as a young adult with diabetes. Which has not been that bad, seriously there could be worse things
to deal with in life.
I hope this story helps others to know that just like my dad said to me -
"YOU CAN DO IT!"

July 16, 2007

Tu Diabetes - Manny's Story

Manny HernandezManny's Story 

My name is Manny Hernandez. I am the founder of TuDiabetes.com.

I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes in late 2002. Since then, life was never the same until I started wearing a pump in the summer of 2005. The pump restored a lot of the freedom I had already gotten used to being without by giving me more control and flexibility and allowing me to accomplish blood glucose control like I hadn’t seen since before I was diagnosed.

In 2006, I was made aware of an Insulin Pumpers group in Orlando (where I live) and I started to attend their meetings. The first meeting was such a changing experience for me, that it helped me realize the power of a community when it comes down to a condition like Diabetes. I learned in an hour more than I had learned in a year of pumping and what I picked up from those pump veterans, I still use today to accomplish even greater control.

Towards the end of 2006, a thought started brewing in my head: the idea of making Social Networks work for things beyond making friends and socializing. I wondered how I could put Social Networking to the service of a higher cause. An article in the New York Times gave me the spark I needed: I had it in front of me the entire time, yet I hadn’t put 2 and 2 together until that "Aha!" moment. I had to get a Social Network for people with diabetes going.

Since then, I set out to identify the best technology to do the job and eventually landed on Ning.com, which is the platform that now hosts Tu Diabetes. Today, Tu Diabetes is an Online Community where the members help each other out, educate ourselves and share the steps we take every day to stay healthy while living with this very serious condition.

As of the day of this post, we are approaching 400 members and growing. One of the members (dLife columnist Scott Johnson) has said about the community: “It's like 'MySpace' on insulin...". In Tu Diabetes, we write blog posts, exchange ideas in discussion forums, share photos of ourselves and our loved ones and videos that we find useful and informative.

It is my hope that people who have all types of diabetes, newly diagnosed and veterans alike, moms with gestational diabetes as well as parents of children with diabetes, no matter the ethnicity or nationality, come on board and engage in a fruitful exchange using all the media that the social network technology puts at our disposal.TuDiabetes

And in case you are wondering about the name in Spanish, my wife thought of it and it made sense to me right away. First, because I am Hispanic, but also because it’s a bit of a wordplay: Tu as in "Your" but also Tu, with a sound similar to "Too" (you too have diabetes) because we are ALL affected by it directly or indirectly.

To join Tu Diabetes, visit www.TuDiabetes.com.

July 11, 2007

“Regulated,” and Other Smart Words.

Jeff’s story.

My first insulin reaction is one that I will always remember.  Not because of the severity (it was quite mild,) but because of the strange familiarity.  One afternoon in the late summer of 1982, I was showing my father’s 1938 Cadillac restoration project to my friend Bruce, and began to get a queasy, nervous feeling across my chest.  There was no blurred vision, confusion, sweating, or garbled speech -- only an uneasy, shaky sensation in my upper torso.  

Without interrupting the conversation, I reached into the left front pocket of my blue Dickies work pants and pulled ouOld school.t a large ring of keys and my pocket knife.  Then I dug deeper for the roll of LifeSavers that a nurse had forewarned me to keep handy.  Opening the roll was a challenge -- not because of the hypoglycemia, but because the paper sleeve and foil wrapper had been burnished from the hours they spent in my pocket competing for space with all that hardware, and I could not get my fingernail under that little red string.  Snapping it in two, I quickly munched down half the roll.  No paramedics needed, just some butterscotch candies.  The queasy feeling in my chest went away. 

That feeling, though, was familiar, reminding me of how I had often felt as a kid on Thanksgiving afternoon while playing ball out in the yard after the big dinner.  It was a sensation that told me instinctively that I needed to eat something, right now. 

For me, diabetes began in the summer of 1982, when I was 23 years old.  But long before that, when I was a healthy kid, our extended family would converge on our house in a pleasant, rural Rhode Island town for Thanksgiving dinner and the annual “cousins vs. cousins” games that followed. 

We all stuffed ourselves silly, fooling our healthy pancreases into churning out more than enough insulin to handle the cranberry chutney, glazed carrots, squash pie, and everything in between.  Twelve-year-olds do not see the point of taking a moment to digest before running around like a pack of greyhounds; everyone knows that.  So at the end of the meal, we dropped our forks and chose teams faster than you can say, “hyperinsulinemia.”  We worked off our meals on a makeshift gridiron, basketball court, or street hockey rink, and I invariably felt the effects of what I later learned was low blood sugar. 

My diagnosis came on the sunny morning of July 27, 1982.  I think it was a Tuesday when Dr. MacDonald listened to me explain my symptoms: a sudden drop in weight from 170 pounds to 142, urinating so frequently that I could barely survive the 45 minute rides to and from work, and the insatiable thirst that had me guzzling Coke, and then Gatorade, blessed, thirst-quenching Gatorade, by the liter bottle at all times of the day.  His exact words were, “I’d say you’re diabetic.”  My education on the subject started right away when I told him that my vision was also going in and out of focus all day long, and that everything seemed to have a peculiar, vile smell.  He said that when your sugar is out of control, “All the shit goes out the window.”  One needn’t have attended medical school to understand the good doctor. 

So I was off to St. Anne’s Hospital for blood work, forthwith.  Later that afternoon, the nurse called me with the news that my blood sugar of 812mg/dl had earned me an invitation for an extended stay at St. Anne’s.  My last act as a “healthy” man in his early twenties was to take a seat on the patio and slurp down a cool and delicious pinã colada lovingly prepared by my renegade sister, Nancy.  She rationalized, “What’s a couple of hundred more sugary milligrams when you’re already pushing a thousand?”  We laughed, albeit nervously, knowing that things were about to change for me in a big way, and in a big hurry. 

At the hospital, after some prerequisite admission forms were filled out, I was given my choice of a private or a shared room.  I opted to be by myself.  Not long after I had made myself comfortable in room 204, some nurses showed up to introduce themselves, followed by a very heavy dietician.  Perhaps I was not the first to note a degree of irony in that the dietician looked as if she could use a dietician, but all of the professionals with whom I had contact were very caring, comforting, and knowledgeable. 

One of the nurses scribbled a few notations on my chart and then suggested that I try to learn as much as I could about diabetes.  She also asked me if I would like to meet another newly diagnosed diabetic who was on the same floor.  A few minutes later, a pleasant young lady tapped on my open door.  About my age, she introduced herself and told me that several members of her family had been diagnosed as insulin dependent at early ages.  Her own diagnosis was entirely expected, and she had been spending most of her time in the hospital trying to get herself “regulated.”  (I thought, “New word: ‘regulated.’  I’ll have to remember it so I can sound smart.”)  When I asked how long she had been in the hospital, she said, “Three weeks, now.” 

Three weeks?!?!  It was my first day.  The utter impossibility of being anywhere for three straight weeks without Schlitz hit me like a bucket of ice water.  Not me.  Not no way.  Not no how.  A nurse popped in to summon my new friend back to her room for blood work.  It turned out to be the last time I ever saw her.  But, with the specter of a three week sentence staring me right in the islets, I called for a nurse and asked her to round up as much literature as possible on diabetes.  Before long, I was chewing through a small mountain of booklets, pamphlets, and food exchange guides.  In the span of a single conversation, it had become my mission to self-educate my way out of there at the earliest possible minute.  Food exchanges, remember those? 

When another nurse returned with my latest blood sugar test result, Dr. MacDonald had given the go ahead to set me up with my first insulin fix.  In 1982, the hospital was not equipped with Glucometers for in-room testing.  Blood had to be drawn and sent downstairs to the lab.  The samples would then be put into a queue with all the other tests the lab was doing for every other patient in the building.  Of course, while waiting for the lab to get around to my blood, I had the distinct advantage of being introduced to something called, “test tape.”  My eyes well up at the memory.  Not. 

Until then, the most productive thing I had ever done with my pee involved a little cursive snow-writing.  Now I was being told to take careful aim at the tail end of some flimsy tape, time it like a high school track coach with a stopwatch, compare shades of yellow and green (apologies to you Beatles fans) against a chart with my still blurry vision, and all the while maintain a respectable level of bathroom hygiene.  No problem.

It was not long before I pitched that roll of tape straight into the circular file.  At that point in my diabetic career, all it ever did was turn raven black from all those ketones.  And what good was something that told me what was going on hours ago, anyway?

My hell-raising sister showed up at the hospital for a visit on day two.  With my parents already there, she waltzed in, wearing an impish grin, carrying a bag from some local news stand.  Always at the top of her class in school, it was a documented fact that she was up to no good whenever she put on an air of dumbness.  “I brung you somethin’,” she said, using a vernacular reserved exclusively for those times when her special brand of trouble was about to commence.  She reached into the bag and pulled out three magazines: Playboy, Penthouse, and one other uncouth also-ran of the genre.  “Thought you’d like some readin.’”  She held one up in the air like the Statue of Liberty and allowed Miss July to unfurl for all the world to see.  I have never done well at such moments in my folks’ presence, and that sister of mine knew it.  I’m closing in on fifty years of age now, and it is still unthinkable to me that I could ever be in the same room with both (a) my parents, and (b) a TV playing a scene from the Bada Bing.  Through the years, Nancy had honed her ability to generate a good laugh, usually at the cost of my own embarrassment.

My paternal grandparents separated long before I was born, but each of them came to visit me at different times on the second floor of St. Anne’s Hospital during my four day diabetic boot camp.  Grandpa stayed for a little while and then paid for my in-room TV access, which was only about $3.00 per day, but his thoughtful gesture meant a lot to me.

My grandmother lived alone in the city, and because of the poor quality of the municipal tap water, it was always my father’s habit to bring her a fresh supply of drinking water every week from his artesian well at home.  The water in our little Rhode Island town on the Sakonnet River was, without question, the finest anywhere.  Dad would bring it to her in plastic gallon jugs, two or three at a time.

Grandma never drove a car.  Wherever she went, she walked or took the bus.  It was not unusual for her to walk a mile or more, depending on what grocery store she wanted to visit, and then hoof it all the way back to her apartment with full grocery bags.  Once, nearing eighty years of age, she was struck by a car in the parking lot of one of those grocery stores, and sustained nasty compound fractures in her arm, plus all the cuts and bruises that go along with such accidents.

God had made her self-sufficient long before she reached Ellis Island, and she trusted that He would continue to hear and answer her prayers each day.  Healing patiently, she gradually worked her way back into the routine of using her legs, and a rebuilt hip, to get from point A to point B.  There were times that I could see she was in obvious pain, but she never put her problems on anyone else’s shoulders.  She’d just look at me with her genuine, loving smile and say, “Old age creeping.”  Celestina came from hearty stock.

So it was not at all surprising that grandma would trudge across the city to see one of her grandsons in the hospital.  But, knowing firsthand of the city’s horrendous drinking water, she made the trek carrying a full gallon of the water my dad had brought to her that week, just so I would have something decent to drink in my room.  She gave of her own limited supply so that I would not be without.  Always, there was a lesson to be gleaned from that woman – of selflessness and faith.

One thing that confused me during diabetic basic training was whether or not I was supposed to get up and walk around.  No one had told me that I should exercise, but I was reading that exercise is an integral part of diabetes management.  What was this scrawny new pin cushion to do?  I suppose I should have asked the doctor if I could at least walk the halls, but with all the deciliters and milligrams and beef/pork this and subcutaneous that, it slipped my mind.  And the nurses would not commit to anything that the doctor had not pre-approved.  So there I sat, making full use of every last nickel of my grandfather’s TV money.

But I had to crank the sound of the television to hear it.  The hospital seemed to have waited for me to show up before it started the work on a new wing.  Each day, a brawny old guy with monochromatic green prison tattoos, half a week’s worth of stubble, and no sleeves became my personal alarm clock.  Taking up his position at 7:00am -- seemingly right outside room 204 -- he announced each new day by pressing the thumb switch on a portable, 70 pound, pneumatic compressor-driven jack hammer that ran at 1340 cycles per minute, and had a grease-packed gearbox, two-way tool holder, recoilless air-cushioned percussion system, and a 35 ft/lbs stroke impact rating.  In four days, I gained an unwanted, involuntary familiarity with that $%@!!*&@?^#% tool that I could only hope to get with my new disease.  Its anthem of 110 unsuppressed decibels of non-stop demolition further hardened my obsession with being discharged at the first possible instant. 

When that joyous event arrived, the hospital asked that, before leaving, I account for the non-insurance-covered portion of the private room.  It was either pay up, or go back to 204 and more of Stubbles and his wrecking machine.  I wrote the check.  My cost was $63.80.  That’s correct, a private hospital room cost me $15.95 per day over the insurance allowance.  I saved the receipt.

Since my diagnosis in 1982, therapy for diabetics has advanced from test tape to Glucometers with wash bottles, from A1c home tests to CGMS, from bread, fruit, and fat exchanges to carb counting, correction boluses, and temporary basal rates.  And just like my original dx, each new breakthrough takes some getting used to.  I once figured out that I had given myself about 27,000 shots, but now, having been on a pump since 1998, I cannot remember the last injection I took.  The learning curve for the pump was pretty demanding, and I suspect the same will be said for future technological advancements.  Still, I await them eagerly.

But something that I wish had not changed over the years is my symptoms of impending low blood sugar.  How I yearn for that good old, dependable, queasy feeling across my chest.  Like a two-minute warning, it gave me time to assess my situation and to break out the LifeSavers or chug down some OJ.  Today, that warning is gone, and my only symptom of an oncoming low is incessant yawning.  I become very weary, but by then it is usually too late.  My lowest test without any hypoglycemic symptoms was 22mg/dl.  One might construe that I am on a journey to become the first fully conscious human being with sugar-free blood.  Hopefully, I will latch on to a continuous monitoring system before that happens.    

So here it is, just a few weeks shy of 25 years later, and I am finally getting around to jotting down some thoughts on my initial experiences with diabetes.  There are a lot more stories to write about from the intervening two and a half decades, like My Two Nancy’s, Fifty Things I Want To Do Before I Die, “Drinkin’ Days,” and Why I Save The Rubber O-Rings From My Reservoirs.  And I am inclined to continue, but this is where it will have to stop for today.  It was fun reminiscing, and all it took was an invitation from another Rhode Islander with a first class blog.  Maybe I’ll have one of my own before too long. 

July 03, 2007

Summer of '76

Joanna's Story

July 23, 1976  seems like ancient history. Was it really that long ago?  Come to think about it, next month will be 31 years.  I am amazed at times how I have made it this far and then there are times I wonder if I will make it through another day.

I was 12 years old and school had let out for the summer.  But that summer of 1976 there was a Joanna's Story.bad strain of flu lurking around and little did I know it was headed my way.  After I had recovered from this flu I became tired all the time, losing weight, going to the bathroom which seemed like every 5 minutes or so. Not wanting to do anything but sleep.  And of course drinking everything that was in sight because I was so thirsty.   My biological father at the time said I was just begin lazy. Some how I ended up seeing a doctor who agreed with him and said it was just the hot weather.  A week later I was sitting in the doctors office who brought me into this world.  She left the door of the examining room that I was in and after testing my urine I saw her drop her head and shake it. 
Later she came back and said that word.  You have diabetes.  Well in the mind of a 12 year old, "diabetes" was not in my vocabulary.   My sugar was 600 mg/dl and within an hour I was on my way to the hospital. 

I was hospitalized again after my first trip to the hospital.  And missed the first week or so of school.  When I came back I was so thin that people who I thought were my friends avoided me like I had the plague. 

I started on the insulin pumps when they came out in the early 1980's.  For the first time in 30 years last month I had to visit the emergency room of our local hospital because of DKA.

So far and keeping toes crossed no major complications.  But as time goes by I can tell that the type 1 diabetes is taking a toll on my body.   But no matter what, I've got to keep going on. 

Editor's Note:  You can find out more about the symptoms of diabetes here.


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