The day I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes - was the day that changed my life forever.
I was 12 years old at the time—just a few months away from my thirteenth birthday. It was during Christmas break from school. A few days had passed, and I started feeling very weak, lethargic, thirsty, and I lost a lot of weight. All I wanted to do was rest. I went to my mother and told her how ill I was feeling. She didn’t think too much of it at first. I was commonly sick with viruses that go around, which we happened to be in the middle of flu season. But this wasn’t the flu—no, the symptoms were worsening and something felt much different. A few more days had gone on, and my mother finally noticed that I wasn’t getting better. I looked almost as terrible as I felt at the time.
My mother took me to the closest hospital to get examined. The doctors ran several tests, which felt like it took hours. At this very moment, I just wanted to feel better. I had no idea that my world was about to change forever. The doctor then came in and gave my mother and I a preliminary diagnosis, that the tests are showing “diabetes”. “Diabetes! What’s that?”. Like most people, especially at my age, I wasn’t aware of what diabetes was. I had no idea what was going on. I then had to be transported to an All Children’s Hospital for further evaluation and treatment for a blood sugar above 900!
When transported, the doctor’s that began treating me, were frantically surprised that I wasn’t in a diabetic coma for hyperglycemia and DKA. It’s shocking that I was still able to speak or “function”. I remember thinking the days prior and how I was unaware at the time that my pancreas had failed me. I was poked and prodded at for an IV insertion. They couldn’t find a vein (of course), and eventually had to use my hand. All during this, I was tired and confused. I remember just feeling the urge to sleep, not wanting to open my eyes. This feeling is so hard to describe—I had felt like something had taken control over my body.
It was all starting to get real, as I was officially diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes from the All Children’s physicians. I remember that my mother was in shock and trying to hold it emotionally together for my sake. It was just me and her in the emergency room. I thought— well, maybe everything is fine. “How terrible can it really be? “Type 1 Diabetes? “What’s Type 1?” Maybe it’s the good kind, I thought.
I don’t recall feeling any emotion at the time towards the news. I think it was really hard for me to grasp the seriousness of what was going on. It just wasn’t processing quite yet. The only thing that stood out to me was the reaction of my mother crying. That’s what really let me know that something was not right.
It quickly became an eye opener when receiving the first needle given to me, from the nurses. I was told that I was going to have to give myself injections several times a day. I honestly didn’t know how I was going to do this. I couldn’t even look at a needle without squirming. I remember asking my mother, “how long do I have to do this for?” The reply I received was “for the rest of your life.” Those are words that were hard to swallow and still live vividly in my mind. I knew I didn’t want to do this, but I didn’t have a choice in the matter.
I watched plenty of videos from the hospital that gave a quick 101 on what Type 1 Diabetes was all about. How it happens and the treatment for it. “But why?” I kept asking. “Why me?” That question never got answered for me. I don’t think anyone could give me the answer I was looking for. Leaving the hospital, I left as a whole new person. With insulin, syringes, blood sugar meter, and snacks in hand.
I left as this person I didn’t even know yet. The person it would take me years to find. How this disease would now shape me into the person I will become. I didn’t know the severity of the condition I was now diagnosed with. Or how I would be navigating my way through life with insulin. Moving mountains that I never thought I would have to move. The day I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes …changed me forever.
Little did I know this journey had only begun…
Type 1 diabetes signs and symptoms can come on quickly and may include:
- Increased thirst
- Frequent urination
- Extreme hunger
- Unintended weight loss
- Irritability and other mood changes
- Fatigue and weakness
- Blurred vision