Friday, January 23, 2009

A Dark Time In My Life . . . (PART 1)

On one of the many message boards I visit, I was just asked today about a particular event that happened to me 4 years ago. This event would change my life forever, in a positive way. But at the time I thought it was the end of my life. I was going to write this on the anniversary of this event a couple of weeks back, and then I nixed the idea. But since I seemed to have been asked about this by two different people on two different message boards within the span of 24 hours, I'm taking it as a cue to get the story out now for the whole world to read.

So, here it goes (warning, this will be LONG!):

4 years ago around Christmas time, Lisa was in grad school. Due to something completely the professor's fault and totally f'd up, she ended up failing a class that by all rights she had passed. She was getting her masters in nursing to become a Nurse Practitioner, a course of study that requires stringent grading criteria. At this particular university, you were not allowed to fail more than one class. When this happened, it was extremely stressful for us both. Mostly due to all the time and money we had already poured into her graduate education, but also just at the thought of failure for something that was not her fault.

This put me in a LOT of stress, because we had gone seriously into debt over this and, to top it off, we were planning for our wedding in 7 months.

Sometime over my habitual 2-week holiday break at the end of 2004, I started feeling really bad. Depressed even. I thought it was because of all the stress. But I was thirsty all the time, and started drinking massive quantities of iced tea. I thought it was because the heat in our apartment was too high (which it was). I started going to the bathroom a lot, too. But I didn't think anything of it since I was drinking so much fluids.

I started to know something was off, however, when we went to see Meet The Parents at the movies and I ended up ordering the large soda for us both. We *never* get the large soda. Within 45 mins, I'd drunk the whole thing. I felt so parched, and the soda felt like heaven entering my body. Yet it was like I could not get enough. I was still so damned THIRSTY!

I went to the bathroom, then got a free refill of the soda. 15 minutes later, I needed to go to the bathroom again. When I came back, I was so worried something was wrong with me. I watched the remainder of the movie, then immediately needed to go to the bathroom AGAIN when it was over.

That was it, something was definitely wrong. Later that night, while in bed, I noticed that I could not feel an area on the tip of my right big toe. I played and played at it, but nothing I did could bring any feeling to it. It was literally a dead patch of toe. I knew this had to do with the nerve endings in my toe. That freaked me out like you wouldn't believe! I laid in bed the entire night, so worried that I broke out into a cold sweat the ran like a river down my back and drenched my clothes. I was having a mild panic attack!

The next day I really felt like crap. I was thirstier than ever, and I was pissing every 30 to 45 minutes. Problem was, it was New Year's eve. My best friend, Tarrell, was visiting from Florida and staying on my couch, and I could not muster up the energy to be entertaining. It wasn't that I was lethargic, but that I was depressed. I was depressed over this issue with Lisa's grad school, and the thought of organizing a wedding, and most importantly with the thought of something being wrong with my health. As everyone who knew me could attest, I NEVER got sick. I didn't get colds, fevers, or anything. I'd been this way since forever. So to have a serious medical issue was very distressing to me.

Everyone I knew told me it was diabetes. Lisa was an RN at the time, so she knew best. My grandmother had also been a nurse, and it was her first diagnosis as well. I was SO scared!

The next day, despite it being a holiday, I went to the doctor's office. No one was there save for the secretary. She told me that the only time available was two days later, unless I had an emergency and then I should go to the emergency room in another building. Stupidly, I said it wasn't an emergency. So, for the two days following, I was in a state of panic suffering attacks every night. I pretty much left Tarrell to his own devices in my living room while I slept all day long in a state of acute depression.

Finally, the day of my appointment came. I was seeing a new doctor who I'd never seen. Before I could see him, the nurse took all my vitals to make up a patient history. This included a "finger stick" to test by blood-sugar level at that given moment.

Then I went in to see the doctor.

I told him my troubles, and he nodded and listened. Then he weighed me (again), and took my blood pressure (again). I was in worse shape than I thought! I weighed 230 lbs, and my blood pressure was 145 over 90. Normal should be around 120/80.

Worse yet was the results of my finger stick. Normal blood sugar level is supposed to be below 100. Preferably under 90 if you are fasting, but above 60.

My blood sugar level was 270!!!

The doctor was not happy. He told me that I very likely had Type II diabetes, but that more tests would need to be run in order to confirm this. In particular, he wanted to run a test called an A1c, which basically tests the amount of sugar that has been in your hemoglobin for the past 3 months. He told me that this was the most accurate test because it showed what your average blood-glucose levels have been in that time. He wanted me to get the tests done that day, and then he would call me the following week with the results (I came to him on a Friday, you see).

I never told him about the numbness in my big toe, because I was too afraid of what that would mean (amputation). I don't know why I kept this a secret, but I did. I think at the time I was just too overwhelmed by all the bad news that I didn't want to add to it. Stupid, I know.

In the meantime, my doctor told me I seriously needed to lose weight and get my blood pressure under control. I was on the border for having hypertension. Basically, I was in bad shape, and would need to drastically alter my lifestyle and diet.

I headed to the lab with a heavy heart (literally, it seems). I was so scared about what all this meant, and angry for having let myself get so bad. The only hope I had was that the test would come back negative, and that my high blood sugar was just a temporary thing and the result of stress. Which *does* happen, according to my doctor.

But little did I know the darkest days were soon to come . . .

TO BE CONTINUED IN PART 2.

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