Friday, 1 June 2012
I figure I have to get this out before I can start to move on and accept my D. Start from the beginning. Everyone has one, a beginning. And this just happens to be my second beginning. I had a life before D. Now I have a life with D.
So this is the story of my diagnosis.
I work for an endocrinologist. She's an extremely lovely lady who believes knowledge is empowerment and tries to educate her patients as much as possible. And so she educated me. I didn't come from a medical background. I finished my degree in film, decided I hated it and basically picked a job name by flicking through one of those careers books they give you in high school. I decided on medical reception. And somehow, against all odds (and over 100 other applicants) I got the job. Knowing I didn't have a medical background but that I appeared bright enough to learn, my endo would often come out to explain many of the medical issues that her patients came to see her about to me. I don't like to feel stupid either, so I spent much of my time in between typing up patient letters googling large medical terminology that I found in said letters. As a result, I had a pretty good idea of the rough characteristics and treatments of each ailment of the patients who walked through our doors.
2 weeks before my diagnosis we had a young, newly diagnosed Type 1 diabetic girl given an urgent referrel to see us. Not having had one of those (a newly diagnosed T1. I had seen plenty of old hats walk in and out) pass my desk before, I was almost going to give her a regular waiting time appointment (which is about 2 months wait), but after chatting with her mum, asked for the referrel to be sent through so I could give it to the Dr. to see. The poor young girl was basically rushed in to see us the next day. As with all other patients, I typed up her letter, which included her symptoms at diagnosis.
I typed and fear mounted in my stomach.
Fatigue. I had actually fallen asleep at my desk 2 days prior and was woken up the QML courier. Every other day I was sleeping on the bus on the way home and would go straight to bed as soon as I got off the bus.
Polyuria . I usually get this whenever I have a cold. So I just thought I was getting a cold. A really bad one that didn't include sneezing, runny nose or stuffy head. Who wants that anyway? I would much rather just take the peeing.
Polydipsia. I wanted to drink the world. I would skull a bottle of water a minute and immediately want more.
Nocturia. I blamed being tired on this. Of course I would be tired if I was waking up to pee every hour.
And the list went on: Weight loss, headaches, confusion, etc. etc.
Feeling dread engulf my body I forced what I had learnt in typing this letter to the back of my mind. And succesfully stalled another week before seeing my GP, which I only did once I couldn't think of anything besides drinking water all day long. So I toddled off to my GP and asked him for an iron test as I was feeling tired (yes, yes I did omit needing to pee and drink all the time). Because being the clever dick I am I knew he would run a full blood count just to make sure, and a FBC includes a fasting glucose. Because I was still heavily in denial.
So I get my blood test done, go back a week later and ask for my 'iron study' results. GP looks it all over calmly and says that everyhting is fine. And I relax. Then comes the question "But why didn't you ever tell me you were diabetic?". My answer was "Because I'm not". After seeing him for 4 years, I think this would have been obvious that it was something I would have told him. Silently, he gets up and leaves the room. Then he returns, takes my hand and gives me my first ever finger prick test. 25. This is followed by him staring at my face, which made me incredibly uncomfortable because I wanted to cry. Which is probably why he was staring at me, to see how I would take this. Me being me, and I am me, I do start to cry (I cry at everything, just so we're all clear).
I'm packed off with a referral letter to the nearest emergency department and sent on my way. So I walk out of his office, make it to the toilets and call my partner to let him know that he needed to come and take me to hospital, and berate him for not being there when I was diagnosed (even though I'm not sure he even knew I was having a blood test because of the whole denial issue). Then I called my mother, who went silent, hung up the phone, and who I later found out, called my sister to cry. And then later my sister called me to cry.
After all this I arrive at hospital and they take my finger-prick BGLs again. It was a 25.1 at the Drs, and is now a hearty 29.8. I guess stress really does spike you. I spend the night in hospital and call the Dr I work for because she also happens to work at the hospital I was admitted to. She sets her registrar to following me around and Im seen in record time. My first night alone and I really wanted to just lie down and feel sorry for myself but I was too distracted trying not to yell at the lady in the bed next to me who made constant (REALLY LOUD (capitalised for emphasis)) "mew mew mew" noises ALL NIGHT LONG. So no sleep for the now diabetic Ashleigh.
The next morning I was greeted by a very cheery nurse holding a very large syringe. I’m not entirely how long the syringe needle end was, but I know it was multiple upon multiple times larger than the 4ml pen needle tips I use now. Cheery nurse smiled and informed me I was supposed to do my very first insulin injection by myself with the syringe. I flatly refused and it became obvious to her rather quickly that I wasn’t going to be participating in this fun activity they had lined up for me that day. I couldn’t help but think that this was not at all the correct way to go about introducing a pt to insulin injections: “here, stab yourself with this giant needle which looks as though it will go through your stomach and out your back on the other side is actually nothing like what you’ll be using after leaving here”. It does not help patients to scare them. I think I would have coped much better if I had been shown the 4mls that I use now and introduced to them first.
Eventually later that day I was discharged to begin living my new and non-improved (but rather impaired) life. As a diabetic. As me.