My dad told me at a very young age “it’s not what happens to you, but how you choose to respond to it”. I didn’t realize it at the time, but he was telling me a quote that would mean so much to me in my future without even realizing it. This quote is now something I live by every single day.
For starters, I guess I should introduce myself! My name is Chelsea and I’m 24 years old, and I’ve been living with type 1 diabetes for 9 years. I’m not quite the “average” 24 year old (I’ll get to that soon), but don’t get me wrong… my life is nothing short of wonderful, and I’m beyond blessed to have the people in my life that I do. I just want to start putting my stories, and my “oops” moments, my happy moments, scary moments, and overcoming the battle of accepting that I had diabetes in the first pace, etc.. to paper, (or “keyboard”, I should say) about living life as a type one diabetic. And I’ll try my best to keep it entertaining. Some of the stories will be pretty funny, I promise. But if my blog and stories shared, lessons learned, etc.. can reach, or help, even just one person also battling type 1, my heart would be overflowed with happiness. So… here goes nothing.
This is my first blog, ever (so go easy on me, okay?) haha. I’ve been wanting to do this for a while, and instead of telling myself “I’ll do it eventually”, I decided to make this website a few days ago. But, as luck would have it, I’ve been a little sick this week and not feeling my best. Well, anyway… I’m in a group called “dexcom” on Facebook. Dexcom is a CGM (continuous glucose monitor) that I wear (usually on my lower back) that pulls up my blood sugars to my phone every 5 minutes. I got this back in April this year and don’t know how I EVER went without it, it was a SERIOUS game changer for me. It alarms my phone anytime I’m going too low or too high. Did I mention it also alerts my dad and mom too? (That’s their choice, I don’t make them follow me, haha!) I once was going low at the beginning of a brunch with both of them… and all three of our phones were alarming. Diabetes has its funny moments, that’s for sure, and that’s why I wanted to start this blog. To write about the good, the bad, and the ugly. I’m already getting off track though.. back to the dexcom group on Facebook! A concerned type 1 mom of a teenager had posted asking for help and was concerned of her daughter not taking care of herself.. well, that was me at 15 when I was diagnosed, so of course it hit home for me to read. So, I replied, with a very short version of my story. I got thanked for sharing it, and that same woman, and another mom who has diabetes, as well as her 11 year old son shared my response on their pages on Facebook. I was touched, and it encouraged me to write this not tomorrow, but TONIGHT. I made the site a few days ago.. what have I been waiting for? Oh yeah, I wasn’t feeling great.. but ANYWAY, I’m here now.
Remember way up there when I said I’m not your “average” 24 year old? That takes me back to October 11th, 2007. I was playing a district tennis match, and my mom tells me I looked like a “drunk tennis player” swinging at the balls too soon, and eventually I fell and collapsed. I remember the 2 weeks prior, I had lost about 12 pounds, was drinking SO much Gatorade and water through the day, and having to pee every 30 minutes. Along with falling asleep in school (which was so unlike me) and blurry vision. I knew something was wrong, but I was 15, and I was scared. Next thing I knew, I was leaving my doctors office, being told to go straight to the hospital, where I then found out my blood sugar was 595. I had no idea what this meant, no one in my family (as far as we can go back) had ever had diabetes. And….. Happy diagnosis day to me!
The first few months were really hard, but my parents were so wonderful and learning as much as they could to help me, and understand to their best ability. I was so rebellious though. I was so unaccepting of my diabetes that I mistakenly took my anger towards it out on my parents (my biggest regret to date). Time passed, a few more months went by, I turned 16.. yadda yadda. After a bad a1c (average 3 month of blood sugars) at a doctor’s appointment, my dad wanted to see my meter once a week (that’s not too much to ask for, I was just a brat). I had basically stopped checking my blood sugars and giving most of my shots, and I was scared and embarrassed, so instead of seeking help and being honest, I fought with him, threw my meter to intentionally break it.. I was awful. (To this day, my parents are hands down two of my very best friends, as well of two of the best dang parents someone could ask for- if y’all are reading this THANK YOU for never giving up on me when I almost gave up on myself)
I turned 17 in April of 2009, right before mother’s day.. I got admitted to the hospital with DKA (diabetic ketoacidosis). I was in trauma… and next thing I knew I woke up in ICU with an IV in my groin, oxygen mask, etc… not knowing what had happened. The doctors told my parents that I should have been dead, and they weren’t sure how I got there in time. That should be enough to scare the life back into you, right? Wrong… I got out, got better, and went through DKA again at 20. This should have been the final straw… but it wasn’t. Luckily, I didn’t go through DKA again, but I got very close. It wasn’t until the day before my 22nd birthday that I decided I wanted to change, and I wanted to feel better, so I decided to switch to the omnipod pump. Life started getting better, I had the best A1C I had had since my diagnosis (only an 8.5 which isn’t even GOOD, but it was better than my past 12s, and higher)
I’m about to be really honest with you, about WHY I went through DKA… age 15-22, I had “diabulimia” now some of my closest friends don’t even know this, some of my family doesn’t either. But I’m done hiding from it, it’s made me who I am today. I overcame that. Diabulimia is classified as an eating disorder, even though I never stopped eating. I wasn’t taking my insulin, because I didn’t want to gain weight from it. I knew that I could eat what I wanted, and overnight have a smaller stomach again. When type 1 diabetics don’t take insulin, their bodies just burn the fat (not in a good way). It wasn’t until I was 21 that I even realized this was an eating disorder, and that there was a name for it. Or even that I was actually doing it “on purpose” yet subconsciously. It’s hard to explain, but I really didn’t think I had a problem. Even though my blood sugars that sat in the 400s and 500s constantly said otherwise (DON’T BE LIKE ME, I’M LUCKY TO BE ALIVE).
Flash-forward to October of 2014, I had been on the pump for 6 months, and I was feeling great! Until all of a sudden, I didn’t. Did I cause diabetes complications on myself from lack of caring for it properly? No way.. I’m too young, right?! I began waking up atleast once a week, vomiting so badly I started throwing up blood. I had to go to the ER for an IV and fluids, nausea meds, everything. This was literally a weekly thing for about 4 months (my dad has the exact number of times I was in the hospital within 6 months and its unreal). I had to call my dad at 4 am to come and pick me up from my apartment and take me to the hospital (I’M SO SORRY, DAD!!) I knew the staff, and they knew me.. It was my second home, but not exactly the second home I had dreamed of. Lovely people though, and I’m thankful for all those doctors and nurses that put up with me!
Finally, months later.. I get a proper diagnosis: gastroparesis, often common in diabetics (after being misdiagnosed with crohns disease, celiac and testing for a million other things)! This means my stomach can’t properly break down food (especially stuff like salad, broccoli, anything high in fiber or in fat), so I never digest it.. and throw it up. Long story short, I got down to 98 pounds from about 117. I had no muscle or tone anywhere, and it literally hurt just to sit down. It hurt to get out of bed, and it hurt basically to do anything… so I didn’t. I lost friends because I could barely get out, and I was really depressed for a while. Time went by though, the medicine I started taking from Canada (legally!) really helped my nausea and I was able to get a little better. Then, in January of THIS year.. I got the gastric pacemaker put in my stomach to help break food down. (It did get better, but can “flare up” again.. and last time they threatened me with a feeding tube at the hospital so surgery was my first choice!) I’m one of only 1,500 people in the entire world to have that implanted in my stomach. Kind of cool.. between that, my insulin pump, and my cgm, I wear three devices (one internal, two external). Feel free to call me a robot, because I say it all the time. 🙂
Flash forward to now, November 3, 2016… and I’m the healthiest I’ve ever been (but of course I still have my highs and lows- no pun intended). Because of Omnipod, Dexcom, and Interra Pacemaker.. I finally feel like myself again. My last A1C at the doctor was 6.6. Diabetes is a crazy ride, and this is just a PEEK into my story… but I would NOT be who I am today without type 1. It doesn’t define me, but it does live within me, and I’m so much stronger because of this disease.
This month is diabetes awareness month! What a perfect month to start this blog! I’ll be walking in the ADA Step out: Walk for a Cure this Saturday, with 2 friends and my boyfriend for the 2nd year in a row. I can’t wait!
I’m sorry this was so long, and my posts probably won’t be this scattered and lengthy in the future. I’m a little nervous, and wasn’t sure what my first one should be about, so I just wanted to introduce myself, tell you a little about what I’ve been through, so as I start writing more (if you choose to follow), you have an idea of who I am. And if any of my friends (old or new) actually read this, you may have just learned a whole lot about me you didn’t know.
Thanks for reading!
-Chelsea, The hopeful diabetic ❤