In 1975, I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes after months of my Mom telling our family doctor something was really wrong.
He insisted it was a cold & I would recover in time.
Finally, after several months of symptoms such as wetting the bed at night (after having been toilet trained for years), having to pee before we got to the end of the driveway for a walk, weight loss (my Mom says my ribs stuck out, she thought when she picked me up she would break them), extreme thirst & sitting on the toilet crying because it burned so bad when I peed, my Mom felt relieved as she thought she knew what was wrong…. I had a bladder infection.
After the refusal of our family Doctor to see me anymore and upon the firm insistence of my parents, I was finally seen by another Doctor. When they dipped my urine for an infection, instead, they found large amounts of ketones. I was rushed to the hospital. I was also diagnosed with Whooping Cough. I was hospitalized for 10 days. Back then my Mom couldn’t stay with me overnight. I still remember that stay. It was very traumatic. I missed my Mom so much. I hated when she left each night.
I was just weeks shy of my 6th Birthday & weighed a mere 31 lbs (14 kg). I was started on 1 injection in the morning of Lente & Toronto insulin. Both insulins were unpredictable. The needle length went into my muscle instead of my subcutaneous tissue making the unpredictability worse, but there was no one then who was aware that a 13mm needle was too long for anyone, big or small. My Mom tested my sugars by urine through a dipstick. The goal was to have a dipstick with Trace sugar & no ketones. I did not receive my first glucose meter until I was 11 based on the cost which was about $200.
Based on my diagnosis, experiences, changes & the management I have experienced throughout the years, I am thankful for so many things:
1. My parents were told I would never have children. Although at the time I announced my pregnancies there was a lot of worry, I successfully have had two pregnancies (although very challenging) & two beautiful children.
2. I am blessed to have no complications after 37 years, which is rare.
3. I am living in a time where the technology advances in managing diabetes are becoming available faster then we can acquire them but provides the opportunity to get access to & manage it better.
4. We seem to be closer to a technology that allows for less management on our part & the reliance on bio feedback mechanisms that will reliably do most of the work for us.
5. Pharmaceutical companies that create, manufacture & produce insulin, such as Novo Nordisk Inc., are creating programs which offer easier access to children living with Type 1 diabetes living in developing countries that otherwise would not have it and risk dying due to affordability & access. Much still needs to be done about this (one of my passions) but the movement by corporate has started to fill this huge gap.
6. The choices and dissemination of media communication and access is the forum for supporting curiosity, access, acquisition of knowledge and action with regards to living with diabetes. This is essential to empower people living with such a complex disease.
7. I have been blessed to be part of a network with many gifts, experiences & an education that enables me to practically & clinically share with each of you, no matter where you live, what is needed to live with Diabetes Beyond Borders.