13 June 2010

Sunday, June 13, 2010 - , 12 comments

More than just that

I may be many things; a wife, a mother, a friend, a daughter but I'm also a diabetic.
For almost 31 years I've been just that, a type one diabetic.   And unlike my other roles, you wouldn't necessarily know that I have diabetes because the bad part of being a diabetic is that you can't see it.  My disease is essentially invisible to the world around me.  But it is far from invisible to me.

As mother's we rarely put ourselves first, if ever.  It's always husband and children first no questions asked and like the rest of the worlds mother's I am the same, I come very last in my list of priorities.   But my diabetes comes first and not by choice, but by demand and that demand is far more exhausting than that of my children.  Being a diabetic comes with more baggage than my body shows to the outside world, it keeps my true life a secret.   And sometimes the disease keeps secrets from me that if I'm not paying attention to, I miss the little whispers or signs that my body is trying to tell me.  Try as I might to ignore those nasty little signs, I can't.

As much as I want to ignore that shaky hand, blurred vision, numbness or excessive thirst because it's inconvenient for me at the time, doing so will always lead to something worse either now or later.  This is where I have to walk away from my task of mothering or being a wife and put myself first and foremost.  It's hard.  And sometimes I have to just put someone aside or down and let them cry or complain while I get some juice or lay down for a few minutes.  And most times I feel horrible for letting myself put my diabetes aside long enough to find myself in a bind.

Several years ago to make myself physically SEE my disease, I tattooed it on my body so there is not a moment in the day where I can't say, "oh that can wait until later".  The ink on my wrist is a constant reminder to myself to test my blood sugar before I eat anything and I mean anything.  My red ribbon tells me to never drive a car unless I've poked my finger first.  That permanent bracelet tells me to never exercise until I see that I'm in a safe zone.  My tattoo means more to me than many other things in my life.  It is my reminder to put my health first.  While it doesn't remind me to do other things to put myself first, it does do what I need it to do.  Take care of my diabetes first and always.

That constant vision has made my diabetes completely visible to me and less invisible to the outside world because nine times out of ten when someone asks to see my tattoo they're always shocked.  And nine times out of ten I get, "I had no idea!"  Well of course you didn't because there is nothing about me that screams "DIABETIC HERE!"   And being the extrovert that I am, I would love to have put that tattoo across my forehead....Why? you ask...because it's an opportunity to educate and not be afraid of what diabetes really is.

It is a disease.  It's my disease.  It's a controllable disease.

There are four types of diabetes:  Type I (juvenile onset - that's me), Type II (adult onset and the most common),  Gestational diabetes (brought on during pregnancy) and Prediabetes.

Do you know the signs of diabetes?

  • Excessive thirst and appetite
  • Increased urination (sometimes as often as every hour)
  • Unusual weight loss or gain
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea, perhaps vomiting
  • Blurred vision
  • In women, frequent vaginal infections
  • In men and women, yeast infections
  • Dry mouth
  • Slow-healing sores or cuts
  • Itching skin, especially in the groin or vaginal area
If you or someone you know has any of these symptoms, please call a doctor because the consequences of ignoring these symptoms or diabetes as a whole is beyond dangerous.  It's an easy disease to ignore or to pretend doesn't exist, but trust me...it will catch up to you and taking care of it early will make life that much more beautiful in the long run.   I said it before...It's a controllable disease.

One of my most passionate parts of educating people of diabetes is the signs and symptoms of low blood sugar or hypoglycemia.  I have had several episodes in the past 30 years where I have not been in control and have needed help from strangers, co-workers and friends and in all instances no one knew what to do. 

Would you know what to do if you saw any of these signs in someone?

Early symptoms of hypoglycemia may include:
  • Confusion
  • Dizziness
  • Feeling shaky
  • Hunger
  • Headaches
  • Irritability
  • Pounding heart; racing pulse
  • Pale skin
  • Sweating
  • Trembling
  • Weakness
  • Anxiety
Without treatment, more severe hypoglycemia symptoms may develop, including:
  • Headache
  • Feeling irritable
  • Poor coordination
  • Poor concentration
  • Numbness in mouth and tongue
  • Passing out
  • Nightmares or bad dreams
Now the key question is, would you help?  And most important, what would you do to help?  

Unfortunately many may assume that someone who is acting strange is either drunk or just plain crazy and yes I've been put into that assumption a time or two before.  And it's humiliating.  For a diabetic it's a very scary place to be and one in which we have very little control of ourselves and we need help.  If all you do is call 911 to report a problem with an individual and walk away, than you've done more than you will ever know.  You may feel bad or scared yourself, but you've just made a decision that may save a life or two.   And rest assured...the diabetic will be forever grateful and will always wonder who that good Samaritan was.


Thanks for posting this Kayce. I'm a frequent bathroom user, though I have no other symptoms, this one is one thats new in the last few months. Maybe something to have checked out?

Great post..
Thanks for the knowledge..

No truer words have ever been spoken!!! From one type 1 to another, it is never easy but always controllable. As I am in the process of becoming a mother for the first time, I have to wonder can I really do it all? Life is a balancing act and diabetes is just another thing to balance! Great post!

xxoxoxoxo! your mommie...

Love the title...

Such wonderful words, I admire you so much Kayce. And thank you for the information...it's timely and important for us all. My husband has type 2 diabetes, diagnosed about 4 years ago. 19 years ago he was in a near fatal auto accident and had multiple internal injuries. He lost 3/4ths of his pancreas. When he got into his 40's he became diabetic. His diabetes is well controlled with diet and an oral med. We keep on top of it constantly.


What a powerful post and one that is VERY important. I was diagnosed with prediabetes at my last physical and I'm now working my tail off to turn that around. Repeat labs are a few weeks away so we'll see what happens. Thanks for posting this!!

-- kelly

u closed ur blog for a while?..i felt so SAD that i thought i can't read ur blog anymore!!!..and now am So happy i can read it now..Thanks for sharing..i like ur blog so much!!!

Thank you so much for this! My momma has hypoglycemia and it's not been easy for her to remember to put herself first. I'm gonna share this link with her - she needs the reminder!

I feel somewhat the same about my asthma, which has been with me since birth. It's not as moment-to-moment as diabetes, but I really have to watch myself - take my meds, check myself when I exercise (okay - IF I exercise - heh) and REALLY place limits on how often I'm outside during summer.

I'm glad you place yourself first when you need to. It's one of the many things that make you a GREAT mom.

oh i remember an OLD post of yours from probably years ago when i first read about your tattoo and what it meant to you. reading this, i felt just as amazed as i did then- i LOVE who you are kayce and how you embrace your genetics so fully. and what an incredible way to educate.

thanks for sharing this with all of us.

Yep, put yourself first... my uncle has diabetes... won't go into how he is now... though he is in his 80's but I do recall sometimes I would be in the supermarket and there would be mayhem around the chocolate aisle etc and for some reason I knew it was my Great Uncle... managers were getting ready to call an Ambulance or something and I would turn up... tell them to get him juice or sometimes he would have to eat a ton of chocolate... he knew what he had to do and I would end up saying to the Managers... 'can you get him a chair'... they ended up telling him to not bother paying for the chocolate etc...

Thank you for openly sharing your story and also educating the rest of us. ((hugs)) friend.