After a rocky first year of college I returned home a little lighter, a little more single, and a little disturbed at how sad my GPA was. I was always an honors student in high school, graduating with a 3.75, which I realized after year 1 at college means absolutely nothing.
That summer I attributed my poor performance to immaturely handling a break-up and generally being lazy at studying.
I’ve always been a terrible procrastinator.
Or extremely skilled procrastinator?
My mind somehow glossed over all the bathroom breaks and empty Evian bottles that littered my dorm room floor.
At this time it was mid May and I was excitedly planning my sister’s 17th birthday party. It was sweet themed with a candy “bar”, chocolate waterfall and all.
The irony of the situation is not lost on me.
I think she and her friends had a great time.
After the fun of my sister’s birthday had died down, I went in to see the doctor.
I got a call a few days later. No infectious diseases, no other issues. No problem.
“Your fasting blood sugar was 230 mg/dL. I think we’re looking at some kind of diabetes here.”
It couldn’t be. I had just had a party where the theme was CANDY, freaking CANDY, lady, don’t you see? It’s just the candy. Never mind that it was several days after the party. Never mind that I had been showing symptoms for months and months. Never mind that I had always been prone to hypos years before.
It was the candy, I swear.
Damn you gummi centipedes dipped in the chocolate fountain. I knew you would get me back somehow for biting your tasty heads off.
Well it wasn’t the candy. My A1c was 8.4, my fastings were in the 200s, I weighed around 172 pounds, and I was swiftly diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes.
I was ashamed. I was already ashamed of my body, now I have an actual disease to go with it? You see, being overweight for some is a public shame. I was one of those people who felt that way.
It is one thing to have an embarrassing habit or trait that you can hide from others. It’s entirely another to carry the evidence with you wherever you go. Now I had diabetes, and suddenly I became very sensitive to all of the thinly veiled insinuations that I had done this to myself. This was my fault.
You liked to eat too much. You used food to comfort yourself. You let yourself get too fat. Now bear your cross.
With these thoughts bubbling over in my brain I went through my own stages of grief for the life I once had.
1) Determination: I was going to tackle this disease, I was going to take care of myself, I was going to reverse it! Just like the magazines and t.v. doctors said I could.
2) Cynicism: It’s hard to control diabetes. Even harder for an 18 year old who lacks the foresight to understand the serious complications of this disease.
3) Denial: I managed for a while, then my resolve fizzled. For a large part of the summer I ignored it. I ate what I wanted. I went weeks without testing my sugars. I gave up on life a little that summer.
I was in so much denial about it that I kept it secret from everyone. Telling people I had a simple glucose intolerance. Is that even a thing?
I didn’t tell my own extended family until Thanksgiving after the diagnosis, because c’mon, how can you survive Thanksgiving (in a family FULL of diabetics) with secret diabetes? Secre-beetus
It took a long time for me to come to terms with the diagnosis. One year, to the day, after my ex boyfriend left me, I met B. at a Starbucks. He happened to be Type 1 diabetic.
I don’t know how to explain the thrill of finding another PWD at this age. Never mind that it was over scones (ahem…50g carb each) in a Starbucks at 2AM. This was amazing.
I remember sitting at the table chatting with him and he randomly says, “Oh man, I wish I brought my insulin. I really want a scone right now.”
We bonded. He showed me that it was okay to be diabetic. It wasn’t shameful. His mom was Type 2, and in his mind we were all in this together. I was no longer ashamed. With his help, I realized that I could finally say goodbye and the end to my previous life. The life where I didn’t have to lance myself several times a day, take injections, become a human guinea pig for my doctors and all their new pharmaceuticals.
All of which failed by the way.
This was the end of one chapter. But the beginning of a new one.
B. and I will be celebrating our 3rd anniversary in October. I will always be grateful for the support he has given me and joy he brings to me every day.
Also, in case you were wondering, in Part 1 I was daydreaming about having Eggo waffles smothered in blueberry syrup for breakfast. Just saying.