So, there are a couple of reasons as to why I’m writing this blog post. The first being that I’ve had thoughts that writing about the situation I’ve experienced last month (and into this month) could possibly be a cathartic process for me to deal with it a little more. The second being a suggestion from a friend who believes that writing about it in general would not only help me but could potentially help others who may find themselves in a similar situation.
Let me tell you about my shittiest three days of 2019 so far.
I’m going to caveat this entire post by stating I love to be a bit dramatic sometimes. My girlfriend can vouch that on occasion, I’m quite partial to putting on Torn by Natalie Imbruglia, full blast as I lie on the sofa with the back of my hand against my forehead screaming at the top of my lungs “nothing’s fine, I’m torn”. So, I guess what I’m trying to say is, take this with a little pinch of salt.
My shittiest three days actually don’t begin Monday the 16th of September at 3:15pm, but rather builds slowly, progressively then rudely over the course of the previous two months. I’m not usually one to complain, but I’d been feeling pretty ill constantly with a range of different symptoms – headache, nausea, lethargy, weakness. All fairly common things to feel when you’re a little stressed at work and a little bit under the weather. It was the constant waking up in the middle of the night to drink water straight from the tap and the subsequent peeing that set off the alarm bells (apologies for the TMI).
Those who know me, know that I hate the taste of water – I mean completely despise it. I would rather drink just about anything else to quench my thirst than have that strange metallic taste enter my mouth, and it was at this point with my complete disregard for my own hatred for the stuff that my girlfriend said to me that there’s something not quite right.
So, after booking my doctor’s appointment for midway through September, I did what any adult with a penchant for sensibility does – I internet diagnosed myself (never do this). After typing my symptoms into Google and trusting it’s ever-changing and enhancing algorithms the potential diagnosis was clear: You may have diabetes. I laughed, I groaned, I told myself I was dumb enough to turn to the internet to find out what was wrong with me in the first place.
The next piece of technology I turned to was an app on my friend’s phone called Ava. After some strange and extensive questioning, the results came back with a glaring 60% majority: You could have type 1 diabetes. I laughed again, a little more unnerved this time and rolled my eyes. I felt as if I had just internet diagnosed myself all over again.
The third and final non-doctor-related diagnosis came from my manager. I explained how I had been feeling lately, run-down, headaches, peeing more often than should be necessary and he responded with the words “I know what you have, but tell me what you think it is first”. Curious, I explained my internet searches around the symptoms and he responded with “That’s what I was going to say as those were the same symptoms my son had before he was diagnosed. Go to the doctors.” I didn’t laugh this time.
So the 14th of September rolls around and I’m sat there in the doctor’s surgery explaining my symptoms and laughing nervously about my three unofficial diagnoses, waiting to get to the end of my sentence where he would tell me that I was being silly and that I shouldn’t be looking on the internet for answers to medical queries. Instead, he responded with “It sounds like you have diabetes”.
He spun around in his chair and pulled out a glucometer where he told me there was a simple way to check if I was or not. He used one of the tools in its case to prick my finger and used a testing strip. The little numbers counted down from 5…4…3…2…1 and:
‘23.7,’ he said.
‘Is that good?’ I said, laughing nervously.
‘Normal is 5 to 8.’
‘Maybe I shouldn’t have had that Pot Noodle for lunch,’ I said.
He sent me to Derby Royal Hospital where I waited with my girlfriend in the Ambulatory Care Unit until around 11 o clock at night. The wonderful nurses ran blood tests and a student doctor returned to confirm the diagnosis:
‘So, you have type 1 diabetes,’ she said
‘I do?’ I responded. She stared at me in shock; this clearly wasn’t the response she thought she would get.
‘Has- has no one said… the doctor should have mentioned it when he sent you across with the diagnosis,’ she panicked.
‘No, no I was just confirming,’ I said, attempting to put her at ease. Her panic slipped away into relief as she realised this wasn’t the first time I was hearing about it.
And I had my first dose of insulin ten minutes later.
I didn’t feel shocked. I just felt pragmatic. What was the next thing I needed to do to make myself better? What’re the next steps I need to take to get everything back on track? I was using humour as a defence mechanism at just about every stage before and after the diagnosis.
It was a very long Monday.
Then began the (what seems to be) never-ending Hospital appointments. The very next day I was sent to see the diabetes team who explained a little more to me about what was going on with me, but seemed to chastise the previous nurses about not giving me my insulin – they had just given me the shot. This seemed to be a common occurrence. My diabetes nurse wondered why I hadn’t been given my insulin, the GP I saw wondered why I was only given 10 test strips and no sharps bin, my pharmacist wondered why I hadn’t been told to fill out a medical exemption form, and so on and so forth. There seemed to be a blame game running up the chain of people I was seeing.
So, roll around Wednesday, two days after my diagnosis where I’m driving home from work. Cue the Uber taxi driver in the left-hand lane deciding to do a U-turn into (my) right-hand lane. Yup, just out of the blue, no indicating, no warning. Just swings directly into me.
I then spent the next 3 hours constantly on the phone with a dying battery talking to family members, solicitors, insurance companies and a kindly man who lives on a boat in the marina and happened to be carrying around a packet of digestives. Again, it was a very long day and no, I didn’t take food from strangers.
And thus I say goodbye and goodnight to my little Kia which was another shock unto itself. What’s strange is that the damage didn’t look so bad; yes, the bumper had been effectively ripped in half, but part of me genuinely thought it would be salvageable. I found out via text three days later that my car had indeed been written off completely. Fantastic.
So here I am writing this post looking back on those crappy three days and all I can think to myself at this moment is that it could have been a lot worse. I could have ignored my symptoms and eventually found myself in a coma or state of DKA (Diabetic Ketoacidosis). I could have been injured by the accident and have lasting damage. I am still alive and still carrying on and I’ve found a lot of support from my family, my friends and online communities such as/r/diabetes_t1 and diabetes.co.uk.
For now, I’m still dealing, still processing. I’ve got a new car, a beautiful red Skoda, and things seem to be getting back on track which is something I’m certainly happy about. Here’s to the rest of 2019!