Sunday 6 May 2012

The Diagnosis

Where do I start?  Right from the beginning I guess.  In the fall of 2010 I started to notice some things going on in my body that just did not feel right.  I am usually someone who has a ton of energy and all of a sudden I had none.  I remember going to Banff to run Melissa's Road Race and for the entire 22km my legs felt like lead.  Did not make sense to me as I could usually run 22km no problem.  I felt awful, but being the stubborn person I am I finished the race and put my lack of energy down to the fact that I had been training consistently and was probably in need of a rest.  It was around this time that I noticed my weight was decreasing.  Not rapidly at that point, but I was definitely shrinking!  I went to my doctor, well the locum doctor that was covering my doctor's practice while she was on mat leave, and she sent me for some blood work as she thought perhaps I was anemic.  Those tests came back normal and we decided that I had been under a lot of stress for a long period of time due to the health of my parents and the breakdown of my marriage the year before.  She suggested that I try and take it easy to see if I improved. 

Over the next six months things progressively got worse.  It was so slow though that I did not think anything serious could be wrong.  My weight dropped a bit more and I noticed that my energy levels decreased more and more.  I felt tired a lot and not motivated to do much.  I also started to have an appetite of a full grown man training for a ultra-marathon.  I was always hungry and ate what felt like constantly.  I also began to drink a lot of water.  I was still stubbornly exercising a lot (although it took all my energy to do so, I often felt better after) and attributed my hunger and thirst to that.  I did return to see the locum doctor in the spring of 2011 and she tested me for thyroid issues.  Those too came back normal.

During the summer of 2011 things got worse, fast!  I had no energy and all activities started to feel like a huge undertaking.  I was eating and drinking everything in sight and I noticed that my vision was getting a bit fuzzy.  Since I was drinking so much fluid I was peeing like crazy.  Looking back I should have known something mega was up but at the time I did not.  I went to see an optometrist because of my eyes and she found that I was starting to develop cataracts! WTF?  She was stumped as I was only 32.  She put me on a waiting list to see an opthamologist.  I remember going camping in August 2011 and feeling so tired.  I could have a five hour nap and still sleep all night long.  During one camping trip my feet swelled up and I thought I had been bitten by something.  Oh yes, and my weight - it was starting to drop off me drastically and I could not figure it out.  I was eating more than ever and could not keep any weight on.  My family were concerned and even started to wonder if I had an eating disorder!  I went from a curvy, athletic size 6 to a scrawny size 0.  By this time I was starting to worry and was actually scared to go to the doctor as I had convinced myself that I probably had cancer or something.  Finally I did go to the doctor during the first week of September, 2011.  A new locum had started and she was concerned.  She sent me for a thorough round of blood work.

September 7, 2011, a Wednesday, I was at work when my doctors office called in the morning.  They said that I needed to come in right away.  I had a meeting to go to and asked if I could come in the afternoon.  They booked me in for 3:00pm and told me that should I start experiencing chest pain or shortness of breath to go straight to emergency.  This freaked me out and I asked if they could give me an idea of what was going on.  They told me it looked like I may have mono.  I remember being totally bummed out, mono?  Man that totally sucked but explained most of my symptoms.  I went to my doctor at 3:00pm that day fully expecting the confirmation of a diagnosis of mono.  Well wasn't I in for the shock of my life!  The doctor sat me down and proceeded to tell me that I had Type 1 diabetes and that I would need to start insulin therapy right away.  She wanted me to have more blood work done and sent me to the nurse.  The nurse was in tears when I saw her - I was in total shock.  She showed me how to test my blood and we spent over an hour together as she figured out how they wanted to go about bringing my blood sugars down.  Before I knew it I was ready to inject myself for the first time and that is when I broke down.  I could not believe what was happening to me.  

I left the doctors office in a haze, armed with insulin pens and a prescription for a years worth of diabetic supplies.  I drove straight to my boyfriends house and broke down again.  He drove me to get my blood work and then took me to my pharmacy to have my prescription filled.  I felt like I was in some sort of nightmare and was terrified.  I did not know what I was supposed to do and felt so unprepared and uneducated.  When we got to my house around 8:00pm the phone was ringing.  It was my doctor.  She told me I had to get the nearest hospital emergency right away.  I told her what hospital I would be going to and she said she would call ahead.  By the time I hung up I was terrified!  My boyfriend drove me to the hospital emergency and they took me right away.  My blood sugar was 38mmol and the triage nurse was amazed that I was even alive.  They weighed me and I had dropped to 118lbs!  They had me hooked up to every machine under the sun and confirmed straight away that I was in DKA.  They started me on a slow insulin drip and I was admitted.  I was kept in the hospital for one week and during that time I tried to learn as much as I could.  I was very frustrated and spent a lot of time crying!  I have to say that I don't remember a lot of my time in the hospital, I think the shock of it all has blurred the events.

Well that is it folks!  Was diagnosed 8 months ago tomorrow.  A lot has happened since then and I will cover it in other posts.  I now do feel healthier than I have in a long time and have lots of energy again.  I get very upset when I think of all the time I went undiagnosed, but there is not much I can do but keep my chin up and deal with this thing called diabetes!

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