Two days ago, my type one diabetes officially became an adult. 18 years ago I was diagnosed September 7, 1994. Nine days before my 10th birthday. It's probably one of the few days of my childhood that I can remember so clearly and vividly, and that both of my parents remember exactly the same way. I was at my pediatrician for my yearly physical, and we had gone a few days early because my parents didn't want me to miss any of my first week of 5th grade. I remember that I was thirsty ALL the time, drinking anything I could get my hands on, and I remember that I had to pee every 5 minutes, but I don't ever remember feeling as sick as I must have been.
When we got to the doctors office they did the usual tests like a urine culture, and when that showed a high glucose level they checked my blood sugar. All I know is that it was somewhere over 800. I can't give an exact number because the equipment in the office wasn't able to read anything over 800, and if you know diabetes then you know that's bad news. At almost 10 years old I weighed only 42 lbs and was severely malnourished. My parents knew something was wrong, but couldn't pinpoint what and finally knowing what the problem was meant that there could be a solution and that my downward health spiral could cease. I remember sitting in the office of my pediatrician, and I remember my mom ripping the lollipop out of my mouth when he said the words "your daughter has diabetes". From that moment until when we got home is cloudy. We had an appointment with an endocrinologist the next morning and I was given a list of foods I could and couldn't eat that night. Honestly I can't remember what was on the list, but I know that I was able to eat all the broccoli with melted cheddar that I wanted. Cheese has and always will be one of my favorite foods so at that point I was just happy to be eating all the cheese I wanted, blissfully unaware of what happens next when someone is diagnosed with Type 1.
The next few days are a blur, I remember asking my endo when I would have to start getting shots, thinking it would be in a week or so, and I remember him saying "right now" which was a pretty big shock. But my parents stepped up and learned to do the injections on me right then and there. Mom, Dad, I won't ever forget what you both did for me starting that day.
Some people experience a traumatic event in their lives and it gets blacked out or it becomes a blur. For me the most traumatic event was also the most vivid and the most inspiring. My doctors have told me that had I waited the nine days until my birthday to have my physical that I wouldn't be alive, and to this day I still can't believe how incredibly lucky I am that I survived. I firmly believe that everything happens for a reason and I know that I was given Type 1 Diabetes because not only am I strong enough to handle it, but I'm strong enough to fight for a cure.
18 years after my diagnosis I am the healthiest I have ever been. I'm not going to pretend that it's easy, and I'm not going to pretend that I'm perfect. I have the occasional 300+ blood sugar as well as the 50- but that comes with the territory and while I do the best I can, I'm only human.
If it wasn't for the dedication, support, and love from my family and friends all these years I wouldn't have made it to where I am. So thank you to all of you, I don't know if I can ever have words to express what you all mean to me, but I am forever grateful for everything you have done and continue to do.
Through my involvement with the clinical trials of the Artificial Pancreas Project, I have every bit of confidence in the world that what I have to do on a daily basis to manage my blood sugars will soon be a thing of the past. In the meantime, I am just as full of hope as ever.