By: Shana Rosenberg
Being a 25-year-old woman who has had type 1 diabetes for 20 years, I have had my share of ups and downs.
About two years ago, while I was working as a receptionist for a well-known magazine, I would tire easily and have to take frequent rests from my light office chores.
I couldn’t understand what was wrong, so I went to see my physician here in New Mexico. He told me that I had very low blood pressure and that I should eat more salt, as well as take a few medicines. I did this for a long time, but it just did not seem to do me any good. When I started experiencing some side effects from the medicine, I went back to my doctor for help. Instead of taking me off the medicine, he gave me another pill to cover up the side effects. I was eventually taking about seven pills a day for this one problem, which I thought was low blood pressure. It turned out to be much more than low blood pressure.
Searching For Help Online
When I was diagnosed with neuropathy as well, my doctor did not know how to treat this condition, and I was left to fend for myself. My aunt went online and told me about a man who seemed to be going through everything I was experiencing. The article was written by Dr. Joe Prendergast, an endocrinologist from California. My family and I decided that we had to see him.
California, Here I Come
When I arrived in California, I was in very bad shape. I was barely able to walk into Dr. Prendergast’s office. Dr. Prendergast told me I had to go on the insulin pump, which was something I didn’t want to do. I didn’t like the idea of being attached to a device. The idea flat out scared me, and yet, I didn’t want to go on feeling the way I did. I had to make a choice. I decided to go on the pump.
Finally, A Normal Life
I envisioned the pump as a small, implanted device with an attachment. I was so wrong. I discovered it was a small pager-sized device that delivers insulin through a thin plastic tube. That tube connects to a plastic needle that is inserted under the skin. You have to change the site every few days, but at least there was no more messing around with shots. I feel like I have a normal life again. I went from being a woman who could hardly walk to a woman who now goes out dancing and enjoys all the things a woman my age should be enjoying.
Before the pump, I couldn’t walk from my parents’ living room to the kitchen without having to stop in the foyer to rest. I was in a wheelchair for 7 months. Four to six months after being on the pump, I no longer needed the wheelchair. I used to experience a lot of vertigo due to nerve damage inflicted by the high levels of ketones* that were in my system for so long. My vertigo has been much better since I’ve been on the pump. I can go to school now, and drive again. I used to have to rely on other people to drive me. Now I’m able to be more independent again.
All in the Family
My mother, who also has diabetes, decided to get a pump and she’s been very happy with it. Even though my mom didn’t have the complications that I had, she felt it would make life easier to use the pump. I have an aunt and uncle who both have diabetes and they are also considering getting pumps.
I feel a lot better. No relapse at all, nor problems with the pump. There have been no ketones since I’ve been on the pump and my blood sugar control has been good.
* ketones: potentially toxic chemicals that the body makes when there is not enough insulin in the blood, forcing the body to break down fat for its energy. Ketones that build up in the body over a long time can lead to serious illness and coma.