My Diabetes Story - It Took 17 Years to Diagnose

Photo of Carol Ann - Diabetic

When diabetes 'hit me' I was devastated. I daresay my diabetes story is similar to many others, apparently I had a well known sign of a diabetic - except it wasn't well-known to me... and that didn't make it any easier! And it didn't stop me feeling as if my whole world was turned up-side-down. You probably understand the stomach-churning feeling I had as the thought of my being a diabetic sank in.

After all, diabetes is not something that will 'go away' like a cold or an infection you can treat with antibiotics. This is a life-long condition that has to be managed. I must admit I envisaged a gloomy future trying to control my diabetes; I'm glad to say I couldn't have been further from the truth!

But I'm getting ahead of myself... I was told it would be a week before my diabetic test results came. During that week I was in self-denial. I told myself - and anyone else who would listen - that it was all a mistake. I simply hadn't properly washed out the ginger beer bottle I'd taken my urine sample in and that's why a high sugar-content showed up in it. That's why my physician's initial tests seemed to indicate diabetes.

Isn't it amazing how we try to convince ourselves that something as unpleasant as having diabetes isn't true?

I was sure the diabetes test results would be negative and my physician would be telling me the glad news that I didn't have diabetes at all!

But, you've probably guessed, all my protestations, denials and explanations of why sugar was found in my urine sample were all to no avail. The blood tests were positive - I was a confirmed diabetic!

Early Symptoms Were Missed

Looking back, I think I had been developing diabetes for some time (now known as pre-diabetes) - I was properly diagnosed in 1982 - but I'd had the symptoms since my early teens - over 17 years earlier. My symptom; vaginal irritation and sores had always been diagnosed as thrush! No-one had ever considered diabetes.

I remember my mother taking me to see a female doctor - to save me embarrassment - to try to find out why I kept getting these recurring irritations. But none of the doctors I saw ever asked about additional symptoms - such as excessive thirst. If they had, my true condition of being a diabetic might have been recognized sooner.

In fact, it may have stopped me getting into trouble with my mum! How? Because I got told off for 'showing-off' in front of my aunt and uncle when I downed a large glass of water in one go! I wasn't showing-off - I was thirsty; just one of many diabetes symptoms. But none of the family knew that then.

Diabetes - A Young Disease

To be fair - diabetes was a relatively young disease when I was diagnosed in the early 1980s. You see, diabetes is life-threatening if not treated and controlled properly. But earlier generations, who contracted the condition, probably didn't even realize it was diabetes that was killing them; so early-age deaths were not always correctly attributed to it, as perhaps they should have been.

So very little was known, which is why I think my diabetic symptoms were not recognized for so long. I was lucky; if I'd had diabetes mellitus type 1 I could have ended up in a coma; fortunately I didn't.

Finding Food I Could Eat...

And do you know what the worst thing was for me? Now - don't laugh - it was knowing I couldn't have my cream cake at lunchtime any more! I used to really savor those cream cakes - but they were now taboo! Mind you, one of my work colleagues sympathized with me. He said "I'd die if I couldn't have a cream cake when I wanted!" "Thanks a bunch" I thought - "just rub it in, why don't you!"

You see, healthy eating was not in vogue in those days - finding food in the shops that didn't have salt and sugar added; food that was suitable for a diabetic wasn't easy. Even finding out what ordinary foods contained - the natural sugar and starch - was difficult. There wasn't much information around about diabetes and how to control it properly either (we didn't have such an easily accessible wealth of information on the internet then!) And there certainly did not seem to be any diabetic recipes to make life easier! [Visit the recipes page].

Plus, there were conflicting ideas of what was the best diet control for diabetes type 2.

Medical opinion about eating plans for diabetic control has changed a great deal since the early 1980s and there have been great inroads on research into the condition and its control. And creating a healthy eating plan is the norm for most families so it is not as difficult to control sugar levels as it used to be. And of course, there are high hopes that a cure may be found - at least for type 1 diabetes.

Good Diabetic Control Creates a Healthier Life...

Earlier I said I thought I had a gloomy future - which turned out not to be true. Why? Because I have more energy than I did before I was diagnosed. I don't have the constant thirst, and although I do visit the washroom more often than 'normal' people, it certainly isn't as frequent as it used to be and certainly isn't as painful!

But best of all - because I have to control what I eat and the exercise I take to maintain the right levels for my diabetes - I am actually healthier than I've ever been. For me it means I don't get colds - my husband does as soon as someone with a 'snuffle' looks at him - but me? Nah! Of course that might not be anything to do with my diabetes - but I used to get an awful lot of chills before I took control!

I'm aware that my diabetes will probably create health complications later in life but - to be honest - there are a lot of other conditions that can contribute to health problems. So I don't tend to dwell on that too much. I just keep a sensible eye on my own day-to-day diabetic care and health.

And, to be honest, the extra research I've done to create this website has helped me with understanding and controlling my diabetes as well.

I hope you find the contents useful, don't forget to bookmark it, or subscribe to my mini-blog, if you haven't already done so.

Kind regards

Carol Ann

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2010 Update...

Sukie - my new exercise companion

Since I shared my experiences on this page I have managed to keep a pretty good control of my blood sugars.

But - I must confess one of my biggest challenges has always been getting enough exercise and losing a bit more weight.

Losing weight is always difficult when there is very little you can cut out of your diet, isn't it?

Well - now I have no problem getting loads of exercise and the weight has dropped off too!

What's changed?

Sukie at agility class

We adopted a puppy from the puppy-pound and, as it was what I wanted for my birthday at the beginning of this year, it was my responsibility to care for her. Her name is Sukie.

So, since 28th Dec 2009, I have to go out for long walks every day. I've also been taking her to dog obedience training classes and - just recently - to agility classes as well.

I feel fitter, I'm having fun and what's even better... I've dropped 2 trouser sizes!

I know taking on the responsibility of a dog is not practical for everyone, but it does show how just taking a good, long walk every day has a massive impact on your good health!