Thursday, July 14

Is It Just Me??

It seems as though there are thousands of different opinions on how to deal with Diabetes, especially when it comes to eating or more specifically, what not to eat. There are so many websites with so many different reccomendations. I have never been one of those people who does something just because someone says so. I think it comes from my mother saying to me when I was young, in response to, 'But mom, EVERYONE else is doing it!' and she would say 'Well, if everyone else were jumping off a bridge does that mean you would to???' The same has been true with Diabetes. The doctor told me: 'No sugar, low fat, exercise, no fast food, no white flour'. I think we also have to take into consideration that I live in a country where I am not 100 percent fluent in the language and my doctor happens to be a Vietnamese gentleman speaking a mixture of heavily accented English and Norwegian. Gives a new meaning to 'lost in translation'. (The care is good, I just chose not to go the 'So, you've got Diabetes' course at the hospital because it was in Norwegian. Also, my doctor recommended taking the summer to adjust my diet, lose 10 to 15 pounds and monitor my blood glucose and come September we would decide if any medication needs to be added) So, I have depended less on the doctors here and more on information I gather on the internet. And I must say, the contradictions are shocking. Especially when it comes to diet recommendations. I am still in Diabetic Kindergarten, but I have a sneaking suspicion that just like DNA, Diabetes is individual. I want to know how individual foods affect MY blood. I don't want to read about how the 'experts' say those foods will affect it. I hope I don't sound cavalier about this, but for me, it is important that I understand MY disease. And for me, understanding comes through experimentation. I KNOW I am not supposed to have that pizza, but I want to see how it affects my glucose. I test before I eat it and then again 2 hours later. Ok. Crazy high glucose levels. Now I know. Now I can start developing new pizza recipes with a spelt crust and lower fat cheese and chicken. But at least I know! Does that make sense??? It's not like I do this EVERY night. I largely maintain a 'healthy diabetic' diet. I could just be naive, but I don't think experimenting like this will cause me to go blind or have a stroke or have fingers or toes chopped off. (Granted, I think, from what I have read, Type 2 diabetics have more lee way here.) So, those are my thoughts for today. All set off by one website where they SWEAR you should have margarine rather than butter after I just read a different website a week ago where they SWEAR you should have butter instead of margarine. Oi Vey.

Wednesday, July 13

The Story of my Little Sister

230. Clearly a strong indicator of Diabetes. Strangely, I was really calm inside. I wasn't scared. I wasn't upset. I was numb. Really nonchalant about the whole thing. In fact, I kept making myself laugh, as I am prone to do, by telling myself in a thick southern accent in my head 'Well hun, looks like you got yourself the Shuga' Die-bee-tees' (Trust me, it's funnier if you could hear me saying it!) And I think this is why I was so calm about it: August 10, 1999 my little sister Courtney died suddenly from Long QT Syndrome. She was only 24 years old. A week later me and my other little sister Kindel, who also happened to be Courtney's identical twin, had heart surgery to implant ICD's. (ICD's are a combination pacemaker and defibrallator).
If you have a moment or want more info on Long QT Syndrome and the annual benefit my family holds in Courtney's memory, check out our website:
(There are lots of links to good information and pictures of me and my family and of past benefits! A good site for a good cause!)
So after being through all of that TRAUMA and DRAMA, most things in life tend not to scare me too bad. Most things. I did worry about telling my mother. The thought of her losing another daughter is sickening. What it would do to her. But she really surprised me. She was very upbeat and glad that I had finally gone to the doctor and as I told her the news of my diagnosis, she said, quite matter of factly, 'Well, if you have to have a disease, Diabetes is the one to have!' 'What??' 'Well, it's so treatable and managable.' The woman had a point. So ever since I got diagnosed I like to tell myself that Diabetes is treatable and managable. And for some reason, that makes me feel better.

Tuesday, July 12

The Diagnosis

July 12, 2005

Picking up from where I left off...WHAT??????????? Needless to say, 'We think you might have Diabetes' was the last thing I expected to hear. I was blown away and immedietly thought the Norwegian health care system was seriously flawed. My mind was running 10,000 miles a minute! 'There is NO way I could be diabetic! Doesn't this only happen to overweight, old people??' Then, to make matters worse, I suddenly remembered playing in my Grandmother's carport when I was little. I remember finding a box and in the box was this crazy pair of glasses that belonged to my Grandfather. I remember putting them on and almost falling over they made me so dizzy. Special Diabetic glasses to help him see better. I remembered hearing about special socks Diabetics wore. I called my husband in an absolute panic. I just screamed 'I DON'T WANT TO WEAR WEIRD GLASSES AND DIABETIC SOCKS!!!!!!!!'
As soon as I got home, I attacked the internet. Keywords: 'Symptoms of Diabetes'. The first thing I saw was 'Fatigue'. I had a sinking feeling. That had been the biggest symptom for me. I had been EXHAUSTED for over a year. 'Extreme Thirst'. Well, I drink water like a camel. But I thought it was just because I love the water here in Norway! It comes out of the tap ICE cold and is sooo PURE. It tastes so good. In Houston, you only drink the tap water on a dare. When ice cubes melt there are things floating in your glass. I AM NOT KIDDING! (sidenote: If you go to Houston, do not drink the tap water! I am not exaggerating on this point!) Ok, so I was tired and thirsty. That didn't sound too unique to me. 'Weight Loss'. HA!!! I had GAINED weight since I moved here! In my married bliss I had become a gourmet chef and Mexican was my speciality! At least 15 pounds! So, I had one up on Diabetes.
Diabetes 2- me 1. Ok...'Frequent Urination'. Well of course I pee a lot! I am drinking TONS of water!--duh...'Increased Hunger'- Well I was hungry alot, but I thought it was due to all the 'fresh air' and needing more fuel in the dark winter time. 'Blurry Vision'--WEll I thought my contacts were dried out. As you can see, I had an excuse for everything. I still couldn't believe it though. There was just NO WAY I could have diabetes. I DIDN'T FIT THE TYPE!!!
So, the next morning I went back to my doctor to have my fasting glucose tested. 120! 'That is LOW' I thought. (my first blood result was 180). My doctor agreed. 'You are probably just PRE-Diabetic, but tommorow you will go and have an Oral Glucose Tolerance Test'. Hmmm, I thought I was off the hook! Next morning I went to the hospital. Fasting glucose about 135. Nothing to be too concerned over. Then they mixed this HORRIBLE sugar water drink. It was sooo thick. Now, I am not a vomiter, but it was all I could do to swallow that mess. I finished the glass, relieved, and was shocked to find I had 3 more to go! The nurse saw my distress and graciously offered me 'lemon flavoring'. Yes please. That wasn't so bad! It now tasted like any glass of lemonade or sweet tea you could get in Atlanta. So down they went and off I went to the waiting room. 'I'll show them' I thought. '2 hours?? No problem!' After an hour, I suddenly felt very sick and weak. My hands and feet started tingling. I got the nurse and asked her 'Excuse me, is it normal to feel like I am vibrating? and I also feel very cold. And I feel sick. Is this normal? Is it?' The poor nurse. Stuck in a room with an American in panicky denial who seemed like she was about to go into Diabetic Shock or something. They monitered me closely for the next hour. Then came the final test. They took what seemed like a GALLON of blood. I begged them to give me the 'prick' test! 'Ok, they said, as long as you don't expect us to diagnose you! The only test that is used for diagnosing is when they run your blood through the lab.' 'Fine, I just am curious to see what my Blood Glucose is.' I was sure it would be back down under 120. So she pricked me. 7-6-5-4-3-2-1-BEEP BEEP BEEP 230. 230. 230.
You could have heard a pin drop in that place. I was absolutly STUNNED. No way I thought. And with that, the nurse looked at me, with a lot of sympathy and said, 'Well, you must try to have a good weekend anyway! Be brave!'

Monday, July 11

The Very Beginning

So, about a month ago I was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes. I am still somewhat confused by the diagnosis. I don't fit the profile. I am not obese. I am not over 45 (only 33). I do not have an immediate family history of the disease. I really do not know where to begin. I suppose the easiest way to tell the story is to start at the beginning ('a very good place to start' according to Maria)...

So, about 2 years ago I married a Norwegian and moved to Norway. I am a native Texan, born and raised, so you could say that the climate change was somewhat of a shock. I have heard of snow. And also heard rumors of places where snow fell and actually accumulated on the ground. Where I am from, if there was even a HINT of snow, panic ensued. The store sold out of bread, water and batteries within an hour. School shut down and we were warned not to drive as the roads were 'slick and dangerous'. So, when I arrived in January of 2004, it would be an understatement to say I was shocked at what I saw. Everything was white. As far as the eye could see. I was like a 5 year old. Absolutly fascinated. I would sit in front of the window and just stare at the snow falling. Big, fat, fluffy snow. I was enchanted. Everytime it would start to snow, I would beg my husband to come outside with me. I just wanted to stand in it. To let it fall on me. It was amazing. I think my husband was secretly wondering what he had gotten into and how anyone could be so abnormally fascinated by something as ordinary as SNOW. But I was, and I like to think that it added to my charm!
A new beginning in a strange land! The next oddity was the lack of daylight. At first I thought it was just getting cloudy at 3 in the afternoon, but I quickly learned that it was in fact the setting of the sun. At 3.30 in the afternoon. And then it didn't get light again until 9.30 or 10.00 the next morning. But you could still see the snow. Snow lights up everything. It is like it lights things from the ground up and everything just starts glowing.
So, time went by. I noticed I was tired. Tired a lot. But just thought it was the winter depression I had heard about. I complained to my husband that I was tired all the time. I told my mother I had no energy. I was yawning ALL the time. It was very strange. They all told me to go to the doctor. But I am from America, I have never had good health insurance and had never considered going to the doctor for something like 'being tired'. It just seemed silly...'So, what brings you here today?' 'Well doctor, I'm just tired.' So I didn't go.
Fast forward to a month ago. I had some sort of flu. Again. (I have never been sick so much in my life since I moved to Northern Europe. Other American's and Australians say the same thing) So, finally my husband says 'You are going to the doctor!' So off to the doctor we went. The doctor poked and prodded and then, because he had very little information on me, he ordered me to the hospital to get a full blood work up so he could have it in my file. Of course I had no intention of going to the hospital to get my blood taken! But again, my husband said 'you are going!' Ugghhhhh...FINE!! So I went.
The next day I got a call from the doctor's office. And because my Norwegian is still not so good and their English is not fine tuned in the art of B.S, what came out of her mouth was quite BLUNT. 'Your bloodwork came back. Everything is fine. (Phew) EXCEPT...Your blood sugar was quite high and we think you may have Diabetes.'


the beautiful diabetic takes flight

July 11, 2005

I have sat staring at this blank space for quite some time, frozen by the fear that I won't be clever with my words. But then I remember that this is for me. If others do read it, that is wonderful, but it is only me that I need to be clever for, and considering how easily I entertain myself, this shouldn't prove overwhelmingly difficult.

So, welcome to the beautiful diabetic! I will start with the name. I didn't decide on the name out of vanity and strong conviction of my beauty. I decided on the name because I am tired of disease marking people as 'flawed' or 'weak' or 'sad' or 'dying'. I decided on the name after living with disease throughout the last decade. After watching an UGLY disease kill my little sister, who truly was beautiful. After realizing that I have spent too many years at war with this thing called my body. Calling it names that are ugly and spiteful. No more. I am diabetic and I am beautiful. Therefore I am the beautiful diabetic. I expect those words to love each other. To be what my mother always called 'Fast Friends'. To wrap around each other in a warm embrace, like two things that were always meant to be, but were always somehow kept apart. A homecoming of sorts. Where diabetic will say to beautiful- 'At last!' And beautiful will say to diabetic- 'It's so good to see you!' And two words who have been kept apart, will fall together naturally, and suddenly the beautiful diabetic will have taken flight.