Wednesday, April 05, 2006

The Day We Met

I have had a weight problem all of my life. To put it into perspective, I have the same waist size now that I did when I was 10 years old!

When I got into 7th grade I hit the most I have ever weighed. I was at 265 lbs. It was awful and so I started eating a little better and walking to and from school. My Freshman year, I was in marching band and busy with school so I started losing weight, rapidly. All this time, my mother had noticed a change in my behavior. I was very rebellious and my moods changed faster Vanna White during commercial breaks. My mom was sure that it was just the teenager thing.

I was also thirsty all of the time. I would get up about 4 times during each night to use the restroom and it seemed like I was getting sick and feeling awful for a long time. I went to the doctors and they did blood work and said that my sugar was a little high but that I probably had a large meal the night before. First off, it was a fasting blood sugar and every meal at this point in my life was large!

On October 2nd of 1990, I was at Drum rehearsal on a Monday night and my drum instructor looked at me and asked if I was feeling okay. I told him that I had a headache but other then that I felt fine. He said I looked as white as a ghost and for a Cuban, Puerto Rican guy like me, white as a ghost is not even possible unless something is wrong. He told me to sit down and he called my mom to pick me up from practice.

I should add that at this time I weighed 160 lbs and looked very sickly. I really didn’t care because I was the thinnest I had ever been.

She took me straight to urgent care. Once there they checked my blood with a Glucose meter and said, “You’re Diabetic.” Just like that. I said, “well maybe I had a large meal.” The nurse replied, “If you did not have diabetes you could have just eaten a pound of sugar and your reading would not be this high!” I was at 504. I asked what normal was. “70 to 110” she said. I freaked out.

Not two years earlier my Type 2 Grandma (one of the two) started taking insulin and I remember saying to myself, “I would rather die then have to give myself shots for the rest of my life!” Famous last words…

The nurse then told me that a nurse would be coming to my house in the morning to give me a shot and to teach me how to give them to myself. For the next month I came in to the lab twice a day for blood tests. I was a regular pin cushion.

My father called me on the phone the night I was diagnosed. He was out of town on training and for the second and last time in my life, I heard my father cry. He was so scared and also felt very guilty as if his genes were the reason I had this disease. I remember to this day how scared I was to hear him cry. He was a Sheriff and always my rock. I think that was the first moment that I realized that this was a life changing and life long event.

My mother also kept blaming herself and the doctor had to reassure her that being a Type 1, was nobody’s fault. I spent most of my senior year in and out of the doctors and missed a ton of school. I almost did not graduate because I missed the last week of finals but my teachers let me take the finals the week of graduation practice and I passed just in time to walk during the ceremony.

I know that being diagnosed at age 17 has it’s pluses and minuses. I mean, sometimes I wish that I would have had it at a younger age so it would have been just a part of my life but then again, at least I had a few years to enjoy like shot free. The biggest problem that I found was that feeling of being different and knowing that something was wrong with me. It’s hard enough trying to figure yourself out personality wise as a teen and now not even understanding your own health and body made for a very difficult experience.

I know we all have our challenges no matter what age or how each of us gets introduced to our disease. One thing I have learned is that we are not alone. The support and friends I have made online have really changed my perspective so much.



Scott K. Johnson said...

Hey George,

That's a touching story man - especially about your parents, and what their reactions were.

And I think you feel different no matter what age you get it. Maybe adults are a little more secure with themselves, but growing up with it didn't make things any easier at all for me.

Not in a mean way, but I got a bit of a chuckle out of you saying "well maybe I had a large meal". :-)

I think the OC connects so well because we all know what it's like to some degree. It too is touching.

You're doing great - just the desire to manage better is a big step in the right direction.

We're all here for you man!

George said...

That was supposed to make you chuckle! I figured I had to try that explanation first!

Sarah said...

I was Dx'd at just about the same age. beginning of my Jr yr of HS and my symptoms matched yours EXACTLY. The whole summer before school started my moods had taken on that lovely "Vanna White" quality (what a great way to describe it!!!LOL). Lost so much weight I was fitting into size 2's and people were beginning to wonder if I had developed an eating disorder.

Its amazing how we all live such different lives, but this D thing can give us so much in common!

Shannon said...

Firstly, from you parent's reactions to your diagnosis, it sounds like they're wonerful, loving people...that helps big time :)

Secondly, you were probably diagnosed at the toughest point in a person's life...the teen years.

Thanks for sharing your story :)