Monday, April 14, 2008

Time to reveal the truth: My Secret

I came to a realization today: I am over the hump.

Not checking my blood sugar, not taking care of myself, and ignoring my diabetes is no longer a thought in my mind. It is no longer an option I consider. I feel like it has been years since I just breezed through life without a thought to my diabetes care; it feels like a lifetime ago. I'd be lying if I said that I don't struggle; we all do. I'd be lying if I said that my old temptations don't rise up every now and then. But now they just rise and then they fall again, without me needing to force them out of my mind; they no longer linger...for days. They are merely a passing whisper that just fades away. I figure now that I am over it, it is ok to tell you my secret. I'll probably regret it as soon as I do, but if I am going to keep my promise to be honest, then it is just something that has to be done.

My secret: My biggest struggle with gaining control over my diabetes, was getting over what I have recently found out is called 'dia bulemia'. I don't like the word. I prefered when there wasn't a name...I don't feel there is a word to describe it. It was nice to realize I was not alone, but it made me incredibly sad and scared, as well. I wish I was the only one.

I'd be lying if I said that I was completely happy and at ease with the weight I have put on. I'm not. I try not to glance in the mirror when I pass one so I don't tear up and get discouraged. My mind fills with negative thoughts about myself, so I just try to stay away. It's hard. It has been a struggle for me since I was around 12 or 13, maybe even earlier than that. That is when these demons first showed me their ugly heads. I was stick thin but thought I was horribly fat. I promise you, I most certainly was not. I was a bony little thing. I only know that now because I have pictures to prove it. My mind would certainly have fooled you. That is the time when I realized that not only would insulin save my life, but not taking it would make me thin. I don't understand it and chances are I never will, but it has been a struggle that I have fought for a long time.

When I was still at home, it was hard, because Mom still monitored me. I couldn't just get away with it. I would binge on sugar at night...bread rolled with all the sugar that would fit in the middle...and then take insulin to get me down for the morning. Little did I know that wouldn't really work. I even tried suffering through lows for as long as I could stand it so that my A1c (an 'average') would not be high. That doesn't work either.

My parents found out when we went on a beach vacation. I wanted to look thin(ner than I was) in a bathing suit, so I took even less than usual. After moving all of the luggage in and upstairs, I was just so tired. I went to the bathroom and passed out, hitting my head on the sink. They had no idea, but I had to confess my sins then. I can't even imagine what went through their minds. But something tells me that at that moment, it all made sense. My crazy blood sugars and A1c's. They knew, and I couldn't take it back.

To be honest, I barely remember the story. I don't think about it; I don't go back there. I just went through the motions. It is hard to think about it now; it is hard to imagine I was that person. I am that person. I know that eventually I just stopped taking my insulin altogether...only enough to keep me barely alive. My poor parents would try to force me to, but I wouldn't do it. There were times when the would beg me to...plead with me, but I wouldn't. I couldn't. I don't know why, and I don't understand it well enough to explain.

In high school and my first years of college I was in and out of hospitals close to 20 times from DKA. When I started college my parents made me go to a doctor two or three times a week so they could check my ketones. When I would get admitted to the hospital, the nurses had such a horrible time getting an IV in me. Thinking about it makes me cringe! They would try just about every vein and then finally one would work. There were times I admitted myself and discharged myself without anyone stopping by. It was the same routine; why should anyone visit? The day that I would get out is the day that I would stop taking my insulin again.

Eventually I stopped going to doctors; heck, why bother. I was killing myself. I don't know how I made it, but God obviously had his hand on my back, guiding me and keeping me safe. There is no other explanation. I even wrote notes in my journal in case I died. I guess they were like farewell notes to my family. I wrote out all the things I loved about them, for them to find when my body gave up. I never told anyone that before...

I became so thin, probably at one point under 90 lbs, or at least close to it. I didn't know how thin I really was until a few years after when I was looking at pictures. I really had no idea; how could I not know? I don't even know how that could make sense. It doesn't.

I was so weak. I couldn't breathe. I couldn't stand. I couldn't eat. I'd get the worst chills and nothing would keep me warm. I'd throw up from being in DKA constantly. My hair fell out. There were times I couldn't shower without sitting down. I couldn't stand without almost blacking out. I don't know how I did it. I have no idea what possessed me.

I've tried to "get better" before, but then I would gain the weight and become completely discouraged. I'd hate myself. My way of dealing with stress had always been to eat tons of sugar, to raise my blood numb out. But I couldn't do that...or if I did, I had to deal with the calories. That has also always been my way to "diet" eat tons of sweets, so that was always my first thought and I would often succumb to it, resulting in me giving up. I still do that when I am stressed...I go for the sugar.

I have had people ask me why I did it. I have no explanation other than I suppose different people react differently to things and well, no one's life is identical to another's. My life was already tightly controlled by my diabetes and once my parents found out, it became much much more controlled (as it should have); I rebelled against that. My older brother passed away when he was 8; I was 5. So naturally, my parents did everything they could to keep me 'under control'; maybe that played a role, who knows. Maybe it is just some flaw in my brain. Sometimes I think about what I would tell others to help prevent it, but I have no advice. I would probably have done exactly what my Mom did, but in my mind the more control I had over me, the worse I got. I felt so trapped. I felt like I was in a small cage and had no escape. No logic can explain it because it isn't logical.

After years of that, it just became common-place. It was no longer a conscious decision to neglect my care; it was just what I did. I just went through the motions. I was too scared to deal with any other alternative. I was never ready to deal with the consequences of what I did to my body. It all began over 15 years ago. I don't even know how that is possible; I don't know how it got that out of hand. But somehow it did, and I am happy to say that part of my life is over; it's done with. I have finally conquered the beast!

I am happy that I am now strong enough to not let it consume me and that I no longer allow it to control my actions, but it still gets me down and the pain is still there. I don't know why. I still feel like it is bigger than me. I know it will take time, but I just wish it would go away. I know it has only been around 4 months, but I am so ready. One day it will go away, just like I got over this first hump, I will also get over the next. Right? I suppose for now that is my dream, and I am holding onto it with everything I have! I have to.


bethydoll said...

It really is very amazing how close our stories are!

Good job, you are doing SO well, just being able to talk about this!

I know not all people are the same, but it has always been my desire since this beast of a life over came me and I decided I wanted to get out of it that I would be able to help other girls through my own story.

If I can somehow encourage you, that's all I need. :D You are just as encouraging to me as well!

I hate that it doesn't affect only me, because it means others are/have been just as miserable. But, I'm also glad that you are there, one who understands! :)

Thanks so much, Suzanne!

Jillian said...

I'm so happy for you. It's a struggle everyday for all of us, but know that you are never alone. I went through many years of terrible management not by choice, but because of my own ignorance. To step up to the plate and be proactive is a hard choice, but I'm glad that you are making it every day.

Toni said...

Thanks for such honesty! Being T1 is tough enough, then throw in all you have been through. I hope through your reveal, you will encourage other young diabetics in their own struggles. Just finding others online to share struggles with is a blessing.

Kerri. said...

Thank you for sharing your fears with us, and for your honesty. We're here for you!!

Donna said...

Suzanne - I am so glad you are over the hump. Thanks for sharing your story. I had a very brief period that was similar to this myself. It is difficult to get over. But you can do it - I know you can. I'll keep you in my prayers. :)

Colleen said...

I'm glad you told your story. It's sure to help someone else.

Windy said...

Thanks for sharing your story Suzanne! You've really had quite a journey! I'm so glad that you've joined us in the diabetes OC. The support is so helpful and motivating. I'll add your blog to my sidebar! Keep in touch. =)

Windy said...

Oh! And about your CGMS question.... you'd think it'd make me lazy but quite the opposite! You have to take your sugars and calibrate it a lot... so I actually check MORE when I'm using it! You should ask your endo if you can try one out on a trial!