We were in the UK in July 2014 on a family trip for our daughter’s wedding and the weather was hotter than normal. I was drinking lots of water and kept telling my husband that my mouth felt so dry. We were walking a lot more than usual and I attributed the leg cramps to that (and bought potassium and magnesium supplements). I was having trouble reading maps and thinking clearly–not at all like my usual self. I felt tired but just kept pushing through as much as possible–after all, I was responsible for organizing the trip and keeping track of everyone, right? Somehow I made it through all the festivities but my energy level was low and I feel like I look very tired in the photos–more than the mother-of-the-bride should! After the wedding several of us continued on up to York for some down time before heading home. I felt a bit more rested but not very lively. I was really starting to worry about what was wrong with me. And I remember thinking as I walked down the jetway to board the home-bound plane that I was dying. Guess what? I was!
When we got home I just felt worse and worse and all of a sudden the pounds just started dropping away. My husband took me to the hospital, later telling me that he thought I was dying of cancer. However, it turned out that I was DKA (A1C of 15 percent) and diagnosed with adult-onset Type 1 diabetes. I felt and looked like a zombie and the nursing staff were all amazed that I had walked into hospital under my own (last bit) of power. I spent the next few days on insulin drips, sleeping or peeing between constant blood glucose checks. When I came to, so to speak, my diabetes education began in earnest. At first I was just plain bewildered and disbelieving. Then the anger and depression broke through, also feelings of shock, betrayal, confusion, hopelessness, and… relief that I was still alive. I was scared to death of giving myself shots but I had to learn in order to go home. Thank goodness the CDE was so patient and understanding!
Those first few weeks back at home were totally awful. I was exhausted and frail, had only the most basic knowledge of counting carbohydrates, and experienced scary high and low BGs. My vision got worse before it got better and I felt hungry all the time. I cried a lot and felt myself sliding into depression. I felt scared about my future and unable to cope with all the changes. I’m guessing many newly-diagnosed adult T1s work their way through a lot of the same stuff and also feel quite lost and disoriented. Thank goodness for my husband, who was a real trooper and life-saver: he did the shopping, prepared meals, walked with me in the neighborhood to build up strength, drove me to appointments, and listened patiently while I railed against my fate and cried on his shoulder. My friends were also very supportive and worked hard to understand what I was going through, and I drew a lot of comfort from the companionship of my cats (and still do–one is asleep on my lap while I write).
Anyway, I came home from the hospital with prescriptions for Humalog, Lantus, and Metformin. Titrating up to the full dose of Metformin was very unpleasant but as my dose went up, I used less Lantus. I think that my real recovery started a few weeks later when I talked to my CDE about the on-going post-meal spikes, which the sliding scale Humalog boluses didn’t resolve. She talked with my doctor and got me started on meal-time boluses. The members of the ADA online community directed me to “Think Like a Pancreas” and “Using Insulin” and I learned about the importance of timing of my boluses, correcting high BGs, and making basic adjustments for exercise. I learned to test a whole lot more through participating in the diabetes online community (DOC) and also to use other variables, such as time-in-range, in assessing my progress. Getting a Dexcom CGM made a big difference (and I wish I hadn’t waited so long to do so). So overall, I know I am making progress: I handle lows better and have fewer of them ('tho heat and exercise are still rather tricky for me) and I know what to do when I get (mildly) sick. I use my logbook to understand what’s going on when I run either high or low and make notes about my feelings and experiences. I’m learning not to judge myself for hyper-and-hypo events and I sure feel better–and accomplish more–now that I am experiencing more normal glucose levels.