Diagnosed in a third world country... (cringe)!

My parents are missionaries and we were in Indonesia when i was diagnosed with diabetes. Indonesia is a pile of islands just north of Australia). This is my twin AJ and me running to get good seats on the airline that we usually encountered cockroaches!


I was 11 years old and my mom looked up my symptoms in a book called "Where there is no Doctor". We were out in the jungle about 15 miles (45 min) away from any doctor. Not too bad of a drive- just really bumpy and a lot of animals to dodge!

So we went to town and my mom fed me a breakfast of pancakes and syrup (which was a great treat considering the fact that my twin and i barely ate anything sweet. After that lovely breakfast they took me to a little clinic ran by the Salvation Army and had my blood sugar tested. I was in the 300s and was immediately admitted into the clinic.

It was actually pretty traumatic because it came as a total suprise for all of us! during my week stay at the hospital (i use the term loosely because there were goats and chickens running through it) my family packed up all our belongings to move back to the United States. Instead of having the normal fingerstick blood tests, the nurse took it out of my arm every time and i was pretty scrawny/petite so i had some pretty bruised up arms by the end of that week!

I remember weird things about the hospital... Someone had brought over some old movies that i rewatched the whole week. i remember how weird it was to be put on a diet and the way i coped was to draw all of the food i couldnt have! weird huh?!

So we hopped on the plane to the U.S. and i remember mom and dad being pretty nervous. It took a long time to get back to the other hemisphere. We didnt have anything to test my blood sugar during the whole trip so they had to "guess" on amount of insulin to give me. We were working with third world diabetic technology basically (or the lack of it!). Plus on top of that we had to deal with a 12 hour time zone difference.

When we got to Chicago they admitted me into Loyola University and i cant remember how long i was there but i remember being really tired and tons of visitors. Go figure i also remember a little winnie the pooh stuffed animal that someone gave me.... i should see if i still have it... sorry...A.D.D. i'm back!

The doctor there said I needed to be able to give myself an injection before they would let me out. They gave me an orange and a syringe to practice on- apparently oranges are pretty similar to skin in texture etc. So are chickens but i think oranges are a little cleaner LOL anyways, my dad either loves me to death or is totally crazy cuz he let me practice on him for the first time with saline solution. After that i did it to myself and i was OUTTA there.

I had definite culture shock coming back to the U.S. plus on top of it i had to deal with the diabetes. I'm so grateful that i could come back to a country who knows how to take care of diabetes and has the money and technology to do so. Even though it was rough i grew a lot stronger through it.

One of my tattoos is 2 Bible verses that seem to apply to life!

One is Job 23:10 "and He knows the way i take and when He has tested me i will come forth as gold"
The way i see it- life can be really rough but it's the fire that brings out the dross/impurities and we come out better and stronger in the end.

The other verse is Psalm 18:1 "i love you oh Lord my strength"
God gets me through the rough times!

I am incredibly grateful to God for helping me through it all and i know He'll always be there even though things can get tough! I certainly wouldnt choose diabetes and the health problems and challenges that come with it but i have grown strong through it and have learned so much about myself, others, life, and God.

Wow. Thanks Heather for telling us your story.

sure kathy!

You are great at story telling, and what a life!

really? i’m not a writer! :slight_smile: yeah i am blessed thank you!

Hi Heather,
What an inspiration you are to me!! I’ve been diabetic for a long, long time and have never let it get in my way of trying to live a “normal” life but after reading your blog I now know I have lots left to do in my life. Thanks for sharing!
Linda

Awsome Linda! you’ll have to keep me updated on your adventures then :slight_smile:

Wow Heather, I just came across your story. Thanks for sharing!!

How long did you live in Indonesia?

Amazing story. I’m planning a trip to Indonesia. I wonder if their diabetes treatment has improved much.

hey brian! depends on where you are in Indonesia!

Wow… what a story…
It makes me really thinking… how lucky we are with the excellent health care here in Belgium.
It remembers me a story a nurse told me. She was in Africa for diabetic health care or something… and she met a man who has a child with diabetic. This father had to choose… either he could give his family food (he had a lot of children)… either he could buy insuline for this one kid with D. Not enough money to do both… such stories make me really angry…

Yes, that is a great story. I was three years old in 1954 and I was living in Nairobi, Kenya, East Africa. Similar to you but so many years ago - I was rushed to a hospital - I had been lethargic and drinking huge amounts of liquids…I just couldn’t get enough. I didn’t want to go outside to play with the other children but was content to just watch them. When I eventually didn’t wake up one morning my mother rushed me to Nairobi Hospital. I don;t remember much about my stay. I too remember the injecting of the orange. They also with-held my food so I would get to know what it felt like to be “hypo”…?? how cruel was that ? They put me on a very strict diet…I HAD to eat at least six times a day. I injected once a day. I had glass syringes and metal needles that I had to “boil” in a pot on the stove to sterilize. I had to test my urine with a test tube and boil it up over a bunson burner, add a Clinitest tablet and see what “color” it changed. It was bright orange all the time - denoting 4+ glucose. I had to put a dropper of urine on an acetone tablet and see what color it changed.
Oh my goodness, how far we have come since those days. Needless to say - I survived…and 55 years later with type 1 I am fairly fit and healthy. The stories are so unreal, sureal…but we survived.
Sheila

Wow Shorts, This story has it all…I must say, reading your point of veiw reminded me of how much you went through that week. I remember when we pulled up to the “hospital” there was a monkey tethered to a tree and we were terrified. It was such a shock, you were going to be tested and then I had to go home without you, I hated that! Pretty sure that was the first time we were apart for any length of time. I remember the chickens and assorted livestock that roamed about freely. I was missing you so much, we packed everything, I really thought we were going back. Hey, EVERYTHING happens for a reason. God’s reason, He has tested you and you continue to progress more and more into the amazing woman you are today! You are MY hero!