Rosie's True Story
I received “Last Rights” at 41, and now a year later, I am alive to tell this story. It started simply by joking around with my dad (a type 2 diabetic) telling me I drank to much soda and he was going to prick my finger to test my blood glucose level.I thought it was all a joke. But, from that day on my life changed forever. I was diagnosed originally, as type 2, but medication, diet, exercise, did nothing to get my numbers under control. Three months later, my 40th birthday, I was diagnosed as type1diabetic shooting massive amounts of insulin in an effort to control wildly swinging BG numbers. Eighteen months later, I was carried into the emergency room and spent the next 23 days hospitalized (the first 10 days in a coma). This is where my life ended and began again. How could this happen?
Because at that time,I had felt as though my life was just beginning. I was happy, in great shape, divorced, dating a great man (Tim) with three children that I love. I had the loving support of my family, and all my friends in my small town of Bayville, N.Y.. What else could anyone want? I never considered that I would have to fight for my life while questioning my beliefs and thoughts. What do you believe? It might not be exactly what you think you know.First there is reality and then there is the thoughts of the unknown. The unknown is what the doctors and I experienced. The reality is that I was carried into the hospital by Tim who found me semi conscious and babbling incoherently lying on the.cold tile floor of my shower. He shot me with insulin and brought me to the Emergency room where he fought with the doctors who refused to believe I was taking my insulin regularly and referred to me as “irresponsible”. I was belligerent, screaming for water, nasty and highly aggressive to everyone around me. This behavior could not be further from my usual personality. They wanted to restrain me but my sister jumped on my arms to hold me down so that would not happen. Soon she lost that battle and I was restrained. My parents were called to tell them I was in critical condition and for them to fly home from Florida because decisions needed to be made on my life or my death. No parent should have to feel this much pain or grief.
In addition, medically, I was hypothermic, my core body temp was only 90 degrees, blood ph level 6.9 and my ha1c 12.5. I suffered from DKA, aspirated pneumonia and went into septic shock. This caused kidney failure, lung failure, heart failure and my stomach lining was being destroyed. I was on dialysis, had a possible heart attack and was on life support. Can you believe all that happened at once? I couldn’t. The doctors called it “The Perfect Storm”. My body was shutting down faster than a crashing computer.
On my third day, reality set in when a family friend brought in a priest from Bayville to administer “Last Rights”. I was rapidly speeding towards death. The Priest said to her “She is not alone. There are angels and people with her.” She never questioned this. Would you have? By that night, all the alarms at my bedside went off. I was crashing again. My dad asked the doctor if he needed to start calling people to say goodbye. The doctor told him to give him a little more time but it might be a good idea. My dad never made any calls and that doctor never gave up until I was stable in the coma. Would you have made those “necessary” calls or would you have just believed as my father did?
While the struggles continued for the doctors, my reality was completely different. I don’t remember ever going into the hospital. All of this was told to me almost as a strange unbelievable story. You see I experienced the unknown dream world of a coma. I was paralyzed in all the dreams which ranged from halloween, strange cars, restaurants, adventures and cabins in the wilderness. The most frightening visual dreams were of incredibly vivid images of demons, devils, gargoyles, poison and death.The scariest horror movies you can imagine with you in it. These images conflicted with the most peaceful effects of a warm cabin, beautiful animals, food... but most of all friends with laughter and love. Everything here was real to me, I could describe graphically every image, place, and adventure. Most importantly I could tell you who visited me from my dreams. Can someone in a coma hear and see? Is being comatose in some way its own reality? It left me questioning reality. I know that I felt, pain, suffering, love and laughter. If emotions are felt, then is it real?
The most important dream I had involved a safe place, a log cabin, with a stone fireplace, two handmade rocking chairs, big kitchen and the cutest bear cub. My family and Tim were always there eating, laughing,and watching the cub roll around in the corner. A peaceful man dressed in jeans and a flannel shirt with a beard was always there, I had never seen him before but he brought me comfort.We sat together and never said a word. Until one day I was no longer paralyzed and sat with him on the rocking chairs. He said “it’s time to wake up, you will be ok now, but I must go”.
Before I could ask him anything my eyes opened and he was gone.That comfort changed when I found my hands restrained, tubes coming from my mouth, wires and machines attached all over me. My family and Tim at my side with tears in their eyes, but smiles and relief on there faces. I was scared, confused, frustrated, but most of all afraid to go back to sleep. I thought I would never wake up again. I could not speak, move, or even begin to comprehend all of these events.
On day 12, wires, hoses, tubes and machines were removed. I no longer needed dialysis. Things were looking up until a new reality began, when I was handed a walker. I was 41 and did not have the strength to get my body out of bed without assistance. I never felt so small, old, weak, and embarrassed. One of the most emotional moments was when I looked in the mirror for the first time. The tears began to flow down my face as I viewed myself. There were scars from the tubing, all my muscles where down to my ankles, and thats only what I had left because I lost over 23 pounds. I looked like an old fragile women, breakable and ghostly pale. It was impossible to believe that reflection was me. How emotional would you get if you saw your reflection as old? But contemplation was shortened, when a friend came in to visit late that night. He pointed out how many people I had touched in my life, how much I was loved and would have been missed. The conversation took me to a new level and affected me deeply. I really was getting a second chance at life.
Now, this was my time to prove to everyone that I was going to live. I fought everyday, walking down the hallway with my walker saying “watch out road runner coming through”, making the nurses and the doctors laugh and smile. I needed them to know, what they did made a difference. My body assisted with the answers by going from 70bg(normal) to 46bg and then to over 400 bg in an hour. My disease had once again decided to wreak havoc with my blood sugar levels, I felt some vindication that it had happened under 24 hour doctor’s care. They finally believed me and I was diagnosed as a Type 1 Brittle Diabetic. Why my body does this is still unknown but there is a cause for brittleness and I will find it. I know I will always be a type 1 diabetic but maybe I don’t have to seesaw. Just when the answers started coming another set back happened. I could not breath even with the oxygen tank.The pain was intense, sharp and it felt like I was drowning. Within minutes x-rays were done and doctors came in to explain they needed to tap my lung which filled with fluid. Next thing I know a long needle went though my back and they pulled a liter of fluid out. More of the unknown, A doctor asked me “which came first the chicken or the egg?” That is what we are trying to figure out with you. My answer was “It depends on what you believe.”
Finally on day 23, I was allowed to leave, I even passed a stress test. Nobody could believe it. I just wanted to go home, eat, and sleep in my own bed. While I was packing a nun came in to say good bye and handed me a booklet with the image of father Padre Pio. She said “He is the patron saint for the hospital and his statue is in the chapel. He has healing powers and believes in the power of the human spirit.” I began to scream saying “that’s Him, Thats the man in the rocking Chair.”Everyone looked at me knowing from then on that I was never truly alone in my fight. An unbelievable miracle happened with a Saint and a changed believer. Do you believe in miracles? Who saved me, the doctors, the miracle, the dreams, was it the love of my friends, and family, or my guardian angel Tim? Why was I saved? Maybe I’m alive to tell this story and to prevent one child from dying or feeling alone in this fight.
I am a brittle type 1 diabetic. It is not something I asked for, or caused, or inherited. Just something that happened. It’s not something I can get rid of or make disappear. It is however something I must live with forever. There’s no rhyme or reason and there is NO CURE for type1. But there is a cure for brittleness: the uncontrolled, unpredictable, unstable shifting in BG levels. Can you imagine all I want is to be a normal type 1 diabetic. Remember, type1 diabetes can kill. Brittle type1 diabetes just kills faster. This is my reality.
“This disease has it’s limitations but it does not limit us.”