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.

Jen & Alex Engagement Session | Rising Sun MD Engagement Photographer

Bling, bling! She got the ring! Congratulations to my childhood friend, Jen, and her husband to be, Alex! I seriously cannot get enough of these two. They are so silly, adorable, fun and most importantly IN LOVE!

     Jen & Alex's story was so sweet, I could have fainted. Jen is a pediatric nurse in the ER of one of our local hospitals. Alex, an EMT, brought a patient in and there are two versions of what happened. When I learned they met when he brought in a patient, I asked "So that was it for you then?" Alex shook his head yes, with a big smile. Jen shook her head no, with a bigger smile. He looked at her and joked "Well, I had to chase her." So I'm guessing it took some convincing, but alas... they fell in love! Alex had me laughing the entire time and he looked so handsome in his button up tiffany blue shirt. And I could not stop admiring Jen's glowing smile and beautiful white lace dress from Macy's! She is going to make one spectacular bride.

     Jen and I grew up in the same neighborhood when we were kids. She lived about 8 or 9 houses down, and a skip across the road. We shared many friends and although we were never extremely close, she was always so kind and loving to me... and everyone else she met. Her little sister will soon be opening up an amazing small restaurant called "Spork" in Elkton, MD sometime this summer. It's so fun to see what your friends do when they grow up! I really can't imagine Jen being anything else but a nurse though... she really is kind, caring, compassionate and I'm sure all of the children she helps fall in love with her.

     Jen & Alex's wedding colors are Tiffany Blue and Purple, surely a beautiful combination for their big day! June 3rd 2017 is going to come up so very quickly for them and I know they'll live happily ever after as Mr. & Mrs. Wibirt! I hope you enjoy their images, and there are a few more special ones below to view as well. Congratulations to the future Mr. & Mrs... happy planning!

 

 

Amaya & Family

     Behind this little smile is one big story. This is Amaya. She is a little petite and extra sweet! In May she will be turning two years old, and not long around then.... she will be having major brain surgery.

Amaya, 21 months old

Amaya, 21 months old

     When Amaya was about two months old, her parents would notice she would stop breathing and have strange movements when she would wake or fall asleep. After some time, they came to find out she was actually having seizures that would cause her to stop breathing.... every parent's worst nightmare. She was ultimately diagnosed with epilepsy. I can't imagine the fright dealing with one of my children not breathing, but for it to be a regular thing with seizures? Her parents are so strong. The only thing they can do while she isn't breathing is to rub her chest to help remind her body to breathe, and keep medicine close at hand that will also help if she continues not to breathe.

     As it turns out, there is a "cure" for these seizures, but it requires a surgery.... in my book or anyone else's, major surgery. Amaya will have to have the entire right side of her brain removed to prohibit these reoccuring seizures. Until talking with this family, I did not even know such a surgery existed and it's something I think about every day.

     Amaya has a big sister named Aubrey, her mommy Tia, and her daddy Matt. Tia and I have known each other since Kindergarten, and while we were never super close friends... she was always very kind in school and we would chat from time to time. About a week ago, Matt contacted me letting me know about the brain surgery and asked how to book a session with me before Amaya has to lose her beautiful head of hair. It was no big decision that we had to get them in as soon as possible before the big surgery, which should be happening within the next few months... right around the time Amaya turns two. Both of her parents are incredibly hard workers. Tia is actually a nurse at A.I. Dupont... a hospital that I absolutely adore that saved my own brother's life when he was a baby.

     I have so much respect for any parent going through the illness, disability or surgery of a child. As you can imagine their medical bills are already extremely major and this surgery is going to be scary enough with their child going through all of this on top of the cost. Amaya's surgery date has yet to be decided, but they should know soon and it will be in Ohio. I have put the link for the Go Fund Me account below, and truly hope you'll consider donating to help this family out. It really would be an incredible blessing to have even half of this surgery taken care of.

Donate and receive updates here: https://www.gofundme.com/amayamccoy

     In addition, our friends over at My Baby's Heartbeat Bear have generously offered to donate a beautiful heartbeat animal to this precious family. A heartbeat animal will be chosen, and within it a small recorder that will hold the sound of Amaya's heartbeat. I have a few, and they are the most treasured items I own. Please learn more about them at http://mybabysheartbeatbear.com/ and give them a like on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/mybabysheartbeatbear 

Thank you so much for taking the time to read, send healing thoughts and prayers their way, feel free to share, look on my website or fan page for an update (with her parents' permission) after Amaya's surgery and enjoy a few more sneak peeks from their session! Thank you!