I've meant to write this for ages. Tonight I finally shall, while the realization of diabetes- already so imprinted in my mind and life- is still somewhat new to my life.
When I began college in the fall, everything was normal: my weight, eyesight, energy level, etc. As the months passed by quickly, the board, however, slowly grew fuzzier in my sight. Eventually, what began as an only mildly unfocused image
morphed into a slew of unreadable and unidentifiable
symbols. When I could no longer ignore the reality that my eyes had deteriorated severely, I took the issue to my mom, who eventually made an appointment for me at an optometrist. Some time later, I found myself facing the characteristic eye chart- and failing miserably. I cannot recall what the optometrist said
about my sight, but I do recall that it would have been illegal for me to drive without glasses... And that I was to inform the DMV of my condition. (Because I live in a family of procrastinators, I never did.)
At about this same time, I began to notice- forgive me for mentioning this, but its the hallmark of diabetes- that I had to urinate a lot. An exceptionally high amount of times, actually. At first, this meant perhaps 6 or so times a day. Initially I attributed the increase to the increase in fluids I'd been so unusually guzzling. Then the urination frequency increased: I tried to keep a running tally of each day, but it became tedious and I often forgot. I do remember the numbers, though: 15 one day, 17 a next, etc. While I was awake, I had to use the bathroom.. ALL THE TIME. All that hand-washing, especially in winter, dried my hands terribly. Fissures formed over my knuckles, causing my hands to feel rough and ache with rawness. Another thing the handwashing caused (along with my high blood glucose, though I did not quite know it yet) was a fungal infection in my nail, which I'm still fighting.
More annoying, though, than my urination was what I felt inside my body. My thirst grew greatly, and soon only sugary drinks would quench it even temporarily- and I mean temporarily (I'd be thirsty again in less than a minute). I drank from every water fountain I passed, rushed to every bathroom every fifteen minutes, and- this is what began to really worry me- had no energy and achy calves.
As Christmas came and left, things got even worse. My formerly 120 lbs body was at 110 and losing weight steadily (a pound or more a day, actually). Lethargia kept me laying down nearly all the time; that, combined with my thirst, kept my boyfriend busy as he shuttled water, snacks, books, etc. to me. Fuzzy-headed, I could hardly even repay him with worthwhile conversation- I could scarcely concentrate. When I went to sleep at night, I prayed to God that something terrible wasn't going on, and when I'd wake to the most terrible leg cramps I've ever felt, I knew that prayer was futile. My mom worried that I "wasn't eating enough fats," and, because I'm a social recluse, only her, my grandmother, and my boyfriend were worried.
The last days before my trip to the doctor and then promptly to the hospital were spent first at my grandmother's house and then my mom's friend's house. It is then when things really began to feel dire. With my grandmother, I lazily followed about as my aunt, grandmother, as we went from store to cafe to store to store to home. I ate a great deal, confident that I'd "pay for it" on the scale. Baklava, cookie, tons of hummus, soy ice cream... I ate far more than my share and the next morning found I had lost three pounds overnight. I was at 107.
Without pause, the next day I went to my mom's friend, Jeana's, house. Again I indulged. Again I drank more than my share of liquids. In fact, a strange thing happened with her: I brought a bottle of water with me in the car on the way to a local mall. I finished it in a short amount of time and planned to drink upon arrival at the mall, about ten minutes from
where we were. However, her son engaged me in conversation, and as I replied my mouth's moisture was quickly eroded. At first it was hardly an issue... But in five or so minute's time my mouth was parched as it NEVER has been. I could hardly form words, I could not swallow, I could not articulate but the simplest words- and that with a lisp.
After arriving back home from my travels, I was ready to request a doctor's visit. This I did and my parents quickly obliged. My weight was 100 (I am 5'7").
Now, up to this time, I still was stupidly unaware that I had diabetes. I knew my symptoms matched diabetes', but, being a vegan, I was worried I had what ex-vegans claim was their ultimate health downfall: some super terrible deficiency, possibly of a b vitamin. I had began to take B vitamins and protein powder as my health deteriorated, hoping they would help. Everyone else, though, seemed to guess at the truth: my teachers, my grandmother, Jeana, my boyfriend, my aunt... Yet I could not fathom that I would get an autoimmune disease (it's still funny that I have one).
Anyhow, the doctor knew immediately what was wrong. Without tests of any sort I went to the emergency room. While I was still in doubt, they tested my glucose level. "HI."
I stayed in the hospital for two nights/three days. My initial glucose reading was 638 or so; very, very high, but not record-breaking. My family and boyfriend came to visit each day (no friends had I to come see me...). They gave me three glucometers, two sorts of insulin, syringes, a sharps box, and test strips, then sent me off. I wasn't really ready to deal with all the diabetes-related things, and I'm still not. I don't think I ever shall be ready. It's a hard thing.
Posted here are some pictures of me in the months before my diagnosis. My weight,initially, was 120-125 lbs. or so. In these pictures, I had already lost weight, energy, and, of course, the function of my pancreas.
Summer of 2010; still healthy and likely not diabetic.
Semi-skeletal; dull and listless.
This one's sort of funny in that I was considering taking advantage of a free diabetes test that was offered in the area this day but, out of fear, decided against it.
Sunken cheeks, but not so terribly dead- looking.
I did not take any pictures in the "last days." I felt ugly and was ugly- pasty, painfully thin, lacking exuberance. I did not want to be photographed... Though it would be interesting to see such photos now, if they existed.