A: It’s my dia-versary. I almost forgot.
N: We should celebrate with cake.
Well I suppose a “happy dia-versary” is in order.
Two years ago today I found myself sitting in my primary care office expecting to be told that I somehow had type 2 diabetes, and equally expecting that I would fight it with (even) better diet and exercise.
What I wasn’t expecting was the doctor to tell me that based on my size, my symptoms, and my lifestyle that it was “most likely” type 1 diabetes and that she couldn’t treat me. She made some calls to a local endocrinologist and got me set up with an appointment later that day.
I found myself briefly heading back to work in a daze– thinking “What the fuck? I’m not six years old. How is this possible?”
So let me back up.
Why would I be expecting to hear any sort of diabetes diagnosis to begin with? I’m active– up until this point I had run four marathons, sixteen half marathons, and countless shorter distance races, plus I eat a pretty healthy, well-balanced diet. I’m the last person anyone would expect to end up diabetic.
Thankfully, I did not end up in the emergency room the way many people find out they are t1d. Instead, I had these nagging yeast infections (for months!) and a bunch of other common t1d symptoms I completely wrote off as part of my active lifestyle.
After going to urgent care several times for medicine to treat the yeast infections, I finally decided to see my OB/GYN to make sure I didn’t have anything serious going on. She confirmed it was just a yeast infection, but started asking questions about family medical history and diabetes.
“You may want to consider getting some blood work done– just to be safe. It’s probably nothing, but you never know. It’s worth ruling it out.”
A big thank you to the doctors who don’t rush you out of the room– the ones that ask the questions to get to the root of the problem instead of just treating the symptoms. I most likely would have ended up in the ER if it wasn’t for this doctor.
I had the Blue Ridge Half Marathon that coming weekend so I put the blood work off until Monday. I had one of my best races mentally and emotionally, but physically– I was so sick afterwards while I waited for Nick to finish the full marathon. I felt like throw up. I was dizzy. My heart rate wouldn’t slow down. I assumed I just ran a tough race.
Monday I went to the lab for blood work. This is a huge deal for me. I don’t do needles in my vein. Period. Up until this point, I only had blood work done once in my life, and only ever had an IV once in my life. Both instances included panic attacks.
Little did I know– this would become a regular thing.
Friday afternoon at around 5pm I get a phone call from a number I don’t recognize. It was a woman from the doctors office.
Without any real preamble–
“We have the results from your blood work. Your blood glucose was 500 and your a1C is 12.9%. You have an appointment Monday at 10am. Don’t miss it. If you feel sick, go to the ER. Have a nice weekend.”
I honestly had no idea what any of that meant. I knew what blood glucose was, but had never heard of a1C. I had no idea what the ideal range of either was. And oh, by the way, I was scheduled to run the St. Mary’s Historic Half Marathon that Sunday.
I didn’t particularly feel sick, even my current yeast infection was gone. I ran the race, but skipped the chocolate chip cookie at the finish.
Now, that catches us back up to Monday May 2, 2016 and my t1d diagnosis– but why am I telling you all of this?
1. It’s an interesting, although probably not unique, story of how we should listen to our bodies.
If something doesn’t seem right, chances are it’s not. We are not invincible– even us seemingly healthy individuals. Disease doesn’t discriminate.
Use my story as a reason to check in with your body. Does anything seem slightly “off” but maybe not “off” enough to do anything about it? If you’re like me, you may be hesitant to see a doctor for every little thing.
So instead, ask yourself–
– Am I getting enough sleep?
– Am I drinking enough water?
– Am I getting enough exercise?
– Am I eating a well-balanced whole foods diet?
– Am I stressed?
– Am I nourishing my mind, body, and soul?
Chances are you could do better in at least one of these areas. Most of us can. When these areas are out of balance we notice the effects, but may not recognize the underlying cause. It could be something deeper like t1d or it could just be that you need to slow down and pay attention to how you are treating your body.
2. The person who cares most about your health and wellness will always be you.
Doctors mean well, but when we have a few limited minutes with them at each visit, it’s easy to feel like we’re just another face– not a real human being who has needs and fears regarding their health.
Don’t be afraid to take your health into your own hands. Find a healthcare provider that you click with. One that hears your concerns and that you feel truly has your best interest at heart– one that wants to help find and fight the root cause, not just treat your symptoms.
It’s easy to feel like you’re stuck with what you’ve got. But you have choices. If you’re not happy with the care you are getting, fire your current medical team and find one that fits you.
3. Traditional medicine is necessary and has it’s place in your wellness toolkit, but I don’t believe it to be the end-all-be-all.
Not to go all woo-woo on you, but consider adding alternative medicine and wellness practices to your toolkit. Go into it with an open heart and an open mind. If something works for you, explore it more. If it doesn’t work for you, try something else.
There are many different alternative medicine and wellness practices you can try, but here are a few common ones:
– Essential Oils
– Using food as fuel and medicine instead of as an indulgence
Don’t be afraid to experiment and find the right combination of traditional and alternative medicines that make you feel your best and healthiest self.
Our culture is so go-go-go. We’re stressed AF. It’s no wonder our health suffers. We’re too tired to exercise. We’re too busy to cook a nutritious meal. We’re too wound up to sleep at night. We’re highly caffeniated and we’re burnt out. Something has to give, and unfortunately that “something” often times ends up being our health.
We’re meant for more than this. If you want greatness– however you define that for yourself– you must treat your body like the temple it is. You can only coast on empty for so long before you burn out.
Use this time to slow down and listen to the subtle hints your body is sending you before those whispers turn into screams, and those screams put you in a hospital.
It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it– you are worth it. And you’re not alone. I’m right there with you fighting every day to make the best choices I can for my body, mind, soul, and overall health.
Year one of t1d was a daze, year two was frustrating AF. Here’s to year three and taking control of my health, my way.
One day at a time. We’ve got this.