When I found out that I had diabetes I have to admit that I was not all that surprised. I’ll get to that later. What did surprise me was the high cost of the testing materials at my local drug store. Because of this I began searching the internet for a good place to obtain diabetes testing materials at an affordable price and I stumbled across American Diabetes Wholesale. I received an e-mail from them asking for my “diabetes story” and so here it is.
I’m now fifty seven years old but all my life I’ve had some problem keeping my weight down. When I was a boy and my mother would take me clothes shopping I can remember the salesperson recommending that we shop in the “husky” section.
I’m a graphic designer by profession and in 1999 I went to work in a graphics shop. I spent nine years at that desk and every day when I got home from work I was pretty well used up for the day. I was in no mood to begin an exercise program. My time after work was usually spent tidying up my apartment and then relaxing in front of the television. I should also mention that I had been smoking since I was twelve years old.
In February of 2008, the graphics shop I worked at was sold. The new owners kept me on for about a month then decided they wanted to make a go of it themselves. They let me go. I was shocked but I was also suddenly unemployed. I have no medical insurance or insurance of any kind for that matter. My first line of defense was to apply for unemployment benefits. With all the extensions, that lasted for just about one year.
At first I was quite diligent about looking for new employment. I visited several perspective employers each week. In addition I signed up at several online job search web sites. Under normal circumstances this would probably have been fruitful. But it was just at this time that the “Great Recession” took hold. The best I could do to supplement my lack of income was to do a few freelance jobs here and there but it was never enough to sustain me. I was beginning to use my savings. This was not a good sign. I had to find work soon but the unemployment rate just kept growing.
As time went on I became more and more discourage about finding work and I spent more and more time at home. I’d get up early in the morning, make breakfast, check my e-mail and then sit down and watch TV for most of the rest of the day. This led to eating out of boredom (a very dangerous practice). I found myself snacking several times a day and gaining weight in the process. Sometime my snacks were sweet and sometime they were salty. I was not a smart snacker. I could have been snacking on fruits or vegetables but I just wasn’t thinking.
This went on for several months and I began to notice that I was feeling thirsty virtually all of the time. I never connected this symptom with diabetes. I knew that I was at high risk for diabetes because of my weight and my sedentary lifestyle but I guess I was just in denial about the very real possibility of it all catching up with me in the form of diabetes.
On Sunday October 18, 2009, I went to dinner with my sisters and some friends. Before going to dinner we visited at my sister’s house for cocktails. Both of my sisters are nurses. We were talking about health and I mentioned how thirsty I had been lately and my sister asked when was the last time I had my glucose level checked. I told her that I have never had it checked. Well that’s all she needed to hear.
Previously her husband had a short bout with diabetes and they had several glucose meters and other testing materials in the house. She went and got the meters and we put together a working combination of meter, control solution and test strips. When she took my reading it read 470 mg/dL. There was a very concerned look on my sister’s face. At this point both sisters were cautioning me about just how serious this kind of high level is. Other than the thirst I felt fine and I urged that we should continue with the days’ activities and go on ahead out to dinner and address my situation later when we returned. That is what we did. Before we did, however, she gave me a dose of metformin.
When we returned after dinner we sat on the patio having drinks. My sister (knowing that I have no medical insurance) suggested that I go to the local hospital ER to see what they could do about reducing the high glucose level until I could see my own doctor. I was not in the mood to spend the entire evening in a hospital ER and I expressed as much but my “nurse sisters” kept insisting that my glucose level was dangerously high. I acquiesced.
Before going home we did indeed visit the hospital ER and after about 3½ hours and several tests the doctor pronounced me a diabetic. She did give me an injection of insulin and my own prescription for metformin and finally we were on our way home. It was now after midnight.
The magnitude of what had just happened did not sink in right away. I really didn’t know what it meant to be a diabetic or how my life had just changed. I’m still not sure I understand it. But I’m trying to cope with it the best that I can.
I’m still out of work, I still don’t have any medical insurance coverage so all my expenses are my own. There are days when it is very discouraging. I have no job and I have virtually no money. But I still have things for which to be grateful. God is good. I do have the support of my family. I am in daily contact with one of my sisters and weekly contact with the other. They are a wonderful resource for support and information. Being in the medical field they know much more on the subject than do I.
I am confident that in time I will beat this thing called diabetes and I will indeed find employment and my life will return to what I once called normal.
By Ron Gregoire