The Dawn Phenomenon

12 Aug

Today, I was invited by @MomWithDiabetes to post my story on The Diabetic You. So I did. Battling highs and lows all night, 5:00 in the morning seemed a good a time as any.

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As a militantly proud vegetarian of two years, I got a summer cold right before my senior year in high school. I thought it was due to malnourishment, so desperate to feel better, I gave up my cherished diet and scarfed up meat. And cheese. And everything else I could get my hands on.

This carried on for about two weeks. My exhausted body craved food as fuel, though it savaged it in return. Little did I know, that summer cold triggered an autoimmune effect that catalyzed the onset of type 1 diabetes.

Two days before my sixteenth birthday, I couldn’t take it anymore. I had been vomiting for days, urinating twice hourly (buckets), and drinking about three gallons of water a day. I wasn’t getting any sleep due to such frequent urination, and my clothes didn’t fit, as I had lost about twenty pounds in two weeks. I looked like a supermodel, but I felt like shit.

My father said my skin had turned green, and I couldn’t even hold down water. I was fading fast, and may have died if I hadn’t gone to the ER. They took one look at me, asked my age, tested my pee, and had their verdict.

Hopped up on morphine and who knows what else, I literally thought the nurse had the wrong gal. He was looking at me when he said I had juvenile diabetes. I was in disbelief and shock.

Five days later, and they wouldn’t let me out until I could inject myself. For my birthday, my family and I had disgusting, disheartening sugarfree popsicles. After a whirlwind education (and some miseducation) in the rest of my life, I had to act, or I would never get to see my dog (though my parents did sneak her into the hospital once!).

In the bathroom, at 1:00 AM, I held my breath sitting in a chair, and slowly, ever so cautiously, pushed a needle into my thigh. Done. I did it one more time, and then another. Fifteen minutes later, I was ready to go. This wasn’t so bad. Right?

Fast forward seven years, and I’ve had ups and downs about as severe as my yo-yo-ing blood sugar. I broke a mountaineering record in 2008, and was the first youngest female type 1 diabetic to summit Mt. Washington in winter. On that day, I also had a blood sugar of 30 and then 536, the largest range in a single day for me to this date.

On the summit of Mt. Washington, in the White Mountains

I’ve also been hospitalized more times than I can count, and have made endocrinologists cry (though I try really really hard not to). I’ve had a now-infamous dream about getting a tattoo of a piece of yellow cake with chocolate frosting on my arm, with the words: “Taste the Forbidden” in red gothic lettering.

I’ve become a certified personal trainer in my quest to normalize my levels, reaching out to others and building my entire life around fitness. Even then, it was never a cakewalk, so to speak.

As I type this, I am coming off of my third hypoglycemia of the day, praying I got it right this time. Or will it bounce back into hyperglycemia?

Afraid of low or high blood sugar, I’ve been testing and treating for hours, and have now been up until 5:00 AM. This isn’t uncommon for me, as my sugar is so often a problem.

I’ve lost jobs over being ill so often. Hopefully one day, I don’t lose a limb. With my work ethic, you’d think I wouldn’t lose a single neuron, but I’m not sure hard work is enough to battle this enemy.

It’s a fight, literally to the death, and I’m up fighting well before first light.

It’s just another day with type 1 diabetes.

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