TIME IS THE ENEMY
Do you know someone that is a diabetic? Do you REALLY know them? Hi, my name is Candy Earley and I'm a Diabetic. On September 12, 1975, I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes or Juvenile Diabetes, which it is sometimes referred as. On October 12, 1975, I turned 4. I have been a diabetic for 36 years. I am 40 years old.
Diabetes is known as the “Silent Killer,” and silent it is. Diabetes can strike young people as well as old people. There is NO age limit with this disease. There are over 80 million diabetics in the United States alone. There is 174 billion dollars spent yearly through the federal government on diabetic medications. This amount exceeds the monies needed to accommodate both AIDS/HIV and ALL cancerous infection medications.
Diabetes is diagnosed when the pancreas ceases to make insulin to break down sugars in the blood stream. In Type 1, daily injections of insulin are given. In Type 2, diabetes can be managed with oral medications and a careful control of diet and exercise, because in Adults, insulin is usually still present in the body, yet it does not work adequately alone.
On top of daily injections or medications, you must check your blood glucose level. This is done by “pricking” your finger for a sample of blood to go into a handheld device. The normal reading should be in the area of 80 – 120. This depends of your physician, your body and the goals you and your pysician set.
Diabetes is known to be a “Silent Killer” for these reasons. Diabetes affects the eyes, heart, kidneys and nervous sytem. It can cause blindness in the eyes, cardiovascular disease in the heart, kidney failure in the kidneys and disease the nerve endings which can be cause for infection and possible loss of limbs.
The reason I'm writing to you today is not for sympathy, but for awareness and knowledge of a disease that sometimes is overlooked and forgotten about. Generally, people say, “Oh yea, my grandmother has that,” like it's no big deal.
At our house it is a big deal. It's a way of life and here lately, the disease has made quite the impact, as time has become my enemy.
Growing up, life was easy and so was my disease. I lived at home, mom took care of everything, cooking the right things, giving my injections and checking blood glucose levels. My younger brother was also diagnosed with Type 1 and at times it was funny, because she would line us up like an assembly line.
When I turned 16 and could drive myself, WOW, I thought, I can do everything myself, I don't need a diabetic policeman and I also did not need anyone telling me what was going to happen if I drove to the store and got those candy bars that I always wanted. I hid wrappers so no one would know. I was a teenager and there was not anyone who could tell me anything. I was immortal, nothing would ever happen to me. That;s what I thought.
In my 20's, I decided to have that wonderful family. Not,
I had 2 miscarriages and I finally had my daughter. Third times charm, I've been told, yet it took a toll on my body and the ENTIRE pregnancy was the hardest thing I had ever been through. My diabetes went crazy out of control. That was in 1997 and things had settled down I thought.
In 2007, I was airlifted to Memphis for the first 3 of my 7 stents in my heart. I knew something wasn't right and I had to beg doctors to do a heart cath. They kept insisting that I was too young. 2 of my blockages were 98%. I just love a good, “I told you so.” Doctors listen to me now and I am always keeping myself aware of chest pains, shortness of breath, and fatigue. The end of January 2012 marked my 4th heart cath. My small arteries are blocked, but only at about 35 to 40 percent. They changed my medicine and I always have my nitro for chest pains.
2011 has proven to be my year for complications. The end of September, 3 more stents were put in.
On November 5, I broke my foot. I stepped down wrong and with diabetes, your bones are as brittle as the disease. After foot surgery, casts, boots, and no weight on foot, as of Febuary 16, it is still broke. The diabetes is preventing it from healing. We are going to try a bone stimulator, it sends ultra sound waves through your foot for healing. New technology at its best.
I have severe polyneuropathy, which affects the nerve endings, circulation and healing. This can lead to another disease called charcot arthropathy in my foot. This will cause the loss of my foot. The bone itself become mushy and the foot becomes infected and deformed and leads to amputation.
While at work one day, my vision in my right eye decided it would go black. I quickly went to my eye doctor here in town, and he immediately sent me to Memphis. I had a massive hemmorage in the back of my eye. After laser surgery, injections and a eye surgery on Febuary the 13, my eye vision will not get any better, only worse, and while I was in the office, the left eye was following in its footsteps. Eye surgery will also have to be done on it as well.
I have now decided to take a leave of absense from a career that I adore. I need some time to regroup and get myself back together. I have quickly watched diabetes tear my life apart.
My 14 year-old daughter is trained to call 911 and her Daddy in the event that she can't get me aroused. The phone numbers are posted throughout the house. My daughter lives with a fear that most young girls her age should not have to.
I have a Border Collie who has been known to wake me up by nudging on my hand or licking my face, only to wake and find my glucose level has dropped dangerously low. She sleeps on the floor, right next to me, keeping an eye on me every waking minute. She rides with me in the car anytime I go anywhere, she's my watch dog and my friend. Her name is Belle. I'm the silly girl in town in the gold station wagon with the dog going nuts in the backseat. We have fun.
The cost of diabetes for me is ridiculous. Instead of injections, I have an insulin pump that administers insulin into my body 24 hours a day, just like the pancreas. I wear it all day, everyday. I can only be off of it daily for up to an hour. It's the size of a cell phone, and it is suppose to allow for tighter control. The length of my illness does not allow for tight control. I have now been diagnosed a “Brittle Diabetic.” My body knows nothing about normal. I can get up on Monday with a glucose of 600 and 2 hours later it can be 60.
The price for one bottle of insulin is over $100.00. You have the expense of the glucose test strips, pump supplies and any medications that you take for any of the other complications this disease has caused.
The reason for my story is this. I work in a public school system and I have seen upfront the diabetics that are in our local schools. Diabetes is running like wildfire in our children. I want to be the one that redirects that one child from making the same mistakes that I did before it's too late.
Parents can sometimes be in denial that there is nothing wrong with their child. My dad was always in denial. The funny thing is that he had Type 2 diabetes, and along with being in denial about me, he was about himself as well. With a diagnosis of Congestive Heart Failure and a Non Compliant Diabetic, his life was shortened to the age of 60.
I want children to realize this will happen to you, if you do not take control of your illness. Parents, get involved, don't nag, but encourage.
I'm scared, confused, and saddened at the quality of life that I have in front of me. I have been so blessed to have the opportunities I have had. I want to take this opportunity to help a diabetic, help them from making the mistakes that I have made.