I have been overweight all my life. I never ate more than the other kids, I was as active as the other kids, and my mom really watched our diet. I remember I was 8 years old when I saw a weight-loss doctor for the first time; I don’t remember much, but my mother says it was a total disaster. Imagine seeing your 8-year old kid taking weight-loss pills… she didn’t know better, she thought he was helping. She pulled the plug when she realized the treatment was making me depressed.
When people saw me, they immediately told my mom “She’s so cute. I’m sure she will lose the weight when puberty comes.” It didn’t, it got worse. My body never felt normal, I had a late menarche, I was always irregular, my periods were extremely painful and messy, and my weight kept on going up.
In 1995 I went to see an endocrinologist who diagnosed me with hypothyroidism, so I’ve been taking levothyroxine since then. In 1999 I was diagnosed with a benign pituitary tumor and PCOS. Things were rough, I was young, I was getting married, I wanted to have children, I couldn’t conceive. Being treated for my prolactinoma and the PCOS led me to an endocrinologist in Montreal, where I was living, and during one of my visits this is how the conversation went:
Doc: What are you taking for your thyroid?
Bea: Levothyroxine, 200mcg
Doc: And what are you taking for your hyperprolactinemia?
Bea: Cabergoline, 0.5mg
Doc: And what are you taking for diabetes?
Bea: MY WHAT?
Yes, I had no idea I had diabetes. I had no symptoms, no previous abnormal results… I did have a history of diabetes in the family, and my dad had passed away the year before due to heart complications, so it wasn’t a huge shock for me. The shock was not knowing that I had it, and wondering how long I had it for.
To this day I don’t know what my initial numbers were, but I remember I met with a CDE right away, who explained to me how to use my glucose meter, what the metformin was going to for me, how diabetes works, how diabetes affects your body, etc. I don’t remember her name, but I will never forget her smile and the fact that she told me things would be OK.
I wasn’t really scared; I think I was more disappointed than anything because being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes at age 26 makes you feel REALLY guilty; especially with my history of hormonal imbalances…. I blamed it all on being fat. But that’s a story for another post.
My diabetes didn’t come alone. I deal with a completely messed up endocrine system, and I’m still struggling with my weight. But I do the best I can with what I have. I know my diabetes is not an isolated issue, I know it’s correlated to others, I know the odds and ends, I know how PCOS causes insulin resistance… I know all that. And it helps me to work on the guilt. Sometimes the body just needs a little bit of extra help.