Thursday, April 5, 2012

Why Can't it be a Tapeworm?

Tomorrow is the three year anniversary of my diagnosis. So here's to a little reflection...

It was twelve days before my twenty-first birthday (just in time to hear my doctor tell me that I couldn't drink anymore--I still do, just a little more intelligently than most). Six weeks early I had written this journal entry:

"I woke up last night smelling smoke."
They were the only words on the page and didn't carry much weight at the time. But now, with a little hindsight, I can pinpoint that as the moment my symptoms first started (I like to think of it as the instant my immune system started burning away at my pancreas). I had every symptom in the book and could write an entire post on that alone (and I will). But on that particular day three years ago, I had managed to push the signs to the back of my head. I had learned to live with them, and for the preservation of my own spirit, had convinced myself there was nothing wrong with me.

I was in my junior year of college and it had been a while since I had made the two hour trek to visit my parents. The second I walked through the door of my childhood home my mom commented on my weight. I knew I had lost a little. A couple weeks before, I had weighed myself at the climbing gym. According to the scale, I had lost seven pounds in a week. I assumed that the scale was wrong. After all, I was eating well over 3,000 calories a day (starvation in the midst of plenty--my favorite symptom). My mom forced me over to the scale. I had lost another six pounds (but that scale was obviously wrong too). I probably would have gone on lying to myself (it's easier than you think), but my parents were there to meddle and force me to list off every health issue that had popped up over the last month and a half. Within the hour, we were on the Internet. My mom was convinced that I had a parasite from my trip to Ecuador the year before. As she typed symptoms into WebMD, I text my friend, who was doing an Internet search of her own. "It's a tapeworm!" I told her. "Give me one!" she joked, "I want to lose thirteen pounds."

The gravity of the situation didn't hit me until the detailed search brought up a second possibility. Diabetes. Sure, I had been peeing a lot. But I had also been drinking a ton. (I got up in the middle of the night to down a gallon of water; going to the bathroom was just an afterthought). As the realization melted down my neck and forced my hair on end, my friend text me again. Her search had brought the same conclusion. The light-hearted conversation suddenly took a serious and uncomfortable turn.

There was no denying it. I called my doctor and scheduled an appointment for the next morning. I ate a small bowl of oatmeal for breakfast (not eating was not an option--I would have chewed through my own hand without hesitation). Two hours later, at the doctors office, a glucose meter revealed my blood sugar to be 326 (a modest level compared to the one that would land me in the hospital that night--but that's another story). A urine analysis sealed the deal. I was, and forever would be, a Type 1 Diabetic.

My first glucose meter.

No comments:

Post a Comment