Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Part V: What I held back

I've kept back some information and experiences from my story-telling because I wanted to give all the nitty-gritty to you in the same post.  There is some important information that I feel is never really shared with d-moms and d-dads.  We all hear the horror that can occur when a diabetic is out of control.  The organ damage, the loss of sight, the extremes.  The fact is, rarely does a diabetic go on long enough in high blood sugars for these things to happen.  It takes years and years of high blood sugars to cause that kind of damage.  But there is other damage and while it may not be as "horror inducing", it's still not fun and in some ways, more aggravating.  It's day-to-day kind of stuff.  Some of it, you may not be too keen on discussing with your children, with very good reasons.  But even if you're embarrassed by the topics (and they certainly will be!), you can still use this as a starting point to look up articles for them to read on all of this!  Some of this is going to be way TMI, but I've shared so much already, so why not this?  Here we go....

I've been diabetic for nearly 24 years.  I have a friend, the same age as I am, who was diagnosed at the same age as me.  I haven't had any major complications.  My kidneys function great, there are no signs of diabetic retinopathy, my limbs are all intact, no nerve damage, etc.  My friend has gone through very similar experiences as me, nothing any worse than what I've been through.  And yet, she's had surgery to correct diabetic retinopathy twice.  The doctors never know if the next surgery is going to be the last and she'll lose her sight completely.  There are no explanations for why one person gets complications and another person doesn't.  I'm guessing it's somewhat genetic and you won't know until the sh*t hits the fan whether you're one of the lucky ones or not.  But there are other complications that happen, no matter what your genes are!

During the time when I was using my diabetes to lose weight, I remember going on a short trip with one of my sisters.  An hour and a half trip.  Not long by any means.  But, because of my blood sugars being as high as they were, I had issues with even that long of a drive.  You see, having your blood sugars consistently high does damage to your bladder.  No one tells you that, do they?  But high blood sugars can and do cause permanent bladder control issues.  It's not pretty.  An hour and a half drive and I had a very hard time with just that.  If a diabetic is going to manipulate their diabetes in this way, so that they are consistently high, they will have incidences of wetting their pants.  It's not always possible to be close to a bathroom.  And holding your bladder when your sugar is high just isn't all that easy.  The longer you stay high, the harder it becomes.  And once you take that step to start caring for yourself again, you will still have problems because even a short amount of time with high blood sugars can cause your bladder to weaken.  Fun stuff, right?  Just the problem a teenager wants to have!

Would you believe that all of that is nothing compared to what I have for you next?  High blood sugars mean a body chemistry that is just perfect for certain kinds of fungal growth.  Your diabetic girls, when their blood sugars run high, will definitely have issues with yeast infections.  Especially as their body's immune system starts to be compromised and they begin having issues with bacterial imbalances.  Anti-biotics are never a good thing for a diabetic, but with high blood sugars, a sweeter body chemistry, those little pills will cause some serious and very annoying issues for them.

Now, I can't share personal experiences of what high blood sugars do to boys, but I can share some information with all of you.  Wouldn't want the parents of d-boys to be left without some serious weapons of their own.  What subject occupies the mind of teenage boys more than any other?  A very common side-effect of high blood sugars for boys is erectile dysfunction.  And if they continue with not taking care of themselves for a long enough time, they'll also suffer from sterility.

The most frustrating thing about all of these side effects?  There's no quick fix.  There's no way to undo the damage once it's been done.

Hopefully, that's enough weapons for you to talk to your kids about making sure they take care of themselves.  Now that I've given you all of that, I can set your mind at ease, hopefully.  You see, there's one weapon your children have that I did not.  I was alone.  Your children have you.  They know you care.  You wouldn't be reading my blog and all the horror that I have to share if you didn't want to know in order to protect your child.  I wish I could tell you that I just magically started to take care of myself one day.  That I woke up and suddenly had the wisdom that I needed in order to take all of this seriously.  What really happened to make me take care of myself?  My husband.  I met this wonderful, fantastic person who actually cared about me, wanted a future with me, wanted a family with me.

I've already told you that I love my mom.  I really do.  But, I'm not sure my mom was ever meant to be a mom.  She's always defined herself by the romantic relationship in her life.  That's always been where she's focused her energies.  I was her fifth child, the last from her first marriage, all girls.  I think I came along at a time when she didn't want more children from her husband.  She'd left my father several times.  I don't know what the reality of the situation was, but I do know that I've always felt like my presence was resented.  That I wasn't loved the same as my siblings.  I was the odd one out in our family.  I was quiet and shy.  My four older sisters were very close, they were all popular and outgoing.  I felt like I had no one.  I grew up lonely.  It's that whole "squeaky wheel gets the grease" phenomenon.  I didn't squeak, therefore I was ignored most of the time.  After I finished a two-year degree at the community college in my hometown, I moved off the big city for school.  And this amazing thing happened.  I came out of my shell!  I learned to not care what other people thought of me and just be who I wanted to be.  I met my husband and decided that if he didn't like me for who I was, then he wasn't worth wasting time on.  And you know what?  He actually liked who I was!  That was my turning point.  That was when I realized that I was worth taking care of, not just for him, but for myself as well.  It wasn't long after we started getting serious that I decided to take the step towards being on an insulin pump.  Things still aren't perfect and I slip up from time to time, but I do a much better job of caring for myself.  Because I'm worth the effort.

There's probably a whole lot more I could talk about.  I could probably write an entire book!  But, I think I'm going to leave my story at the five parts.  That doesn't mean this is all over though.  Instead of writing more and boring you all to death, I'm going to open myself up.  Any questions you want answered, any light I can turn on for you, any knowledge you feel I might be able to share with you....ask away!  I'll try to answer anything in as much detail and honesty as I can muster.  Anything you want to know?


  1. You are invaluable in my eyes. Your willingness to open up and dive into this stuff....I NEED to hear this. Thank you. Thank you from the bottom of my Candy Heart.

  2. I can't thank you enough- our son is 13 and was diagnosed in Feb of this year. Right now we are all working together to help him stay healthy and deal with T1. Your information and insight as a child growing up and as an adult living with T1 is invaluable to me. Please know that everything you have been through and your willingness to share it is making a HUGE impact on how we are coping and managing T1 in our lives. Thank you, thank you.

  3. Cindy. You are sooooo worth the effort of taking care of yourself and I am thankful that you learned that in this lifetime and have been doing that. Isn't that in part what life is about? It took me a long time to love myself too and to know myself and to be comfortable with my self...and I didn't even have "d", or the same family dynamics as you did. You are pure gold in my eyes friend.

    I thank you for the heads up on the erectile dysfunction and sterility. I did know about them...after Joe was diagnosed I read every book I could get my hands on...but haven't thought about them for awhile. I do have some questions for you...I have a really busy 2 weeks ahead of me...but then I'll ask...they are more about food issues etc.


  4. Thanks for letting it all out Cindy. You are a gem. I can't imagine going through D without family support and validation of your self worth. That is just heartbreaking to me! I'm glad you have your family now that shows you that YOU are worth every bit of effort! I think you are too. :)

  5. Thank you so very much for sharing your stories. I appreciate you opening yourself up in such a way to help those of us trying to muddle our way through parenting a kid with diabetes. I wonder if you find that helping your daughter deal with her D provides some healing for you as well? Kind of a full circle thing? I hope it does, in some way.

  6. Wow. This is incredible. Thank you for sharing your story. Honest and positive. I'm catching up on posts and can't wait to read more.