When I was a loud, sassy, and overly dramatic 8-year-old I received, what I thought, was a death sentence. I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes.
(Me, shortly before being diagnosed.)
I had been complaining to my mom for days about a headache. Then a stomach ache. Then, what could only be described as an everything ache. I didn’t want to move, I didn’t want to eat or drink anything. What had started as a slight annoyance was raging and I was miserable.
Thankfully, my mom listened. She took me to my doctor and everyone thought it was a bad migraine as I had started getting them in the previous weeks. I was asked for a urine sample then ushered to a room. The doctor came in and in the middle of a sentence, a nurse rushed in and interrupted. The doctor seemed annoyed at the interruption, but after the nurse whispered something to her she excused herself. After what seemed like hours, but was probably only a few minutes, my doctor returned, and just from the look on her face I thought I did something wrong. Had I peed in the cup wrong? Did I break something in the restroom?
(During my bachelorette party, the white device surrounded by black tape is my insulin pump)
Taking a deep breath my doctor looked up from her clipboard and asked my mom if we were able to make it to Driscoll Children’s Hospital. My mom let her know we would and was trying to get more information, but the doctor cut her off and let her know we needed to leave now or she was going to call an ambulance to take me.
I don’t remember the drive or much about leaving the doctor’s office. All I remember is the nurse handing my mom some form and the sympathetic look on her face as we left the office. When we arrived at the hospital there were people waiting for us. I was put into a wheelchair and taken into the emergency room. Not knowing what was going on I didn’t understand why we were going to the emergency room, I just had a migraine. Was there an emergency migraine that warranted the wheelchair? It didn’t make sense.
(Wedding picture, pump showing through the sleeve on my left arm.)
Once in the emergency room, a nurse came to poke my finger to check something. Then, another nurse came. Then another. Finally, their supervisor came did the same poke strip combo and looked shocked. She left and returned to draw some blood and informed my mom that my blood sugar was too high for the machine to pick it up. The next moments have since faded from my memory, but all I can recall is pain. Pokes, vomit, pain.
I was eventually taken to the ICU. My whole time there is nothing more than what can be described as a fever dream. I just remember moments. My mom on the phone with my grandma. One of my friend’s mom and grandma calling to check on me. A baby in a crib near me was an escape artist and would wait for the nurses to be distracted before he would try to climb out.
(Maternity picture, forgot what dress I was going to wear and my pump can be seen on my arm.)
Once my sugars were somewhat better I was moved to a regular room. From here doctors, students, nurses, and teachers were in and out of the room. I don’t remember my mom much from this time other than the moments when I was eating or playing games with her. The medical professionals fill most of my memories from this time. Finally, the word Diabetes was said to me. I’m sure my mom had been told and was getting lessons on medication and management while I was still trying to be controlled.
The first time a nurse and doctor came into my room with a vial of insulin and syringe I lost it. They wanted to show me how to draw up insulin and inject myself and I was not having anything to do with it. I had a debilitating fear of needles in 2003 and there was no way I was going to poke myself. After a lifetime of tears and screaming the nurse finally gave me the shot. I eventually calmed down enough to draw and try myself.
(After I had my son, again, insulin pump needing to have attention and be seen.)
The rest of my initial stay was a blur of nutrition classes, learning what insulin was and why it was important, what diabetes was, and how food affects my body.
Since my diagnosis in 2003 a lot has changed. I now use an insulin pump- literally started from the bottom with injections then insulin pens- my A1C is 5.5, I’m married, and I have a little boy. It has not been easy, but at the end of the day, growth is growth.
Love on your diabetics a little harder, they have a lot of sweetness to give!
For More Type 1 Diabetes posts from our community of mommas take a look here!