The Day Before I Was Diagnosed

It was Saturday, the eighth of May in 2010. I felt utterly exhausted. My mouth was bone dry, and all I endlessly craved was the taste of sweet, icy cold orange juice. All of the saliva in my mouth was gone, which made the task of trying to swallow food a mission and a half. I had spent the last two days in bed, and I still wasn’t feeling any better. The doctor I had seen on Thursday told me I had nothing more than a virus, and I still believed that it would eventually pass.

I felt so guilty for laying in bed those past two days. I had never, ever been the sort of person to stay in bed when I was unwell. I usually relished sick days home from school, filled with television, playtime, reading and Mum’s chicken noodle soup. I couldn’t bring myself to turn on the computer, spread my uni assignments across the desk and pretend I was doing something productive. I wasn’t even stressing that I hadn’t made a dent in my uni work that was due next week. Today I was lifeless.

I couldn’t stop trying to pinpoint what I’d done to myself. Maybe it was all that junk food I’d been eating after school since forever. Maybe it was my lack of interest in anything related to exercise or sport. Or maybe I just didn’t live enough of a disciplined lifestyle. I told myself that things would change going forward, and that I would be a healthier person.

I finally forced myself up, made the bed and had a shower. It was still rather warm for May, and I put on a pair of grey board shorts and a black Bonds tee. My head was in a spin and the daylight hurt my eyes as I stepped outside for the first time in days. I went and sat down at our outdoor setting under the patio, hoping that a change of scenery might give me some much needed energy and motivation.

Mum came outside to hang the washing to dry, and asked me how I was feeling. Talking to her was a comfort, but it didn’t change the way I was feeling as she offered me her helpful Mum suggestions. I eventually succumbed to weakness and went back to bed.

The day was over before I knew it, and Dad came in to call me to dinner. I dragged myself into the dining room, and Mum asked me what I wanted to eat. I told her I wasn’t hungry, and of course she freaked out at the idea of me not eating. I finally settled for some chopped carrot and celery. But chewing and swallowing was torture without saliva, and I left most of it on my plate.

The night that followed was filled with craziness. I was exhausted but couldn’t sleep. My bed wasn’t offering me any comfort, and I migrated to the couch. I was sweating and nauseated. And I was still craving the taste of sweet, icy cold orange juice on my tongue. I’d had enough. I walked into the kitchen, switched on the ice shaver and made myself a glass of orange juice granita that I’d been craving so badly. The glass was empty before I knew it, and I so badly wanted more.

My 2am rumblings in the kitchen woke up Mum as I was preparing a third glass. “What are you doing? The doctor told you to have hot drinks!” She yelled at me, partly annoyed that I’d woken her in the wee hours of the morning.

I ran to the toilet and threw up. I immediately felt better. My pulse had calmed down and I didn’t feel so nauseated. I was finally able to get some sleep.

My very last night of sleep before I was diagnosed with diabetes the following day.

Embracing the Unpredictable

It was a Tuesday afternoon. It was my day off from uni, and I had spent most of the day procrastinating on all my assignments that were due soon. It was just me and Mum who were home that afternoon, as the phone began to ring. Mum went to answer it, and I was listening very carefully from my bedroom door. She barely spoke two words, before she’d hung up the phone. Even though I was trying to dismiss the worst possible thoughts from my mind, I knew that this was going to be bad news.

It was three years ago today that my Mum approached me and told me that her sister had passed away unexpectedly in hospital. It was three years ago today that I experienced the first major loss in my life. And although it was three years ago today, in my mind it feels like it happened only yesterday. I remember feeling shocked. I remember feeling the knots in my stomach. And I remember the wave of emotion that flooded over me as the PowerPoint photos began to play at her funeral.

Three years have passed today, and one thing has stayed the same. Diabetes. I still live with it. I still deal with it day in, and day out. I still test. I still inject. I still correct. I still feel amazingly high and terribly low in the same day. And diabetes still tags along for the ride, and quite possibly will for the rest of my life.

Life with diabetes is full of predictable moments. And as terrible as this day was three years ago, it reminds me of the unpredictable nature of life. A better kind of unpredictable. Like the fact that the course of my life will not be ruled or defined by diabetes. Like the fact that I have achieved amazing, unpredictable things despite diabetes, and still can. And the fact that diabetes has given me incredible strength that I can draw upon to achieve anything I put my mind to.

That is one amazing kind of unpredictable that I want to embrace.