Wednesday, August 6, 2014

My Diabetes Story

If you're looking for the first post, you've come to the right place. And I guess since this is the first post, I should start from the beginning, because that's normally where "firsts" happen. =)

A new beginning happened to me when I turned sixteen. I was still in the awkward phase (thankfully approaching the last of it), still trying to figure out my fashion sense, and still trying to figure out who in the world I was. I guess you can say that my diabetes diagnosis helped me out on that last one. Because as diabetics, if we're all honest, diabetes is a part of YOU. Not all of YOU, but a big part.

I remember having a sleepover birthday party. Inviting all my weird friends over (you know who you are...love you all), eating loads of junk food, watching a movie, and having a very very very rich double chocolate cheesecake. I look back and wonder what that did to my blood sugar, haha. I remember someone passing a cold around to all the people at my party, even me. My cold turned out to be the flu, which was a new experience for me. I'd always been healthy growing up; when strep was being passed around, I was the one who never got it. Never got chicken pox, mumps, measles, none of it. I had never bothered getting a flu shot because I never got it (not to fear- I get one every year now).

So I caught the flu, and it was awful. Just like the Kleenex commercials advertise; it was definitely not fun. I had the whole mucus-draining-in-the-throat thing going on, which only gave me stomach aches, which only made me not want to eat. And I wasn't really drinking enough, either, because of, well, the stupid mucus (sorrysorrysorry that was super gross!). Finally, after being downright pitiful for three or four days, my mom took one look at my ugly ashen face and decided a trip to the doctor was in order. I was happy not moving a muscle, but after several minutes of refusing to climb out of bed, and my mom threatening to call an ambulance (I really must have looked horrible), I found myself at the doctor's office.

Let me stop here to share this little tidbit: the doctor's office has never ever ever been my favorite place. It doesn't even make the top 100 list. One reason for this (aside from going to a really crappy pediatrician for my entire childhood): the needles. There always seemed to be poking and stabbing involved, which was never pleasant. On top of that, I was a....special...child. I was the child who would run and scream when the nurse came to give me a shot or poke my finger. I made myself sick for weeks before a doctor's appointment. Just the mention of a doctor's appointment turned my stomach. Oh yeah. It was that bad.

So while I vaguely remember not being thrilled at being at the doctor's that day, I was apparently so sick that my needle phobia was the farthest thing from my mind. Even when they stabbed me with an IV because of my dehydrated state (this happens when you don't drink...I have learned you need water. A lot of it.).

So, a whole lot of time passed, and I was still stuck in this room at the doctor's with a needle in my arm, and I really really wanted juice. So I drank some apple juice while my mom ate some leftover barbecue that the nurses ate for lunch. And while my mom was chatting with the friendly barbecue-eating nurses, she mentioned how I had been losing a ton of weight, and drinking a lot of water (before the whole flu thing), and peeing all the time and basically being a monster because of those teenage mood swings. And isn't that weird but kind of normal because, ya know, she's sixteen and it's a teenager thing (the common excuse for all my misdemeanors since age 13).

Obviously, all this struck a chord with the nurses, and they knew something probably wasn't right, so they checked my blood sugar. And voila! Five freaking hundred.

I remember hearing the doctor talking with my mom outside the cracked door, whispering about something. Hearing something like, "We just need to tell her now." And then the doctor came in and said, "Shelby, hey, you have Type 1 Diabetes."

And I was just like, "Ok. That's nice. Can I have some more juice? Or better yet, can I go home?" I don't really think it had sunk in yet that I had just been diagnosed with, well, a disease. Or maybe I was just too sick to care. But if you're wondering, I literally felt NOTHING right then. I wasn't shocked, I wasn't scarred, I was just cool with it in that moment. Anyway, my juice was taken away, because heaven knows that was only spiking my blood sugar even more, and I was moved into a wheelchair and pushed out to the car. And if you've ever been in a wheelchair in public before, for legit reasons, you'll know that it makes you feel super important (at least that's the feeling it gave me). Our minivan was turned into a makeshift ambulance, and my mother shuttled me to Levine Children's Hospital uptown. The sun was setting, and I remember watching it on the ride over. And I also remember having not eaten anything that day, but that was ok.

That's the gist of it, basically. The rest isn't nearly as exciting. We got to the hospital, and it was so crowded that they had to whip together a room for me. I remember my dad showing up, and we were all trying to figure out what was going on, and ohmygosh Shelby has diabetes, and what the heck is diabetes, and then I konked out until the next morning. The weekend was filled with educator after educator coming in and explaining the same stuff to me (the main diabetes educator was out for the weekend, so they sent basically everyone else to me to try to clear up confusion. And I'm not criticizing- they did a wonderful job!).

The rest of the weekend was filled with testing out the cafeteria options on the diabetic menu (surprisingly tasty), watching TV from my hospital bed, trying to figure out how to get to the bathroom with an IV stand, getting a bunch of lovely flowers and cards from people I know and people I don't know, listening to my dad snore during the night (love you daddy!), trying to figure out how to sleep with a needle in my arm, enjoying the Charlotte skyline from my hospital room window, and being suspicious of nurses-in-training ("Can I take your temperature? Can I ask you a few questions about your health? Can I experiment on you for the furtherance of my education?" Sure lady, as soon as you're a real nurse).

I was finally released on Sunday, and I felt like I had not seen the sun in twenty years. I came home, ate three Ritz crackers, put on the sweat jacket I got for my birthday the week before, and sat outside with my family until it got cold. And that's basically how I functioned after that: day by day. Sometimes I still function day by day. It's a rough life sometimes, and sometimes it can be scary, but you just have to know that someone has it worse than you. It might seem hard, it might even seem overwhelming, but if you take it day by day, and trust in Jesus, you'll make it through.

That's my diabetes story. =)

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