Type 1 Diabetes

“i just can’t” – my pancreas

this is quite an unusual way to start a blog. i would like to introduce myself: my name, my interests, pet peeves, aspirations, etc. however, given my written thoughts will be purposely geared towards my chronic condition, i will keep the conventional intro brief and swiftly move us into the reason for the season — why i even have words to share with you about type 1 diabetes. plus, i gather you’ll learn more about me as time goes on.

quick! here’s my conventional intro: hi! i’m Lourdes. i like to run and explore new places [sometimes, at the same time]. i have a type 1 diabetes and i wear an insulin pump.

today marks the day that i was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. well, approximately today. circa Thanksgiving 2003. [i googled it — 11/27/03, to be exact.]

i was a freshman at Tufts. i thought my first semester was treating me well. it wasn’t. until i was heading home for my very first Thanksgiving break, i started to reflect on the occurrences that marked my experience as troublesome. i recalled being in bed and randomly waking up in the middle of the night to discomforting charlie horses. i thought about the times when my friends and i would foolishly ridicule how i chugged liters of whatever liquid was available in my frequent moments of dehydration desperation. i walked around campus like a zombie, only to return to Houston Hall for frequent naps. i just knew that the state of being for all college freshman was that of endless exhaustion.

even though i had once known the symptoms of type 1 diabetes (e.g. frequent thirst and urination, decreased energy, etc), i had no clue what was happening to me. when i did have a clue, however, i was nervous. i did talk about it, to a few close friends. i told them: “i think i have diabetes.” i knew very little about the disease at that point. i knew a couple of close friends and family members that had it. i understood it wouldn’t go away. and i knew it involved needles. i mistakenly convinced myself that i’d be strong enough to handle that part, given i had long ago forced myself to look at needles while at the doctor’s office or at blood being drawn from my arm during blood drives. basically, i had no clue the impact that type 1 diabetes would have on my life. i comforted my friends and somehow, my own anxieties, by saying, “i’ll check my blood sugar on my dad’s meter and find out.” i was leaning on two things: (1) the truth is in the numbers and (2) no matter what, my parents will know what to do.

from Boston’s Chinatown to NYC’s Chinatown (before the Megabus days), i navigated my way back to South Orange, NJ for Thanksgiving break. it took hours before i built up the courage to ask, “Daddy, where’s your meter? think we can we check my blood sugar?” the first reading: TOO HIGH.  i’m pretty sure we washed my hands thoroughly before the second reading. while i don’t quite remember what the second reading said, it was just as alarming as the first. it messaged to my mom, my dad and i that we needed to seek further help. they calmly communicated to me that we should go to the emergency room. one might wonder — “how does the word ‘calm’ even exist in a sentence with ’emergency’?” their composure was impressive. they did know what to do.

on the way to the hospital, i reeked of extreme angst.

we did a lot of waiting. i was laying down on a cot in the hallway – feeble, starved, and worn. it was early morning by the time the doctor returned. i had hoped that i’d get the go to finally eat something, at the least. i was only allowed sugar-free jello. while i didn’t mind the taste, it just didn’t fill me up. at best, i’d be able to head home with some medicine. instead, the doctor had a grand announcement for us: a number.

948 mg/dL

9

4

8

he didn’t have to spell it out for us. we knew. 948 was shockingly high.

10x the normal range ( 80-120 mg/dL)

needless to say, i didn’t head home that night. before anything could happen, i needed insulin. right there, in the hallway, the doctor whipped out a huge syringe. i wailed in fear and then, in extreme pain. the insulin cut through my legs. the sharp pain tormented me. i moaned loudly and cried helplessly. my mother held my hand.

it was all a blur from there. hospitalization overshadowed the family festivities. i was in a haze of shock, disbelief and denial. i could not shake away the shame. while i craved the comfort from my friends and family, i couldn’t stand for them to see me so weak. i also didn’t know if i could handle any more questions or any more visitors. i was already overwhelmed by the countless amounts of doctors coming in and out of my hospital room. they had so much pertinent information to share, i’m sure. i tried to listen. i tried my best to learn. but how could i? all my thoughts were leading to one question: “why?”

as you have read, my diagnosis is no story of glory. the triumph arrives later. to be honest, it comes and it goes. the will to overcome this challenge has been a journey and will continue to be. each and every year, i am thankful for life. i am thankful for the strength born out of managing this condition for 14 years. and today, i can [even though my pancreas can’t]. i can deal with the highs and the lows that accompany this chronic disease.  i can manage my type one diabetes. i can even fully recognize that there will be moments or days that “i just can’t.” most importantly, i can share this journey with you all. i’m celebrating my 14th dia-versary by giving myself the gift of expression. my diabetes-related truths and experiences. my highs and my lows. my aspirations and my setbacks. my path to pancreatic glory [via my insulin pump, of course]. oh, and my journey to running my 3rd marathon [waitfor it. wait for it…. next blog entry!].

P.S. i often like to write in lowercase letters. then, i don’t have to slide my pinky finger to hold down the shift button. haha. what can i say? i’m just as lazy as my pancreas.

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