My Type 1 Diabetes Journey

by A Type 1 Diabetic at Age 39
(USA)

Thinking back to the day I was first told I was a diabetic, it was a bit surreal. For me the journey started with several months of being sick and not understanding why. I would sleep for hours on end then wake to feel I needed to eat. Little did I know that what I was eating (read this as lots of sugar and carbs) was causing a bigger issue. Fruit juice is healthy right? Not for a diabetic in DKA. I was losing weight, was sick multiple times a day and couldn’t get out of my own way. It was not until I was given an ultimatum that I finally did something about it. After a stop and start trip to the hospital, I was admitted to the ICU in full blown DKA (diabetic ketoacidosis). I think until that time I might have suspected that diabetes was the issue but that night I was smacked right in the face with the reality of the situation. I remember thinking “this can’t be right.” It is a bit sobering to hear that had you not come in, you likely would be dead. It was a week of scary, up and down emotions. I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of 38. I know, I thought it was just kids that got type 1 as well. The thing I have come to learn since is that anyone can become type 1 at any age. The hardest part has

been learning to control the disease instead of it controlling you. As I said, it took me being hospitalized to realize something was terribly wrong and it has been a hard road learning to control it. For me, as with most type 1’s, insulin and diet are key. I can eat anything I want. Really, I can. I can use my insulin to cover food and do well with it but for me the best path has been to carefully manage the foods I eat so that I don’t have to use large doses of the magical clear liquid in a bottle. I manage my carb intake very closely and just avoid all the things that I know will cause me grief. We now cook totally different and even restructured the whole family’s diet to make life more livable. Even with control I have not been immune to side effects and other issues related to my diabetes. One of the things I struggle with is some nerve damage that leaves me fighting tingling in extremities some days. Along with that comes the phantom pain that comes at you out of the blue for no apparent reason. Depression and a feeling of “Why me” is common and I have been there as well but overall, I am healthy. I have a great support system in that my family is always there for me. So even with all the struggles, Diabetes is not going to beat me. I will continue to endure.

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