I am the bionic woman. Seriously. I jest not. At least that’s what my diabetic specialist is thinking these days. I had an appointment with him yesterday and to say that he was stunned by some test results would be putting it mildly. He also seemed a bit overwhelmed and kept saying things like, “So this is the future.” “What is my role going to be with all of this?” etc. and so forth.
I understand his confusion. I was feeling similar items about 3-4 months ago. Back then I was feeling overwhelmed and wondering what my role was going to be. Long story short, I was given an opportunity to join a study for a brand new type of insulin pump. As a Type 1 diabetic, I’ve had my share of experiences with insulin pumps. They have been part of my life for years. They function as an artificial pancreas and have done a great job of keeping me alive. Instead of giving 6+ shots a day (for some reason, my body balked at allowing me to mix long lasting insulin with fast acting, but I digress) I merely changed an IV site every 3 days and tada, I could program the pump to punch in needed basal and bolus amounts of insulin.
Fast forward to this past year—now it is possible to allow an insulin pump to figure out how much insulin you need. It’s like wearing a tiny robot 24/7. It “talks” to me when my levels are getting too high or too low, and has a tendency to be a little bit of a dictator. Just sayin’. But the cool thing is, my A1C (diabetic lingo for blood sugar averages—it goes back over a 3 month period) is now lower than it has ever been. Ever. This is impressive. This means I’m under better, tighter control and I may be able to avoid some of the complications that tend to go along with diabetes.
I’ve been dealing with this disease since I was 19. They figure I actually started having problems with it in high school, but we didn’t realize that symptoms like having chicken legs (a term of endearment from my mother) always feeling hungry, and drinking water like a camel were signs that something was amiss. It would take a couple of years in college for my body to go into total rebellion mode. Things got so far out of whack, I began passing out in class, and having seizures. I would later learn that those were symptoms of out of control Type 1 diabetes, something a specialist told us about when I was finally diagnosed.
Unfortunately, most Type 1’s are in rough shape by the time they are identified. As in my case, big red flags are passed off as other things. “Cheri is a toothpick with eyes because she’s always on the run.” “Cheri is constantly running to the potty because she drinks so much water.” “Cheri is exhausted because she is always on the go . . . literally.” So on and so forth.
Type 1’s are usually about half starved by the time the light bulbs click on. Since our bodies don’t digest food properly, in part because the insulin levels aren’t strong enough to process what we’re eating, we lose a ton of weight. And while this may fit the current trend in society to resemble twigs and such, it’s actually not healthy . . . at all.
When it was finally explained that I would be dealing with diabetes the rest of my life, I was ready to celebrate. Having been told that I had items like a brain tumor and/or epilepsy while traversing the diagnosis trail, finally knowing what I was really dealing with was pretty much a relief. I know this type of reaction isn’t normal, but I never have been classified as such, so it was typical for me. Instead of throwing myself or having a meltdown, or screaming that my life was over, I tried instead to learn everything I could about this new challenge.
Through the years, I have tackled odds that seemed rather stacked against me, and currently feel like I have done okay with this particular marathon. I haven’t had perfect control, but I have had good control. This has permitted me to have 3 healthy children. I still have most of my body parts, and though I may possess a bit of an attitude when it comes to life, it is due in part to the fact that I have been fighting for my life for years. I treasure things like family time, personal space, and the ability to accomplish important goals. I realize there are no guarantees with this disease and there are days when I feel like the proverbial last chapter. I did end up with a little heart glitch a few years ago, but we fixed things and I am trying to slow down and take better care of myself.
Since I am the bionic woman, I do sometimes tend to take on more than I can handle. So I am striving to remedy that. (You can hear my children cheering in the background.) I’ve had to pick and choose between activities that I love and adore, but can no longer keep up with. Perhaps in time and with the addition of this new amazing super pump, I will be able to jump back into the fray of life as I once knew it. I know this, I will not go gently into that dark night. When this life is over I will more than likely throw down a very worn out body with a grin on my face that says it all: “I truly lived!” And now, back to showing this new pump who is the actual boss!