My name is Malinda, I am 44 years old and I was diagnosed as a Type 2 diabetic seven years ago after giving birth to my fourth child. I was able to control my blood sugar levels with oral medications, diet and exercise for only about 2 years. I was experiencing all the symptoms of high blood sugar and often, my blood glucose numbers were in the 600s. I quickly began to present as a Type 1 diabetic. I had started to lose weight rapidly and was often sick with everything that came around and generally fatigued. I started insulin therapy. I counted carbs, learned to cook in a diabetic friendly way, exercised regularly, did everything my doctor told me to do. All of these things were done to no avail. My blood glucose numbers improved only slightly. I managed to keep them in the 300s for a very long time, convincing myself that, because of lack of education, I was doing good because at least they were no longer 600 or more. I was taking anywhere from 4 to 7 shots a day of fast acting insulin and a 2 shots of slow acting insulin to gain control. It was only minimal control and 2 ½ years ago the organs in my body tried to kill me. I woke up one day with severe back pain, thinking I had slept wrong I took a hot shower and went to work. I was in the middle of an 8 hour shift when I started feeling dizzy and short of breath. Before long I felt like I was drunk, I couldn’t stand straight for the pain in my back and I was staggering, my speech began to slur and I told a co-worker that I needed to go to the emergency room. I live in a tiny town in southwest Kansas so the drive to the hospital from work was literally one right turn and one left turn. When we reached the hospital I could no longer stand on my own. I remember only a little of the emergency room visit. I was told that I was in DKA and needed to be transported to another hospital that could handle the situation. Less than 20 minutes later I was unconscious and woke up 2 days later in an ICU 2 hours from home. My gall bladder was functioning at less than 20 percent and I had pancreatitis. I had a central line and all the bells and whistles you would expect. Everything in the room beeped or buzzed or alarmed at one point or another over a five day period. I was released with discharge instructions but still only minimal education regarding Type 2 diabetes. A month later I had my gall bladder removed. A new diet and new medications help me gain control of my blood glucose, but again, only for a short period of time. I was hospitalized twice more for pancreatitis and DKA. With an A1C of nearly 15, every one was convinced that I simply was not taking my insulin and other medications. I was told on more than one occasion that they could not help me unless is was willing to help myself. Unable to convince my doctors that I was following instructions, they would stabilize, treat and release. I was given the same information upon discharge nearly every time but had no counselling or any further education. DKA was right around the corner all the time. I did the best I could to control my blood glucose but began to swell. Everywhere. It started in my feet and legs and moved it’s way up day after day. Regular blood work had my primary care physician concerned about electrolyte levels being low. I had more special instructions regarding my diet and what to do to replace the missing electrolytes. I continued to swell. I would wake in the morning to the eye on whatever side I had slept on being swelled shut. My legs and my belly were so swollen that when I poked my leg with my finger it rippled like a water bed mattress that was too full. I was in pain all the time and had a hard time breathing. Having given up on the doctor who didn’t seem to know how to help me I went to the emergency room. The emergency room doc quickly asked the situation, ordered an IV diuretic, diagnosed congestive heart failure and sent me straight to ICU. The diuretic did its job and took 55 pounds of fluid off in 4 days. There were more diet changes and new medications once again. By this time I had lost over 100 pounds. I was still dealing with high blood glucose numbers and felling like death most days, and was forced to take short term disability by the company I worked for. I was taking my insulin, enough diuretic to pee every 20 minutes around the clock and enough blood pressure medication to make me loose mu balance and slam into walls and knock pictures off or split my head open on a doorway. Time for a new doctor. We started from scratch and once again gained only minimal control. I struggled everyday to maintain a low-carb, low-sodium diet. I spent more time reading ladles in the grocery store than actually shopping. I became a peripheral shopper. Fresh veggies, fruit and proteins. In April of 2016 I was home alone for a week or so having sent my kids to visit their grand parents for spring break. After having failed to reach me by phone, text message, or social media for three days, my mom called the sheriff to do a welfare check. The two deputies who came to the house and made entry found me unconscious and naked on the bathroom floor. With a core body temperature of 94 and the blood in my body pooling on the side I was laying on, they could find no sighs of life until they tried to get a pain response and caught slight eye movement. Again I was transported to another hospital. This time I was taken to a different hospital than the times before. I woke up 5 days later with a breathing tube. The nurses explained to me that I had been down on the floor for possibly 2 days. I had lost feeling on my left side, developed a severe foot drop that is likely permanent, was in renal failure. After 16 days of hospitalization my kidney function was at 7 percent and the day of my release I had surgery to temporarily place dialysis access port in my chest and was scheduled for dialysis 3 days a week for a month to give my kidneys a break. I came home wearing adult diapers for a couple weeks and using a walker. I had gained nearly 70 pounds of fluid. I was thinking that the normal dietary restrictions for a diabetic with a heart condition were frustrating until I got a look at the dialysis diet. I felt like I had an honorary PhD in I Can’t Eat That. After 2 ½ weeks I had lost 64 pounds and my kidneys were functioning at 78 percent. The Nephrologist diagnosed kidney disease and explained that 78 percent is the best we can get after the kidneys almost completely failed. Having outrageously high volumes of protein in my urine the kidney doc decided I needed to have a kidney biopsy. But it wasn’t urgent so he wanted me to rest and get healthy. By this time I had been through two more primary care phicians and had stared seeing a third. She realized that I am a fragile diabetic with other very complicated health issues and made sure that I got all the education I needed. Three months later I was hospitalized again for DKA only this time I came home with severe abdominal pain that the doctor attributed to gastroparisis. I was home for 3 days before I became violently ill and was transported once again, this time for emergency surgery to remove a blockage in my lower intestine. An NG tube was placed for 24 hours and the next day I was prepped for Lathroscopic surgery to remove the blockage. I woke up 5 hours later with my belly full of staples and a colostomy bag. Imagine my surprise. Once the surgeon got started, he found a large abcest on my bladder that had my intestines and my bladder all kind of mashed together. He had to remove a large section of intestine and part of my bladder. The hospital stay was 4 days and I had to come home with a Foley catheter. Two, count ‘em, two bags strapped to me. One on my belly and one on my leg and about 30 pounds of fluid. One was removed two weeks later and caused the worst bladder infection ever. So in between infections and medication changes and physical therapy for neuropathy and the foot drop, I developed pain, swelling, and discoloration in the “good” leg and foot. An ultrasound and pressure tests in the leg determined peripheral arterial disease. That’s right, you guessed it! More medication, blood thinners this time. My good leg was now my other bad leg. By December I was feeling pretty good. I was gaining control of my blood glucose numbers was walking and getting in and out of the living room furniture unassisted. I scheduled the surgery to reverse the colostomy for December 8, 2016. The day I died. I was in surgery for nearly 5 hours and just as they were closing me up and stapling things, my heart rate shot up to 246 so they hit me with the paddles to slow my heart. Charge! Clear! My heart slowed enough that it stopped and they did chest compressions for nearly 2 minutes to get me back. I came home 3 days later. I stayed fairly healthy for several weeks and then one night I got sick. Nothing serious, just didn’t feel well. I layer around most of the day but by evening I was very ill and my other bad leg was throbbing and I was vomiting and dizzy. I was laying on the couch trying to find a comfortable position for my leg when I noticed the inside of my calf as almost black. Two ambulance rides, a life flight, and a whole lot of morphine later I was in the presence of a wonderful vascular surgeon who, two weeks later placed scents in the groin crease of both legs and in my chest. Everything was good for a couple weeks, I had good blood flow, my toes were once again the correct color and warm and the majority of the pain was gone. I took a four hour drive this week to see the surgeon because of numbness, pain and muscle fatigue in the original bad leg he determined that after only a month and a few days the scents have failed. They have either collapsed or have become clotted. I am scheduled for surgery on the 29th of June. With everything going on, I am also dealing with stones in my pancreas that occasionally block bile ducts and a hernia I don’t know how I got and the dreaded kidney biopsy I’m never healthy enough to schedule. I have an amazing support team in family and friends and an amazing team of doctors. My primary care physician worked really hard to get insurance approval for an insulin pump that I have now been using for almost two weeks. I have regular access to education materials and personnel, and have become a pro at keeping records and have dedicated myself to staying strong. I still struggle with the fact that sometimes my kids have to take care of me and that I have to ask for help. The kindness and generosity of family, friends and strangers continues to amaze me. I know that all I need to do is make a phone call, or send a text message, there is always someone there. We are not alone.
How has diabetes contributed to forming you into the person you are today? Mentally, physically, or emotionally?
Physically I am weakened by my conditions, mentally and emotionally I am strong I have no flight instinct. It’s all fight!
Would you rather fight one horse sized duck or 100 regular sized ducks?
100 regular sized ducks