Andrea’s Story

I Know What it’s Like

If you are reading this, I hope we can meet someday. I want you to know that I know what it’s like. I know what it’s like to have a blood sugar so high that your tongue sticks to the roof of your mouth, you feel like you have swallowed a bag of cotton balls and your body aches all over.

I know what it’s like to wake up in the morning and feel like you are walking in quick sand. I know what it’s like to be giving a speech and suddenly develop severe hypoglycemia precipitating a drenching sweat, slurred words and mental confusion. I know what it’s like to be driving down the road and suddenly develop a severe low blood sugar with no candy in the car: praying that you make it to the next exit before landing in a ditch, comatose.

I know what it’s like trying to be a cool college kid with a 5 pound insulin pump hanging from your waist. I know what it’s like to get all dressed up in a beautiful evening gown and wonder where I’m going to try and hide my insulin pump. Skimpy dresses are not made for diabetics. I know what it’s like to be on the beach and be dragging an insulin pump behind you. I know what its like to pull out your insulin pump at dinner for mealtime insulin and all your table mates are wondering whether you have pulled out a beeper, a gun or some new high tech cell phone.

I know what it’s like to being skiing down a mountain in a blizzard, a total white out where you believe many “normal” people would not make it. Inability to feel ones fingers and toes. Low sugar, no granola bar, fear of death. Wondering who to try and save first, your aged struggling parents or yourself. I know what it’s like to fear the complications of diabetes. I have feared blindness, kidney failure, stroke and heart attack.

The day I started insulin marked the first day that I cleaned my plate. Insulin is an anabolic hormone that promotes weight gain, both fat and muscle. It just so happens that most people gain fat. It becomes a vicious cycle; more insulin leads to packing on of pounds. Low blood sugars lead to more caloric intake. I know what it’s like to stare at the scale, dumbfounded, frustrated, and sickened by weight gain. I know what it’s like to develop a weight obsession, struggling for good diabetes control but cursed with pounds that creep up as a result.

I know what it’s like to be in an intensive care unit, breathing only because a ventilator is doing the work for you. Being semi-conscious but aware enough to know that you may well be dying. To think that you might be exiting the back door of the hospital rather than the front. To think of all the work you have yet to do on this earth that won’t get done. The feeling of shear helplessness and dependence on others. To be told that you have a 10 percent chance of making it. I know what it’s like. I have been there, done that, fought for my life and won. I have thought of making a T-shirt with the words “Sepsis Survivor”. On second thought, however, this was a nightmare, best forgotten.

My stories are endless. My calling continues to be fulfilled. Developing diabetes in my youth was not a random event. This event, no matter how bleak things looked at the time, has given me an immense passion and calling for treating others in my situation. My life has been filled with numerous highs and lows but thankfully the highs have won the battle. I want your highs to win the battle too.

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