In my latest blog post about my diabetes diagnosis, I described the process leading up to the conclusion of my type 1 diabetes. To quickly sum up – my girlfriend, Christina, had the night shift as a nurse which meant that I had to go home from the hospital by myself and sleep alone that first night with my new brand: Type 1 diabetic.
In this post, I’ll describe the first week after the diagnosis. It was both extremely tough but also unreal. Was it really ME who had to deal with a chronic disease? You’ll get to hear all about the constant shift between denial and despair.
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I had to be at the hospital at 8.30 am the day after the diagnosis. I can’t remember whether or not I got to see Christina before I left. Once again I was alone with something I didn’t understand. I can’t imagine how it must be for those who don’t have a diabetic father and a girlfriend who is a nurse with diabetes focus. I had to know a bit, but I felt so incredibly alone.
I remember standing outside the hospital thinking that my life was about to change forever. Nothing would ever be the same again.
Being a Business Owner came First – not Diabetes
During my train of thoughts, I began to think about my businesses and how I didn’t have time for this at all. The week after I was supposed to lead 60-70 people who would be working for me at Northern Europe’s largest festival (Roskilde). It was a huge event and we’d already invested a bunch of resources in the project. I couldn’t use my time on caring for myself. My type 1 diabetes had to wait.
So when I walked through the doors to the hospital, my thoughts were somewhere else – and not on the illness and changes that were about to happen. Diabetes waits for no-one.
I signed in at the emergency entrance and was transferred to a department of general medicine. It had all kinds of sick people. Old and very sick people and young people like myself that “was perfectly fine”.
Thankfully I was admitted to a single room where my treatment began.
I clearly remember when the nurse entered the room with an insulin pen in her hand. It wasn’t until this very moment that I realised that I had to do exactly what I’d seen my father do a million times before. The smell of insulin was overwhelming – and I had to inject myself with the needle. The thoughts flew through my head: “I have type 1 diabetes! This is real! No way back!” It felt like an insane moment.
Christina – now a relative to a type 1 diabetic – arrived at the hospital and my parents were on their way. At last, I wasn’t alone. Thankfully she was able to take some time off or do shorter shifts which meant that she was with me most of the time.
The nurses and doctors spent the next 24 hours trying to figure out how to keep blood sugar stable for me. This meant a lot of insulin, precise food dosage and almost tying me to the bed.
At the same time, my staff had begun to show up for their shifts at the festival. My partner at the time and I were constantly communicating since we had to make everything happen with me from my hospital bed. Not an easy assignment.
“Once you Become Blind … “
Something happened three days after the diabetes diagnosis that I’ll never forget. I was about to be introduced to a blood glucose monitor that was meant to give me an idea of my blood glucose level. A very central part of life with diabetes. A daily routine today.
The introducing nurse got the monitor out, sat down next to me and said, without any emotions at all:
“Now that you have to measure your blood sugar, Peter, it’s important that you poke yourself on the side of your finger and not on your fingertips. Once you become blind, you’ll need your fingertips to read and that’s difficult with too much tough skin.”
Both Christina and I sat back with our mouths wide open. None of us knew whether or not what we’d just heard was actually being said.
“ONCE I become BLIND?! Wasn’t I supposed to just be learning about my blood sugar?” I was shocked. We were shocked. I didn’t know how to react, so I just followed the rest of her instructions while the thoughts ran through my head.
With the fear of becoming blind and the fear of losing the life I knew and loved, I was brought back to my room without further explanation or reassurance.
The Escape from fear, a Shitty Hospital & type 1 Diabetes
The next day I was transferred to a four-person room. I had to share the room with three elderly men in their 80s, which in itself was not a bad thing.
When I entered the room, the first thing I noticed was a foul smell. I looked down and noticed that the floor was smeared in a long trail of feces. It was degrading to all of us and a really bad experience. Although it wasn’t related to the diabetes, it was part of the experience of being hospitalised.
After that my escape plan was intensified. I wanted to get out of the hospital and return to my company. I wanted to get away from the fear, from the disease, from the “diabetic” brand on my forehead and away from all the worst case scenarios. It was getting away from all of these things that were my world and my life. A life that I loved and knew and missed.
At last, I managed to convince the doctors to release me. It was several days sooner than what they were comfortable with but I couldn’t stay. I felt trapped and imprisoned – and they couldn’t force me to stay, even though they told me it was against all of their recommendations.
And so I went home, I packed my car and drove towards freedom. Down to my business, towards my happy life, far away from diabetes and diabetic Peter. It would turn out not to be the brightest moment of my life…
In the next chapter of my diabetes story, I’ll tell you about the everyday life that came after that. As you may know, you can’t just drive away from diabetes, no matter how fast you go. I’ll dive into the consequences it had to flee from everything while I was in the middle of it and how I was forced to embrace my new life with type 1 diabetes.
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Related posts: Motivation and Diabetes Self-Management