I think it’s safe to say that my diabetes actually started in my childhood. To me candies and junk food were a delight that seemed to be its own reward. Looking back, it’s not hard to realize that I was already well on my way to developing Type II diabetes. My breath was almost always sweet smelling. My thirst was enormous. I could drink a 64-ounce soda within five minutes and still want more.
I was in my mid 20s when I first did a blood sugar test and scored about 420 on the meter. The nurse who checked it was scared for me and wanted to admit me to the hospital as soon as possible. At the time I felt fine and had no clue that things were that bad. The reason I checked in the first place was because I had the same symptoms that my spouse had. I went to a class with her because her doctor told her to do so.
When I saw I had the same symptoms that we read on a hand out the nurse gave us, I took the finger stick test. It was no surprise that my blood sugar level was way off the mark. Because I had no medical insurance and very little money, I just blew it off and did nothing to change my eating habits.
I always figured I would get medical insurance later, still as the years went by the various jobs I held were not offering it so much and when they did it was still out of my price range. So I just pressed on. This was a great mistake, because I did not get help from the doctor and take meds that I desperately needed.
With this type of illness, the process is very slow and takes bits and pieces at a time. You don’t feel a huge change until it is too late. Ten years passed and I found myself in the hospital. At that time I was coughing a great deal, I was always feeling sick. It was like I had a flu I could not shake. I was in worse shape than ever. My immune system went down and I was plagued with more sickness. Because I lived in the Oregon where the weather is almost always cold and rainy, I could not shake this cold. With that and an existing congenital heart defect, the doctor in charge of my care informed me that I had already lost 10 years of my life and that if I wanted to live to a ripe old age then I needed to make some changes.
I began a regimen of medications and I swore off all granulated sugar in my diet. I had to get used to the taste of Splenda and Equal, but it was a good trade-off in order to gain more time with my friends and family members. I am now 42 and have been an amputee for almost four years now. I stepped on an old screw in my yard and waited too late to get medical attention. I waited for about a day or two before I went to the emergency room. By then gangrene had already set in, thanks to the fact that my immune system was weaker because of my diabetes. By the time I got to the hospital, my toe and the top part of my foot was black. They took it off because the skin was already dead.
Through events like this, I have seen how diabetes can damage your body. If only I had done more sooner, my life might be completely different today. I eat a wide variety of things, but rarely too much. I drink diet soft drinks but prefer sugar free Kool-Aid. I limit what I eat for the most part. Taking walks and exercise is a daily part of my life now. Please don’t make that same mistake I did — it only takes a few changes to grant you more time to spend with your cherished friends and family. Aren’t they worth that much? Aren’t you worth that much to them?