The Wake Up Call
The summer before my senior year of college started out great. I secured an internship at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of South Carolina, I was getting ready for my 21st birthday and I only had one year of college left.
One week into my internship something was off. I was extremely thirsty all of the time and had to urinate frequently – I was (literally) sprinting to the bathroom in between meetings! After another week of experiencing these symptoms (with more than a few close calls), I went to the emergency room.
I already self-diagnosed myself with Kidney Stones or a Bladder Infection. I figured it was a quick fix; the doctor would write a prescription and send me home. After sharing my symptoms, the staff started running tests. The results came back fast, and my doctor told me they found sugar in my urine. I thought to myself: No big deal, I’ve always been a sweet girl!
Needless to say, more tests were needed. The doctor checked my blood and discovered that my blood sugar levels were well over 400. The normal fasting range is 70-120 for non-diabetics.
Living with Diabetes
My entire life changed that night in the ER. I was diagnosed with Type I Diabetes and admitted to the hospital after my first insulin injection. I was terrified, confused and completely uninformed about diabetes. I spent the next few days in the hospital learning and practicing insulin injections on an orange. Diabetes was new to my family and me. I learned that the extreme thirst and frequent urination were symptoms of diabetes. I thought my life was over.
Twenty-two years passed since that night. And I’ve learned to manage my diabetes effectively. For the most part, my journey with diabetes has been good, but not without challenges. I had to make many lifestyle changes, but its made me a better person. I truly view my diagnosis as a blessing in disguise, as I am forced to make better choices about my diet and exercise. I have always been active, and diabetes hasn’t changed that, but it does require me to take certain precautions when I work out. Certain activities cause my blood sugars to drop, so I have to make sure that I eat before I swim, run, bike, or do any aerobic activity. I also learned that strength training elevates my blood sugars. I used to keep my disease a secret, but now share it because sometimes I need help.
Low blood sugars (also known as Hypoglycemia) can be very dangerous.
Symptoms of low blood sugars include
- blurry vision
- rapid heartbeat
- sudden mood changes
- shaking or dizziness
- difficulty sleeping
- trouble thinking clearly or concentrating
- loss of consciousness or seizure
I experienced all of these symptoms on more than one occasion. Typically, I need the help of someone who is close by, and it’s always helpful when they can diagnose the situation and assist me to get my blood sugar levels corrected. (If you’re interested in learning more, click here)
My Support System
Living with diabetes is no easy feat.
However, managing the disease has gotten much easier over the years. I have an excellent care team and, of course, I think my doctor is the best. There have also been so many advances in managing diabetes. I have gone from taking 4-6 injections daily to wearing an insulin pump that makes the delivery so much easier and inconspicuous. Also, I can connect to a continuous monitoring device that allows me to observe my blood sugars readings at any time of the day. This is especially important when I do presentations or participate in important meetings. I credit these medical advances, my family and my commitment to living a healthy life for the success I’ve found in my career and at home.