MERCEDEZ AMOS: DIABETIC TO DIABADASS

January 9, 2015 my life changed for what I thought would be the worse. It was 8 pm and I was in the hospital with what I thought was the flu, as the rest of my household had just gotten over it. After 3 hours of sitting in the emergency room, x-rays, blood work, and urine tests, I was told “your blood sugars are extremely high.  We are going to take more blood, and give you some potassium IVs”  I laid in the hospital bed, just waiting for the moment they would tell me “ok all done, go to the pharmacy tomorrow and grab this”. I didn’t hear those words until a week and half later. 

While I was in our small town hospital they weren’t sure what was wrong with me but they had a guess, told me I was most likely a diabetic and then had me ambulanced to the city where there were specialists who could diagnose me properly. I was then moved from pediatrics, to a small room in admitting, to a solitary room (coincidentally I did have the flu and was contagious), and finally moved into a room I shared with 4 other people. Now, everywhere I went, I had blood taken every 4 hours, IV bags constantly changed, surrounded by doctors, nurses, blood work technicians, etc.  I was diagnosed originally with type 2 diabetes, but with further monitoring and blood work and urine tests, I was finally diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, commonly known as juvenile diabetes. I stayed in that hospital for a week and a half so they could get my blood sugars and potassium levels back to normal. I was given my lesson on how my insulin pens worked, how to change the needles and insulin cartridges, how to use my BG monitor, and told when I eat something to text my Dr. and she would tell me how much insulin to take for each meal, I was released from the hospital with a whole new set of life instructions such as foods I shouldn’t eat, when I should eat, what I should do for exercise, when I should check my sugars, what I should do if my sugars are too low or too high, etc… a total game changer. During this visit I was overrun with fatigue, my muscles were sore, my arms and fingers spotted and bruised from all the needles and IVs, I had no voice, my lung hurt, my eyes were sore, and I was away from my family. The majority of my days consisted of watching movies and episodes of “Game of Thrones”, sleeping, andphone calls, texts, FaceTimes, and Skype calls from dozens of family and friends. After every phone call or message I was asked “are you okay?” my reply was always the same. “I’m fine, I’m okay, at least I’m alive”

I wasn’t.  I cried myself to sleep every night, I wasn’t happy, I blamed myself for everything that had happened and ultimately thought that my time here on earth was going to be short because I didn’t know what to do.

Now is probably a good time to mention why I was diagnosed with Type 2 before Type 1- When this whole situation started, I was 20 years old, 5’6”, and almost 300 lbs. I couldn’t touch my toes, had a super crappy diet, didn’t exercise and I was going to be the next family funeral for sure. Type 2 being the result of unhealthy diets and lack of exercise. It made sense.

Fast forward a year—I still wasn’t myself. I had major mood swings, didn’t take my diagnosis seriously because I thought I was fine, I kept eating crap, I still didn’t exercise, didn’t take my insulin like I was supposed to and I was always angry. I didn’t feel like getting out of bed most days,and overall I wasn’t a nice person to be around. One day, I lashed out at my sister for telling my parents that I wasn’t taking my insulin or testing my sugars as I no longer lived with them and didn’t think it was their business. Needless to say, my dad and I had a talk and dad scared the shit out of me (pardon my French). What he said resonated with me and has ever since. He said “you have to take care of yourself. If you don’t, you will be 29-30 years old, hooked up to a machine that has to filter things through for you because you can’t, and by 35-38 you’ll be dead. There is a world out there for you to explore, a life that has to be lived. Do you want to be in a hospital bed dying when you’re 35 years old?”

I went back to my house, 4 hours away from home, cried, cried, and cried some more...  and then I attempted, I tried, I put a little bit of effort in every now and then and then my grandpa suddenly passed away. I knew he didn’t want this for me. He accepted me for who I was but had always encouraged me to change. He knew I could do better. I realized then that I had to change. So I did. I started working out every day, whether it was cardio, or weights, or even stretches on rest days. I changed my diet by cutting out all sugary and processed foods, experimented with foods that spiked my BG levels and ones that lowered them. Even changed my travel routines by walking or biking to the places I needed to go, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, etc.,  I started losing weight—finally. My attitudes changed. I felt better but still not 100% because I knew I could do better.

Present Day: I am now 22 years old, same height, and no longer 290 lbs. I can proudly say I’ve dropped 110 lbs and counting in the last year thanks to good old fashioned portion control, healthy diet and regular exercise.I am happy, healthy, more energized, more conscious about what I do and what I eat, and I’ve kissed my mood swings goodbye. Now I am ROCKING being a diabetic, I’m taking the words and advice of my doctors to “control my condition and not let it control me”, my dad, and motivation from my late grandpa to make a positive change, not only so that I can make the most out of my life, but so others can enjoy me for a while longer too. I wasn’t ready to let any kind of illness take hold of my life and drag me down and looking back on the whole experience, if you would have asked me last year, I would have said the worst part was being my own barrier and not taking care of myself and letting my mind keep me from making the change I needed to or the changing of my lifestyle. I can happily say now that the worst experience was being in the same clothes for a few days because someone forgot to bring me clothes …. I’m over it though and on a journey to continue helping myself and others to a more positive and healthy lifestyle ☺