I Learned I Was Diabetic, and I Became a Binge Eater
Being at a healthy weight, no one really questioned my eating habits. I was the Sporty Spice of every group, so excessive eating was justified and even praised. Through college I managed my healthy weight by keeping my routine of unwarranted eating and extreme exercise (my BMI was about 22). Luckily I love fruits and vegetables, but processed grains and starches were primary staples in my diet. (I couldn’t say no to a Pop-Tart.)
During Finals Week of my last semester of my undergraduate career, I developed a horrible cough. It was December and between my allergies and the dry air, I was prone to winter aliments. My study sessions were constantly interrupted with coughing spells and phlegm projection, so I had to keep myself out of the library and study under self-inflicted house arrest.
A few days into my cough, I looked at my naked body in the mirror and noticed significant weight loss. I knew I shouldn’t have been exercising while sick, but my appetite was out-of-control and I felt it necessary to burn off the calories. Plus, I was receiving compliments left-and-right on my new sickly figure. Not only did my hunger increase, but I could never get enough water! While typing my Capstone paper, I noticed I had gotten up three times in one hour to refill my water glass. But hell, my throat was so dry and sore from the coughing that I rationalized that I could use the extra H2O.
I let a couple weeks go by with my undying cough before I finally saw a doctor. Insuranceless and sick, I told the campus physician I was asthmatic and she knew exactly what I needed – a new inhaler. Alleluia! I was so excited to sleep through the night without a coughing spell that I started my new steroid therapy immediately.
Fast forward a few weeks and my cough was still aggressive as hell, I was eating at a spectacular rate, and my weight was still plummeting. I felt like Bill Halleck from Stephen King’s Thinner. However, there were two new developments to my illness: a strong craving for sweets and horrible leg cramps in the middle of the night. All of my symptoms were mounting during the “Gluten Free” craze, and everyone I vented to about my symptoms were convinced I had a gluten allergy. But even after cutting gluten from my diet, the pounds kept coming off and the urge to pee every 15 minutes wasn’t making anything easier.
I entered the working world with bright eyes and a bushy tale… and still no health insurance. Unable to find a full-time job right away, I made ends meet by working three part-time jobs and remained sick throughout the summer. By mid-September, my 5’3” frame weighed 98 lbs. I could barely stay awake because I was incredibly lethargic. When I was awake I was eating anything I could get my hands on, even food I didn’t like (which is hard to come by because I’m far from a picky eater). Finally, my mom took me to the ER where I spent a couple minutes in triage and was rushed to an ER station where I was told I was a Type I diabetic.
With no time to waste, I began a combination of insulin therapy, hydration therapy (potassium drips burn better than the fires of hell), and fasting. My one job was to get my sugar levels down from the 600s that have been plaguing my body. In a nutshell, I was being flushed. With multiple tubes sticking out of my arms and being poked and prodded with needles every 20 minutes, the only thing I could think about was my next meal. I’ve never fasted before, and I was more stressed out over not eating or drinking for the next 24 hours than I was about my new diagnosis. When I was finally able to eat, I couldn’t believe the amounts I was allotted. Only three meals a day was a joke to me. But I learned a trick! Before giving me pills, the nurse asked if I had a weak stomach because if I did she could offer me graham crackers. Knowing I have an iron stomach, I lied to get a square of joy.
Addicted to Food
It goes without saying that while I was sick, I developed an addiction to food. I love lean protein and fresh veggies, but all I wanted was chocolate bars, sugary cereals, and fried pastries. All my life I have been active and I allowed myself to give into temptation whenever it presented itself, but now I had become incredibly limited. Rather than treating diabetes as a lifestyle change, I approached it like a fad diet regimen.