The other day someone mentioned the word and sang it like the chorus of the old beloved standby, “Diarrhea.” I’d love to make up verses for that.
When you’re feeling really tired
And you’re pissing like a racehorse
Okay. Maybe I shouldn’t be a songwriter. I just couldn’t think of any symptoms that rhymed. You try it.
I was diagnosed around two years ago, and I was very lucky because the worst complications I endured were a huge unexplained weight loss (What a bummer. I’m still eating, I’m not exercising, and I’ve lost six dress sizes!) and a yeast infection. That was the first yeast infection I had ever had, and if keeping my blood sugar under control will keep me from getting yeast infections I will do whatever is necessary to keep my blood sugar under control, even if I do have to work at losing weight now.
My blood sugar was hovering at around 400 at the time. I had a co-worker who was married to a diabetic man. Her husband’s brother was also diabetic but didn’t bother with diet, exercise or medicine and ended up in the hospital, temporarily blind. His blood sugar at the hospital was found to be 500. So, I consider myself lucky.
I should have known I was diabetic before I was diagnosed. Actually, I did suspect it. There is a strong genetic factor on both my father’s and mother’s side of the family. My parents are also diabetic. I knew that I had gained a huge amount of weight by drinking alone and feeling sorry for myself. I was getting up to pee in the middle of the night. Sometimes I would get up to pee more than once in the middle of the night. I was unbelievably thirsty. Nobody thinks anything is weird about this during the day in the spring, summer and even fall in Austin. It can be hot. But when you wake up in the middle of the night to pee and then are so thirsty that you drink an entire two liter bottle of Squirt, let me clue you in on the fact that this is not normal behavior.
I was also tired all the time. I didn’t even realize just how tired I was until I got on medicine and started eating better and making an attempt to exercise. (Being intrinsically lazy, exercise is the hardest part of this equation for me.) Once my blood sugar returned to near normal levels I started to feel good again. I didn’t get happy overnight, but I had more energy, and I felt better.
When you’re diagnosed as a diabetic nowadays you’re given a blood sugar monitor and all sorts of diabetes education, a consultation with a dietician. What I learned is that when you are diabetic your pancreas either doesn’t make insulin or doesn’t make enough insulin, or your body has become resistant to insulin. This causes your body to be unable to remove the sugar from the food you eat that is in your bloodstream. Your body needs that sugar for energy, for the fuel it uses everyday to survive. Without insulin, the sugar can’t get to the cells where it’s needed. When it can’t get the energy it needs your body feels tired. The sugar must be removed from your body if it can’t be used, and that’s what causes you to pee all the time. You could think of the sugar in your body as being like food that’s expired. You can’t eat it. You get rid of it by throwing it away. An untreated diabetic’s urine will contain so much sugar that insects are attracted to it, for the sweetness.
I’d be lying if I said that I was happy to be diabetic. What sort of moron would wish that on herself? It did cause me to have to confront my own mortality and forced me to make certain lifestyle changes. It even caused me to change my mind about certain dreams, like children. It also came with medicines that I don’t enjoy taking. I never wanted to be one of those people that’s a walking pharmacy. However, I know that I need to take these medicines, for now, anyway. Maybe that will change at some point in the future if I continue to make changes for the better.
Some days are better than others, of course. I have days where I eat too much or don’t work out or drink too much. Alcohol, being full of sugar in all its many forms, is something I have to watch now. But perhaps the fact that something came along that really forced me to take a look at the quality of my life is a blessing in disguise.