My First Year with Type 1 Diabetes
It’s Halloween weekend, 2015 and I’m traveling to New Orleans with a friend to attend a music festival. Something is wrong with me, I know that; I don’t feel well. My girlfriend and I have noted I get up at night to pee, and I’m thirsty beyond belief and very tired.
My trip to New Orleans becomes the most fun and most dangerous trip of my life. Using the bathroom every hour, drinking too much too often, dehydrated beyond belief, sleeping not much at all. I sit at a bar table, drinking Red Bull and vodkas wondering why I was falling asleep.
On the flight back, my thirst is unspeakable. I wait anxiously as the drink cart approaches, the attendant pours me a drink that I finish before she pours the next drink. On the three-hour flight home, I get up four times to use the bathroom.
Upon returning home, I look in the mirror. I am skinny, pale, with dark circles under my eyes; my pinky finger is numb.
I make an appointment. My blood sugar is 644 mg/dL. I have Type 1 diabetes. My entire existence changes – who I am, what I do, what I think about, what’s in my pocket, what I eat and when. I decide to change more – no more fast food, no more soda, no more processed food. I make complete, balanced meals, track my blood sugar scores in an Excel spreadsheet and follow my averages.
My friends knew me as a “down for anything” guy. After the initial shock, their appreciation and accommodation quickly diminishes. Many quickly forget I have specialized needs, and often times my subtle reminders are seen as a joke.
At a friend’s house for dinner, I ask when dinner will be ready. The clock has struck eight, and I can feel my hands start to shake. The host makes a joke: “Geez, you’re so needy now with this diabetes.” The group laughs; I laugh, but internally I panic. Time is running out for me to eat something.
I eventually discover that support must come from myself. Not many change their lives to accommodate mine, so it’s up to me to manage. I plan for myself, I worry about myself, and I put my needs first. I expect neither sympathy nor accommodation, so that when they come, it is an unexpected surprise. Those that provide sympathy and accommodation reliably I consider family.
I struggle, but I know it will get better.
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