Diabetes, one episode at a time

Published 9:35 pm Thursday, October 14, 2010

Something’s not right

It must’ve been between 2 and 3 a.m. that Friday evening when I started to realize that something wasn’t quite right with me. The year was 2007, and as my friends and I walked along Granby Street, I felt the sudden need to get home immediately. And this was in the middle of some pretty hard partying, so I know something was wrong.

Suddenly, I was dog-tired for no good reason and I had to use the bathroom something fierce. So, I had our designated driver, whose name or face I can’t recall in the haze I was in, give me a ride home. And what a ride it was. In the fifteen-minute drive back to my apartment, I needed to stop four times to use the bathroom.

And when I finally made it home, all I wanted to do was sleep … forever. I crashed hard. And with the exception of about 20 more trips to the bathroom that night, I did crash. I awoke feeling more tired than I was the night before. This was no hangover I was dealing with.

Off to emergency

A couple days later, I felt terrible. And it was not the regular brand of terrible. It was the I-have-to-call-my-mother terrible. I told her something wasn’t right.

I was exhausted. My vision was severely blurred. And the frequency of my bathroom trips had increased greatly.

Somewhere after that call to my mother, I went bye-bye. I awoke in the intensive care unit with a catheter in me and the hospital chaplain standing over me at midnight. Now, I didn’t feel like I was dying but I could see my own death on the face of others. The chaplain, my sister and my cousin all seemed to think it was my time to exit.

My blood sugar had spiked into the low 700’s.

Four days in the hospital and one week of recuperation at my mother’s house and I was back from the beyond. Sometime during my stay at my mom’s I got a message from the doctor I went to see a few days earlier telling me that I did, in fact, have diabetes. And even though I had gotten that message in the hospital, hearing it on my phone with the kind of urgency with which it was delivered made me recognize the seriousness of my situation.

First bout with hypoglycemia

I woke up in the middle of night sometime after being released from the hospital. My whole body was shaking. I had broken out in a severe cold sweat. And I felt like I had absolutely no control of my bodily functions. I was anxious and confused. I didn’t know what was going on.

I got to my glucometer and did a test. The meter read 66. My blood sugar was way too low as a result of giving myself too much insulin. I crawled to the kitchen and grabbed some peanut butter off the kitchen counter and began shoveling it into my face.

The only thing worse than seeing your own death on the faces of others is feeling like you’re going to die while you wait for your blood sugar to rebound.

I make light of my disease in my columns all the time but I’ve experienced its pitfalls. Blindness, kidney failure, and death are just a few problems the disease can create. It’s a disease that plays for keeps.

Support efforts like the Diabetes Walk in Virginia Beach on Oct. 23. Diabetes is truly no joke. Believe me when I say you don’t want you or any of your loved ones to know the painful experiences that diabetes can cause.