I was a healthy, active child, so I found out like a lot of kids with type 1. I had lost a lot of weight yet was eating like a horse, and had an incredible thirst, which resulted in frequent trips to the toilet. The symptoms occurred quite suddenly – they were impossible to ignore – and because I was already a skinny little kid, there was never any mistake that it was type 1. Of course, my parents were already pros by the time I was diagnosed and with a quick urine test (this was before home blood testing) confirmed my diagnosis before I even arrived at the hospital since my older sister had been diagnosed with T1DM 4 years earlier, so they didn’t have much to learn.
But naturally, it wasn’t the same for me. Within 2 hours of my first IV of insulin, I was seizing from hypoglycemia, and the doctors were surprised that my blood glucose could change so much, so fast. (This would continue for the rest of my life, I was quickly labeled “brittle” and I dispute anyone who claims that labile diabetes is created by the patient’s improper use of insulin, that they aren’t properly counting carbs or some other such nonsense). Anyway, my docs discovered that I was incredibly sensitive to insulin, and a difference of as little as 1/2 unit could mean the difference between hyper and hypo glycemia. The tightrope act had begun! Of course, in 1976, syringes that dosed in 1/2 units were nonexistent (pumps would not emerge for at least another decade), so we had to estimate by drawing it in between lines. I spent nearly 3 weeks in the pediatrics unit as the endocrinologists attempted to come up with an insulin regimin that didn’t cause such dramatic, almost instantaneous changes. I had tried just about every variety of insulin … regular, lente, ultralente, semilente (this was long before analogs), porcine, bovine, combination porcine/bovine insulin mix, and none worked as they expected, so I ended up with the best of the worst. I credit my parents with applying common sense, balanced meals without a lot of refined carbs or simple sugars, lots of fresh veggies and a meal schedule that did not vary much made it much easier to maintain things to the extent possible. When A1c tests became available in the 1980s, my endo commented that mine really did not need much improvement, just continue what I had been doing. Of course, that was until the manufacturers just decided to stop making the insulin I used (which they would do 3 more times in the next 20 years) … today, I have no loyalty to any insulin manufacturer, and will switch without hesitation, but that’s another diatribe!