by A Diabetic Male
In 1994, at the age of 39, I was working the 4 PM - midnight shift in a grocery warehouse where I had been for 20 years. At the time, I was eating one large meal at lunchtime, and not eating the rest of the day. In October of that year, I was laid off when the business was sold. In September, I had gone to a morning job interview after eating cereal for breakfast, and was so thirsty and dry during the interview, I could hardly talk. A few weeks later, I started getting a little blurred vision after lunch, but I was working in a shop where I was wearing safety glasses, and thought it was just that. However, I went to a barbeque the following Saturday, and all they had to drink was apple cider. The more cider I drank, the thirstier I got, and after lunch, I bought a gallon of water, which I drank half of in the next two hours. It was that evening that I realized I must have diabetes, and the following week, my doctor diagnosed me with Type 2. He started me on insulin because my numbers were so high, and I have been on it ever since. Metformin was added to my regimen a few years later. Looking back before I was diagnosed, I believe that the physical component of my job masked many of my symptoms. The only tipoffs may have been that I got stressed out easily and got moody on my days off, and especially in August during lengthy vacations in the early 1990's when I wasn't working (or exercising). This constituted a big personality change for me. For 9 months, I was out of work, so it was easy for me to watch my diet, and go walking 5 or 6 days a week. I was able to control my numbers okay during this time. Once I started working again in July 1995, it became a lot harder to maintain my regimen, and I suffered as a result. I developed erectile dysfunction so bad that only an implant surgery could correct it (not a viable option). I have little feeling in my toes, and am starting to lose sensitivity in my fingertips. It affects my sleeping patterns. In the early 2000's, I developed gastric paresis, in which nerve damage in the intestines cause problems which alternate between constipation and diarrhea, causing stomach problems and eating disorders. This makes it even harder to control my numbers. In 2004, I was laid up with a herniated disk in my back which required surgery. After I recovered, I was diagnosed with autonomic orthostasis, a blood pressure disorder common in diabetics. It causes my blood pressure to drop rapidly when standing up, and I get dizzy and sometimes pass out. All of this combined with a hypoxic brain injury suffered during surgery caused me to become permanantly disabled and I am no longer able to work. The good news is my eyes and kidneys are still okay. I still have trouble controlling my blood sugar because I have a bad diet and am not exercising. I don't complain because most of my problems are self-induced and there are a lot of people who are worse off. But I can tell you that there are consequences if you don't take care of yourself.
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