tomorrow it will be one year since i was diagnosed. i'm calling it "eff you diabetes day" and going out with a bunch of my friends to eat delicious pizza and gelato in the west village (read: carb frenzy 2010). i thought this would be a good opportunity to tell my "story," so here it is...
it all began labor day weekend 2009. i was home in connecticut for the weekend visiting my family and had brought along one of my good friends, E. on saturday night my mom, step-dad, E and i all went out to dinner. in my typical fashion i ate a ridiculous amount of food and still wanted ice cream after, so we stopped on the way home for me to get a cone. when we got back to my family's house, E and i decided to watch some tv. out of boredom i decided the cheddar chex mix was calling my name, so i poured myself a bowl to munch on while watching the tube. i noticed as i was eating that i was incredibly thirsty. i chugged an entire glass of water and was still dying for more. it was definitely more intense than any other time, but i chalked it up to the salty chex mix on top of all the other food i had eaten that night. after we went to bed, i woke up a few hours later to use the bathroom (made sense after all the water i drank so closely to bedtime), but i was still thirsty! i poured myself another glass of water in my half-asleep stupor and brought it to my nightstand. this pattern continued on for the rest of the night, with me getting up 2 or 3 more times. when i woke up in the morning i said to my mother (who is a pediatrician, mind you) "mom, i've been so thirsty since last night...i think i have diabetes!" and laughed, to which she replied "haha, yea right, you probably just ate a lot of salty food." well, yes, but no more than usual really. plus the whole waking up in the night thing was pretty odd. but oh well. i obviously was joking and did not really think i had diabetes. in fact, the symptoms of insatiable thirst and frequent urination were just about all i knew of the disease at the time. oh, and something about a lot of shots?
i returned to my apartment in new york after the long weekend and resumed my post-graduate life. i had finished college that may, started a job in july, and was enjoying the carefree life of a twentysomething with a 9-5 job. i went out a lot and never really got enough sleep, so the fact that i was becoming more and more tired all of the time seemed reasonable enough. it's all starting to catch up with me, i thought. so when i was falling asleep in the mornings standing up on the subway, or when the newly introduced second coffee of the day at 3 PM didn't even seem to touch me, i chalked it up to needing more sleep.
i was also marginally aware of how i was thinner than ever before, even though i was eating a ton of crap all the time and going to the gym very infrequently, when in college i had gone 4-5 times a week. one night i decided to make chocolate chip cookies to bring to work, and i ended up eating so much of the dough/cookies that i felt sick and didn't eat dinner. i can only imagine what my blood sugar would have looked like.
the weekend after labor day, i drove 3 hours to foxwoods casino to attend an old friend's bachelorette party. i slept for 2 hours that night and then drove back to new york. when i felt like absolute _ _ _ _ the next day, there was no question in my mind as to why. i was voracious, too. i ate pancakes for breakfast, stopped at mcdonalds on the road for french fries, and then my roommate was having a bbq, and i ate so many chips that i had to go lay down because i felt ill. the next day i went into work late because i still felt awful...but we're still a solid week away from diagnosis.
monday night a friend of mine cut my hair in my apartment. when she was done, i order us pizza, ate an entire small pie, and refilled my poland spring water bottle 8 times during the meal. pizza is really salty, right?
tuesday i went to the san gennaro festival in little italy where i ate fried calamari, a slice of pizza, an arepa, 3 fried oreos, and probably some other things i forgot. i was skinny as ever, thirsty as ever, and living in constant fear of getting fat but unable to control my urges to eat everything in sight.
wednesday night, i was poking around on webmd trying to figure out why this infection i had kept coming back. "this could be a symptom of pregnancy or diabetes" i read. what?! ok, i'm 95% sure i'm not pregnant, but diabetes...i have another symptom of that! i immediately call my dad's wife (she's basically my age so we're very close) who is a nurse practitioner and say "listen, i need you to reassure me right now that i don't have diabetes." i tell her everything, and she says "no, no way. you're too old for type 1 and too thin for type 2. you're fine." she says i should probably get blood work just to be safe, but i am reassured. i have an appointment with a new internist for a physical in 2 weeks, i'll just mention it then.
thursday night E comes over for our weekly viewing of the office. i can barely keep my eyes open during the show, and when my eyes are open i'm snacking like a madman. i am so anxious about all the food i'm eating, and i realize i haven't gone to the gym in over a week, so when E leaves i decide to go work out. it's 10:30 at night. i get on the elliptical and somehow manage to do it for 20 minutes. while this is much shorter than my usual workout, it's more than i can even handle. it's by far the worst workout i've ever had. gee, i think, i really need to get to bed earlier!
friday was erev rosh hashanah, the evening before the jewish new year (one of the holiest days of the year for jews). i went to a dinner at my honorary aunt's apartment where i consumed approximately 1 small child's worth of food. i must have refilled my water cup 20 times. it was a small cup, i told myself. i was absolutely exhausted afterward, but that didn't stop me from going out. i went home, changed, and met two of my good friends at one of their friends' birthday parties downtown at midnight. when i walked in i half-jokingly told them that i think i have i diabetes because i am so thirsty, they laughed, and i continued on with the night double-fisting a gin and tonic and water. i only had one g&t (my last one ever, in fact) but i made my friend J go back to the bar for me multiple times to refill the water. when i left the bar i stopped at a gas station to pick up a water bottle. the night turned into a crazy one, and i ended up getting 2 hours of sleep yet again. the next day i felt terrible and even more voracious. the terrible part made sense, but the 4 pounds of weight loss did not. wow, i thought. normally when i eat as much as i did last night i would be gaining 4 pounds. something is just not right. i went and bought a giant bagel (i never ate bagels, too high calorie), an orange juice (again, never) and scarfed it all down. i was wearing a pair of pants that hadn't fit me since i was 16. i called my mom to complain about something entirely unrelated, and at the end of the conversation said, 'oh, by the way, i'm still thirsty and peeing all the time and i lost 4 pounds.' "sarah..." my mom replied, suddenly in a tone of serious concern that she rarely has, "that's not good. you probably should get some blood work." well i don't have a doctor yet. i have an appointment in a few weeks. bla bla bla. i made a ton of excuses, but i was now scared. my mother is a doctor, and i can't tell you the last time any of my health concerns have elicited this kind of response from her. during the course of our conversation my intensely carb-heavy meal was probably wreaking havoc on me, and i felt completely incapable of doing anything. "i have to take a nap," i told her "i'll call you later."
i set my alarm so i would wake up in time to go to another rosh hashanah dinner that night. i felt awful. when i called my mom back on the way to dinner, she said "i'm worried about you." the tears started coming. she agreed to come into the city the following day so we could do a urine test for sugar. something was really not right and we both knew it. but there was just no way...
"sarah, did you lose weight?" was the quote of the night from my aunts and uncle at dinner. i could barely keep my eyes open at the table. i stopped on the way back from another huge meal at mcdonalds to get french fries. i never ever go to mcdonalds. my stomach was starting to feel sour and unsettled (a symptom of dka, i would later learn). i went home to get some sleep (finally) at 11 PM and set my alarm for 7:30 so i could go to synagogue in the morning.
when i awoke on september 20th, 2009, i could no longer try and convince myself that this was normal. i felt like i was coming out of a coma, and getting out of bed was almost impossible. i had lost 4 more pounds. what is happening to me? i had made plans to meet my honorary aunt at services, and i couldn't cancel. i got another giant bagel and heaved myself up the stairs to the subway. i had to stop and catch my breath. no, this is not right at all. when i saw my aunt, she said "too much rosh hashanah partying this weekend?" and i told her what was going on. "no way," she said "you probably just have a virus or something." during the services, we sit down and stand up a lot. i could barely stand without holding the chair in front of me. i went outside to call my mom, who was on her way, and she had invited my grandmother to meet us. i was not happy about this, and she said "sarah, it's fine, and after we do the test we can just go out and get lunch or something." i replied that i was sure something was wrong and that i felt like i was dying. i didn't think we'd be getting lunch.
when i met my mother and grandmother at the train station, my mom took one look at me and said, "do you want to just go to the ER?" "yes." i replied. we took a cab, and since i'm an employee at the hospital the check-in was quite smooth. we sat for a few minutes before a tech took me in to prick my finger and use the glucose meter to check my blood sugar. i cringed at the lancet drawing blood from the tip of my finger. she put the machine down and walked away. my mother and i sat holding each other, knowing how important this one little test was going to be. when the machine beeped, it seemed like an eternity before the tech looked at it. nonchalantly she glanced down.
"it's very high."
and that's when we knew.