Coming to Terms with Diabetes: Paula's Story

This article was written exclusively for InformationAboutDiabetes.com by Paula Knowles. She discusses the many ways diabetes has affected her life, the struggle to control her blood sugar levels, and coming to terms with the disease.

At the age of 12, I found out that I was a type 2 (MODY) diabetic and was put on Micronase. I denied everything my parents and doctors talked to me about, including all of the things that could happen if I didn’t take my medications.

I ended up in ketoacidosis. I also spent a week in the ICU because I had pancreatitis, which was caused by not taking care of my diabetes. This was only the beginning of many issues.

High-Risk Pregnancy, Multiple Eye Surgeries and Neuropathy

I had a high-risk pregnancy. I was on four shots per day, and there were times I ended up in the ER with a risk of losing my baby from complications, like having her prematurely. She was born two weeks early. She weighed 8 pounds 1 oz and was 21.5 inches long, so she was a very healthy little girl! But, considering diabetes ran on both sides of the family, I prayed that she would not get it.

I also noticed a change in my vision. Things were getting cloudy, so I saw an ophthalmologist and retina specialist. Turns out that the blood vessels in my eyes started popping. This began my many years of eye doctor appointments and surgeries. I have had two vatrechtamies, numerous laser treatments to stop the bleeding, cataract surgery on both eyes, and a detached and reattached retina. I am now blind in my right eye. Even though I have gotten used to the limited vision, it still scares the heck out of me! My vision is one sense I do not want to lose! And I do NOT want to give up my independence to this disease!

I have also had neuropathy in both of my feet since 1997. I have strong circulation, just no feeling. Because of this, I have had ulcers on both feet that have become cellulitis, and they had to be removed surgically. The result is a dislocated toe on one foot, a toe removal, six weeks of IV antibiotics, and therapy on the other.

Struggling to Get My Blood Sugar Levels Under Control

I will not let this disease make me so dependent that I will have my daughter give up her life at 22 to help me. My mother and daughter are both type 1 diabetics, so they were fortunate enough to have been able to use an insulin pump. My latest endocrinologist says my a1c needs to be more controlled. This is where my frustration lies. I have gone so far to make my sugars more controlled. During my bouts of cellulitis my a1c was 6.8 and 7.1 – not high at all! For the past four to six years I have had my sugars under control. I am totally insulin dependent now, yet I wonder what would happen to my a1c if I were given some of the new type 2 medications.

As a diabetic at 41, I advise you to see doctors and get support from wherever you can. I see my general practitioner, podiatrist and endocrinologist every three months. I see a cardiologist once a year. My a1c is checked every three months, and blood work is done every six months. I depend on friends, family and doctors to see me through the tough times.

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