One year ago yesterday, I met with my tax guy and left with a ginormous IRS bill.
Then I went to my hair stylist, hoping incorrectly that a cut and color would cheer me up after the anticipated awfulness of taxes. She couldn’t help but point out that I had lost even more hair.
The next day, I went in to an eye doctor for the first time in my life to confirm that I had gone damn near blind all of a sudden and charged $271 for my first pair of glasses, which wouldn’t come for three days.
Then, I squinted my way to the most ominous appointment of them all: my primary care doc. I knew what she was going to tell me already.
Or, at least, what she was supposed to tell me.
It was a Wednesday. I had arranged for the blood work the Friday before. I had called on Monday to get the result.
Fasting blood glucose: 260
That’s certainly nowhere near the worst I’ve seen. I was lucky to catch and respond to the symptoms early enough that I didn’t wind up in a hospital.
But, I knew what the result meant. There really wasn’t any other possibility.
I lost all faith in western medicine that day, but I already detailed that in my very first post.
I knew I had a new, terrifying, lifelong challenge called Type 1 diabetes, but my doctor didn’t. It took another two weeks before I got into an endocrinologist so that I could finally get the correct diagnosis confirmed by someone other than myself.
So, I guess my one year anniversary of my correct diagnosis isn’t until March 1st.
I’ve always been healthy. Sure, I wind up in urgent care after doing something stupid or after the flu wipes me out every other year or so, but other than that, I just went in once a year for all the regular check-ups and that was it.
Now, at the age of 30, I had a “team” of four health professionals, was injecting myself indiscriminately with insulin, and passing out in my kitchen from a hypoglycemic episode.
It wasn’t the best.
Fast forward three months…
After working with a naturopath out of Phoenix I was on top of the world. I was averaging 90 before every meal on very low doses of insulin, hiking 7-10 miles per week, my eyesight was back to normal, and my hair was coming back.
Jump ahead another three months…
I was burnt out from launching a new brand over the summer, my blood sugars were all over the place, and I stopped being as strict about my diet after a particularly indulgent surprise trip to Europe. Everything went out of whack.
I’ve been on the Type 1 roller coaster ever since.
Getting my diet, exercise and blood sugar under control for a few weeks, then losing it due to a trip, or stress, or getting sick, or some other mysterious factor I couldn’t pinpoint.
My approach to problems is to solve them. But, diabetes isn’t solvable.
It’s an ever evolving target that moves with every small shift in my life.
Nobody really gets it unless you are personally dealing with it, as a Type 1 diabetic or a caregiver. I never accepted or appreciated how incredibly hard this disease is until a solid nine months into it.
The past few months have been about accepting that fact. Accepting that 150 mg/dL before a meal isn’t a personal failure. And being diligent regardless.
Everything impacts blood sugar. Every thing.
There are so many factors outside of my control.
It’s not an excuse. It’s actually a call to be even more rigorous about my lifestyle and routines.
On the really bad days, I still mourn the loss of such a beautiful, albeit unhealthy, coping mechanism. My self-medication was cut off so unfairly, and with no warning.
I would have binged all of 2015 had I known that I would lose all of my best friends at such a young age: dark chocolate, plain frozen yogurt (with dark chocolate), artisan bread (ideally with pralines and a little white chocolate)…plus, I would have lost every ounce of all that body fat as my beta cells died off one by one.
Just last Wednesday, I cried in the carpool line at my kids’ school after a Doritos radio ad.
As a therapist, I find it amusing, and genuine, that there is a grieving process with all losses. And diabetes, at least on it’s face, represents a very real loss of choices and control.
Wait…I started this post off with celebrating.
The truth of it is: life sucks sometimes.
But there is always someone who has it so much worse. And there are always amazing wonderful things happening in my life. So much so that sometimes I barely remember I have diabetes.
One year ago, I was at a low point. I was newly divorced, newly near-sighted, constantly thirsty, completely fatigued, and developing bald spots (!).
But, you know what else?
I owed a lot of taxes that year because my business kicked ass in 2015.
And that Saturday, I went snowboarding for the first time. The very next day, I went rock climbing for the first time.
The day before my endo appointment, I went skiing with my best friend on Leap Year. And the weekend after, I hiked 30+ miles through Arches and Canyonlands solo.
And over this past roller coaster year of settling into my diagnosis, I went to Europe…twice. And then Thailand and Bali.
I’m more grateful for every day that I get after my very minor brush with mortality in the kitchen that one really bad day.
And I’m honestly healthier than ever before. I eat with a purpose. I exercise with a purpose. I love my body and I get immediate feedback when I get off track. That’s a blessing in and of itself.
So, a celebratory toast on my one year anniversary:
To the very special, incredibly strong, often misunderstood and misdiagnosed group of fellow Type 1’s out there who totally understand this craziness:
Thank you for all of the support and understanding I’ve received during these first 12 months. Thank you for being human, and funny, and honest.
I look forward to the many months to come and the enormous opportunity to work together toward awareness, affordable insulin, real health care, and ultimately, a cure.
Because Type 1’s are scrappy and persistent. We have to be.
At the very least, we can definitely take back our choices with delicious low-carb meals. And that’s a pursuit I can live with.