Two years ago, on October 18th, 2013, I found myself in the hospital. For over a year leading up to that day I had been suffering from debilitating chest pain. I had no insurance and so was left to self diagnose. I had learned it could be either GERD or heart disease. I had decided it was GERD, simply because that was treatable without insurance and it was less scary than a heart problem. Deep down inside, though, I had been worried it was the heart.
I was right. On both counts. I had heartburn, but I also had heart disease. I had spent so many months fighting and trying to keep the heartburn under control but it just seemed to keep getting worse. I had gotten to the point where I couldn’t walk down the hallway of my house without doubling over in pain and practically falling over because I got so weak in the knees.
The constant pain and worry was draining me of every ounce of energy I had.
Finally, I got insurance and went to the doctor. The doctor took her sweet time getting around to treating my chest pain. She wanted to deal with my uncontrolled type 1 diabetes first. I hounded her for a few months until she referred me to a GI specialist. She had mentioned she thought it might be my heart, but decided (because of my young age) that I was right and it was probably just terrible heartburn.
The GI specialist ordered some tests and at the same time sent me to a cardiologist. Fast forward a few weeks and the cardiologist was not worried, again because of my young age. It was when he put me on a treadmill for a stress test that he got worried. I had a blockage. He did an angiogram the next day and was on the phone with the surgeon before they even finished the procedure.
So I sat in the hospital with two days of nothing to do but worry about this sudden heart surgery I was about to have. It all seemed to happen so very, very fast. Months upon months of pain and then in the blink of an eye, open heart surgery.
On October 18th, 2013, I had triple bypass open heart surgery.
How did I get here? I’m only 34 years old.
I am type 1 diabetic. Up to this point I had never had my diabetes under control. That’s 26 years of constantly high blood sugars. It ruins every part of the body with rapid and unyielding force. Diseases and illnesses that are usually found in older people are now ravaging your young body. All because you just didn’t care to take care of your diabetes.
And if that’s not scary enough, just think about those doctors that weren’t concerned at first…because I was young. I can’t tell you how many doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals I’ve seen over the past two years that always look at me after they learn all my health issues and say, “But you’re so young…”.
I could have dropped dead at any moment while waiting for my doctors to do something.
The only thing I can do to make a good thing out of my heart troubles and many other health issues. The only thing I can do to make my lifetime of uncaring for my diabetes even slightly a good thing is to spread my story. I need all of the diabetics out there who are angry, frustrated, scared, who have given up or never even began to try, I need you all to know my story and understand that this is where you are headed if you don’t wake up and take control.
It’s not fun, it’s not cheap, it hurts on so many levels. I will never be healthy, I have done so much damage unnecessarily to my body all because I was angry and scared of diabetes. I was bull headed, I wanted to live my life how I wanted to live MY life and look what it got me. A life I can never come back from.
Now that I do take care of myself, now that I’ve lived on both sides of the fence, I can promise you it is much easier, cheaper, happier, and good for the long term if you come to grips with your diabetes and do the work to care for yourself and do what’s right for your health. You can live healthy as a diabetic and still do what you want.
Stop fighting. Stop rebelling. Stop hating.
You are only hurting yourself.
Harmony is by far better.