Back then, we didn’t have Google or WebMD to look up what symptoms meant. Back then, I had the Baby-Sitters Club.
Specifically, I had Stacey from the Baby-Sitters Club.
Stacey was a main character in the series (my favorite series growing up as a kid who LOVED books), and she had type 1 diabetes. Stacey was my version of WebMD back in 1993– one book focused more on her, and the author described her symptoms.
I remember it was a sunny day in the spring, and I was 9 years old. My mom and I had just gotten in the car to run errands. The entire morning, I had been thinking about what I read. I turned to my mom and said, “Ma, I think I have diabetes.”
She did what any mom would do when your child says something like that: she looked at me, kind of squinted, and said, “Don’t say such things!”
I remember thinking, what’s the big deal? Stacey has it, and she’s fine. Never mind the fact that Stacey was a completely fictional character.
I think my blurted-out thought caused my mom to pay attention more closely, because about a month later, the official diagnosis came in: type 1 diabetes. I had a doctor’s appointment early in the morning– scheduled because I was losing weight, not eating much, and drinking and peeing like a racehorse. Going up and down the aisles at the grocery store sounded something like, “Ma, I have to use the bathroom. I’m thirsty now. I have to pee again. Thirsty again!” Drink, bathroom, drink, bathroom, drink, bathroom. It was my pediatrician who saw what was going on that morning, ordered the blood tests, and by lunchtime, I had orders to check in at Children’s Hospital in San Diego.
When the doctor called my dad with the news, I cried because I saw how devastated my dad was and I heard how distraught my mom was at work. I wasn’t thinking of myself; I didn’t see the long road ahead of multiple daily injections, fingersticks, and possible complications. Or maybe it was then that I chose to accept it.
The next three days are forever burned in my memory. I learned that my blood sugar upon diagnosis was 327, which is normally high but fairly low for that time– I’ve known people diagnosed in the 600s, 900s, even the 1000s. I learned how to give insulin shots to oranges, and then eventually gave them to myself. Carb counting, testing four times a day, LIVING with this lifelong disease…it was a lot to take in, but the staff at Children’s Hospital were awesome and helped us through it all.
Eventually, I finished elementary and middle school, started high school, moved to another country, started college, had boyfriends, traveled the world, and got married…all with diabetes. This is me at my first communion, a week or two before diagnosis:
Today, I celebrate 19 years with type 1 diabetes. (Side note: I take some sort of offense when the media portrays us as “suffering from” or “struggling with” diabetes. Do I look like I’m suffering to you? Party rockin’ with diabetes, more like. Gotta look for the silver lining ;)) I won’t sugar coat it (har har)…there are some days I just want to throw my insulin pump out the window, or not get out of the warm bed to treat a low. But other days, it’s become such a part of me that it’s second nature. To me, it’s a celebration of 19 years of kicking ass and taking names…and having a cake pop or two.
(I originally posted this image last year, on my 18th dia-versary. I made the mistake of not watermarking it, and it’s been featured on Kerri’s blog, floating around on Pinterest, and making its rounds on the general interwebz.)