I knew something was wrong. It wasn’t that I was pregnant in my thirties or that the summer was excessively hot, as they suggested. It was something else, and I knew in my heart it wasn’t right. The voice inside me knew something was wrong, yet I felt like I could get no one to hear my concerns.
I was pregnant with my second child when I found myself admitted to the hospital. Can I go home and pack? No. Can I still go to the family wedding this weekend? No. Will my baby be okay? Possibly.
I sat in the hospital bed speechless. I was told I would remain there until I could learn to carb count and administer insulin injections. I was told I was to remain there until I could adequately protect the baby growing inside me.
My head spun with random thoughts. I tried to process the diagnosis, but I could not. Hearing I had gestational diabetes was a shock, yet strangely it came as a relief. Finally, I had some answers.
And then my mind traveled south and many states away to my father who was dying from complications due to his type two diabetes. Knowing the state of my diabetic father quickly whipped away my relief and the revelation of the diagnosis hit me like a Mack truck.
Travel was no longer an option, saying goodbye to my father in person was not possible, nor was attending his funeral. I pushed the tears aside and powered through. My unborn baby deserved my attention and not my self-pity.
Within twenty-four hours I learned how to inject myself with insulin and I learned to count carbs. I learned as much as I could so I could move forward with life and my pregnancy.
Despite my best efforts, my gestational diabetes was impossible to control. I did everything I was told, and yet I struggled to control my sugar levels. This baffled my medical team and it frustrated the type A personality I possessed.
Months later I delivered a healthy baby boy and magically my diabetes disappeared. I was thrilled that I could return to normal life. It was wonderful, simply wonderful.
My struggle in pregnancy and recovery were so conflicting, my doctor asked if he could write about my case in a medical journal. I laughed and agreed, then a let out a huge sigh of relief. I was not my father and I would not battle with diabetes past these few months of pregnancy.
At Thanksgiving dinner, I ate a piece of pumpkin pie with piles of whip cream. I was in heaven and I enjoyed that pie more than I can articulate. This enjoyment was more mental then physical, as it represented all that was taken from me for months.
A few weeks later, I found myself back at the doctor. This time, I was at an endocrinologist. This time, my diagnosis was not gestational diabetes, and instead I was told I was a LADA: a 1.5 diabetic who isn’t quite type 1 or type 2.
I was told I was part of the new phenomenon – adults who find themselves as type 1 diabetes later in life.
My mind quickly shifted back to my friend Dawn in second grade. She was a type 1 diabetic who was given Coke and vanilla wafers in school. I was not fearful as I remember her with fond memories. And then I stopped breathing – again. My mind quickly jumped to my father, his long fight against diabetes, and the death that occurred just months in the past.
I sat and stared blankly. I knew I would be forever sick with a chronic illness. I wonder if this is how my mother felt when she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis when I was six months old. I could not believe that my children would repeat my childhood of being the caregivers for their mother.
My emotional roller coaster ended quickly. I returned home to see my children. My beautiful daughter and infant son were awaiting me. And that was all I needed.
I had a choice. Diabetes did not control me. It was not the beginning of the end. It was simply a new way of life. A life I would embrace because my children needed me. They deserved a normal childhood and one where they could be the child.
This summer will mark my ten-year anniversary as a LADA. I look at my diabetes as a gift of change. I chose to embrace it and not fight it. I educated myself about the illness and I changed my lifestyle to best manage it.
The last ten years have taught me that diabetes is not a death sentence. While my father chose to ignore it, I did not and I will not. I manage the disease, and I use it to my advantage.
I am healthier now then I was before diagnosis. I have taken steps to eat better, take vitamins, sleep as I should, and strive for work/life balance.
I feel good – better now then I have in my entire life. My allergies are virtually gone and the migraines that plagued me for decades have retreated.
If I ever question myself, I am reminded quickly of the gifts diabetes has given me. I see my healthy son, I feel his bear hug, or I hear his words of pride and praise when he tells someone new that his mom is a diabetic who takes good care of herself.
In the last ten years, I’ve taught my children that quality of life is a choice. I’ve done this with words, but more importantly, I’ve done this through my actions.
The day I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes, I chose my son and his survival. The day I was diagnosed as a LADA, I chose to be a survivor.
Today I view each new day as an opportunity and I am thankful that I can embrace it for all it offers.
About the Author
Rebecca Gill is a wife and mom of two children. She was diagnosed as a LADA in 2005 after the birth of her second child. By day she is the president of Web Savvy Marketing, a Michigan-based website design firm. By night she runs a private LADA support group on Facebook.
This blog post was originally published by AutoimmuneMom.com, written by Rebecca Gill, and first published on May 8, 2015.