Thursday, July 16, 2009

18 years with diabetes

I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes 18 years ago today. I was 10 years old and it was the summer before 5th grade. My family had just been to Six Flags in Atlanta, and my parents said that every single time I passed a lemonade stand I would beg them for more lemonade. I remember earlier that summer making an entire pitcher of Crystal Light while my parents were at work during the day, and drinking the whole thing by the time they got home. I remember passing a vending machine while I was at the mall with my mom and begging her to let me get a drink (I know this is a weird thing to remember, but I guess it shows how desperately thirsty I really was). Type 1 diabetes (which is vastly different than Type 2 - typically what overweight adults get) is usually diagnosed in children, and the symptoms are weight loss and increased thirst. I had gotten extremely skinny that summer and just looked like skin and bones. At first my mom thought maybe I was just going through a weird growth spurt, but then she started to get a little concerned when she saw how weak I was. She said I could barely walk up the stairs to my room.

So on July 16, 1991, she took me to the doctor, thinking maybe I had an iron deficiency. The doctor took one look at me and knew right away. After a blood test, he explained that I had diabetes and I needed to go to the hospital. I wasn't scared...the only thing I knew about diabetes was that Stacy had it in The Babysitter's Club, and she seemed pretty cool. On the way to the hospital we stopped at my house to pack a few things, and I remember my dad coming home from work and coming up to my room and giving me a big hug. That was the first time I got scared.

I had no idea at the time how my life would be changed from that point forward. At the age of 10, I learned how to prick my finger to get blood 4 times a day, to give myself shot of insulin twice a day, and to be on a very detailed and specific diet that included no sugar. A lot of that has changed over the years...instead of shots I now have an insulin pump, which continuously gives me insulin 24 hours a day. And I still have to count every carbohydrate I eat, but my diet is not as detailed and I am allowed sugar.

Six months later we were celebrating Christmas at my grandmother's house and noticed my cousin Sarah had similar symptoms as I had had. We tested her blood sugar with my machine and sure enough, it was high. She spent Christmas in the hospital that year.

Wondering who else has Type 1? Halle Berry, Sharon Stone, Mary Tyler Moore, Jean Smart, Elliott Yamin, Bret Michaels, the lead singer of Jonas Brothers, and Randy Alcorn.

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Mecall said...[Reply to comment]

Wow, it's neat to hear your story! Thanks for sharing it. And, I loved The Babysitters Club too, by the way!!

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