First, let me mention that I repeat certain facts a lot in my posts. This is because I am not oblivious to the fact that not everyone reads every single one of my posts. So if you are new to my blog and only reading, say, this post, there obviously is some information I may have stated several times before in other posts that you don’t know about, so I need to repeat it here. Got it? Good. 😀
Lee is my husband and this post is my story of why he is also my hero. I was diagnosed with type I diabetes at age 9. I met Lee when I was 19 years old and fresh into a new life of living on my own. He was a manager at McDonald’s and one evening happened to see this beautiful girl in a PetsMart uniform ordering food at the counter. He pointed her out to one of his crew members and, for the first time ever, asked that crew member to ask the girl for her number.
Here I was sitting at a booth in McDonald’s with a friend of mine, eating food no self-respecting type I diabetic would eat at eleven o’clock at night knowing they were just going to go straight home and crash out, when this guy walks up to our table and greets us kindly. We both look up and see that he is an employee of this fine establishment and we smile back politely and return his greeting.
“I’m sorry to bother you, but my boss saw you walk in and…well, he’s kind of nervous so he asked me to ask you for your number.” The gentleman explains as he holds eye contact with me. “You can say no, I know this is kind of weird. He is a real nice guy, though…” He adds.
I feel instantly flattered that anyone would find me attractive. I have only ever just given my number out on a whim once before. This guy is lucky that I am in a whimsical mood tonight. I write my name and number down with the pen and paper the employee has brought with him. He thanks me and wishes us a nice evening before leaving.
Two days later I get a phone call from this guy, Lee, and we end up talking for nearly two hours. I instantly find him fascinating. We meet in person at a local park a couple of days later and a couple of weeks after that we get engaged.
On that first date, the one where we first met in person at the park, we talked a lot about ourselves. All the normal getting to know each other stuff. At the end of our meeting we both agreed that this could go somewhere, that we could become a couple. It was at this time that I felt it important to let him know exactly what he was getting into.
“Before we go any further, I have to let you know that I am a type I diabetic.”
“OK, no big deal, my mom’s a type II.”
I was relieved that he knew at least the terms and that there is a difference between type I and type II. But how much does this guy really know? “Well, type I is a bit different than type II. I have to take three shots a day. There are a lot of things that can make life harder…”
“Stop. We’ll worry about this as it comes. Let’s just take it from here.”
And we did…
During the nearly year and a half that we were dating/engaged, I was also struggling a lot with my health and finances. I had no health insurance, I was living off of minimum wage, and I had a lot of stress in my life. It was Lee who kept me going. He was my source of love and relief . Well, my mom helped a lot as well, but I was trying so hard not to have to rely on my mommy anymore. I was a grown-up now! A responsible adult!
Lee did so much to make my life worthwhile. He loved me and that alone shocked me. I have never been a self-loving person, I have never had even close to good self-esteem, and I have always thought I was the most ugly thing to walk the earth. So to have such a wonderful man actually want to hang out with me, and tell me I am beautiful, and find interest and joy in me, and to tell me how much he loves me. Wow. And he did all of this at one of the lowest points of my life. He found me and lifted me up at just the time in my life when I needed the most help, both emotionally and physically.
Not only did he give me love, but he also bought me groceries and for this I was just as grateful. I was living off of junk food because it was fast and cheep. And also because I knew it would keep my blood-sugar up and at this time in my life I didn’t know when my next meal would be, so I had to make sure my blood-sugar was high (at least this is how my logic worked at the time). So for Lee to buy me healthy food. He hit hero status.
Not long after we had started dating I came down with a cold that just wouldn’t go away. And then it got worse. Then came the day I was just feeling sick as a dog; I was achy all over, I was vomiting uncontrollably, I was so thirsty it was unbelievable, my mouth was so dry that when I wet it with water it would instantly dry up again and feel like it was going to shrivel up like a cartoon character’s mouth when they eat a lemon or something. I was rushed to emergency by my sister-in-law and almost as soon as I got into a bed I fell into a coma like state for nearly 24 hours. When I awoke I was told I had diabetic ketoacidosis as well as bronchitis.
I was in the hospital for four days and didn’t call Lee at all in this time. When I got home and got situated, I called Lee. He was livid, he thought I had just up and decided to leave him and not say anything. I told him what had happened and that I just didn’t want him to have to deal with any more of my problems. He came over and we talked, and I learned that he loves me so much that he wants to be there through all my hardships, he wants to be supportive and help me. Once again, I was shocked.
Not long before we got married I suffered from ketoacidosis again. This time I caught the symptoms early and a friend drove me to the ER. Lee was the first person I called and he spent all of his free time at the hospital with me. I was only in the hospital for two days. Lee made sure to buy me healthy groceries since I obviously hadn’t been eating healthy again. He gets mad when I don’t tell him things. But I don’t tell him things because I don’t want to burden him. This is one of our causes for arguments. He wants to help but I don’t want to use him.
Once we got married I was able to be added on to Lee’s insurance. I got healthier but was not totally free of problems. The first seven years or so of our marriage I was never hospitalized but did go to the ER half a dozen times for various reasons, not all of them diabetes related. I had a million doctors appointments because this is how it is for diabetics who put effort into being healthy. Through all of this Lee was right there by my side and did everything he could to make my life better, happier, more comfortable, and loved.
When we lost our health insurance in 2007 this was the beginning of our dark time. It was now my turn to be just as strong as Lee had been all along. He needed help, not medical, but emotional. The economy was in bad shape and it had a huge impact on us. For several years, we suffered financially on top of my deteriorating health. Then several other unfortunate things I won’t waste time explaining happened. And I failed at being as supportive as he was. So what did we do? We partied. We were depressed and over-stressed and so were many of our friends. So I drank to excess. Lee and I both became avid hookah smokers. We paid no thought to our eating habits. We stayed up all hours of the day and night partying our troubles into the future. It did nothing to help matters, but we had fun while it lasted.
The partying eventually stopped, and then those troubles we sent to the future hit us like a ton of bricks. I began to have terrible acid reflux, and without knowing it at the time a lot of the heartburn pain was actually heart disease. On top of that, I had terrible leg pain, and my vision was getting worse and worse. We lost our rental home and that actually turned out to be a very good thing; Lee found us a much nicer home for a little less rent. Again, my hero. 🙂
Finally things started to look up again. Lee got a very good job that came with health insurance for both of us and I immediately took advantage of it. I saw my primary first and eventually got referred to a GI specialist and then to a cardiologist. This was when I found out I could have a heart attack at any moment and was immediately sent into surgery and given a triple bypass. A few months later I lost my driver license when I failed the DMV eye exam, this prompted me to see an ophthalmologist and this is when I ended up on a journey of eye surgeries. I have had four so far and another already scheduled.
Lee has been amazing through all of these recent surgeries and recoveries and follow-ups, and side effects. Ever since my heart surgery I have been suffering from severe low blood-sugars mostly during the night. Lee never fails to notice them and treat me. He has known me and loved me and paid such good attention to me that he can tell, even when I am asleep, that my blood-sugar is dangerously low.
How many times has he saved my life?