The year was 2008, I was 20 years old (2 months away from 21). I had just started working a new job and was excited to have health insurance benefits after being without for over a year. The services I was receiving at Student Health on my college’s campus was pretty much limited to urgent care when I had a cold. I made my appointment with a Primary Care Physician as soon as I received my insurance cards in the mail. I was referred to this doctor by my manager, at the time. I happily went to my appointment for a check up, blood work, & to establish care at the new practice.
All went well & I didn’t think twice about checking my blood test results. I was 20 years old after all & didn’t have a care in the world when it came to my health. To my surprise I received a call from the doctor herself telling me that I needed to come to the office right away to discuss my blood glucose level. As it turned out, my fasting blood glucose was in the 500’s and my A1c was over 15%. During this time I had very limited knowledge of Diabetes that came from society & some family members that had Type 2. Armed with almost no knowledge I didn’t think my results where that big of a deal. I didn’t bat an eye when the doctor diagnosed me at Type 2, started me on Metformin & sent me home with a glucometer. Due to my family history of Type 2 I wasn’t that surprised and I certainty did not question the diagnosis of the doctor.
Over the course of the next year my body was on a roller coaster of treatments. The Metformin did little to nothing to help lower my blood glucose despite increasing the dose every few weeks. The only thing increasing the dosage did was to increase the awful gastrointestinal side effects that I was experiencing. After Metformin proved to be no help, I was put on Actos, followed by Glucophage. My doctor was very insensitive & labeled me as “non-compliant”. She was constantly telling me that if I didn’t change my behavior I was going to suffer the consequences. There were several occasions when she mentioned me going blind and possible death. I was told that I needed to lose weight because the fact that I was overweight in combination with my family history was why I was in this position in the first place. SIDE NOTE: Years later I did request my records & saw that I was 12 lbs over the ideal weight for my height & age, certainty not at a huge risk for developing diabetes. Needless to say, I became very depressed. I didn’t understand what I was doing wrong. I was following the directions from this doctor & at the same time was being told I was non-compliant with my treatment. I felt like my body was betraying me. I was too young for this! If I was in this boat now, what would my life be like years down the road?
Feeling like I wasn’t getting any help or compassion from my doctor, I took to the internet to do my own research. This was by far the best decision I ever made! I learned about the disease process of diabetes (Type 1 & 2). I learned about insulin therapy & read many medical journals that suggested insulin for Type 2’s in order to preserve working beta cells in the pancreas. Ah ha! Maybe I needed some insulin! When I approached my doctor with this genius idea, it was not received well. She refused to give me rapid acting insulin to take with meals. Her reasoning? I was depressed & she was worried that I would intentionally overdose myself on insulin. Yes. She really said that. Her compromise was to stop oral medication & give me Lantus (a 24 hour long acting insulin). My plan was to take this insulin in the meantime & FIND A NEW DOCTOR!
The new doctor was like a breath of fresh air. After telling him my story his words were, “Who told you that you had Type 2 diabetes & why where you not sent to the hospital?” This was something that I had never considered. I took my diagnosis for what it was & never once thought I had been misdiagnosed. Before leaving his office, I was put on a rapid acting insulin regimen & had filled out the paperwork to get an insulin pump. This man was my savior. After a year of being told this was all my fault, I finally had someone to listen to me, someone that wanted to help me!
After transferring care to an Endocrinologist, I received the proper blood tests necessary to truly determine the type of diabetes I had. I never even knew there was such a thing & I was so excited to get some answers! The results were in… I tested positive (for at least 1 of the antibodies) seen in people with Type 1 diabetes. A C peptide test showed that my pancreas was not producing any insulin. Suddenly everything made sense! The reason the Meformin helped slightly to lower my blood glucose was because I was still in a ‘Honeymoon’ Phase. This is a time that can vary in length during which a Type 1 has some functioning beta cells in their pancreas. Over time, my body attacked those cells until I was left with no insulin production.
I am in a much better place now than I was back then & I’m so thankful! I’m hoping to use this blog as a way to reach out to others & share my personal experience. No one should have to fight diabetes alone & no one should ever feel like they don’t have a voice. I would like to share my ups & down with people that know where I’m coming from. This life is a crazy beautiful journey & I’m along for the ride!
Love, Health, & Happiness,