Mama in the City

A blog about raising my family in downtown Vancouver

National Diabetes Day; A Cause Close To My Pancreas

Get your fancy party hats on because today is World Diabetes Day!! One thing that I have never talked about here is the fact that I am an insulin taking type 1 diabetic. Needles and pokes are just a normal part of my day and have been that way since I was about 19 years old.

The story goes like this; when I was a nursing student I was hitting the pathophysiology books pretty hard and the topic of the day was diabetes. I was sitting in the classroom and listening to the instructor talk all about the signs and symptoms that diabetes can have. I can vividly recall sitting in the plastic blue chair and thinking, 'that is so weird.. I feel ALL those things right now'. Never one to jump to conclusions I continued to down the cartons of chocolate milk to relieve my strangely dry mouth.

When I eventually did get to the doctors office I was pretty sure I just had the ol' standard bladder infection and was a little shocked to hear, 'Andrea you have diabetes. You might need to go to the hospital'. I went and did a bunch of lab work and learned that I was walking around with a blood sugar of 23. My (s-l-o-w) doctor put me on metformin and sent me home. He never once thought that a 19 year old could just become an insulin dependant diabetic.

It wasn't until a week later that I went over to visit with the diabetes nurse educator and she started me on insulin right after taking a look at me. My body craved that first dose of insulin and I couldn't believe how much energy I had all of a sudden. Those high blood sugars can make a person tired!

The constant need to nap, the crazy cotton mouth, the frequent trips to the ladies room all cleared up. I am only alive right now because of the insulin that I take through out the day. I am only alive today because I check my blood sugar levels many times each day and make sure I am between reading between 4 and 7 mmol. I was only able to have a healthy baby because of the advances and education behind pregnancy and diabetes and the desire and need to maintain excellent tight blood sugar control through out the entire pregnancy.

High uncontrolled blood sugar in pregnancy is no different than taking alcohol or drugs in pregnancy. They are all toxic to a growing fetus and that was my motto while I gestated. There was no binge eating of pregnancy cravings. Instead there was up to 10 insulin injections a day and at least 10 finger pokes each day to check my blood sugar before and after eating and sometimes just because.

Today, I am celebrating National Diabetes Day and for every person that comments from now until midnight tonight (my time!) I will donate $1.00 to the Canadian Diabetes Association.


Andrea said...

Awesome post Andrea, I didn't realize that today is World Diabetes Day. Thank you for bringing that to my knowledge. As I progress further along in this pregnancy it is one of my concerns as I am at a higher risk of Gestational Diabetes so I am always trying to keep in check with my eating.

Great Blog girl, I love reading it to keep up with what's happening in your world!!

November 14, 2009 at 2:01 PM  
Mum Shirley said...

I remember it well. I received a phone call at school to tell me that you were diabetic. What a shock!. It was just before Christmas and all the chocolate had been bought. So we went out and found some special treats for diabetics. You have done so well over the years. Congratulations!

November 14, 2009 at 2:03 PM  
Sister Sarah said...

We were in such shock when we found out you had juvenile diabetes. I remember how you were drinking giant slurpees like they were going out of style before you were diagnosed. I remember being so mad at our lovely (NOT!) GP who didn't have an ounce of sensitivity about your diagnosis. It was such a change for you but you really didn't complain. I still remember making you your first cup of sugar-free hot you remember asking if I was sure it was sugar-free because it tasted pretty good? You've managed so well in the past years...Congratulations sister!

November 14, 2009 at 2:20 PM  
Gunes said...

Thank you for sharing and for donating. I was diagnosed w/ T1 on July 31, 2009. I was so shocked I couldn't breathe, I couldn't speak. Words like "shots, heart failure, kidney failure, blindness, and amputation" were ringing in my ears. The first shot was the worst and the hardest. Now I can do it w/ my eyes closed. It's amazing all that you get used to. I try to concentrate on "Can" instead of "Can't"... I try to concentrate on "I can eat about 10% of what's in the grocery store." I'm very thankful to be living in a country where insulin is available. Things could always always be worse.

And posts like yours are always an encouragement. Thank you for sharing!

November 14, 2009 at 2:33 PM  
Angella said...

Oh, wow. My Grandma got diabetes but not until she was in her fifties.

It must be a bit of a struggle to keep everything in check. Thanks for sharing your story!

November 14, 2009 at 2:36 PM  
Amanda Brown said...

Wow, thanks for sharing your story. Diabetes runs in my family so here's my comment for your dollar! Great job. :)

November 14, 2009 at 2:42 PM  
Karen said...

Hey Andrea, very informative, there are thousands of people out there walking around with diabetes and dodn't even have a clue, so i think this cause is very bold and speaks volumes. Keep up the good work.

November 14, 2009 at 3:11 PM  
Sarah said...

You are definately an inspiration to all of the diabetics out there Andrea. Great post!

November 14, 2009 at 3:21 PM  
Sarah M said...

Andrea, thanks for sharing your story with us. Good thing you were in nursing school hey? ;o) The next time I am asked to donate, I will re-think my usual answer of "sorry i just can't at this time". Great job of helping to raise awareness. Oh and as always, awesome job on your blog, i love reading it, it puts me in such a good mood! Take care.

November 14, 2009 at 3:44 PM  
Heidi said...

Andrea, thanks for this post, and for sharing this part of your journey with all of us. I remember back in the nursing school days, when you made the discovery that you were diabetic. You have handled it all with grace and poise. I am so glad that you have been able to be so well controlled with your sugars, and that you were able to get pregnant and have your beautiful son. So Happy National Diabetes Day, and cheers to you, honey!

November 14, 2009 at 4:55 PM  
Shara said...

Great post Andrea!
I was 19 years old as well and also put on metformin and then quickly put on insulin. I was 27mmol when it was discovered. I always wonder how long I have been diabetic for........
Being diabetic and pregnant is a full time job. My dr informed me I need to be in the program even while trying to conceive......OH WHAT FUN!
I am loving my insulin pump.........although not tonight, I am wearing a dress and wondering where should I put it?

November 14, 2009 at 5:12 PM  
Auntie Glyn said...

Another great post, sister. I have really never heard you complain about the shots you take on a daily basis; I don't know if I could handle it all with such grace!

November 14, 2009 at 5:34 PM  
Nat said...

Great post Andrea! I love how you found out while learning about caring for others you learned how to care for yourself!

November 14, 2009 at 5:47 PM  
Natasha Hurst said...

Hey Andrea,

Great blog! I too remember you getting the news and you calling me very upset. I also remember just after you had started having to take shots going to lunch with you, and you having to give yourself a poke right before we are a great role model for anyone with diabetes, and I admire you.

November 14, 2009 at 5:50 PM  
Krista said...

Hey Andrea! I remember when you were diagnosed too, and concur with all the previous posters who said how you handled it with such grace (I would have been throwing tantrums). Happy National Diabetes Day!

PS - how many times can I post? (just kidding ;))

November 14, 2009 at 5:53 PM  
Lance said...

Thank goodness for Banting & Best! :)

November 14, 2009 at 6:06 PM  
Janet said...

FANTASTIC write-up, Andrea, which I am sure will impact all who read your blog. Also fantastic that you INCORPORATE so much in your life while managing diabetes! Way to go! You're an awesome example for someone who may be newly diagnosed, that diabetes is not a death sentence, just a heath issue that needs to be taken extremely seriously to work to prevent complications!

I too remember wondering what was in your GP's head


November 14, 2009 at 6:34 PM  
Anonymous said...

Thanks for this post and for contributing to a great cause!

November 14, 2009 at 6:36 PM  
Danielle said...

I didn't even know you had a blog, but I LOVE it!! very cool! Happy National Diabetes Day!!

November 14, 2009 at 6:43 PM  
Husband in the City said...

I'm hereby DOUBLING the donation! For every comment before midnight, we'll donate $2!

November 14, 2009 at 7:01 PM  
Olivia said...

Way to go Mama in the City! You RAWK!!!!!!!!!!

November 14, 2009 at 7:47 PM  
Dad said...

Good work Andrea and thanks to Husband in the City for doubling the donation.
You have been a great example in how to handle this difficult disease and we are glad that you are willing to discuss it on your blog.
Thanks also to the many research organisations that are working to find ways to prevent diabetes.

November 14, 2009 at 7:50 PM  
Jenny R said...

I'm not sure what to say about diabetes that hasn't already been covered, but I thought I'd add to the donation! And also say that I really enjoy reading your blog, particularly since I live in Vancouver and have a 15 month old (and I also know you very slightly in real life - I was in your sister Sarah's Sunday School class growing up :)

November 14, 2009 at 7:56 PM  
Mary said...

Thanks for sharing your story, Andrea. Diabetes runs in my family; father, grandfather and mother's sister. I myself was diagnosed with gestational diabetes when I was 28 weeks pregnant with my first child. It was a wake-up call at the time to take my health seriously based on family history. I am definitely praying for a cure and hopefully an end to the disease.

November 14, 2009 at 8:55 PM  
mama duck said...

I hope you had a wonderful day, Andrea! You amaze me :)

November 14, 2009 at 9:02 PM  
Brother Mike said...

Great post Andrea! Thanks for sharing your story

November 14, 2009 at 9:44 PM  
Lucita said...

Yeah! Here is my comment!

November 14, 2009 at 9:57 PM  
Franny said...

My sister told me to come leave a comment. Way to go on being so in charge of your health. I bet it helps to be a nurse in this situation. Happy Diabetes Day!

November 14, 2009 at 9:58 PM  
Katie said...

My brother is a type 1 and he has a hard time with it but mostly cause he doesn't put himself first. It is a disease you can control but you gotta put yourself first.

November 14, 2009 at 10:01 PM  
Camile said...

I think I am #30 which means you donate $60. Not bad since you put this up only a few hours ago.

November 14, 2009 at 10:04 PM  
Jaimie said...

Sounds so similar to my diagnosis, symptoms were there 1yr before an actual diagnosis at age 21, T2 at first, then years of 1.5, now they say yes T1 [insert crazy long story here haha]...Happy to run into your sister's post on twitter :) I'm part of a great group of people on twitter in the (diabetic online community DOC), I also help on, stop by sometime...

Also have 2 beautiful kiddos through it all ... relate to the testing, exercise & shots but we sure got lots of ultrasounds ;-)

Great post for a great cause! Keep Pressin' on :)

November 14, 2009 at 10:15 PM  
Candice C. said...

Hey Andrea! Great blog! Thanks for sharing and for being so courageous!! I had no idea. Diabetes runs in my family as well. My grandmother had it, but it was mainly sugar controlled with no insulin. I babysat twins when I was younger and one of them had diabetes. I remember checking her sugars and making sure she was okay. She was quite the pro at the sugars, a quick poke and then she ran off to go and play, while I was left sitting staring nervously at the monitor to make sure the range was good for her. Sounds like you handled everything really well! Cheers to you for Diabetes Day!

November 14, 2009 at 11:26 PM  
Kristen said...

Thanks for sharing your story Andrea, I have a co-worker who has a similar story to yours (finding out in college) and some of what she's shared with me is worrysome if you don't get the right care!

November 15, 2009 at 4:55 AM  
trudy said...

i always say no one knows your body as well as you do, always trust your instincts when you believe something isn't quite right. i thank God you had the instinct to se arch further and find out what was wrong,now I have a wonderful daughter - in law and a beautiful grandson and a delightful wife for my son. LOve, MOM

November 15, 2009 at 5:11 AM  

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