My mother, my aunt and one of my sisters were all diagnosed with adult onset diabetes when they were in their 70s. I know that it might be waiting in the wings for me, but are we ever really ready for that news? Many people with diabetes mellitus are over the age of 60 years. Statistics tell us that they are often under diagnosed and under treated. The story I am about to tell you confirms that belief. A friend of mine had been diagnosed with pre-diabetes a few years ago. She was monitored closely until her blood sugar readings had stabilized and she was deemed healthy enough to be on her own. Her follow-up visits were all good and she ceased to worry much about it.
A few months ago her sister e-mailed me to say that J was in the hospital. She was gravely ill. It seemed that the diabetes has reared its ugly head and accelerated into a crisis situation. J was lucky that she survived, and she would like to share her story with you.
She writes that it all started last summer. “In July I had an eye exam and was fitted for new glasses. I wore them for a few weeks but the prescription didn’t seem right. Things seemed blurry and I couldn’t see well. It seemed better when I took my glasses off. I went back to the optician and the prescription was adjusted and it seemed better. A few days later, when I was at Bingo with my sister, I noticed that I couldn’t see the numbers on the board. Not only that but when I looked around the room people looked fuzzy too. I felt dizzy but I struggled through the afternoon. Over the next three months I went to a specialist, had several eye exams and X-rays which were all negative. I thought I was managing but by Christmas time I noticed that I was having trouble with my equilibrium and frequently losing my balance. I am always on a diet so was pleased that I was losing weight but by January I was losing 2 lbs a day, felt tired, weak, thirsty all of the time, and craving sweets big time. My eyes were getting worse. My primary thought it was from lack of vitamin D so added another pill to my growing stack. I got worse and was treated by a GYN specialist for a serious yeast infection. I kept getting weaker and sicker and wanted to sleep all of the time. My skin was gray and dry and I was extremely dehydrated. I feel so dumb now because all of the signs were there, but I still didn’t know what was happening to me.
My sister told me that I looked awful and when she checked my blood sugar the readings were off the chart. She finally overruled my objections and called 911. It seems I was going in and out of a diabetic coma. The ER doctor came in the next morning and told me how gravely ill I had been. My potassium was very low, my blood sugar was very high and I was severely dehydrated. My blood pressure was over 200. I was a walking dead woman and didn’t even know it. I was in the hospital for a week with IV’s, insulin, antibiotics, oxygen and other medications. I don’t remember much and was unaware of what was happening until three days after admission
Anyone who has any of these symptoms, no matter how small should be followed by their physician religiously, before something like this happens to them. I was a nurse and I should have known better but I was totally unaware of what was happening to my own body. I am doing fine now. I am regulating my insulin, eating well and getting my strength back.”
Many people who develop diabetes are over 40 and the risk increases with age. If you have relatives with diabetes, you are at a higher risk. Obesity and physical inactivity are also risk factors. Be aware that these symptoms can sneak up on you and you might not know what is happening.
- Excessive thirst
- Extreme hunger
- Unexplained weight loss
- Tiredness and fatigue
- Blurred vision