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Every single day, I survive diabetes. Living with Type 1 diabetes can look fairly easy to the outsider. You can't tell by looking at me that there is something terribly wrong going on inside my body…or something that is not going on, to be more exact.
I don't make insulin. Every living mammal needs insulin to live…and I don't make a drop!
But like I said, you can't tell by looking at me that something isn't right. I look healthy, happy, normal, strong, ready, and able. But if I were to boil down what it means to live with diabetes into one brief sentence it would be this: Today, I have to keep myself alive.
To some that might sound so severe, exaggerated, and incredibly dramatic, but it's really the truth. Actually, since my diagnosis, I have seen that glimpse of my body really failing on me in two severe low-blood sugar episodes and one episode of DKA (diabetic ketoacidosis)…
And during that one DKA episode, I would say it felt like "my body was shutting down." Bit by bit, as my blood sugar climbed during the night and the insulin in my insulin pump had become completely useless due to being outside in the extreme winter weather for too long, my body was trying to shut down on me.
But I survived that DKA episode. After throwing up 15 times from simple sips of water, I made it to the hospital. And after begging and unsuccessfully trying to convince two medical students to not give me an overdose of 10 units of insulin per hour (on top of the 10 units they'd already given me), and getting glucose in my IV an hour later to undo what they did, I finally took control over my body again.
But all of that is nothing compared to what some of my diabetes-surviving friends have survived!
My friends with diabetes have survive seizures, comas, car accidents…the list goes on and on. Transplants. DKA so severe that she said her lips felt like they were on fire and it wasn't until a week after her hospitalization that her throat stopped burning from the acid that had flooded her body.
My friends are survivors.
Just the littlest things, whether it's equipment malfunction, the wrong dose of insulin, or purely human error and imperfection…the littlest slip in diabetes care could end our life in a moment.
…stuck in the middle of nowhere without any glucose and a plummeting low blood sugar.
…an accidental overdose in my insulin injection without realizing it while I'm rushing through my day.
…giving myself my rapid acting insulin instead of my long-acting insulin dose without realizing it. If you don't know what that means, let me tell you, that 20 units of rapid acting all at once, when I thought I was taking long-acting, would end me quickly if I didn't do everything in my power to turn that situation around.
…an unforeseen low blood sugar while I'm driving that leads to a car accident.
…an unforeseen low blood sugar in my sleep when no one else is around and I'm too low to even reach for the glucose tabs sitting on my nightstand.
…dropping quickly during exercise, so quickly that I don't feel it coming, until I pass out, completely unconscious, having seizures until I slip into a coma.
This list goes on and on with "ifs" and "coulds" and "maybes."
Fortunately, I've become really good at keeping myself alive every day. In fact, I should list that on my resume as one of my exceptional skills!
There is careful line I walk every single day, without being obsessively perfect, that allows me to prevent diabetes from ending my life today. I walk that careful line every day in order to survive diabetes.
Every single insulin shot keeps me alive.
I endure diabetes every single day. I beat diabetes every single day.
Every low blood sugar that completely throws off my day because my brain spent an hour trying to recover from being completely deprived of the glucose it needs every second in order to function!
Every high blood sugar that makes me feel like mud is running through my veins, puts my brain in a thick fog, and makes me feel about as energy as a rock covered in moss.
Every single day I do what I can to keep that rollercoaster ride less exciting. I do what I can to manage something so complicated that my body is supposed to be managing on its own using a hundred little details, many of which I have no control over!
So it is a big deal. I'm alive today. I did it. I kept myself alive. I survived another day with diabetes.
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