Thursday, September 26, 2013

The Difference a Decade Makes

I'm approaching my 11th anniversary of living with Diabetes. There's just over a month left in my tenth year and then my diabetes will, without much fanfare, turn 11 years old.

I thought about that the other night as I tested my blood sugar in the dark, sent a correction bolus to my pump and rolled back over for a few more hours of sleep.

Ten years isn't that long.

But it is a really long time to be living with this relentless disease.

When I was first diagnosed, I was given a glucometer that counted down for 30 seconds before I got the results. I used to prick my finger, suck up the droplet and then do something else (like put on a pot of tea) while waiting for the beep.

And when you feel awful but aren't totally sure if you're high or low, those 30 seconds last a really really long time.

I was also put on injections and prescribed one of those insulins that spikes at set times during the day. So I had to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner at a set time and I had to eat the exact number of carbs that was prescribed by my doctor. Never mind if I wasn't hungry, if I was hungrier than the carbs allowed or, heaven forbid, someone brought cupcakes to work at 2pm.

That lasted only as long as it took to get my first appointment at the Diabetes Centre. They gently suggested that I ask my doctor for a change to something more suited to my lifestyle I was put on Levemir as a slow-acting insulin and Humalog for my fast-acting pre-meal insulin.

Big difference!

I used to have to count carbs, figure out how much insulin to take based on my BG and the carbs I was about to eat, subtract for exercise, add for high blood sugars and try to remember how much I had taken a few hours later when I was dealing with a post-meal high or low.

Before I was diagnosed, I never used a purse. In fact I hated them.

It didn't take long before I bought one.

I used to carry two juice boxes in my purse as my emergency glucose supply because I had been told at the hospital that juice is the fastest acting carb. Juice boxes, for the record, are really heavy when you have to lug them in your purse all day. I soon switched to life savers but they hurt my teeth after a while because I had to chomp on them in order for them to work fast enough. Then came red licorice. Followed by those little packs of fruit chews. And Giant Rockets. Then raisins and Dex4s.

Aside: how do menfolk deal carry all their diabetes paraphernalia? I have my glucometer, spare test strips, batteries, emergency glucagon and lots of carbs on me at all times. If I'm more than an hour from home, I also bring a back up needle and insulin and if I'm going overnight I carry extra insulin and two site changes just in case. There is no way that is fitting in my pocket. 

Ten years ago I didn't run. Or cycle. Swim, golf and curling weren't on my radar either. I walked though - does that count?

Ten years is a long time.

I was 28 when I was diagnosed. I'm 39 now.

Today I have a glucometer that lights up at night, tests my BG in 5 seconds, and talks to my insulin pump so I can bolus wirelessly. Is also calculates the insulin dosage I need based on carbs, BG and Insulin on Board.

I have a small glucometer that also tests in 5 seconds and that I can carry with me on long runs and to races.

Yes indeed, I took up running, cycling, swimming, curling and golf. All after I was diagnosed. All because they are fun to do and also because they help me feel like I'm kicking the diabetes gods in their proverbial asses. Like last Saturday when I rocked an 18k run in the pouring rain. I felt like I should be wearing a shirt that read "yep, I'm running 18k in the rain AND I have diabetes!"

I can SWAG a handful of raisins and get it just right so that I start a 6k run with a BG of 5.8 and finish with a BG of 6.0.

For the record, SWAG stands for Scientific Wild Ass Guess and it's how we T1s figure out the number of carbs in that pasta dish at the italian restaurant or how many raisins to eat before heading out for a run. A combination of science and voodoo that we learn through trial and error. 

I have a waterproof insulin pump.

I write a blog about diabetes.

I have friends with diabetes.

I get asked to help other people with diabetes.

Oh, and despite what I was promised in the hospital, diabetes hasn't been cured yet.

I'm not holding out hope that this will change any time soon. If it does - yay! In the meantime - I got a life to live ya'll and I'm not wasting any time waiting around for a cure. Call me when it's ready eh?

The next ten years?

I do expect the next decade to be full of new and improved diabetes devices that will make my 5-second glucometer seem ancient and pokey, my wifi ready waterproof pump to look rather mundane and my Dex4s feel like old-fashioned juice boxes.

I expect I'll be rocking the continuous glucose monitor.

I expect I'll still be running, swimming, cycling, curling and golfing. I may be doing other things too but, at some point, something's gotta give...or I have to retire at 49.

I can remember my first day with diabetes. In fact, the first week is pretty much seared into my memory. The second week, when I returned to work and real life, is fairly clear too. It gets rather fuzzy after that although I do many of my firsts. My first run. My first pump. My first night at home alone. My first ketones. My first stomach flu. My first BG of 1.2.

Dear Diabetes - I would never have chosen you and you've spent a good part of our relationship acting like an asshole. But my life is what it is today because of you. And I really love my life.

So thank you for that.

1 comment:

  1. I really liked this post. It's well written and so very real. I like that we got diagnosed the same year a few months apart. Reading all of this is what it was like for me too, 11 years ago (and a few months).