Skinny & Sugary {Your Photographer's Journey to Wellness with Type 1 Diabetes}

 I'm going to tryyyyy to keep it brief, but I gotta keep it real with something I've never talked about. No one knows what I'm about to tell you, but I hope this reaches Diabetics across this country. I hope this wakes up friends & family of Diabetics to get their loved one help if this happens to them. This is so very important if you are the parent, friend or family member to someone who has Type 1 Diabetes. No.... really... this is crucial. But let's start with why I'm posting this today & some back story. If you know my story, feel free to skip to the end. 

      Today is my "happy alive day" ♡ I am Type 1 Diabetic & completely insulin dependant...and three years ago, my decisions to not take care of myself {combined with a stomach bug and an unknown pregnancy} almost took my life.

     In the wee hours of January 23rd of 2015, my husband drove me to the ER of our local hospital for vomiting, writhing head to toe pain, and uncontrollable blood sugars. We assumed it was the stomach bug our 15 month old son had given me. The difference was the pain was unimaginable and went all of the way through my body, into my bones and into my joints. My brain even hurt. I had no idea, but I was in Diabetic Ketoacidosis, which in many cases is fatal.... and I wasn't in a good place guys. I could have had a stroke, I could have gone into a coma, I could have just died. My sugars were  500 -600 mg/dl. Normal blood glucose levels should fall between 80 - 130 mg/dl. I was quickly admitted as an ICU patient for close monitoring, and of course we all know they discovered a surprise pregnancy in the ER by my favorite nurse ever while awaiting a room in ICU.... which led to my daughter, EllieSaurus-Rex . But there's more behind how I got that way. 

ICU January 23rd 2015.

ICU January 23rd 2015.

  

     It's true. Pregnancy, the flu, a stomach bug and a number of other things combined with extended high blood sugars can send you into DKA {Diabetic Ketoacidosis}. And because of my stomach bug, I hadn't cared for my sugars for 24 hours due to fear of low blood sugar. But what everyone didn't know was that I had only recently began caring for my sugars again after MONTHS of not giving myself insulin or even counting the carbs I was eating. Why? I'll get to that... it's crucial to my story, in fact. But I was also just ignorant. I was only diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes in the spring of 2013. We don't know how I got it, and we don't know why. So I had no idea how serious T1 Diabetes was or was DKA was. Regardless, the two weeks leading up to my hospital stay {January 2015} were pretty normal. My husband and I had just decided we wanted to try for baby #2, while we were unknowingly already pregnant. We had to take medicine to get pregnant with our son, so we assumed it wasn't possible on our own. {LOL!} My sugars were a tight between 60 - 120 mg/dl in preparation for a 2nd healthy pregnancy. I was testing my sugars 7 times a day and giving myself insulin injections 15 minutes before meals. I had even gained a few pounds because I was actually taking care of myself. Everything was on target and I was becoming healthy again. But it was too late... my A1C hemoglobin was 14! {5.5 - 6 is normal, while 7 is considered bad}. Any virus or illness could have sent me over... and eventually, it did. 

     You're probably wondering.... why weren't you just doing your insulin & taking care of yourself those months prior??? Of course, I had a list of many excuses as to why. I was taking care of a toddler. I was running a business. I was trying to keep a social life. I have a husband. But the real reason was something you don't expect.... I had an eating disorder. How? I'll explain.

     High glucose levels {sugar levels for you non-diabetics} cannot be processed for long periods of time by your body. Once your body begins to expel the glucose through urine, you have something called hyperglycemia. Hyperglycemia is caused by high blood sugars. It is uncontrollable thirst/hunger, high blood glucose levels, frequent urination, etc. When this happens, your body essentially eats itself alive. It cannot create fat stores and eats into any fat you already have, causing you to lose weight at a rapid rate. Normal, non-diabetic people have bodies that turn sugar into fat. My body cannot do that unless I take insulin, so off the fat came. Too good to be true? YES! I was skinny, but I was dying... withering away at a 116 lbs. My heaviest {not pregnant} was 170 lbs. That's a lot of weight loss. And here are some images of what that looks like... notice the lack of muscle tone, and gaunt, skinny appearance. 

Showing off my "Weight loss", despite the fact I had an eating disorder. I was eating healthy at this point {June 2014}, but was not medicating with insulin. 164 lbs on the left, and 124 lbs on the right.

Showing off my "Weight loss", despite the fact I had an eating disorder. I was eating healthy at this point {June 2014}, but was not medicating with insulin. 164 lbs on the left, and 124 lbs on the right.

My best friend's wedding October 2014. 120 lbs. 

My best friend's wedding October 2014. 120 lbs. 

Sick & dying. Me at 116 lbs. Just two weeks prior to being admitted for DKA.

Sick & dying. Me at 116 lbs. Just two weeks prior to being admitted for DKA.

          Unfortunately, my doctors didn't see a problem. They would have me into their office, weigh me, and then congratulate me on my weight loss. I would never get a suspicious side eye or never an inquiry as to how the weight was really coming off. "Just salads and exercise!" I'd say. That was a lie. I would also never receive an A1C until I was pregnant, so I just lied and said things were great. More praises from my team for my new size 4 ass and out the door I'd go. . No one saw I was dying. No one saw I was peeing every 20 minutes and vomiting in restaurant bathrooms after a purposeful, sugary margarita. No one knew what was going on. No one saw I had an eating disorder. It still feels weird saying that, but it is what it is. I was manipulating my Disease to ensure weight loss. I was purposefully eating high carb, high sugar food to send my body into Hyperglycemia, which in turn made me skinny. This is a type of eating disorder is known as Diabulimia. And many doctors overlook this. Why? I actually have no idea. I was between three doctors, and no one noticed it. I didn't want them to, but I now wish they had. I'd leave my doctors office after a huge "Congrats on your weight loss!" from the staff, drive across the street to eat burger king to get the sugars way up and another pound would fall off the next 24 hours. That's how it works. You eat all of the sugar & carbs your body can stand and forgo your insulin. In return, your high glucose cannot be processed so your body expels the extra sugar and fat stores through urination. And boom. You lose weight. Sometimes I would take just enough insulin to pull me out of the daze I was falling into so I could function. I looked like I was on drugs and was always so tired. One evening I told my friend Kassandra "I feel like I'm dying". I think she's the only person I ever told any concerns to about my condition. She of course encouraged that I see a doctor, and I didn't listen.

     I lost the weight. Everyone was happy, so I was happy. And because in today's world, skinny = healthy, that was the end of that story. But knowing I couldn't do this during a pregnancy, I began taking care of myself when it was already too late. My eating disorder and hyperglycemia sent me into DKA, and the rest is history.

     Do I still have this eating disorder? Yes. I will always have it. Do I succeed in keeping it tamed every single day? Nope. But I do good 95% of the time and I'm alive. My body is still so wrecked from me not caring for myself that I can't go more than 4 hours without insulin or I get nauseous. More importantly, my hospital stay woke me up. I never want to see the looks on my Aunt's faces again as they visited me in the recovery unit. I woke up to an Aunt crying, while holding my hand. I had to tell my parents I was in there because of long term failure to take care of myself, in combination with a bug and pregnancy. Telling them about the pregnancy was actually super fun and I should have recorded it! I now have support groups online that helped me diagnose my disorder and gain confidence to live my life with Diabetes. It no longer rules my life, thanks to my pump... which gives me a continuous hourly rate of insulin, and making giving myself insulin for meals a breeze. I am very grateful for the 2nd chance I got and I hope this brings awareness to the complications Diabetes can have on someone's life... from obesity, to diabulimia, to depression, to anxiety, etc. 

     Do you have Type 1 Diabetes and feel alone? Call me. Text me. Email me. My number is 443-907-0683. My personal email is kyliewingert@gmail.com My kids are crazy and loud, but my couch is super comfy & I always have coffee and diet soda. You're not alone and you don't have to go through it alone, or even worse... die because you weren't truly being seen. If you made it here, THANK YOU so much for reading & learning more about my disease! 

Me & My Insulin Pump make the best of friends <3 I am a slightly chubby 156 lbs, but healthy thanks to this amazing invention! 

Me & My Insulin Pump make the best of friends <3 I am a slightly chubby 156 lbs, but healthy thanks to this amazing invention! 

Celebrating life with our first family portrait session with the talented Jessica Fenfert Photography!&nbsp;

Celebrating life with our first family portrait session with the talented Jessica Fenfert Photography! 

Oue babies checking out the chicken coop. Ellie was two months shy of two &amp; Mason was two months shy of four.

Oue babies checking out the chicken coop. Ellie was two months shy of two & Mason was two months shy of four.

To Our Ellie Girl

To Our Ellie Girl

"Rest your head next to my heart, never to part, baby of mine"      

     Oh, little girl. I can't begin. I don't know where to. The love I have for you breaks me down every time, and it's extra magnified on this big special day that is your first birthday. Your existence has changed my life, our whole world. You made me the mother of a daughter, you taught me more patience than I could ever learn and aside from your big brother have never felt a love so strong. My darling daughter, I hope you grow to be strong, wise, loving and kind to every person you meet. I hope you grow to know who you are and never lose sight of it. I hope you remember that no matter who you are, who you choose to love or what you look like we will always be your biggest fans. I hope you remember that no matter how much your big brother is annoyed by you, he begs me for another sister just because he adores you so much.  And above all, I hope you know how much Mommy and Daddy love you. We love your hair and the fact we've had to brush it every time you've taken a bath, since the time you were about 4 months old. We love your mischievous laugh. We love your beautiful tan skin that glows from the top of your head to the tips of your toes. We love that you will only dance to Beyonce. Your chunky little thighs are adorable and we've eaten your cheeks on a daily basis since the day you arrived. And your smile? It compels strangers to walk over to you to say hello wherever we are. You are our miracle. The daughter I never thought I'd have. The day I almost lost my life to my Diabetes was the day we found out we were expecting you, and because you existed you saved my life. I'll always take care of myself so I can be you and Mason's mom. My heart often aches for your snuggles when we're apart and the smell of your hair is like a drug... and to ever be apart from that is unimaginable. Everything that makes you Ellie, our chunky girl, is what we want to forever hold on to. We love you so very much, little girl. <3 Happy first birthday Elizabeth Mae! 

    To everyone who helped us get by and survive this first year, we hope you know who you are and how much you are loved by us! Ellie will always be surrounded by so much love thanks to every single person who made even 5 minutes of our day more manageable. A special thanks to Sugarloaf Photography & Silver Pixels Photography for capturing our little girl's first days and moments leading up to her birthday. And to a very special little boy, the son of a friend, who should be celebrating his own first birthday soon, but went to live with Jesus... I will never ever celebrate our children's close birthdays without you in our heart. Your life will always be celebrated in our home!

 Love you all <3