In 2001, we had just moved into our first house. We had rented since the beginning of our marriage and had three children while moving from one rental situation to another. Finally, after ten years of marriage, we finally had a place we could call our own.
2001 was a crazy year for us. First, my husband had a change of heart after quitting his job to pursue a new career and had just returned to his previous job when we bought our house. Then, my mother, who had recently gotten divorced after more than thirty years of marriage and lost her house to foreclosure, moved nearby. While dealing with new budget strains, a demanding mother, and three children, I found myself also struggling with several minor health problems. My hair had been falling out for a while, but had recently become quite noticeable on the crown of my head. The hair on my arms had grown quite dark and thick, and my periods had become irregular. I burst into tears while describing these ailments to my doctor, a quite humiliating experience especially when she practically laughed when I told her that I thought it was polycystic ovarian syndrome.
Long story short, I had multiple blood tests, began taking the birth control pill, and learned that my blood sugar was slightly high. My blood sugar was in the 140s, not exceedingly high especially since I had had donuts for breakfast that morning, but high enough that the doctor decided I was a type 2 diabetic. She ordered me to go through classes at the local diabetes center and to test my blood sugar two or three times a week at random times.
My experience at the diabetes center was interesting, to say the least. I was (and still am) hundred pounds overweight, so even the professionals who should have known better took one look at me and decided that it was my fault I had diabetes and that it was people like me who caused the stereotypes that all diabetics had to live with. I was treated, at best, with indifference, at worst with open hostility. I will never forget trying to ask the dietician how many carbs I should eat at a snack and whether those carbs should count against a regular meal. The woman refused to answer my question the first two times I asked. The third time, she nearly spit the answer at me, suggesting I was too fat to even have a snack!
Needless to say, my first few weeks as a diabetic were humiliating and confusing. Within months my doctor put me on Metformin, claiming I was not doing enough with diet and exercise to control my condition, once again placing the blame on the assumption that I was not eating right even though I had been. I stayed on the Metformin until my numbers stabilized and then, like many who first begin this journey and do not understand that medications like Metformin are accumulative and need to be continued over the long term to work, I stopped taking it. Fortunately, my blood sugars stabilized, for the most part, in the 120-180 range.
For the next few years I made attempts at serious weight loss and carb control. A few attempts, most of which failed. Food has always been something of a source of fun and pleasure in my family, a reward for hard work and the stresses of life. For this reason, it feels like punishment to cut out the things I truly love to eat, such as carbs. Despite this yo-yoing effect, my blood sugars remained fairly stable, only going over 200 on rare occasions. Then I got pregnant.
In 2006, at the age of thirty-four, I became pregnant with my fourth child. In something of a panic, I quickly adopted a very low carb diet to keep my blood sugars under 140. I saw a doctor almost immediately and she had me begin to record my glucose numbers. After only a few weeks, the doctor became concerned about my numbers and ordered me to start insulin. I was hospitalized for two days while I began a regiment of regular and NPH insulins. Once again, my numbers stabilized. I was told to try to keep my numbers under 140, but to do this, I had to continuously increase my dosages until I was taking so much insulin that the pharmacist actually pulled my husband aside one day and suggested I was taking way too much. The fact that I was pregnant seemed to pacify the man.
My son was born six weeks premature due to blood pressure issues, not diabetes issues. He remain in the NICU for 16 days before coming home, a healthy and happy baby.
My pancreas did not survive the ordeal quite as well. I stopped the insulin and returned to Metformin within six weeks of delivering my son. My blood sugars shot up. I began losing weight. For the first time in my adult life, I weighed under 200 pounds. I was pleased with the weight loss, the doctor was pleased with the weight loss. However, my blood sugars continued to skyrocket out of control. I was often over 250 fasting, going as high as three or even four hundred after meals. I knew I needed to go back on insulin. However, my doctor hesitated because insulin would cause me to gain weight.
I finally convinced my doctor to start me on Levemir. When my numbers continued to be out of control, she sent me to an endocrinologist. He switched me to Lantus, took me off of all my other medications (metformin, januvia, byetta) and began me on Novolog. I gained most of the weight back and have struggled with it, as I have all my adult life. A year ago, I went back on Metformin to help with insulin resistance. Two months ago I began the pump.
Despite the use of insulin, I am still classified a type 2 diabetic.