My Own Story is perfectly typical. I went to college, got married, started a career and then went on the Mommy Track. I had four babies in a six year period, had gestational diabetes with all four pregnancies, and delivered big, eight pound babies. My blood sugar ranges went back to “normal” a few months after each baby was born, so I didn’t worry about it.
A few years went by…I gained weight, and stopped getting regular exercise, and I was getting more and more tired. I went to my Doctor with the list of symptoms, including the constant fatigue. There was always another reasonable explanation for them: sinus infections or anemia, yeast infections, uti’s, and heck, who wouldn’t be tired if they had a husband, four kids, a home and an engineering consulting business to take care of? SO..I ignored the symptoms and kept going, blaming the “feeling rotten all the time” on being overweight and hating myself for not squeezing another hour out of my already busy schedule to exercise.
More years go by, and then my eyesight goes south, very suddenly, without warning. My husband came into the office to see the computer monitor pulled right up to the edge of the desk, and me sitting with my nose three inches from the screen. I couldn’t focus my eyes, and I couldn’t see what was on the monitor. I was at the eye doctor the next day, getting my pupils dilated so he can look inside my eyeballs. My optometrist told me to make an appointment with my regular doctor for the next morning to have a blood test for diabetes. What? Diabetes? I thought that went away after the last pregnancy!
I called my Doctor, and was in her office at 7:00 the next morning for the blood test. One drop of blood and five seconds later I had the truth. I have diabetes. My blood sugar that morning, after a night of fasting and not even a cup of coffee before the test, was 178. “Normal” fasting levels are less than 100. Additional blood work revealed that my liver and kidneys had already been damaged along with my eyes. My Doctor suspected that I had been walking around with diabetes since the last pregnancy…TEN YEARS ago!
The good news? According to my doctor, I was still “Young” and that my body would heal, but only if I get my butt in gear and take care of myself, and commit to keeping my blood sugar under control.
So I did. I lost fifty pounds. I purged the pantry of all high-carb, unhealthy food. I read and researched and joined a support group. I met with a dietician, and changed the way my entire family eats. I started walking and exercising EVERY day. My eyesight got better. I now need bifocals, but hey, I probably would have needed those anyway as I am well into “middle age”. Recent blood tests show that my liver and kidneys have healed and are functioning normally. I’m not exhausted all the time any more. I really feel wonderful and “normal” again.
It’s not over, though. I am not cured. I still have diabetes. There is NO CURE for diabetes. Right now, I can control it with a healthy diet and plenty of exercise. Because the disease is progressive, I will eventually need to take medication and inject insulin daily. My goal for now is to put that off for as long as possible. I know that if I ever revert back to my bad health habits, my diabetes symptoms will come back with a vengeance, and so will the complications that go with them.
I miss pizza, and ice cream. I have to judge every bite that I put in my mouth – is this piece of chocolate worth being blind? Is this donut worth killing my liver? Of course not. This kind of thinking makes it easier for me to stay focused and stay healthy.
What To Do if YOU Have Symptoms?
If you have a family history, if you have any of the symptoms, see your Doctor! Ask for a blood test to check. It’s simple – they prick your finger for a tiny drop of blood, scan it with a meter, and TaDa!! There’s your answer in five seconds. Screening for diabetes is not usually included with annual checkups, but it SHOULD be, especially for those who are high risk of developing diabetes.