Now that I've gotten around to telling my "story", I'm finding myself drawn to blog about it, just so I can get through all of my thoughts on it and have it all down. It's kind of like sorting through the belongings of a lost loved one. It's hard to bring yourself to the point of beginning, but once you do, you feel a drive to finish and begin to feel a bit of a weight lifting off of you.
So, here's where my story starts to get interesting. Teen years are hell, aren't they? Even without diabetes, teen years can be pretty brutal. All that emotional turmoil, physical changes, hormones, acne. Oh, so much fun! And there's this interesting mind-set that teens have, where they almost believe that they're invincible. All those awful stories we hear of teens who drink and drive or text and drive? That stuff happens to someone else, but not to me! At least, that seems to be what goes on in a teen mind. Diabetes adds a very interesting element to the teen sense of invincibility. Keep in mind as I'm telling you of my teen years....it's not like this for every diabetic. Really, it's not. The more support you give your diabetic during these years, the better your child will make it through and the less likely he or she is to face some of these problems. Notice, I said support, not nagging and doing all the diabetes stuff for them! Be there to help them through, try to understand their difficulties and lend them an ear when they need to talk things out, and you'll be the best parent a diabetic teenager can have!
Early on in my teens, I went along with what I'd always been doing. Testing four times a day, insulin injections twice a day, eating as I should, etc. It wasn't until I hit my mid-teens that things really changed. I hit puberty. I suddenly gained a whole lot of weight. Somehow, my high metabolism slowed way down and I started having problems with being over-weight. Seriously, this literally happened over-night! At 14, I was 95 lbs. At 15, 110 lbs. At 16....150! I stopped taking care of myself. I turned to food for comfort. I was a quiet kind of girl. In grade school, if a teacher called on me or acknowledged me in any way, I turned bright red and clammed up. I was shy. I didn't like having people look at me. That didn't change much as I got older and hit high school. Food and putting on weight was one way of becoming less noticeable. I'm not blaming the diabetes for my weight gain, because really, it was my own fault. As my weight changed, so did my care of my diabetes. I stopped testing when I should and started "making up" numbers for my log book when it came time to show them to my diabetes care team. My mom had never paid any attention to making sure I was doing as I was supposed to, so it was pretty easy for me to ignore my diabetes as well. And here I am, at the point where I have to share two of my most profound diabetes memories. Remember, this is not how it is for all diabetic teenagers! These are a couple of moments in my life that I'm not proud of and would rather not have had....
When I was 13, I started to visit my father occasionally on Saturdays. I hadn't had much contact with him during my life, but when I hit my teen years, I started to feel that I needed some answers from him about certain things that had been done to my sisters and I. In pursuit of that, I started to spend time with him. I spent New Year's Eve with him, my step-mother, and their 2-year-old son, the year that I was 15. In those days, I was awful about taking the right amount of insulin. I didn't bother measuring out carbohydrates or calculating insulin properly. I very rarely took any insulin at all when I was visiting him. That evening, after celebrating, he brought me back home fairly late. I was feeling exceedingly high and took a rather large dose of insulin before falling asleep on the couch (my basement bedroom was freezing in the winter!). What happened after that, I can only tell you from what my mom told me. My mom woke up early the next day, found me in the living room, lying on the couch with my eyes open. She talked to me and I didn't respond, although my eyes followed her around the room. She thought maybe I was just so tired that I was sleeping with my eyes open. My mom went to take a shower. When she came back after showering and dressing, I started to convulse. My mom immediately called 911 and called out for one of my sisters to come help her. At the time, we lived more than 7 miles from town, in a rural area. While they waited for the ambulance to show up, my sister and mom spoon-fed me sugar straight from the sugar bowl. There's this interesting thing about extreme insulin reactions that no one will probably tell you. Glucagon kits aren't all that necessary. Your body kicks into survival mode and even if you're unconscious, chances are that you will automatically swallow anything placed into your mouth. The first memory I have from after all this is waking up in the ICU at the hospital, with glucose gel all over my face. The nearest doctors could figure out, my blood sugar was in the single digits when my mom called the ambulance. The rough estimate they gave was that my blood sugar was probably about 4! My sheer stupidity and disregard for my diabetes care nearly killed me and if it weren't for the efforts of my mom and sister, there would have been nothing for the EMTs to do when they got there. That being said, I hope it will bring some comfort to all of you to know that even with my blood sugar being that incredibly low, I did not wind up in a diabetic coma.
The second profound memory...I'm going to save for tomorrow. Honestly, it's one that deserves a post of its own! It's one that those with diabetic girls especially won't want to miss!