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Thursday, April 06, 2006

My biggest Secret

For years I've lived with this secret. To be exact - 12.5 yrs, I've lived with this secret. I am convinced I caused my diabetes. To understand, we have to travel back an additional 6 or 7 yrs.

I've always been tall. Always. I'm the same height now (5'10") as I was in 4th grade. As such, I've always towered over my friends and sometimes even my teachers. Being tall is great now, but back then I didn't feel tall, I felt F-A-T. Here I was probably 130-140lbs, which on 5'10" is actually skinny, but when you put me up against my friends who were lucky to break 5' and probably weighed 80lbs soaking wet, I just looked fat.

When I was around 9 or 10, one of my best friends (aren't all friends at that age, your "best") was diagnosed with T1 diabetes. I saw how her food had to be carefully weighed and measured and how limited she was in what she could eat (pre-"carb counting" days). I went home one night after spending the day with her and feeling incredibly fat and I actually - god I am literally shaking as I write this - wished and prayed that I would get diabetes, so that I would HAVE to follow a diet and would be skinny and petite like my friends.

I cry now for that little kid. How F'd up is society if a 9 yr old girl prays for a disease because she thinks she's fat?? I honestly saw D as my only way to lose weight. Nevermind that I swam competitively for over 6 months of the yr and was actually a normal weight for my height. That didn't matter, to me, I was fat, and D was my cure.

Skim forward a few yrs and I'm in the hospital. My sugar is 1500. I'm getting shots of insulin while I'm sitting at the registration desk at the hospital. Another shot as I ride the elevator up to my room. Oh, lucky me, I get a private room. The girl admitted right before me, should've gotten it, but since she was in a dka coma, well they put her with the 2 yr old (by comparasion her sugar was 900). Dr's are freaking out and I've suddenly become the side-show freak girl who's still walking and talking. I just wanted to eat lunch and would someone please bring me something to drink, dammit!!

I couldn't believe what was happening. I had lost a ton of weight and while I thought I looked great, apparently everyone else thought I had an eating disorder. I had all but forgotten about that night years ago. I had taken the diagnosis in stride. Didn't cry once that first day in the hospital, or the second, or third or even fourth. Not while I was practicing injections on oranges, not while I gave myself that first shot. I didn't cry until my final night in the hospital when I remembered that little girl and her wish. Then I cried and cried and cried. I did this to myself. This was ALL MY FAULT.

Ever since, I've felt like I can't complain about my D. I have to be the "well adjusted", accepting Sarah. The "ya, I've got D, but its really not that bad", "I'm fine" Sarah. This wasn't something that just happened. This was something I willed on myself so I best shut up, put a smile on my face and get on with it.

Fast forward to today, and D is my curse. Since my diagnosis I've gained well over 100 pounds from a combination of lack of exercise, poor food choices, and oh ya a little thing called Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome which causes severe insulin resistance which in turn causes weight gain, which requires more insulin, which leads to more weight gain and up and up goes the scale. And all this time, I've NEVER told anyone about that night so many years ago. And now here I am telling the world my deepest, darkest secret.

Now if I can only hit the publish button.


Scott K. Johnson said...

Hi Sarah,

That's quite a story there. And it is very strong of you to share it with us.

You did not give yourself diabetes. While it is a strange thing - I mean, what are the chances?! - it is not you who did this.

Things often times happen that we don't exactly understand. It's my belief that there is a reason for it. Part of my journey with D is to try to understand what that reason is.

Great post, and thank you again for sharing with us.

Sandra Miller said...


No, no, and NO.

Getting diabetes is NOT your fault.

As a child I secretly ranted against my dad (he was an alcoholic)-- wishing he were out of my life.

Years later, he died of lung cancer at just 52.

And all I wanted to do was take back that wish...

But my wanting him gone did not cause my father to die. (Smoking Camel cigarettes for 35 years did that).

And your wish did not kill your beta cells (an autoimmune disease, yes-- but your desire to be thin, no).

A sad and horrible coincidence-- but Sarah, nothing more.

Andrea said...

I'm the same way...I sometimes think of my life in the past before the Big D and I wonder if somehow I caused this to happen.

My diet wasn't the best growing up... I was a chubby child and stayed that way til about Junior year of high school...where I went to the other extreme. I really restricted my diet. It was amazing, I felt so much power from being so rigid about the food I let myself eat. But looking back, it really was a disordered way of eating. I think that yo-yo pattern of eating cannot be a good thing, especially in the extreme way I did it.

When I went away to college (only stayed a year), my first roommate was a T1 Diabetic. I don't know if I ever wished to have her condition, at least not consciously, but I remember dreaming about it during my time there. You know what they say about dreams...they are expressions of our unconscious desires. Maybe that's true, but I can't think of why I would desire such a thing.

It's funny, b/c I think in a way I was just looking for some way to stand out from the next person. Well, in school all I wanted to do was blend in, but in everyday life I didn't. Right up to age 24, before my dx, I remember wishing that something would come along and change my life. April of 2002, my wish came true... My life was forever changed, but not the way I ever wanted it to be.

I know that it really has little to do with that. I, logically, know just b/c you think something once or twice that that doesn't mean it's going to become reality, but sometimes it makes you wonder.

I'm sorry that this comment has gone on so long, but I just wanted to say I understand :)

julia said...

Everyone else has said it better than I could, so I'll just send a virtual hug and say thanks for sharing such a personal, poignant story. That took a lot of courage.

Kerri. said...

Thank you for hitting the "publish" button. Your words are honest and striking and your story is as well.

Diabetes is not your fault. Remember that.

Jen said...

First, to echo everyone else, you didn't cause your diabetes.
Now, on another note, I just wanted to share that I, too have PCOS. I know the struggles that go with it.

Shannon said...

There was no reason to be nervous about sharing this sounds like something I would've thought.

We're all human with our weird idiosyncrisis (sp?).

When I was 12, I faked a sprained ankle just so I could get crutches. Then my parents got a letter from the hospital's lawyer saying they had to pay up or else.

Let's just say, this is the first time I shared this secret :)

Kassie said...


I *totally* get this. Thanks for sharing!


George said...

I hope this post was freeing for you. Thank you so much for sharing your story. :)