Archive photo of a person having a diabetes numbers monitoring test.

About 18 or so years ago, during a routine physical exam, I was told that I was pre-diabetic. I was told that if I began to exercise daily and watch my diet, eat healthier, I could avoid becoming full-on diabetic. I was given a suggested dietary plan and some recommendations and sent on my merry way.

I thought, “Hm, pre doesn’t mean I am” and I ignored the recommendations. I kept eating what I wanted, when I wanted. I didn’t exercise. I thought I was indestructible. I thought surely nothing would happen to me.

As time went on, I started to not feel so great. Not bad, just not my best.

12 years ago I went for a physical required as part of being employed and was told – “Hey, you’re diabetic. Did you know this?” Hm. I was given oral medications to take, but I didn’t like them and stopped taking them. Because if you ignore something long enough, it will just go away, right?

10 years ago I started to feel like I had tape stuck to the bottom of my big toe on one foot; I looked down, nothing there. This is strange, I thought – why am I feeling something that isn’t there? As time went on, it extended from the feeling on one toe, one foot, to all my toes, both feet.

Four years ago I was put on insulin. My eye sight took a drastic turn for the worse. My feet were becoming numb.

 Still – I did nothing to try and control it. “It won’t get worse”. Yes, I blatantly ignored things and lied to myself. Why? Because I didn’t want to be told what to do. I didn’t want to have to give up certain foods. I didn’t want to acknowledge that I had problems. I was stubborn.

Three and a half years ago I developed a boil on my spine. Let’s not confuse this with the boils I had continuosly for the past forever years. This one was special. I had it for months. Antibiotics didn’t clear it up. Dr. Adam tried draining it. That didn’t work. I ended up in the hospital having surgery to scoop out all the infection and hopefully heal. It went all the way down to my spinal column. I narrowly avoided sepsis.

I have scars all over my legs, back, torso from boils.

Diabetes shreds your nerves, attacks your eyes, heart and kidneys ruthlessly. I have neuropathy in my feet and lower legs, which means usually my feet are numb enough that I can’t feel if I have a problem, stub my toe, or walk across something sharp.

I get wounds that take months to heal (IF they heal) and literally thousands of dollars to treat. My lower legs get burning nerves which makes it painful to walk or sit – it affects my sleep.

My balance is also affected and I frequently trip either because I don’t feel the change in surface on the ground/floor, or because I just can’t keep my balance and start to fall over.

I have one wound on the bottom of my big toe; it’s been there 2 years and has not entirely healed. I worry that my toe will have to be amputated at some point, and it’s downhill from there. I’ll lose myself one piece at a time, because that’s how diabetes works.

Sometimes my hands are now numb – not always, just every so often.

Most of the time I can’t enjoy an intimate relationship with my husband, as THAT is numb, too. Except for when it’s not and instead is so overly sensitive that it feels like fiery hot needles are being scraped into me.

I have had to miss work on several occasions because I wake up and cannot see. I rest my eyes for that day, and then I’m better.

However, my eyes are getting increasingly light sensitive, to the point I sometimes wear sunglasses inside, and always in movie theaters. I used to love to read, but that is now a luxury that I can ill afford – I need to save my eyes for work, as I still have at least 15 years ahead of me before I can retire.

My hearing is also going.

My sense of taste – not so much anymore. The things I used to love to eat – the things that helped put me in this place I’m in – I can’t taste them anymore. And to someone who is and always has been an emotional eater, this is the equivalent of being abandoned at the altar. Some of you will understand, but most will not, when I say I actually shed tears of frustration sometimes over this.

I’m relatively certain also that I have had at least one heart attack in the last 5 years, but I can’t say for certain, as I didn’t go to the doctor, because I didn’t want to have THAT confirmed either: I just wanted to keep on pretending nothing is wrong.

I’ve burdened my children, particularly my daughter, with worry and concern over my health and what I can and cannot do for myself and what the future holds for me, and for them, for they will most likely be my care givers.

I know that I am in a life and death battle now, and yet knowing that, and being an educated and relatively “sharp” person, I still every minute of every day have to tell myself what to do right, that that one bite which won’t hurt other people will surely speed up my demise.

 I sometimes cry because I have to not eat that brownie on the plate in the lunchroom, and I feel sorry for myself. And angry.

Today, I am getting my numbers under control, but it may be too little, too late. I am trying to stick to a new health plan with walking every day and a mostly vegetarian diet. But it’s hard. And discouraging. And did I say hard?

I test my blood sugar 4-5 times a day – a needle prick in the finger every time. I take 2 daily shots of one base thing, and then 2-4 shots of another, depending on what the readings are. More needles.

We live in the US now. Before insurance kicks in, and without the coupons I’m given from the drug companies for these shots, I pay $600USD per month for medication.

Fortunately, I do have insurance, and I do get the discount cards, so instead I pay $100 USD/month. That’s still too much, and it’s money I’m taking away from my family because I chose to ignore my problem for so long.

If you are told you are PRE diabetic, take it as if you already ARE diabetic.

 Do EVERYTHING in your power to take care of yourself and LIVE. For yourself. For your loved ones. You are NOT indestructible. You are NOT immune.

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1 COMMENT

  1. Thank you for sharing your story Kathy. It inspires me to look after myself better. My dad was told he was diabetic then changed his lifestyle (exercising regularly and becoming a vegetarian) and was able to reverse it. You are a strong woman and I know you can beat this ?

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