27 November 2017
Living with diabetes
Living with diabetes is not always easy. I am among the new generation of type 1 diagnosed in adulthood.
At 29, when I started to get up at night to drink several glasses of water, having unexplained weight loss and deciding to go back to my optometrist due to heavily blurred vision, that’s when my mother advised me to go see a doctor. She recognized similarities in the symptoms of type 1 diabetes since her cousins were diagnosed… It ran in the family.
After a blood test at a walk-in clinic, the results were conclusive; I inherited a disease called diabetes. I was then told to go immediately to the ER because of the ketones level in my urine. I was also told that my blood sugar was at 25 and that it wasn’t really good.
"What ketones? My blood sugar? 25 is not good? What is "good" then? Me, diabetic? What?!"
I didn’t know what to do with any of this and all these new terms scared me. When I arrived at the hospital, I was given priority and then installed in the emergency room, wired-up everywhere. I then got to talk to someone who started explaining to me what was happening. Glycaemia, sugar, glycated hemoglobin, ketone, insulin, pancreas, beta cell… my brain was saturated with new words. I then realized that my life was going to change completely.
I had a phobia of hospitals and I was "parked" in the emergency room, trying to figure out what was happening to me. People were lamenting around me. A man was in a state of crisis and was screaming after the nurses. I was told that I had to relax because stress could increase my blood sugar. A nurse came to see me every hour with a glucometer and she pricked my fingers alternately. "I REALLY don’t like this! WHAT? I will have to do this several times a day? Uh no!!!"
At the end of the first day, a nurse came to me to announce my transfer to the intensive care unit. The emergency room was crowded and nurses didn’t have time to come and check my blood sugar every hour. They rolled my stretcher to take me to the intensive care unit. I looked like a frightened deer at the sight of a car approaching as I stared at the ground. I was afraid to see "sick" people. Then, we arrived in a corridor, we passed glass doors and there... Silence ... Where I imagined the "sick" dying, there were several small alcoves and it was very peaceful and quiet. A nice nurse gently set me up and FINALLY I started to relax!
My first night was interrupted by several blood tests, but by morning I began to get used to it. I remained in a state of meditation while the nurse pricked my finger with the lancing device.
One morning, the nurse told me that I would have to inject insulin myself 4 times every day. "WHAT ??!! Why 4 times? Is there some kind of insulin that I can only take once? To inject myself alone, I will NEVER be able to do that! Every time I go for a blood test, they have to roll out a stretcher and lay me down and half the time I faint!"
The nurse then pulled out an injection pen. Phew! Ok, it's not that big, the needle is really small and very flexible. So, I hang tight and go for my first injection. Ouch, it hurts a little, but it is not what I imagined. In fact, it's really not painful. Okay, I accept my fate. Starting today, I'm going to get stung before every meal and at bedtimes.
I stayed 4 days in the hospital to make sure my blood sugar level returned to normal and that there were no more ketones in my urine. The day of my departure, I was introduced to my nurse and my nutritionist. They would be my guides for the next month and they will teach me how to properly manage my glycaemia. They were both excellent teachers and helped me live through my daily routine with diabetes. Ten years later, I read a lot on the subject, I experimented and changed completely my way of life and my family’s.
Each story is different, but the result is the same. We live with an illness called diabetes. There are some good days and some bad days. We've learned how to calculate carbohydrates and to understand our body.
In recent years, I have made peace with my diagnosis. I even found positive sides to my illness. Through this blog, I will share my vision, my tips and advice. I will talk about psychology, technology, nutrition and lifestyle.
Looking forward to keep in touch with you!
Annie Gaumond, Cofounder of RAPHAEL accessories inc.