A Wake-Up Call

When diabetes calls, it doesnt like to be put on hold.

Walt Raleigh picBy Walt Raleigh

The day I got my type 2 diabetes diagnosis, going on two years ago now, a very nice (and concerned) osteopath at a New York City urgent care center offered to send me to the hospital in an ambulance.

Since the hospital in question was five blocks down Seventh Avenue from his office, you might say he got my full and undivided attention.

It was a Friday morning like any other, except that I was walking around with a blood glucose in excess of 500 mg/dl without realizing it.

That Wednesday, I had woken up on the wrong side of the bed, and had called in sick to work. It felt like sort of a mild stomach bug. Fever, headache, cramps … in fact, a bad pain in my lower left side. Ick.

I make my living as a consultant in the computer business, and I had some important meetings that day, which I conducted from home via teleconference.

And then slept approximately eighteen hours.

Thursday: Lather, rinse, repeat, except that I was feeling too listless to work much at all.

By Friday I realized that things were getting worse, not better. I had been having trouble getting an appointment with my overbooked-and-popular internist, so I got myself to the local doc-in-the-box.

The osteopath who saw me there ran a couple of quick blood tests and, to use a technical term, freaked out.

He sent me straight to the emergency room at (hospital name redacted.) Going to a public hospital ER in New York City is quite an experience, not unlike being trapped for eighteen hours in an overpacked passenger car on an unusually poorly managed third-world railroad.

I was admitted to the hospital directly from my gurney in the hallway.

After four days of blood tests, x-rays, CT scans, and the like, they delivered the final diagnosis:

  • Pneumonia, lower lobe of left lung (say that five times fast);
  • Inflamed pancreas, verging on but not quite pancreatitis, and;
  • Congratulations, you've got a type 2 diabetes diagnosis.

The diabetes "education" I got in the hospital was a joke: some drug company pamphlets read aloud to me by an earnest but overworked nurse who raced through them like a sleepy priest at an early Mass.

But they did do two very good things for me at the hospital: they hooked me up with a good nutritionist who likes working with diabetics, and with an endocrinologist who is an absolute Rock Star in his field.

Since the time I showed up at the hospital with a blood glucose that was about twice Google's stock price, I've dieted off about thirty pounds, but I'm still tipping the scales at over 300 (on a 6'2" frame.) I'm trying to get down to my "fighting weight" of about 225, but it's been a struggle every step of the way.

Some people eat to live, you see, but I live to eat. Call me "The Morbidly Obese Gourmet."

dLife's Daily Living columnists are not all medical experts, but everyday people living with diabetes and sharing their personal experiences. While their method of diabetes management may work for them, everyone is different. Please consult with your diabetes care team to find out what will work best for you.

Last Modified Date: May 17, 2013

All content on dLife.com is created and reviewed in compliance with our editorial policy.

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by Brenda Bell
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