medical student becomes the patient, T2 debut, need moral support!

By zmi1234 Latest Reply 2014-09-21 21:21:28 -0500
Started 2014-09-11 18:07:04 -0500

Sorry for the dramatic title, it was meant to attract your attention (sorry for the long text but I needed to get it out of my chest) thanks in advance for taking your time to read! :D

Hello everyone, I'm a female medical student, 20 years old, I used to be from the tennis national team so you could tell I've always been a "healthy" girl. When I was 15 I started to have symptoms like blurry vision, I didn't pay much attention to it because I don't like to complain, but one day I almost fainted at school and I was sent to the hospital and nothing abnormal was found. Then 4 years later once again I almost fainted… I went to the internist, cardiologist, neurologist… I made load of tests and they were normal. I skipped the glucose tolerance test because I don't have family history of DM… but one day in the physiology class we made an oral glucose tolerance test and I was getting constant 305's… so I suspected an intolerance to glucose and went to the endocrinologist. After several tests I was diagnosed with T2.

my BMI is 21.8, I'm kinda thin… I was shocked at first but I took it the best way I could, I've changed my diet minimally because I've always ate suuuper healthy (no fast foods, and
loads of fruits and veggies), and I continued to make exercise.

My "philosophy" (sorry if it sounds cheesy) is to promote patient adherence to treatment, and to help patients in every single aspect of their disease (emotionally, physically…). But lately I've been struggling with my own diabetes, it's quite overwhelming to be diagnosed with T2 at 20… actually everyone is surprised because I don't look like the conventional type 2 diabetic patient.
I have made a lot of changes in my life, I don't have that much freedom to go for a dinner with my boyfriend, and in my pathology book I read "diabetes" in almost like every pathology (sorry I'm exaggerating) so it's quite frightening. I consider myself to be a good student (I dedicate my work to my future patients) but lately I've been so distraught because of my own diagnosis! So it adds a lot to my frustration.

I know that I have to learn to manage my condition in order to be a better doctor, but sometimes I'm frustrated to deal with a chronic unexpected condition, maybe because I'm still young but. .. any advice in how to cope with it? I would be so thankful for it! :)

26 replies

Stuart1966 2014-09-17 17:46:17 -0500 Report

Question, do you not go to dinner with your boyfriend, BECAUSE of your diabetes? Eeeek…

Have dinner, spend some time with someone that you love. You can bring the diabetes with you to the meal, or leave it behind. Either way, whether the whip and chair method or entirely disavowed, it (diabetes) is still there for all of us.
You can be happy, angry, moody, giddy, scary, brilliant, and many other things at the same time. Do not let your diabetes command every breath, nor start every sentence.

You are a woman, a medical student, who in addition to all her other skills, talents, abilities… you also happen to be a diabetic as well. Though certainly important, it is never your only part.

Teach it to respect your forehand ;~)

zmi1234 2014-09-17 18:06:07 -0500 Report

Hello Stuart! thanks for your reply! LOL I'm sorry, I'm not a natural english speaker so I can't explain myself quite well, that sounded so silly actually, the part of "I cannot go to dinner", hahahah! what I meant is that I don't have that much "freedom" of buying cheap street food without my boyfriend getting alarmed, it was just an example of little things in life that have changed… I have meditated a lot these days, and actually things are not that easy for a diabetic. Now I understand more about "our" condition, and how it affects little things in our life. Actually I suggested my sister to do a OGTT, and she came out as a T2 diabetic as well! she's 23 years old, her BMI is 19… unfortunately in my country we cannot screen for MODY or LADA.

Now I'm getting the true picture of it, my sister is in shock and very she's very sad. Sometimes life is not so easy LOL… I'm still getting over my situation, and now my sister joins the club! *sighs*.

Glucerna 2014-09-18 17:47:09 -0500 Report

You're right that often the small changes add up, and feel like really big changes. I'm glad meditating is helping you come to terms with diabetes. ~Lynn @Glucerna

Stuart1966 2014-09-17 17:27:11 -0500 Report

As a young person, we won't hold your idealism against you. Life is never as clean, nor as simplistic as "just follow the plan" with diabetes nor anything else I would contend. It does not work that way, unfortunately.

When the proverbial bullets start flying, even simple plans must typically be re-thought. As a T2, you have now encountered one significant and unfortunate bias many possess. Let me propose another you must consider in your future interactions with your teachers aka your peers.

Unfortunately as a young diabetic woman you now have a unique perspective. As a diabetic you will swim in the diabetic muds and quicksands we your diabetic peers do every single day. Consider that whomever we might be, whatever type of diabetes we might possess, whatever our experience might be we are ALL doing the very best we are capable, at the time. Whether ideally or minimally, whatever our efforts they are our very best we are capable in that moment.

If that is the foundation from which you operate, I propose you will earn the respect of your peers. Venomous blame, (a very simplistic answer) is a dangerous and offensive approach. Be very, very weary of using it.

Most humbly…

zmi1234 2014-09-17 18:08:08 -0500 Report

Btw… my "idealism" is becoming "realism" now LOL, seriously thank you for taking the time to respond :)

zmi1234 2014-09-17 18:07:22 -0500 Report

Btw… my "idealism" is becoming "realism" now LOL, seriously thank you for taking the time to respond :)

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2014-09-17 08:35:44 -0500 Report

Hey zmi1234,

Great to meet you! Glad you are here.

A new diagnosis brings up a lot of emotions. Often, initial shock, followed by anger, fear, frustration, sadness... With lots of ups and downs as you go from one emotion to another. A roller coaster. In that way, a new diagnosis is like experiencing grief, mourning a loss -- what we thought life was going to be like has suddenly changed. A new chapter is beginning.

I encourage to take things one day at a time. Let yourself feel how you feel. It's all part of the process of adjusting to a new way of living. I suspect you have the education side covered, since you are a medical student. But also make sure you are getting lots of emotional support. Don't go through this alone.

And who is better to give you support than other people who are traveling the same road? I hope you will stay connected with us.

I am sure your own experience will give you understanding and empathy that your patients will benefit greatly from. You will be healer and an inspiration.

Take good care of yourself!


zmi1234 2014-09-17 18:16:21 -0500 Report

Hello Gary!, thanks for your reply, indeed it has been an emotional rollercoaster! but I'm okay right now I guess, life continues and I have to get back on track! haha I hope that the last thing that you said becomes true someday! :)

pd: the community is helping me a lot!

GabbyPA 2014-09-14 07:11:06 -0500 Report

Remember these times when you are treating your patients down the road. When they are struggling with numbers, it's not always non-compliance. Your revelation that diabetes is not a fat person's disease will go far with the empathy when you are treating people. You are proof, on many levels, that diabetes doesn't care who it attacks. Those who live a healthy lifestyle able to contract this crummy diagnosis.

You can be the great example of how you beat it and control it as well. When patients have a doctor that can truly relate to them, it is so helpful. The judgement is gone and the understanding is there. It's a huge help.

I was sharing with someone the other day that we are not just numbers. We are not what our meter tells us we are. We are people who touch other peoples lives in various ways. Yes you have a chronic condition, but it really doesn't have to cramp your style. There is not much you cannot achieve, so as a very young diabetic, don't focus on that. Focus on how you can grow as a person. It takes time for things to fall into place.

sassy55 2014-09-15 10:47:28 -0500 Report

Thank you. You truly have inspired me. I am a new to this diagnosis and the only one in my family so far to get it. I now need a vacation. Ha Ha.

zmi1234 2014-09-14 08:48:33 -0500 Report

Hello Gabby, thanks for your reply. I was kinda surprised to read that there's a social stigma for people with DM2 (that's sad to read), I live in Guatemala. Here the judgement is not that much, most of thr time we relate the patient's "non compliance" with lack of money (when you go to public hospitals you see people getting blind because they can't afford treatment and the proper diet) so "compliance" it's, sadly, a luxury here. Thank you for your advice :) I have been feeling better these days, and I think that my empathy is growing towards patients, so I'm happy because of that… one never knows until it hits you so… it'll be an interesting journey :) my best wishes to you! And also thanks for taking your time to share your experiences!

GabbyPA 2014-09-16 06:03:41 -0500 Report

Non compliance is often money related here as well. I know it is for me. I do the best I can with what I have. So I guess that is why I am so sensitive to that part.

It always amazes me how different cultures view diabetes. You will be a great inspiration to your patients because of your personal experience with the disease. Maybe you will be the one who writes a book about how you "walk in your patient's shoes" or help others in the medical field learn empathy. You have a lifetime ahead of you to accomplish amazing things.

Glucerna 2014-09-12 17:31:09 -0500 Report

Thanks for sharing your story with us, and like others I think that the diagnosis of T2 and having to work through all of the issues that go along with the diagnosis and daily self-care is going to make you a much better physician. Perhaps think of yourself as you would one of your patients: what would you tell yourself and how would you encourage yourself to integrate diabetes self-management into your life? I know you're really busy in school, but at some point I think you'll find it helpful to meet with a diabetes educator and get their experience and suggestions. ~Lynn @Glucerna

zmi1234 2014-09-14 08:31:21 -0500 Report

Hello Lynn, I hope that it'll make me a better physician, DM has to have positive things I guess :)… I'm a little bit lazy but I will find the time someday… haha to find an educator

ReaderReader12 2014-09-12 16:00:06 -0500 Report

You will be able to understand when a patient of yours is in shock over a diagnosis they may get in the future. Maybe you will have a much better insight as to how to help that patient get past their shock and be proactive in their care. Or maybe you will be able to much better help a young person deal with a diagnosis they are not at all ready for. Be thankful for your understanding of how to eat healthy and be fit.

I am not sure what advice I can give you that would help when you are so busy being a student. Oh maybe take a minute to say something positive to yourself in the mirror out loud each morning and at night before bed. Sort of like a mini pep talk to you from you. It has to be positive. I am learning to like myself again because I am doing this. It is easy, free, does not take much time. I like a quote…You don't get to choose how you're going to die. Or when. You can only decide how you're going to live. Now. Joan Baez

Good luck to you I wish you best and peace with dealing with your diagnosis.
Be the best Dr. you can be.


zmi1234 2014-09-14 08:27:36 -0500 Report

Hello Pam!! Thanks a lot for your reply, it has been so useful these days :)!! I'm trying to stop my self negative feedback and now I try to think in positive stuff about DM, and they're actually quite a lot :), I'm liking myself again (copying what you said lol), and exercise is helping me to cheer up a lot :) best wishes to you!

kimfing 2014-09-11 20:47:02 -0500 Report

D runs in my family. I would not have been shocked to be dx t2. But was shocked to be dx t1 at 45 last year. My motto, it is what it is. Roll with the punches. Celebrate the victories. Take it one day at a time.

Not much for me to learn since my hubby id 23 yrs has been d for 35 yrs. What i had to learn is everyone is different, and find out what foods affect my bs drastically or minimally.

Good luck! We are here for u

Grandmama16 2014-09-13 15:32:25 -0500 Report

Everybody is different, that's for sure. My husbands family, brother, mother, her sisters and other relatives have or did have it…his bro died at 40 of complications and not taking care of his type 1 . My hubby is 71 and he has Parkinson's instead . None of his 3 sisters have it despite one having 11 large babies, one almost 12 lbs. She was always tested but she developed RA instead. I have no history of diabetes and I have type 2. Life is crazy.

zmi1234 2014-09-14 08:23:07 -0500 Report

Actually life is soooo crazy, but it's ok I guess :)

Grandmama16 2014-09-15 21:48:30 -0500 Report

Would like to ask dumb question…at 45 why was your Diabetes Type 1 instead of type 2? Is T1 when the pan creas stops entirely as my grandson's did at 17? I have a friend whose grand daughter was born with it. I am hoping for a viable artificial pancreas for it. I've seen studies on U tube.

jayabee52 2014-09-11 19:08:41 -0500 Report

Howdy Zmi


Perhaps this is a knock down which can be a benefit to you. If you haven't yet considered a specialty in medicine, you certainly have a direction to go now. Perhaps you could study to be an Endo who specializes in the pancreas. When you get a little further along in your life with diabetes you may well find that you may even have Latent Autoimmune Diabetes in Adults (aka LADA or type 1.5 more about it here ~

You also have the chance to let those who you Dx with diabetes that you understand their dismay at the Dx and that it is not the end of the world fo be Dx'd with this disease.

You will also be more sympatetic to the distress of the newly Dx'd folks.

If I may be so bold, one of the things you will need to do is bone up on nutrition beyond the 1 or 2 classes you receive in med school. I have discovered that the main thing about diabetes is not primarily about medication (as important as medication is), but it is about eating properly. Even for a T1 on insulin, as the need for increased insulin is diminished when a low carb, high protein meal plan is eaten.

I have a meal plan which I developed where I was able to Dc my twice daily NPH insulin injection, maintain a "normal" BG, achieve an A1c of 5.5, and over the space of 5 mo, lose 65 lbs and keep it off these past 3 yrs. This meal plan is available to anyone who requests it, as I have written it up as a discussion.

Praying for this to be seen as a positive thing for you