Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Confession Hour: “Under Construction.”

“Habit is habit, and not to be flung out of the window by any man, but coaxed down-stairs one step at a time.”—Mark Twain

Recovery is an ongoing process; It's as simple as that.

My previous blog posts about diabulimia invited readers into my closet, filled with skeletons.

I chose to reveal my secrets and deepest confessions, in order to raise awareness, and help other type 1 diabetics, who may have been struggling with the same demons.

My confession is this: I relapsed.

"Relapse" is a word I choose to use carefully; I'm not a drug user, however, I abuse my insulin—the drug needed to keep me alive.

My relapse started two days before Christmas (2013).

I was upset about all the weight that I had gained—weight that stuck to my body like glue. This weight was, for lack of a better word, "healthy weight." Weight that in September, I had been proud to bear with a hemoglobin a1c level of 7.4%.

I credit my Dexcom for helping me realize where I needed to make changes to my basal rates on my Medtronic insulin pump. The Dexcom opened my eyes to my blood sugar patterns. These patterns were adjusted consistently. I watched everything that I ate. I gave up Diet Coke for lemon water. I decreased my carbohydrate intake to 40 or less grams per day, all in the name of the diagnosis of "controlled type 1 diabetes, without mention of complications."

I had my Christmas shopping done in less than 4 hours. I packed up my things and journeyed home to stay with my family for the holiday.

I made a conscious decision to stop bolusing for my food. The only insulin I was receiving, was my 31.2 units of my basal, or "background" insulin.

I savored every bite of Christmas cookies and mashed potatoes. I did not bolus. My blood sugars were averaging a startling 330 mg/dL, but I didn't care.

Thirst came quickly; I dove back into downing Diet Coke, which only ended up increasing my thirst. I was getting up at night to use the bathroom. My sleep was constantly interrupted—I woke up grumpy.

Eventually, after the holidays, I stopped checking my blood sugar. I knew it was going to be high, so, what was the point in wasting my precious OneTouch test strips on a bad number?

New Years Eve came, then my February birthday. No bolus, or blood sugar check for my birthday cake. I felt no remorse.

I checked my weight around Valentine's Day, which had come down 12 pounds since Christmas. I was not happy with the result, but, my pants did feel loose, and for that, I was grateful.

March was quickly approaching, and I was giddy with excitement of traveling to JDRF Government Day in Washington, DC. I travelled alongside my best friend, Jenna, who is also a type 1 diabetic.

Packing for my trip was easy—I had all of my clothes ready, and I made sure to not pack high heels, with all of the walking we would be doing on Capital Hill. I knew that while I was there, I would need a set change, so I did pack extra infusion sets. I brought one vial of insulin, which was exactly enough for my reservoir, which was filled with 200 units.

Throughout the trip in DC, I checked my blood sugar maybe four times. I was lying to everyone—all of these new, fresh faces. I wanted to appear as though I was in the best state of health, for being a type 1 diabetic. I met quite a few parents of type 1 children, and one woman had remarked how "wonderful" I looked, for having lived with this disease for 23 years. I felt awful, and guilty, on the inside. I couldn't reveal my secret.

Also during this time, I chose to not renew my lease with my apartment. I had a realtor, and was going through the stressful process of buying a home.

Stress, actually, is an understatement. It was pure torture. It was a lot to handle, and I thought by avoiding my diabetes, that it would make it easier. My logic was jolted—I could barely keep two thoughts together.

I would struggle upon waking up everyday. I had my clinic manager's telephone number on my iPhone screen, ready to dial her, and tell her that I wouldn't be making it into work for the day, however, I couldn't bring myself to do it. I don't like disappointing people (I'm sure that no one does), and I didn't feel like explaining myself over a telephone.

No one at work knew; I didn't want to tell anyone and end up revealing my weakness.

I also did not tell my family.

It's very hard to explain type 1 diabetes, and the psychological impact it has on a person who lives with it. I chose to avoid that road, because I didn't want to deal with it.

March 31st came, the day of closing on my new home. I left work early to meet my realtor at the title agency.

The following week, I moved my life into my new house. I moved every single box that had staked out in my tiny apartment. Moving was miserable; I was so out of shape and weak from my high blood sugars. My muscles were so tight, and I was stiff.

My family and my best friend helped me move my furniture into my house thereafter.

I learned how to mow a lawn, which was a terrifying experience, being that it was brand new to me. This past weekend, I mowed my entire lawn without supervision from my father (or my neighbor), and I literally thought that I was going to die. I almost called the ambulance for myself. I checked my blood sugar that morning, just for shits and giggles, and it was 548 mg/dL. I figured, with all of the push-mowing that I would be doing, it would come down on its own, and I wouldn't have to worry about it.

Boy, was I wrong.

The sun was up, and the temperatures had increased to 75 degrees. I had to take multiple breaks between finishing the lawn; My heart felt as though it was going to beat out of my chest, and I couldn't catch my breath.

I sat down on the concrete steps, on the side of my house, that led into the kitchen. I was panting, and begging God to let me live. I knew that I had taken one too many chances, and I literally thought, "This is it—I'm going to die right here in my driveway."

Thankfully, I caught my breath, after resting for 15 minutes. The tightness in my chest had subsided, and my pulse was back to a normal rate.

After I finished with the yard work, I checked my blood sugar—488 mg/dL. I chose to take a correction bolus, only because I truly thought I would drop dead, at any moment.

It was only this last week, that my eyes were truly opened.

I met a 33 year old female, who had been diabetic for 10 years. Her list of complications was extensive—a gastric pacer, a neurogenic bladder, and a left foot amputation. She let me look at it. All that was left, was a heel stump. She told me her story, and I cried. I hugged her, and thanked her for letting me see what could potentially be my future.

That same afternoon, I called my endocrinologist's office to schedule what would be my first office visit since September.

I saw my endocrinologist today.

My hemoglobin a1c was 10%, which surprised me—I thought it was going to be closer to 14%.

Dr. Christofides did not judge me, nor did she criticize me. She listened to me, and helped me form a plan.

It's currently 8:31 PM, on Tuesday, April 29, 2014. I have a plan for my health, and I have until June 3, 2014, to make an improvement.

My doctor and I have a plan.

I have a plan.

My plan is this—take small steps toward recovery. I am a work in progress; I am not perfect, and I am not a "model" patient. I am going to make mistakes, and I know that being a "repeat offender" is only going to hurt me in the long run. So, I am making conscious, daily decisions about caring for myself. Being here for me, and thinking of me.

It's like Zig Ziglar had said, several times, in his career as an author and motivational speaker—“It's not how far you fall, but how high you bounce that counts.”

I'm going to take that chance, and see how high I can bounce.