Nine years ago today was the last day of my pre-diabetes life.
The day before the day everything changed.
I knew I was sick. I knew something was terribly wrong. Hallowe'en 2002 was the last day of my life without diabetes.
It's too bad that I was feeling too poorly to appreciate it.
The next morning, November 1st, I had an appointment with my family doctor. Within hours I was in intensive care. By the time I went home a week later I had learned what a glucometer was. I had learned how to count carbs. I had forced myself to prick my own finger and draw my own blood to check my sugar. I had sat on the edge of the bed in my open back gown with a nurse beside me - working up the courage to give myself my first needle. I had had my first low in the middle of the night and had to ring for the nurse because I had no idea what was happening. All I knew was something was NOT right.
Nine years ago, I went into the hospital as Céline and came out as Céline but everything had changed.
I was now a person with diabetes. And, trust me, that was a very very scary thing.
I remember shaking uncontrollably when we stopped at the mall on the way home. I was terrified to go in, terrified of having a low and not knowing what would happen. I remember having my first low after I left the hospital and trying hard to ignore it in the hopes that it would go away. It didn't. I cried when I realized that willpower didn't work. I couldn't push through a low. I had to acknowledge it, stop whatever I was doing and deal with it.
I hated that.
I still hate that.
I also remember feeling better as soon as they gave me insulin. I was looking pretty awful by the end. Severely dehydrated, 35 pounds lighter that I had been in June, pale and weak. As soon as my blood sugar started dropping I felt and looked immensely better.
Insulin is NOT a cure...
...but it is a miracle.
Nine years ago today, I had severe ketoacidosis and my blood sugar was around 35. I was dying. Dying of a disease that was a guaranteed killer before 1921.
Thanks to Drs Banting and Best, the Canadian doctors who discovered insulin, I was handed a new life.
One that involves a lot of finger pricking, needle pokes, medical appointments, highs and lows but a new life.
Many people never have an experience that shakes their world. I had two by the time I was 22 years old. Each time taught me some pretty important lessons.
The first time happened in 1991 and it taught me the value of family and friends. I learned to appreciate every moment because I had learned how easily moments can disappear and lives can change.
In 2002, diabetes taught me about priorities. It changed my life and, in return, gave me the courage I needed to change my life.
I left the path I was on and forged a new life. Along the way, I changed everything.
It's been nine years already. I remember how overwhelmed I felt after I had lived with diabetes for only one week. All the carb counting. All the meal planning. All the highs and lows. Then a month went by. Then a year.
It's almost been a decade.
I'm starting to forget what life was like before diabetes. What it was like to eat what I wanted, when I wanted, without worrying about anything. What it was like to go for a walk without pockets full of fast acting carbs just in case. What it was like to not have calloused fingers or needles in my purse. What it was like to travel without an entire carry-on devoted to diabetic supplies.
Some things I can only imagine. Like what it would be like to go for a run in nothing but shorts and a t-shirt. I started running after diabetes so I will never know what it is like to run without fear of having a low.
Other things I would never have experienced without diabetes. I would not have started blogging. I would not have discovered the DOC. I would not have started running, cycling or swimming. I would not have taken up photography. I would not have many of the friends I have today.
My life has been immeasurably changed with my diagnosis. Some things have changed for the worse but most have changed for the better. Because I learned, again, what's really important.
Nothing like a life-altering event to show you what the priorities are.
Next year is ten years. I think that calls for a party don't you?