My Pancreas Strikes Again: I Got Diabetes From One Of My Meds (An Anomalously Negative Post For Me)
Monday October 27th 2014, 9:55 am
Filed under: Health (Not Cancer), Leukemia, Me, Myself, and Reid

I hate my body. I’ve hated it since I was five-years-old and started getting beat-up for being bigger than most the other kids. It started as a tall and a fat thing. Little guys would jump on my back and pull me down to the pavement to prove their worth. Other big guys would just sucker punch me and then kick the shit out of me because they thought it was funny.

I don’t hate my height anymore. That passed when the last little guy jumped on my back. But I’m fat; I’ve been fat since I had my tonsils and adenoids taken out at age four. It didn’t really show until I was five. I’d been a wispy little thing, destined to be thin and tall. But something changed all that.

I played soccer, I was on swim team, I played baseball, and I even played j.v. tennis very poorly. I’ve had personal trainers at gyms. The point is, I was active. And I ate well, too. My mom always fed me (and still does) healthy meals. I didn’t try a Twinkie until I was 21, far from home. But it didn’t matter.

I’m fat and I’ve never been able to solve that problem.

It’s always been something I’ve hated about myself, but, in the past few years it’s become something that’s scared the hell out of me. It’s always in the back of my mind, and I’ve even talked to doctors about it. I suffered major, major side effects from chemo and radiation that have left me seven years away from the life I want and wondering when, and if, I’ll ever have that life. The major problems I’m dealing with now are nervous system damage and brain damage, which have no sort of timeline to being “fixed.”

That’s where my fear of being so overweight comes in. What if I finally get better just in time to have a heart attack or a lifetime of diabetes? What the hell kind of victory is that?

I’ve been feeling sick all summer, into the fall. I blamed it on my ongoing withdrawal from a medication I never should have been put on. It turns out it may have been something more nefarious. I was put on a medication in the early springtime of this year that it seems has been chipping away at my pancreatic function. Specifically, its ability to create insulin. I’ve officially been diagnosed with diabetes, which explains a lot. Though whether it’s type-1 or type-2 is still in question.

Due to my young age and the sudden onset of the diabetes, some doctors think I have type-1 diabetes. The irony is that type-1 diabetes isn’t the kind of diabetes overweight people usually have to fear. Due to another major side effect during chemo, namely three life-or-death battles with pancreatitis, my pancreas is weak. The pancreas is responsible for creating insulin which breaks down carbohydrates, which I haven’t had a problem with until–as far as I know–very recently.

I also saw a doctor who thought that due to the severe damage to my pancreas caused by both my pancreatitis and this medication, I might have type-2 diabetes in which my body can’t process the insulin generated by my pancreas. This again, would be ironic, having nothing to do with my weight.

This will hopefully be a short lived side adventure, but there’s a distinct possibility that whatever kind of diabetes I’ve picked up, I may have for life. Every night, my parents have been giving me insulin shots in my stomach (I just can’t bring myself to stick a needle in my gut), and my diet has been very restricted, in an attempt to get my blood sugar down to a normal, safe level.

I normally try to put a positive spin on all of this, but I’ve never made that a requirement of myself or my blog. People are used to me writing about a good outlook mostly because I don’t publish my negative outlooks. I’ve been off of chemo now for the same amount of time that I was on it, three-and-half years, totaling seven years of fighting. I’m no longer fighting cancer; I’m fighting the effects of chemo. Chemo ended three-and-half years ago, but it feels like it won’t ever let me out of its grasp.

I’ve got diabetes with needles we have to stick in my stomach, I still have brain damage that causes me to experience tactile hallucinations at night, and I have a freaking hole in my ear that when I went outside yesterday without it covered, insects wouldn’t leave alone. I’m tired of fighting something that saved my life. I’m tired of fighting something that’s three-and-a-half years gone. I see all these people that have gone through chemo and are now living normal lives. I admit, 100%: I’m jealous. On the other hand, I certainly don’t forget my friends who didn’t make it through chemo.

That being said, I made it through chemotherapy and I’m still here. It was difficult and I felt justifiably victorious at having passed through such a difficult gauntlet. But these delayed-chemotherapy surprises–or “side adventures” as I’ve taken to calling them, as if my life were a game–just keep popping up, sometimes requiring years of dedicated work to fix, making it very hard to stay positive and keep my eye on the future.


8 Comments so far
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Hey Reid,
Just wanted to say thank you for stepping up and telling it like it is about what you have been through. And that it helps those of us, namely parents of cancer survivors have a better understanding of what our young adult children are going through but don’t know how to put it.

Our 23 year old son just finished chemo 2 weeks ago. We had a taste of the pancreatitis ordeal and the diabetes as a result back then. He doesn’t have it right now, but he is borderline. He also struggles with weight issues too. One thing is though is he was borderline before Leukemia.

As a mom, my heart goes out to you and your family. And you all will be in my prayers going forward. I’m sorry you have had such a difficult time.


Comment by Lorena 10.27.14 @ 2:33 pm

Hi Reid, Scott posted this on his FB timeline, and I’ve been reading some of the comments…but my thoughts are for you.
First, sharing your perspective on your blog is courageous and hopefully serves you as much as it’s meaningful to your readers. Secondly, letting readers through the window to learn – not only about your current health struggles – but the emotions it engenders is a worthy effort on a number of levels.
Writers, write.
You have my appreciation for your wisdom and willingness to share it. One of the things that I, in my older age, am struck by is that you’re “only” 27. 7 years of fighting for your health are behind you, and now part of your character, which has been greatly enriched, particularly by all the people you’ve come into contact with in the healthcare field, including other patients and their families. No one knows why you of all people have to suffer at this time of your life, there is simply no explanation. However, I’m fairly certain that you will have a wonderful life of happiness and achievements and humor which will enrich the lives of countless others. Keep the faith man!
Ken Toltz

Comment by ken toltz 10.29.14 @ 4:18 pm

This is a really good post. See you soon.

Comment by Dave 10.29.14 @ 8:25 pm

Hi Reid, Although I’ve only briefly met you once or twice you make a lasting impression. :) I wanted to thank you for posting what you did recently. Your courage to speak openly may help another do the same, and IMO, not only does your courage educate but also create more humanity in this world.
Thank you for being honest and also reminding us that illness has long reaching side effects in various areas. I hope it helps to express; I know that when I write and it reaches another, it makes me feel a little less lonely. I wish that for you, too, Reid.
Although I can’t understand all the challenges you face, I just want to let you know that I hear you.
Hang in there,
Karen Z

Comment by Karen 10.31.14 @ 5:58 pm

Hi Reid,
Lisa Soicher sent me your blog, and I am impressed with
your talented writing skills.
It “sucks” that you have had this unfortunate health path.
In saying that… your spirit has humor, intelligence and courage.
I have been involved in Mental Health and Kabbalah for years.
I am not a therapist but a certified Life Coach…
Your gifts are what define you, not your illness.
You are thinking what does she know?
I know….
Want to continue the conversation..
email me…

Comment by Robyn Loup 11.25.14 @ 10:51 am

just wanted to say that i miss / love you. you’re honestly one of the strongest people i know and i’m sorry this latest “side adventure” is hitting you so hard.

you’re amazing and i have no doubt that you will continue to be amazing and get through this. xoxo

Comment by Victoria 12.09.14 @ 7:44 am

Thank you all for incredible words of encouragement in both my health and writing. They all help give me strength in the various health battles I’m fighting.

Lorena, I specifically wanted to congratulate your son and your family on getting through chemo. It’s an intense ordeal even without pancreatitis or diabetes. Pancreatitis hit me three times during chemo–the first time, my pancreas actually hemorrhaged and tried, with some success, to digest my other organs. So I’m very familiar with the scourge of pancreatitis and I know that’s it’s just absolutely brutal.

Once again, congratulations to your son, you, and everyone else that was there with him for making it through an incredibly painful and difficult situation. I hope your son finds recovering from chemo to be much less of an ordeal.


Comment by Reid 12.09.14 @ 4:16 pm

Reid, You are one of my favorite people and I’m so glad you made it through chemo. I hope these “side adventures” loosen their grip on you soon. We miss you. Gavin loves listening to you read good night moon!

Comment by Emily 12.13.14 @ 2:22 pm

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