Living with Diabetes or someone who has it…

It’s finally Friday!! WOO HOO Winking smile

diabetes

As promised I am going to educate the masses try to explain diabetes to those who are unfamiliar with it or just uneducated about it.  But before I get into the technicalities, here is my story:

My Mom was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when she was about 30 years old.  I remember being there, and my Grandpa, Jen and I were waiting for her on the lawn at the doctors office.  We immediately went to a specialist and picked up some sugar free candy.  We HATED it!

Apple and Glucometer

She started out taking 4 shots of insulin a day and every so often her doctor would change the dosage.  At the time I was younger than 10 and had the slightest idea of what diabetes was.

A few years later when Jamie was born my Mom had a seemingly normal pregnancy and no complications throughout.  She expected her to be bigger, as women with diabetes usually give birth to heavier babies.  Then Jamie was born 5 weeks early, too early to eat by herself and was fed through a tube in her nose.  She was in an incubator in ICU for two weeks.  She pulled through like a champ and has been very healthy ever since (15 1/2 years ago!). 

My Mom on the other hand ended up having an emergency c-section and the medical staff gave her sugar in her IV.(NO MEDICAL ID BRACELET)  She was unconscious for about two days.  When she came too she didn’t even remember having Jamie.

About a year afterward my Mom had her first diabetic seizure.  It was the scariest experience of my life to date.  We had no clue what was happening and by the time she was in the hospital I was sick over it.  Luckily Jamie slept through the whole thing in her crib and didn’t wake up to the sound of ambulance and fire sirens.

That was around 1998, and for years she would periodically have seizures and we would call 911.  The seizures are caused by dangerously low blood sugar. By 2004 it became really bad.  So bad that she would have a seizure almost every day.  We had learned to give her glucose or soda (if she was pre-seizure), and let it pass.

The problem was, we were all very uneducated about the disease.  ESPECIALLY her.  She rarely if ever took her blood sugar or glucose levels, and was not as honest with her doctors as she should have been.

Glucometer

That same year my family moved and my Mom found out that her license had been suspended for having to call 911 so many times.  It was very difficult to navigate as she is not the easiest person to reason with. Her seizures continued to occur and as we began moving out, she stopped telling us about them because she didn’t was us to get upset with her. 

Her symptoms changed as well, and she did not report everything to her doctor as she should have, and didn’t go very often either.  Her “seizures” were now less about shaking and more like a severe personality change which is very scary to experience.  The best I can describe it is like a mix between severe turrets syndrome and a psychotic break and physically combative- but ONLY when her sugar is low.

Finally this year she hit rock bottom. My Dad, who is a truck driver and is only home on weekends, called her one morning without hearing back for a couple of hours.  He called her best friend and she could not get ahold of her either.  Another hour passed before he called the neighbors to check on her.  She was having an episode, for God knows how long, and the ambulance came.

I’m going to spare you all of the details, but she was in the ICU and unconscious for three days and in the hospital for a total of five.  She almost died twice while in the hospital, one was a VERY close call.

It was the most difficult thing we have ever dealt with as a family and we decided that it was time to make a change.  Not only are we educated on the facts, but we are going to make sure she is too.  We are dedicated to making sure she takes care of herself, no excuses.

Diabetes cycle

I believe her biggest problem was admitting that she has a disease and that she needs to treat herself differently than she used too.  It is not a complicated disease and many of the problems can be prevented.

First and foremost, there are two main kinds of diabetes:

  • Type1- (usually diagnosed in childhood) in which your pancreas no longer produces insulin. “Insulin is a hormone that is needed to convert sugar, starches and other food into energy needed for daily life.”  This is the kind my Mom has- it is insulin dependent.-www.diabetes.org
  • Type 2- the most common form, in which your pancreas needs help to either produce more insulin or supplement it, or to help your body break it down.

To learn more about Type 2 diabetes click here.  For the purpose of my personal story I am going to focus on Type 1 as that is what I am familiar with.

In my Mom’s case, her body does not produce insulin.  She needs to monitor her glucose levels and when they get too high, take a dose of insulin to lower it to a healthy level. 

Her body will never lower her sugar naturally (more than a couple of units) so she could not have had those seizures or episodes without taking too much insulin.  She was overdosing- not on purpose, but because she was uneducated.  She felt that taking insulin helped her, and didn’t understand why she would not get better if she had more. That was a very dangerous problem.  Several doctors and nurses said she was lucky to have survived on “feeling” alone instead of monitoring her levels.

Not only does she have to take insulin when her glucose it too high, but she needs to change the amount she takes depending on what kind of food she eats and exercise she does.  It is called bolusing.  She is supposed to get together with a nutritionist to learn how to calculate this.  It is all about trial and error with this, every person is unique.

To add to all of this, a diabetic person is more susceptible to kidney issues, eye and foot problems, nerve damage, and much more.

All in all, Diabetes is no joke.  If you are diagnosed with it, TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF. If not, help your loved one who is.  Most of the complications are preventable and worth every second of counting carbs and measuring insulin.

If you have any more questions I recommend Diabetes.org, it is a very informational website and can lead you to many other sources.  I also recommend you make yourself or your loved one a medical binder to keep track of their disease.

Take care,

xoxox

Amanda

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