I remember the day to the minute! It was 11:22AM in the morning. I was getting ready to go into a patient’s house to take care of them as a Registered Nurse practicing Home Health. I was a RN case manager and one of my duties was educating patients on diabetes. Boy was I in for the best education in my life!
My wife called at precisely 11:22 and said, the doctor just called and your fasting blood sugar is 301. She then stated “your diabetic honey”! I was numb…No way! Even though I had every single symptom…the worst being the unquenchable thirst. I would dream of waterfalls and wake up every 15 minutes to drink. I remember my urine foamed very badly and smelled strongly of acetone. Deep down, I knew what this meant, but hey, I am a Marine, a bodybuilder, a registered nurse, a MAN! This couldn’t be happening to me! To make matters worse, she told me my Hemoglobin A1C was 13.9! This is a measurement of your blood sugar levels over the past 90 – 120 days. This averaged out to about a blood sugar of 450+ every day for the past 120 DAYS! No wonder I had been feeling so sick. I had constant nausea, weight loss, dry mouth constantly, unquenchable thirst, I was peeing ALL the time and had lost over 70 pounds in 2 months.
As you can see from the chart, my A1C was more than double what it should be and so was my fasting blood sugar. My eyes were blurry, I felt weak, I felt like I was dying.
I remember not having to wear my glasses anymore and anyone that knows me, knows I can’t survive in this world without my glasses. My eyes had actually improved because of all the edema or water retention in my eyes! I couldn’t wear my glasses at that time. I was still in denial! I still am some days!
I thought I was recovering from whooping-cough, that I had caught in my last weeks at a great job, which caused me to lose said job, even though I had 2 doctors notes and my clothes were hanging off my frame. Losing a great job as a Director of Nursing at the top nursing home in my state was a huge blow to my ego, to my family. I lost the job because I had Diabetes, the lab tests confirmed Diabetes in my last 3 months at that job. Later, I realized the fight Diabetics have in the workplace. So many people don’t understand the disease.
Getting back to my testimony, I had lost that great job as director of nursing due to whooping-cough followed by influenza A. The reason for these illnesses? Diabetes! My immune system was so beaten down, but the Marine in me kept going! I had a job the same day I left the other! I thought, “it’s just a cold”. Boy, was I wrong!
I had all of these symptoms and not just slightly, but full-blown. My wife, a RN and soon-to-be Advanced Practice Registered Nurse, formerly known as Nurse Practitioner, said, “that’s it, were going to the emergency room”!
I was immediately admitted with new onset of diabetes and the physicians said it was probably type 1. I had elevated cardiac enzymes, indicating heart damage from the diabetic ketoacidosis. I had some slight chest pain the day before. I thought, I’m a healthy 41-year-old! This can’t be happening but then, it happened. A swarm of doctors and nurses came in and started hooking me up to IVs, pushing IV medications and talking very quickly. This was surreal for me as I used to work in the same emergency department! I was admitted and went through a ton of tests. My heart was okay, but coming down from that high blood sugar was hell!
I had the worst stomach cramps! The physician caring for me said it was worse than Heroin withdrawal. He also said he bet I was type 1 diabetic due to my high A1C and the fact I was in Diabetic Ketoacidosis instead of the syndrome Type II diabetics usually encounter. Usually, type II diabetics will gain weight, not lose 35 pounds per month for several months! Some days I would lose 5 pounds!
I have lost 2 jobs this year due to diabetes. Despite what the government and state governments may think, there is wide-spread discrimination against Diabetics. We need special accommodations at times. We may act bizarre or get confused when our blood sugar drops or goes high…more typically when we get hypoglycemic.
I started blogging 2 months ago and this seems to be something that allows me to manage my diabetes better and reduce my stress.
I am doing good now with my diabetic control. My last A1C was 5.8 and my last fasting blood sugar was 101. This isn’t everyday. It’s a struggle with the pills and shots, diet, pain, complications, anxiety, etc.
There is hope! This is just a short clip of what my life has been like for the past year. There have been so many changes, scares, joys and accomplishments. We can live long lives with Diabetes. The key is screening! Ask your doctor to screen you at least yearly. Call him if you have any of the above side effects! Stay well!
I want to personally thank McKenzie Myers for making sure I got the care I needed and forcing me to go to the emergency room. Without her, I would not be writing this testimony!
Written by Emery Myers RN-DON-CLTC