Where there is no hope, there must be determination
(Columbia PA USA)
Just another day at the office.
There are many things today that haunt me and will most likely for the rest of my life. They started at the very young age of three. That's right, the age of three. It is by most counts a remarkable feat just to have some recollections so far back in time. It is fifty three years ago that I became a diabetic. I am now fifty six years old and still hope and pray to make fifty seven.
Yes I can remember the day they (the doctors at the hospital) told my parents that I was diabetic. You could see the look of complete horror on my mothers face as they told her that her youngest son of four, will NEVER live a normal life again. My mother started to cry and my father grabbed her arm so she would not fall. This just could not be true, she said to the doctor, its just not true.
For you see, my father was told just a year before that he was diabetic. Back then 1956 it was almost a death sentence. Just two years later my father died of cancer. Many people today believe that I knew when he was told about the cancer that it trigger some hormone in me to attack the pancreas. I don't know about the causes or if I care, just that, on that day, I became an elite member of an non forgiving condition that eats your body up each minute you are not perfectly controlled between 80 and 120.
So my perfect life ended. The next thing my mom and dad were talking to me and saying that I would be staying in the hospital a couple of days, (lie) and the doctors would take good care of me, (lie) and that this is what is best for me. Hugs and kisses came, and THEN, THEY WALKED OUT OF THE ROOM! I screamed and cried as I watched them walk down the hall through the window. I jumped out of the bed and ran after them.
Surely this is a mistake, don't leave me here, don't leave me! They brought me back to my room and the nurses, you know the mean ones, put up these Huge railing so I could not get out of bed. So, there was more hugs, more kisses, more screaming, more crying, and climbing over the bed rails and down the hall again.
So how do you think they kept me in bed? They tied my hands and ankles to the bed rails, I could not move, only scream for help of my mom and dad AS THEY LEFT ME THERE all along, lying in the dark. Oh yes, that was the very first day and just the beginning of many events that would shape my life. So ever since that day I have been very claustrophobic.
That morning when they came in to see me, I didn't know if I should be happy or afraid. It was still dark outside when they untied me. It was time for the first blood test that I ever had. It was the first of five that day and everyday for a week.
Back then, the needles were reused from one patient to the next. When they drew blood from you, the needle and syringe would be sterilized and used again. When you got one that really really hurt, it was because the needle either was dull or had a bur at the tip. In either case it would be filed down and sterilized again.
These needle were BIG AND FAT, not like today thin and little. Oh yes, and then it was a syringe, not a tube, so they drew it out of your arm. OMG, what nightmares I still have to this very minute about blood test. So you can just
imagine, no little needles for kids, just full size, big, fat, thick, 10 penny needles, so my veins would collapse.
They were digging around trying to find the vein, while I was screaming and kicking to get away. And I did just that. I got away from the nurse, after kicking her, climb over the rail of the bed and went running down the hall to go home with the needle still in my arm and blood running down it.
Of course they caught me and back into the bed I went, while the doctors and nurses were shouting and yelling at me. You guessed it, they tied me back down to the bed again for the entire day except when it was time for me to eat. My parents came in to see me, but by then I was not tied down any longer. I had to learn to live a normal life, ha ha.
It is not normal for a child to have to get a shot twice a day. It is not normal for a child to test there urine four or five times a day, to watch what they eat. So we live an abnormal life even today and we are told and maybe convinced that it is normal. Now by the age of five, I was learning to give myself insulin injection and the mixing of NPH and REGULAR u40 insulin. How to clean the syringe and needles, how to file the needles down.
Each and every year until I got married, I would go into the hospital to be regulated for two weeks. Now at the end of that two week period I was supposed to be stable and under control. It wasn't long until I picked up an adjective to describe my diabetes. BRITTLE! No matter what we did, we just could not get my urine test to read negative. My mom by now was a widow one year trying to raise two sons five and seven, both with diabetes.
My older brothers 20 and 18 left home to start on their life adventure, leaving my mom to take care of us. Can you imagine watching your five year old mix the insulin and then give it to himself as I did. I cannot imagine having to watch that and by the time I was six she did not have to watch anymore.
The idea that there is a perfect equation, insulin and exercise equals food intake. Wow!!! Sounds good on paper, just not possible to ever get the equation to work or to come out. My exercise as a child was NEVER EVER THE SAME TWO DAYS IN A ROW. Of course, the food that I ate, varied each day. This process depended on how hungry I was due to too much exercise or too little of it.
I would be in the hospital with no exercise and a perfect diet and insulin being adjust daily according to blood and urine test and still go into convulsions. Just how could anyone think that by adding fun time, exercise, playing, burning off sugar that the equation could hold up. It was not until I was eleven that they stopped relying of urine test to be accurate. The bladder would hold the sugar for hours after the true fact.
So in order to see if this was so, the doctors drew blood every time I had to urinate (pee). Sometimes the urine would be loaded with sugar reading 4++ and the blood sugar would be low. That meant no more urine test, all blood test, four to five a day for two weeks or longer in the hospital. My poor mother having two young children with diabetes, one very brittle and the other normal (he he), if there is such a thing.
more to come part II