Teaching third grade with my bestie was always a blast, especially since we taught in "open classroom" spaces. This concept not only allowed us to be in side by side classrooms, but also created a sense of community, support and good old-fashioned f-u-n. If the teachers are happy, the students are happy! I giggled each time I heard her get parents' attention for the annual Open House by saying, "Has anyone lost a wallet?!" as she frantically waved one in her hand. It. Worked. Every. Single. Time!
Luckily, this was my work environment when I was diagnosed with diabetes at the age of 27. No one, not even those within the non-walls at school, put my symptoms together. Why am I always so thirsty? Why am I so tired? Why are the words moving on the page? My bestie/next-door-teaching-buddy shared in my bewilderment when I lost 20 pounds in 3 weeks. Wow, eating salad for lunch is helping me drop some weight! It was my bestie/teaching buddy who heard me tell stories of each doctor visit, trying to figure out why I was not feeling well and why treating the symptoms was simply not helping.
Finally, after not sleeping because of intense muscle spasms, I made another doctor appointment. I had blood work drawn and I was put in the hospital the next day with a blood sugar level of 496 (my current blood sugar range is 80-120!). My symptoms were finally connected and my diagnosis came to be.
WHAT?! Diabetes? I knew nothing of the subject. Absolutely nothing. I spent a few days in the hospital and they were filled with dietitian meetings and diabetic educator information. Overwhelmed, yet determined, I knew I would conquer this so-called disease.
Reality check...October is not a good month to "become" diabetic. Halloween, followed by November's Thanksgiving. Don't even get me started on December's Christmas cookie baking parties. Come on, I have carbs to count, people! I quickly realized how much our social lives and get-togethers revolve around EATING! Hungry or not, we like to eat.
At first, I was diagnosed as Type 2, although it baffled doctors because I was a vegetarian runner and I had no family history of the disease. Treatment began with diet and exercise (which I was already doing!), along with an oral medication. As time went on, the disease progressed and insulin shots were required to control it. So, I went from Type 2 to Type 1 (insulin dependent) diabetes, specifically after giving birth to our daughter. I bought a bigger purse to carry my testing kit and my bag of insulin supplies...syringes, insulin bottles, etc. I looked like I was carrying my very own pharmacy! Over time, the treatment plan changed again. I went from taking injections in the morning, at bedtime and each time I ate to wearing an insulin pump. The theory was an insulin pump would eliminate numerous shots and it would allow me live the active lifestyle I craved-teaching Physical Education and running many miles a week. Sure, there is less stuff to carry around, but boy, you should see the diabetic supplies packed into our hall closet!
Type 2--Type 1 insulin injections--Insulin pump
So, basically, the open classroom atmosphere continued to witness struggles and celebrations as the years passed by. Even with the treatment changes and the roller coasters of emotions, one thing remains the same: I count on the support of my home family, my school family and friends. I am never alone. This disease will not get the best of me. Ever.
A friendship that started with teaching is still going strong. Celebration from November 2014.