Diabetes, a Patient's Story
Diabetes, a Patient's Story
Diagnosed with diabetes
-my first symptoms
Diabetes is a disease that sneaks up on you. It's not like you wake up with a pain somewhere, and then you say to yourself, "damn, I'm now a diabetic". Personally I knew nothing about the symptoms of diabetes, nobody in my family or circle of friends had diabetes. But with perfect hindsight, I had two symptoms that anyone knowing about the disease would clearly have spotted. I was 33 years old at the time.
Firstly, thirst had become different. I could get up in the middle of the night and drink something, and it tasted better than ever. But drinking is good for you, so why worry? I also remember that we were on holiday in a warm country, and after a typical day at the beach or something similar, just the thought of getting up to our hotel room, buying a cold soda from the vending machine outside in the hall, and then sitting on the veranda and drinking it, that feeling was priceless. It was almost like an addiction. When I now think back on the number of soft drinks (not "Light") that I drank back then, and what my blood sugar level might have been, I think I abused my body.
Secondly, I lost weight. I've never been overweight, but my weight has always been fluctuating no more than 4-5 pounds, so when my weight went down a couple of pounds, it was no cause for alarm. Not something to be concerned about, actually I saw it as a good thing, as I looked nice and trim. But I kept on losing weight, not fast and nothing very dramatic, but I definitely had more hollow cheeks than ever before. Some people started to comment on it, and at first I took it as a compliment in this world where being thin seems to be the norm. But as it continued, finally I myself thought I was too thin. I looked sick.
I decided that I would put on some weight. I started eating more; pizza and large soda for dinner became the norm rather than the exception. My poor body. But even though I clearly ate more, I continued to lose weight. For those out there who know what it's like to eat almost nothing and still not be able to lose weight, I can tell you it's just as frustrating to eat a lot and not being able to stop losing weight. I was beginning to realize that I was not in good health, something was wrong. But I still had no idea what it could be.
Shortly before Christmas 1993, I had the flu and was away from work for about a week. When I got a little better, I informed my boss that I expected to be back soon, but I didn't recover from the flu as you would expect. When I was vertical and mobile again I decided to see a doctor, I'd had enough. So I went there with the hope you always have, when you suffer from something unknown. The hope of a firm diagnosis, a few pills maybe, and then you're well in less than a week. That's what doctors are for, right? To cure you...
But that was not in the cards for me. The doctor probably noticed I was thin, and I took a chance and told him about my thirst and gradual unstoppable weight loss. He was probably already then pretty sure of the diagnosis, but he didn't say anything yet. He suggested a blood test then and there, probably a blood sugar test, and after a few seconds of looking at the result, he turned to me and said the words I'll never forget: "Does anyone in your family suffer from diabetes?"
Diabetes? What on earth was he thinking? What is diabetes? As a child I had met a poor child who was diabetic. Was he still alive? One thing I was acutely aware of was that if the doctor's "suggested" diagnosis was correct, then the word "chronic" was part of it. Chronic is an overwhelming word, it is not eternal in relation to the lifespan of the universe perhaps, but for me personally it would of course mean always, forever, eternally. I could never get cured. And my new chronic disease, would it shorten my life? And if so, by how much? Not having any diabetics in