Tonight is a night I feel like writing. Atlanta is under tornado watch until 3am, and I don’t have a television- leaving me without the Falcons game that everyone else I know is watching. My left hand is in a carpal tunnel splint thanks to a unwelcome gene my mother gave me. (She’s not entirely to blame… I’ve played piano since I was 4, have knitted verociously, and am always on a computer.) Krater Bing, who now has two less toes after having a cancerous tumor removed, is asleep on my bed after chasing around cows all day on my parents’ 600-acre farm in South Georgia.
I also just gave myself an injection of 15 units of Lantus, a type of insulin.
Many of you have probably noticed that I have been a bit “off the radar” for the last few months. I released two music videos and singles fairly close to each other and then… silence. Please spare me your lecture in social media- I’m aware that silence is suicide. However, I’ve also been keeping quite a bit private and am just now comfortable telling you all what has been going on.
April 11, 2006 I was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. I weighed almost 210 pounds and absolutely did not take care of myself. McDonald’s was my friend, beer was my even better friend, and I’m being candid enough to tell you I ate brownies for breakfast one day. My self-esteem was at an all-time low and I was in a miserable long-term relationship. I went to the doctor for a sinus infection and instead of coming out with some cough syrup, I came out with news that would change my life. Since then, I have gone through phases of taking care of myself and ignoring the disease that I knew I had. I also couldn’t obtain medical insurance to get the proper care I need (damn those pre-existing condition stipulations), leaving self-treatment to me.
You see, diabetes is a silent disease. You don’t see it, therefore it must not exist, right? There are no visible sores on your body and you don’t lose your hair. You look just like everyone else, except you are totally not.
Here’s how diabetes works (yes, I am getting educational. Deal with it.):
When you eat food, your pancreas creates insulin to regulate the amount of sugar that is in your bloodstream. This is necessary for a fully functioning, healthy body.
Type 2 diabetes means your pancreas creates insulin, but not enough. These diabetics can help out their pancreas through diet, exercise, and medication.
Type 1 diabetes means your pancreas is well, busted. No insulin. Nada. This is why Type 1 diabetics have to take insulin injections or wear an insulin pump.
Maybe it was my subconscious telling me that something wasn’t quite right or my constant need for change, but in May 2012, I went back to work during the day with the intention to finally get health insurance again. Six days after my insurance kicked in, I marched myself into the Atlanta Diabetes Associates office scared out of my mind. On top of feeling constantly fatigued and frail (leading to my lack of productivity in the music realm), I had lost an extra mysterious 20 pounds in the prior 5 months with no explanation. The doctor had a quick explanation- average blood sugar levels over time are called an A1C . Normal range is 4.5-6. Mine was 11. Anything higher would have probably landed me in the hospital in a diabetic coma but I am lucky it never got to that. He told me I had to start taking insulin immediately to lower my blood sugar levels, which is something I have feared since the day “diabetes” was introduced in my vocabulary. He also said it was temporary, and to come back in a few weeks for a follow-up visit.
This past Tuesday, September 11 (insert ironic joke here), he broke the news to me that I do indeed have Type 1 diabetes, which means I will rely on insulin the rest of my life. Four times a day, I give myself injections. Eight times a day, I prick my finger to test my levels. It is the opposite of glamorous. It is painful, emotional, and I want to scream at the top of my lungs that life isn’t fair. The only silver lining I have found is that I have been released of blaming myself for developing diabetes- what I have is genetic. But that only slightly eases the blow of what is a life-altering discovery.
I do feel extremely better since starting insulin injections, as far as my overall well-being goes, but I am still having a hard time swallowing the pill that I have a very serious disease. My chin is up- just trying to figure out the next steps.
To those of you I know and do not know in real life, thank you all for your well wishes and messages of concern. I really do appreciate it.
There will be new music soon, I promise.