Part 1: Sugar beat me

Immediately after I sat down for a moment’s rest after a long day, my alarm to take my insulin went off. I thought, ‘ugh so annoying’ and as I prepared to take my medicine I started to think about how much my life is affected by this disease that I have. Now sitting down to write I decided to give some insight into the world of being a diabetic. (Not all of my posts are about my baby ^^)

The title comes from my grandfather Metro (may he rest in peace). This was his way of cleverly saying diabetes because he thought it made a funny pun. It probably had to do with him being ESL but it was quite cute and hilarious when he used to say. I miss him. Also, I have way to much to say on this topic. So part 1 today I will tell you my story of how I met diabetes. Tomorrow in part 2 I will explain why I hate this disease and wouldn’t even wish it on my worst enemies.

It all started for me on September 11th 2007. I will forever remember that day because my life has been dramatically different since. In fact, it was kind of like a final destination movie with warning signs all week that something bad was coming. A few days prior I was in a house fire (seriously!). The house next to mine burnt to the ground and ours also caught but luckily got by with only minor damage. (This was back when I used to live in Edmonton, Canada) I remember sleeping and waking up to it being so warm and bright. I think I grabbed my favorite pair of shoes before I ran out (oh what I valued when I was young).

As well, at that time I was sick. I thought I had some sort of flu. I am the type of person that NEVER misses a day of work and was determined that I could still push through even though I was actually quite ill.

Of course I had all of the classic symptoms but I didn’t know it. I was only 19 so when I started to lose a bunch of weight even when eating junk I was actually quite happy. Not to mention that it was when I was first scouted for a modelling job. It was only later in the hospital that I looked into the mirror and saw my ribs through my back that I realized there was such a thing as being too skinny without having an eating disorder. Also there was the thirst. I would drink ridiculous amounts of water and then have to frequently pee it out. I once was sitting on the toilet peeing while at the same time drinking more water. I even remember stopping my car twice on my 40 minute drive home from work to use the public restroom and buy bottled water at two different gas stations. Now you might think, ‘Stupid girl, clearly you were sick’. But this all happened very fast. I mean I went from a size 4 to a 00 in 2 weeks. I was also young and refused to be weak and have to go to spend an entire day off work to see a doctor. (I will blog another day about the Canadian health care system and why I hate it).

So I had lost a bunch of weight, I was always thirsty and having to pee, and I was beginning to get weak and tired. I finally decided that I was sick and needed a day off work to go see a doctor. Unfortunately the workaholic in me decided to wait just one more day when my boss called me with a work emergency that same morning. (Side note- at the time I was working in retail as a store manager and the emergency was that another store location in a nearby city had been flooded. I felt honored to be asked to travel to another city to help out). I remember some of the conversation. I told her I was sick and she asked, “With what, how sick?” and of course I replied something along the lines of, “I don’t think I am contagious. I should be fine for today and I can go to the doctor tomorrow.” When she picked me up (it was about a 2 hour drive to where we were going so we car pooled) she noticed that I looked not well and made me promise her that I would in fact go to a doctor the next day. As I tried to work through the day I was getting worse but I cannot remember too many details about what happened because of what came next. The next part of my story was big and overshadows everything else that happened that day/week/year in my memory. On the drive home we got in a car accident.

No one died, there were minor injuries but it was traumatic still. We were in an SUV and we flipped over 3 times to end up sideways on the opposite side of the highway. In fact we were extremely lucky that only the car was totaled. People ask me what it was like and it really felt like time went in slow motion and also kind of like being on an amusement park ride. I remember holding my seat belt so tightly that it cut my hand. I think I held my breath. Then I remember it was quiet and we were hanging there. We landed on the driver’s side and I was in the passenger’s seat. I remember I was to weak to push up the door to get out so we waited until the emergency crew came and pulled us out. I clearly was not in good health but I must have been running on adrenaline because I suddenly seemed fine. (apart from my having no shoes because they flew through one of the windows and were forever lost) I am not sure if the emergency crew was lazy or if I was just good at persuading but they let me go home instead of to a hospital. (we were pretty close to where I lived at the time) I called for a ride and went home.

A few hours later I started to get really sick and went to a clinic close by my house. Now I am sure there are some good doctors in Canada but I myself have come across more incompetent than helpful. Perhaps that is why I had the attitude to avoid going to the doctor until absolutely dire. After explaining my symptoms, the doctor had no idea what was wrong with me so she started doing what felt like random tests. One of which was a blood glucose. The machine said error. They tried with another machine it just said the word HIGH. That was when the doctor said, “I think you have diabetic ketoacidosis and you need to go to the hospital.” They wouldn’t let me drive myself and I did not want to take an ambulance so I was left to wait in the waiting room alone while I waited for a friend to come pick me up. The doctor went on to other patients she didn’t explain any details. I was scared and had absolutely no idea what was wrong with me. The way she said it I thought I was going to die or had some kind of strange contagious disease. I had never heard the word ketoacidosis in my life and I didn’t even know anything about diabetes.

With that being said, I was thirsty and so I bought a drink from the vending machine. I bought orange juice (healthy right?) and sat there in the waiting room drinking it. If you don’t know ketoacidosis probably using google or wikipedia will be better than my description but it results in your blood becoming acidic because your blood sugar is way too high  and your liver uses your fat to survive because your body basically can’t use anything you eat. Therefore, by drinking a sugary drink, I could have died. No one said anything in the clinic. I didn’t know.

If you have ever been to a hospital in North America, you know that when you arrive at the ER and they fast track you past all of the people who have been waiting probably for hours, it means it is something serious. My organs were struggling to work properly and the doctors were still confused about what I had or what was happening. So they put me in quarantine and hooked me up to a bunch of machines. I don’t remember the next few hours but I remember that later my mom was there (she lived in a city 4 hours away) and they told me my heart had stopped (sorry family members I might not have told you some of this story before because I didn’t want you to worry) and that now I had type one diabetes.

Everything changed.

I was told that for the rest of my life I would have to take needles with insulin to survive. I suddenly had to be aware of my diet and exercise and track my blood sugar. When I asked why they said, “We don’t know.” I had no answers and just this very heavy burden suddenly dropped on me at 19. How befitting that this happened on 9/11? This date has a personal sadness for me now too. For the last decade I have been living with this disease.

Here is the basic 411… There are 3 types of diabetes. Type 1: Your body can’t produce insulin so you have to artificially inject it to stay alive. Type 2: Your body produces some insulin so you have to adjust your daily life (diet /exercise) to accommodate to your production. Gestational: When pregnant your body produces high blood sugar like a diabetic (usually it goes away after you give birth). Most people with Type 1 diabetes are born with it, so I have an extremely rare situation. I joke that I never have to worry about the scenario if you were stranded on a desert island because I always say, “Without my insulin I would just die.” Now that I think about it no one laughs at that joke, I should stop telling it. So all of you non diabetics when you eat food your body produces insulin to exactly match what you need to keep your blood sugar the same and when you do something like exercise, it slows the production to save your energy. For us diabetics it just doesn’t work so nicely. When we eat it goes up, when we exercise it goes down. Except it isn’t that black and white, there are a million different factors that affect your glucose level. When you get diagnosed with diabetes in Canada they make you go to these classes to teach you about your disease. The classes don’t prepare you for the struggle. Now I am going to do a cliff hanger and leave the post mid sentence so you read tomorrow’s too.

One of the worst parts is the guilt. If you…

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