D-Day, 3/24/06, was the day that brought me, simultaneously, the most relief and the most anger I've ever experienced.
I had been sick for 1.5 years. Unquenchable thirst. Dire hunger. Extreme weight loss. Chronic fatigue. Continuous sinus infections. Depression. Tingling in my feet and hands. I had every single classic symptom of type I diabetes.
I saw five medical professionals (some of them multiple times), all of whom failed to do a simple blood sugar test that would have given us the answer.
On 3/24/06, I came home from my annual gynecologist appointment. I was exhausted, as usual, and very, very thirsty. I had just guzzled down some sort of orange shake-thing I purchased at a drive-thru window. Then I took my shoes off, laid down for a nap and slept for hours. I woke up to more thirst. I gulped down two large glasses of juice. And, as it always did, my stomach grew bloated in a matter of seconds from consuming so much liquid so quickly.
I was having an increasingly hard time breathing. It felt like my lungs refused to fill with air.
I called Steve (or did he call me?---I cannot remember many details and events from that 1.5 year time period)...and he wanted to call 911. I refused. I told him it was probably just my childhood asthma flaring up from the inconsistent weather conditions, winter giving way to spring.
He said he was coming home. (I'm pretty sure God told him it was time. Something was going down.) We hung up, and I fell right back to sleep.
Steve arrived home and insisted we head to the ER. I told him I would go after he got me more juice. He did. I gulped. We left.
I was admitted to a private ER room very quickly. Nurses took multiple, large blood samples from both of my arms. I begged them for something to drink and a blanket, and another, and another, until they ran out of blankets. I was pissed. Where was my drink? And why didn't I have an oxygen mask on to help me breathe?
Finally, a doctor burst into my room, papers on a clipboard in hand, and reported the words that would change my life.
In the following days, I was told by multiple hospital staff members that I should be comatose or most-likely dead.
I was experiencing a miracle.
But I sure didn't feel very heavenly.
The following days involved a lot of horrible moments and interactions.
Blood draws every hour.
Fluids running through my veins that felt like ice mixed with glass.
Automatic blood pressure cuffs that squeezed my tiny arm.
Two roommates. One who tried to sleep-walk and cried out to her dead husband. Another, an obese woman, who puked non-stop and then left because her insurance wouldn't pay for another night.
People sending me "get well" cards (ha...as if you get well from a forever-disease) and flowers (I'm allergic). People asking to visit. I said no. No. No. Leave me the hell alone, in my hell.
Oh, except a few family members and a friend who came and rubbed my feet. Makes me tear up just thinking of that humble act. My feet, they felt like they were asleep for two weeks straight...and that foot rub brought so much temporary relief. Feeling a non-medically guided hand on my skin was one small victory.
The lab nurse with the super-long, stringy hair---the hair the drifted across my tender, bruised arms at 2 a.m., 3 a.m., 4 a.m., all while I listened to roommate #1 cry out to her dead husband while I paged the nurses to warn them that she was threatening to walk out and how bad that catheter was going to hurt when she managed to propel herself over the side of the bed.
There was day #3 (or #4?) when my first diabetes nurse educator came into my room. A woman I instantly trusted because she wasn't too skinny, nor was she overweight. She had a kind face, gentle eyes, hair just a little bit wild enough to make me like her. She talked about insulin, and needles, and carbohydrates (and counting them---dammit, I hate math!)... And then she realized I wasn't listening. I was curled up in the fetal position, covered in sticky plastic things that would alert the hospital if I tried to die on them, wearing a ugly, stiff hospital gown made for Goliath. I was angry.
Stupid long-haired lab lady.
Stupid GP who failed to diagnose me despite seeing him 16x in 1.5 years.
Stupid faux diagnosis claims.
Stupid roommates, torturing me with their sleeplessness and hauntings.
Stupid flowers that smelled like a funeral.
Stupid hospital décor. Salmon and mauve and sea-foam green: What the hell kind of color palate is that?
Stupid food trays with fruit cocktail in syrup, and stiff, luke-warm ham (I hate ham!), and DIET soda and DIET Jello. Sugar-free anything tastes like Windex.
Stupid insulin that smelled like nail polish remover.
Stupid nurses who talked to me like I was five years old and wrote their names in red marker (the color of blood) with bubbly letters on my room's dry erase board.
Stupid doctors placing glossy type 2 diabetes brochures on my bedside table. Those brochures with their stupid smiling models who looked nothing like type 2 diabetics---slim, tan, mountain in the background. (Hey, docs. I have type I. But thanks for noticing).
The CDNE smiles just enough that I don't want to punch her in the face. Then she says, "Do you two plan on having children?"
And all the sudden, I'm listening.
"Yes," Steve and I say simultaneously.
I prop myself up in my bed. All 97 pounds of bones and skin. Talk to me.
"You still can, you know." She smiles encouragingly and proceeds, happy she finally said something that got my attention.
But I'm done listening.
Because a single word pops into my mind.
And I know, immediately, without an ounce of doubt or fear.