Thoughts from me - a preacher's wife, farmer's daughter, mom, and nurse. Posts are mainly intended to help me journal the events of my life - topics will include kids, church, work, marriage, life in general,
and of course my dogs . . . and whatever else I feel compelled to write about.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Becoming Diabetic

Having grown up in a family strewn with diabetics, I am quite familiar with diabetes or "sugar die-beetus" as my grandparents called it. I hate the word because of what mental images it produces for me.

I see my dad's Uncle John who was missing an arm and a leg from "sugar die-beetus." I was present at a reunion he was at when I was a toddler, so all of my memories of him are from a single snapshot taken that day.

Type II diabetes or adult onset diabetes has a stigma associated with it of fat, doughnut eating, Pepsi downing, couch potatoes who would rather eat than breathe. At least this is how I feel people look at us. Yes, I am now in the ranks of "us."

Although Type II diabetes IS associated with lifestyle (ie. overweight, sedentary lifestyle) there is also a huge genetic component. And although you can change your lifestyle, you certainly can't change your genes.

The way I look at it, I was destined to become diabetic. I may have been able to delay the onset by 10 or 20 years, but it was knocking on my door.

I had gestational diabetes at age 20 when I was pregnant with Megan and again at age 24 when I was pregnant with Joel. I was in nursing school when I was pregnant with Joel and we were learning to use the glucometer. We had to test ourself. My blood sugar was 324. I told my class mates my meter was broken.

Fast forward 15 years and a lot of denial later.

Around Thanksgiving I began to become concerned that my legs were swelling. Nurses stand a lot. It was not unusual to have edema at the end of the work day, but it was usually resolved by morning. Not so any more. The edema was sticking around morning, noon, and night.

I also noticed that I was not urinating very much. Nurses are notorious for "holding it" all day. I vowed to drink more, pee more, and try to sit more at work.

Enter the Christmas season and all of the goodies associated with it. We were inundated at work with homemade candies, cookies, and cakes. I tried to stay out of them without much success.

A day or two after Christmas I was in a meeting at work. Toward the end of the meeting I began to have a really bad pain in my right side - a flank pain. When I stood up and walked out of the room the pain became severe, taking my breath away and almost causing me to pass out. It was severe for about an hour and bothersome for a couple days. No fever, no chills - just pain.

I still don't know what that pain was but it turned me into a different person. From that day and for the next 6 weeks, I urinated like a different person. You know, peed like a Russian race horse and all of those other famous urination metaphors.

And talk about thirsty. At work I do patient assessments every day and one of the questions I ask is, "Have you had any excessive thirst or urination?" I now know how to describe excessive thirst and urination. It is excessive. If you have it, you know it.

All I thought about was drinking. Water, milk, tea, coke, windshield wiper fluid . . . it didn't matter. I drank the remainder of drinks left in the car while I was driving - not even caring whose they were or how old they were. During this time my most valued possession was my white plastic cup kept in the bathroom for me to drink out of when I was up every two hours urinating.

Yes, I said up every two hours to pee. Sometimes I would have to pee so bad that despite running to the bathroom, I found myself mopping the floor. Probably way TMI - but my point is the next time you are at the doctor's office and a nurse asks you if you have excessive thirst or urination don't worry that you do and you just aren't aware. You will know.

The reason uncontrolled blood sugar causes excessive thirst and urination is because the body is trying to correct itself. We are fearfully and wonderfully made and God designed our bodies to want to be in a state of homeostasis. A state of balance. When blood sugar is high the body tries to dilute the sugar out of the blood - thus making you desire/need to take in more fluids in an attempt to filter the sugar out through the kidneys. Awesome.

Because of this I was peeing pure sugar. Okay, probably not pure sugar, but I am sure I could have given Kool-Aid a run for their money. Bacteria loves sugar. Put two and two together and that makes one killer yeast infection.

This was actually my final clue that something was wrong. Not that the excessive thirst and urination weren't clues enough - and the 10 pound weight loss without trying. But I knew that the only thing that causes repeat yeast infections was diabetes. The denial was over.

February 13th Joel had a basketball game and then a lock-in at church. It was 9:50 pm as we were driving past CVS. I pulled in telling Joel he could pick out some snacks to take to the lock-in. I walked back to the pharmacy and and the pharmacist helped me pick out a glucometer and all the trappings that go with it. We left the store at 9:58 pm.

It wasn't until 4:30 pm February 14th that I got up enough nerve to test. 367 was the reading. There was no more denying. Brian took me to the hospital where they drew labs, gave me a liter of fluids, a prescription for Metformin 500 mg BID, and a diagnosis of diabetes.


Brian said...

FYI-I've never had excessive thirst or urination. Thanks for defining that in a very, very vivid way.

Hope said...

I remember that day too. I worked in the lab and would check it and for about a year I watched it inch up from 100 to 200 to 300 and I really got scared when I read 438. That was the magic number for me. No diabetics really in my family, but I saw what it can do while taking care of patients in the hospital.

I just turned 40 - BLAH. Just a number I feel 50 haha. You're beautiful inside and out and if we could just remember everything is in God's hands! Easier said than done sometimes.


Me said...

Hey Hope! Sorry to hear we are in the same "club." Here's to being forty (or soon to be) and diabetic! Thanks for following my blog. God Bless

Angel said...

Ok, I love the comment about drinking anything in the car. ..I mean anything! I know this has been a hard battle, but I appreciate the humor you wrote about. I am proud of how well you have worked on your diet. And, FYI, i thought that you looked like you lost weight before I found out about the diabetes!!

Me said...

Thanks Angel and sorry about the TMI! LOL

Anonymous said...

Hey there, thanks for your comment on my blog! I replied in the comments section but wanted to come over here to read about your experience. Even though I think I'm a little out of the norm, I definitely don't have the thirst or urination that you describe, nor do I have the leg swelling. The flank pain is interesting; I did have that at the beginning of college and no one could figure it out.

Lots of stuff to ponder! Thanks for delurking.