13+ years of Type 1 diabetes: as published on Creatyst.com

Check the blog post on Creatyst My Journey with Type 1 Diabetes

It was a winter morning. Children would be getting ready for school, hesitatingly though, that cold it was in Delhi. But there was this one little soul lying in the cozy blankets, not wanting to come out, still searching for some comfort. I had wet the bed again that night, not realizing it. Mom kept a check on me every few hours and changed the sheets in the middle of the night. I was 12 and it was embarrassing for me. More so, because I couldn’t understand what was happening since the last few days. I would go to the toilet every night before bed, just to stop it, but in vain. Last few days were marked by excessive thirst, urination, loss of weight (from 25 to 19 kgs), irregular diet and extreme exhaustion. This cold winter morning just got worse, there was nausea and vomiting that led to unconsciousness. The visits to doctors in the past few days were useless; none could diagnose the problem. It was time to go to a ‘big’ hospital.

The specialist could finally diagnose the problem. I was half conscious when the doctor made me sit on his table and the nurse pricked my finger and put the blood on a strip inserted in a machine (glucometer). Nurse: “It shows 512 (mg/dl). Doctor: “Oh! She is a Type 1 diabetic.” Hearing this, my parents began to ask questions. Answers came and tears flowed from their eyes. I did not see dad crying even during his tough chemotherapy sessions and post-transplant. The nurse took me to the ICU and I was kept on continuous monitoring to lower down my sugars. I was connected to a device that used to continuously fill my body with insulin in high doses. In a few days, my overall health and appetite improved, but the insulin requirement was too high. My doctor referred me to an experienced diabetologist in Delhi. I remained under his care for 2 weeks and he was able to control my dosage and appetite.

There was a drastic change in lifestyle. Life in school was a bit challenging in the beginning, but then I got accustomed to the new routine. I’d missed my classes and got a lot of extra time from my teachers to catch up. Friends were so helpful. They would keep check that I don’t miss my meals or snacks. I had gotten the freedom to munch between a class (out of necessity), which was always a delight! When a new teacher would come and see me eating while taking notes, she’d question. But my whole class would be ready to answer for me. My friends made it easy for me and it was a happy time in school. There wouldn’t be a school with better teachers and better friends for me. There were times when there would be school trips to hill stations and more and I’d not get the permission to go. All because the low-blood sugars if not treated on time, become so dramatic that my mom was hesitant. Nothing would convince her to let me go and it did affect my perception about my capability to do things. There were times when even after being capable enough, I’d not be given opportunities to try things and it did affect my confidence somewhere.

At home I’d to follow strict routine and eat as per my diet plans. I’d to count carbs and calories and do measured physical activity. My parents and sister being so loving, also used to follow my diet to a large extent and it made following my diet plan a lot easier. Frankly, being a kid, it would have been really difficult if I found my sister eating chocolates and then I’d not be able to. These little things make a lot of difference and I love my family for that. There were times in school when I’d not be able to eat things my friends were eating, but as far as I remember, I did not complain to mom. I was blessed enough to have brains to focus on things that really mattered, haha! J

There were times when my sugar levels would rise to really high levels. These were times when my body’s requirement of insulin was changing as I was growing. At these times, I’d have to spend a few days in the hospital trying to adjust my body to the new dose and increased appetite. This happened about twice till my 9th standard and usually stayed in range post that.

After school ended, it was time to choose my college. Even after clearing the necessary exams, studying in a college of my choice became a distant dream. I had to settle for a college in my own city because diabetes again stood like an obstruction to my goal. I completed a 5 year course in architecture and it was a wonderful journey no doubt. There were episodes of hypos and hypers and I’d still have to cope up with the submissions. It was something that would be so invisible to everyone but I’d still have to keep up with everyone else’s pace. One major issue I did come across in college; people would say ‘You don’t look diabetic!’ And I’d have no answer to that. Yes, diabetes is an invisible part of me! If it’s not showing, I’m working really hard to make it that way and I’m proud of it.

One instance I remember I’d to drop a friend to the railway station. I dropped him safely and while returning had an episode of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). It was one of the rare cases when I’d realise hypo symptoms really late and started to forget the way home. I started feeling dizzy and shivery and stopped my car at the curb. I always kept glucose in my travel bag and hurriedly drank it so that I didn’t go into unconsciousness. That incident did teach me about being extra careful to eat and have proper levels before driving. There have been little moments that made me feel like I’m always working towards achieving a normal life. But it is definitely controllable if the efforts are continuous and constant.

Midnight hypos have occurred a couple of times and 3 out of those resulted into fits and unconsciousness. Both times I had close family or friends to deal with the situation and I recovered the next day. Also, college was the time I’d travel on college trips and be on my own. I’ve always been lucky to have caring friends and it made my college journey easy and happy. During long train journeys I’d wait for the train to stop so that I’d be able to take my shot. Sometimes when the time would just not match, I’d have to take a shot in a moving train and it’d be really risky but I managed somehow.

There have been numerous times when I’d not be able to eat anything during parties as there would be nothing proper to eat and only lead to high sugar levels. I remember looking at stuffed plates and only waiting to go home and have my mom-made food. Sometimes controlling myself would be a lot of hardwork and I’d take all credit for that. But yes I do insist on taking breaks and I eat to my heart’s delight when there are insane cravings for something I really want to eat. Sugar free edibles these days have made things quite easy but they aren’t really available all the times.

Diabetes has created some invisible boundaries for me no doubt and I’m continuously learning to work within them. For me it’s not about the shots now, I’m quite used to the pain. Only thing is that it requires a lot of time and energy. It’s always on my mind and takes a lot of my mental space. It’s not even 4 hours and it’s time for the next shot, it’s not even a week and it’s time to change the insulin cartridge, it’s not even a fortnight and I require a new box of strips, it’s not even a month and my supplies are over. It’s like a continuous hustle that’ll never end unless there’s a cure.

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