Sue introduces herself, describes when she realized she was diabetic and explains how she was finally diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.
Hi. I am Sue. I am a type-1 diabetic and I am also a runner. I have not always been a runner. I was unable to do a lot of distance running because of my disease but I have learned how to manage it and I have learned how to make it work for me.
I am 55 years old. I was diagnosed at age 32 with type-1 diabetes and my story is one that I think some of you might be able to benefit from if you hear the way I have been able to maintain good diabetes control and still run and enjoy my life in a way that I hope all of you will be able to make your lives even better after you hear my story.
You would think that I would have known something was very wrong with me but I wasn’t realizing that I was in anyway unhealthy. The situation became known to me when I was dress shopping with a young gal who was in high school. She was a friend from my youth group at church and I was preparing to go to a high school graduation and I needed something new to wear.
She went with me shopping and I put on my normal size of clothing which was a size 12 women’s dress and it just hung on me. So I said, we need another size. She went back and she got me a 10. Each time I would put the smaller size women’s dress on it was still too big and this was back in the day when there were the column dresses. They were very fitted and I couldn’t understand what was going on.
When I finally found a dress that fit my figure at the time it was a size 6. I had never worn a size 6. I was not realizing that I was shedding weight and as I started to think back, it became clear to me that I was losing about a pound a day. I was a young mother. I had a son in second grade; I had a daughter in kindergarten. I just thought it was the lifestyle in that phase of my life.
This young girl, very wise, said to me, “I want you to weigh yourself and if you get under 120 pounds I want you to make an appointment.” She was the only one I guess that had the courage to say something to me. I later found out that other people were realizing that I was just wasting away and were thinking I might be anorexic. They thought I might have cancer and they were probably just hesitant to talk, but the 18-year-old girl was not afraid to say something and that was my reality.
I probably made my doctor’s appointment the next morning because I had probably shed another couple of pounds. So I went ahead and made an appointment with my regular doctor. He asked me to do a fasting, we were going to do a fasting blood sugar. I was not supposed to eat anything from a certain time; go in with no food in me.
The next morning I went to the doctor’s office. They did a blood draw and I was told the following morning. It was July 16 of 1987. I went back and he said, “You have diabetes.” I said, “Oh, okay. So you are just going to give me a pill. I am going to take a pill,” and mind you, I was 32-years-old. I knew a little bit about diabetes so I said sure, okay, I’ll just take a pill and everything will be fine.”
And he said, “No, I am sending you to an endocrinologist. You will be taking shots.” And I just kind of gulped and he said, “You will be taking shots for the rest of your life. Your body is not producing any insulin.”
I then went to the specialist, the endocrinologist that he set me up with and when I went in the doctor, he was so wonderful, they always say that your first, you know, whatever it is your first this or your, I have never had a doctor like him. I have never liked a doctor as much as I liked him because he looked at me and he said, “Huh, you must be feeling pretty puny right now?”
Like yeah, I don’t know. How am I supposed to feel? He said, “You probably haven’t realized just how awful you have been feeling.” He said, “You are the kind of person that just keeps going and going and going and you don’t even think about what you are feeling like.” And he said, “Most people in your situation would be a big puddle on the floor right now.” And I said, “Okay, so what do we do?”
He says, “You are going to take your first shot.” And I said, “No, you are going to give me or the nurse is going to come in and give me my first shot.” He said, “No, the nurse is going to come in and she is going to show you what to do and you are going to take your first shot.”
Now, I knew enough people who were diabetic who told me that they practiced on oranges. I didn’t get an orange. I was told, “Okay, grab up your fat here, put it in your hand, wide it up and take this syringe and like a dart.” And it’s all like a world in for me because I had barely found out I was a type-1.
They did not put me in the hospital. Oh by the way, my fasting blood sugar glucose, my fasting glucose number was 780 and I was still walking around. They did not put me into the hospital. They said, “Nope, you are getting your shot here and you are going to classes this afternoon.”
And I will tell you that never once did it cross my mind that I had a choice with this. I knew I had no choice. People would say to me, “Ooh, how can you test your blood sugar? Oh, how can you draw blood?” Blood makes me feel queasy and I am thinking, I don’t have a choice here. This is what I do.
I test my blood sugar. I took my shots faithfully before I got my insulin pump which will come along, we’ll probably talk about that later. But I just took it as okay, this is what I do. I am a type-1 diabetic. I do this. This is how I take care of myself and it’s okay. It’s okay.
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