A year ago today, I left work early to visit Cedars Sinai Urgent Care. It was a Friday afternoon and I was about to leave for a weeklong business trip to New York. I didn’t feel awful, but I’d had a nagging pain in the lower left side of my abdomen that I thought I should get checked out. I kept thinking to myself it was probably nothing, but had a strong feeling that I should see a doctor.
The appointment started with routine questions and lab work. A female doctor was pulled in to give me a quick exam and determined I likely had an ovarian cyst that was causing the pain in my side. Thinking the mystery was solved, I was surprised when the first doctor walked back in and told me I needed to do more blood work.
He said there was a high level of glucose in my urine sample. The nurse pricked my finger for a reading and showed the result to the doctor. They gave each other a look and begin questioning me on what I had eaten for lunch. I remember that I’d enjoyed a stir-fried chicken and vegetable dish with a little brown rice that I’d made the night before. They asked if I’d been feeling rundown or more hungry or thirsty than usual. I said I didn’t know…I often felt hungry, thirsty and rundown.
Then the nurse took more blood for a lab test that I was told would provide a three-month average of my blood glucose. After about half an hour, she pricked my finger again. This time I saw it was a little over 300. “It’s coming down a little,” she said to the doctor. I asked what was normal and was shocked to hear 70-120. I remember wondering what the heck was wrong with me and why the doctor and nurse were acting so concerned.
The doctor left to make a phone call and came back a few minutes later with a worried look on his face. “Katherine, I am so sorry to tell you this, but it looks like you may have diabetes,” he told me. I alternated between laughing and crying as he explained blood glucose to me and told me I needed to meet with my primary care physician as soon as possible. Stubbornly, I told him I was getting on a plane to New York in 36 hours and couldn’t be back in LA for a week. After more urging, I finally conceded to coming home a couple of days early to see a doctor. Unfortunately, my primary care physician was out of the country, so I’d be meeting with another doctor in her office.
The doctor wrote me a long list of scary symptoms to watch out for as I traveled and urged me to find the nearest emergency room to my hotel in New York. He also wrote me a prescription for Metformin, which he told me to hold onto until he called the next day with my lab results. I continued to alternate between laughing and crying as the doctor tried to offer comforting words.
I walked out of the clinic almost three hours later in complete shock, not believing I had diabetes. I remember calling first my boyfriend (who was out of town for the weekend), then my parents (who live 1,500 miles away), crying as I recounted the appointment. I kept thinking the entire thing had to be a big mistake.