25 years: what does that mean exactly?

Looking ahead to another 25 years of life.

25 years. What does this mean exactly? It means I am grateful to be alive. Every day is a gift. I have learned to identify the people and things that are most important in my life and this is what I focus my energy and time on. Today you see, I am celebrating 25 years of life!

25 years ago today I almost lost this life of mine. I was in 6th grade and just 11 years old. I was misdiagnosed for many months as having a virus when I first started getting sick in the fall of 1986 – until that fateful day of February 13, 1987.

I was rushed to the hospital with a blood sugar soaring the level of 1,000 mg/dL (blood sugar should be about 100). I was frail and exhausted with bones sticking right out of what little flesh I had. They fought for hours trying to find a vein to insert an IV catheter into my shriveled (from dehydration) child-sized veins. Thankfully, a senior anethesiologist was called in to give it one last try. By the grace of God, he somehow got that catheter in my little arm. The fight was not over. I was placed on a heart monitor. My Mom was told that I most likely would not make it through the night — it would be a miracle if I lived…

I am still alive. For this I am thankful. I was given a diagnosis of Type I Diabetes. I was shown how to take shots into an orange and eventually my own arm, test my blood sugar and count food exchanges. The insides of my arms were black and blue from the constant hourly blood draws needed to make sure my health was coming back like it should be. The nurses all told my mom what a brave little girl I was.

Did I know what this diagnosis would mean for me then? The impact it would have on my life? No, I did not. I must say that I sailed through high school relatively unscathed. Things changed in college when I began partying like most college students do. I ended up in ER once after a party my freshman year. I received a slap on my cheek by the doctor, saying, “You could have died. DON’T DO IT AGAIN!!” That woke me up — to the dangers of trying to be a college student living just like everyone else who did not have diabetes.

What have the rest of the last 25 years looked like for me? Well, the honest truth?? It has been very, very difficult at times. I sometimes ask myself what I may be like if I didn’t have this disease in my life.

Insulin is not a cure. What exactly does this mean? It means that every moment of every day, every single thing I do must be monitored and balanced. Every activity. Every morsel of food. Every medication and supplement. Every hour of sleep or lack of sleep. Every bit of stress. Every illness. Every kind, variety and length of exercise because they each have different effects on my diabetes. Every emotion experienced, both positive and negative. I am doing the job of my pancreas and as a highly sensitive person — every little thing I experience has a big impact on my body.

There are infusion set changes for my pump – every 2 days if I am lucky to find a site that works and absorbs the insulin. It is not uncommon to hit a blood vessel or other bad areas which necessitate up to 4-5  infusion set changes in just a day or two. Blood sugar checks – up to 10 times or more per day. A new continuous glucose meter sensor inserted about once a week. A shot of Symlin in my abdomen before every meal.

It is a constant balancing act. The hardest part? This is all done without the awareness of most other people. The few exceptions: someone also living with diabetes (although the disease varies widely from person to person) and maybe a significant other or some close friends. I don’t think most people could imagine having a condition that does not leave your mind for more than a few moments at at time. And if diabetes does leave my attention for very long — this is when problems can occur. Things can get out of balance very quickly. Low and high blood sugar both present risks for seizure, coma and death.

I am now on a path studying to become a holistic health practitioner. I hope to positively influence the lives of many through my blog and holistic practice after I finish my education. I started this blog just about 2 months ago with the hope of sharing what this life with diabetes means. How it affects me. What I have done to live and feel better. For me, the truth has been found holistically through integrative medicine — yoga, meditation, homeopathy, shiatsu massage, daily walks, a healthy whole foods diet, prayer and massage are some of the things that keep me in balance physically, spiritually and emotionally.

Many things that can happen that others take as something minor can be life-threatening for those of us with diabetes. When I was in college, stomach flu put me in the hospital for 3 days. If I had not admitted myself to the hospital when I did, the doctor said  I would not have survived. Freshman year of high school my appendix was removed minutes before bursting in an emergency overnight surgery. Had it been removed just seconds later, doctors stated I most likely would not have made it.

I am not going to go through every illness I have experienced the last 25 years. I am just trying to share with the many who don’t know — what diabetes is and can look like in a person’s life. It is not as simple as just taking insulin and testing your blood sugar unfortunately. It means you do the best you can every day and then hope and pray that one of the many complications from diabetes don’t develop just yet. Annual checks at the eye doctor mean that these feelings are never too far away as they look for early signs of retinopathy that can lead to blindness. I have experienced discrimination and been let go from jobs when my health got in the way.

Today on February 13, 2012 I am happy to be alive. Diabetes is not easy to live with, but I do my best. I have learned a lot. I still mess up and do not very smart things sometimes which negatively impact my sugars.

However, diabetes has helped me learn to be more compassionate. More understanding. Perhaps a little more wise. Able to take things in stride. Little, even very little things make me ever so happy. My furry children – Mabel, Juniper and Jonah mean everything to me and provide me much love and companionship in the absence of children. And I realize life is too short to focus on people who do not support, love or encourage me. I am fortunate to have a loving husband and some good, kind people in my life.

I am simply doing the best I can. Every day is an adventure. And I am still figuring things out. Maturity, intuition and patience have become good friends as the years pass along.

Thank you for reading and seeking to understand some of what living life with diabetes has meant for me these last 25 years. And why this February 13, I am so thankful to be given another year of life. This is another year for me to try to get it right and discover God’s plan for me.

This is a poem I wrote while working on this post.

25 years

Diabetes still scares me, but I keep on living.

Diabetes still frustrates me, but I don’t give up.

Diabetes still makes me shriek at times in pain, but I wipe my tears and go on.

Diabetes has taught me more than anything I could ever know about life. For this I am thankful.

Two more things…

On June 2, 2012 I will be riding 27 miles at my 2nd ADA Tour de Cure bike ride. Each mile I ride will symbolize one year of living with diabetes. In honor of my 25 year diabetes anniversary, I am setting my goal to raise $2,500 to help find a cure for diabetes, raise education and awareness – all goals of the ADA. If you would so feel moved, I would wholeheartedly appreciate a donation to help make this goal a reality. Here is a link to my page. Thank you.

Something fun: While working on this post, I realized that my 25 year anniversary felt worthy of a celebration. So I am doing just that! I planned my very own party for Friday night and created this Facebook event page inviting friends and family to come help me celebrate! I can’t wait!! Thanks in advance if you are able to come help me celebrate!!

 

Blessings, light and love,

Cynthia

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27 thoughts on “25 years: what does that mean exactly?

    • Thank you Cherise! I appreciate you taking the time to read my story as it honors my daily perseverance living with Type 1 diabetes for 25 years. Thank you for sharing my story on your Facebook page as well – you are a great D-sister!

  1. Fantastic Blog Cynthia! Your story is very inspiring! I believe you have survived all your challenges because you have a purpose here to share your experience with us. I’m proud of you ,and you have made me more aware of how important it is to take care of ourselves.

    • John, thank you so much for reading this post that is so very close to my heart. Celebrating 25 years is a big milestone for me – feels great! I appreciate your philosophy of why I may still be around… I do feel called to share my story and hopefully in the process inspire & teach others. I appreciate your support, always!

  2. Nice work Cynthia. Keep that positive outlook on life going. Sometimes life gives us shit, and we have to then turn it around make some good fertilizer and grow some really good crops!!

    • Ryan!! My great local D-friend! Thank you for reading. Did I ever mention this great organic garden I have growing over here?? lol. I love your thoughts on life and thanks for the kind words! I hope to see you again soon at a diabetes event! Take good care!

    • Thanks Scott. Your support means so much to me. I’m happy to walk this D-journey with you and it’s so nice to have someone as kind and generous as you in Minnesota! I think we should try to move more of the DOC gang up here! I am elated you are coming to my party Friday and will be honored by your presence. Blessings friend. See you soon.

  3. I have recently come to know a little 6 year old girl with diabetes. She takes her own blood readings, regulates her pump, monitors her intake and checks her own well being. She is probably the most loving child I have ever met. Wise beyond her years, as diabetes demands, she has made me realise how lucky most of us are. You are an inspiration to all that know and love her, thank you.

    • Paul, your comment truly touches me. Thank you so much for taking the time to reach out to me with these kind words and read my story. What a beautiful and brave little girl – she has so much to offer the world and she is so lucky to have someone like yourself cheering her on. I am blessed and honored if my story can be an inspiration to you and others. This will in turn help me to keep fighting on the hard days of living with diabetes & make them a little more bearable too. I hope to hear from you again. Take care.

    • Leah, thanks for reading and showing your support with a comment. I love that you and your beautiful family, juggling and all, were able to help me celebrate my 25 years Friday night. Your love, support and friendship help me to be healthy. Thank you. <3 to you friend!

  4. I am not the liar, I am a TCM doctor from china. Do you know the TCM(Traditional Chinese Medicine)? it is exists for 5000 years, it cure people by some strange ways such as: Cupping, Acuupunture, Chinese Medicine with not side-effects if you are directed by TCM doctor, I do not trust Western Medicine, and I know it could bring some side effects, I have study it four years, so If I have disease, such as cold, I nerve take western chemical medicine, but I take some TCM ways to cure it, such as take some ginger soup to driver the cold, If you are interested in TCM, you can load my website http://www.tcmtreat.com/, http://bbs.heshoutang.com/.

    By the way we study the diabetes for 20 year, now have a good product named gluconater, it is useful to prevent the side effects and Improving Glycemic Control, if you trust , you could load the website http://www.gluconature.com/

    TCM angle from china
    If you trust me please add my facebooke name tcm angle, I wish we can make friends, I wish you have a good everytime!

    • Hello, please look for me and add me to your friend list on Facebook. Because you are in China, I am not able to look you up and it did not pull up TCM angle. My name is Cynthia Zuber. Thanks. I do know TCM. I am currently taking Liu Wei Di Huang Wan. How does Gluconature compare with this? I used to see an acupuncture weekly, now I take chinese herbs 3 times/day and receive a Shiatsu massage every 2 weeks. When I went to the page of the clinic you work at, I did not know which biography was yours. Please share your name so I can see your bio and picture. Thanks for reaching out. I truly believe in TCM. I hope to hear back from you as I have no way of reaching you at this point.

  5. Hi friends, I just see your messages, My facebook name TCM Angel, I have add you, do you pay attention to me? My website about TCM treatment: http://www.tcmtreat.com, My website on diabetes: http://www.gluconature.com, My TCM products shop: http://www.tcmbuy.com, you can buy the Liu Wei Di Huang Wan on this website, we will sell the chinese products, such as all products on TCM and chinese culture, and so on, by the way, my skype:internationaltcm, please add me, thanks, regards my best to your family! Lotusjiao, from china

  6. Thank you for sharing your story. I posted it to facebook. After 22 years of watching my son struggle and having people offer insane advice on “curing him , maybe this will open some eyes. 🙂

    • Harriet, thank you so much for taking time out of your busy life to read my story; I am honored. ; ) Thank you for sharing my story on Facebook as well – I truly believe the more people we share our stories with, the closer we come to a cure as we spread awareness about diabetes. I hope you will please share Diabetes Light with your son. I’d love to have him join our Facebook page and read my posts! Another article of mine people like sharing with those they love to try to increase understanding is: “31: that’s not my age.”

    • Thank you so much Marcia for reading. I hope to inspire and give hope to many of the healing possible with holistic treatments — modalities unfortunately often not talked about by most doctors.

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