It was November 1971, I was seven years old and relatively healthy. All of a sudden I wasn’t eating. My mother claims I lost thirty five pounds in a couple of days. I remember my father threatening me to get me to eat. “Eat your soup or you’ll be wearing it!” He was frustrated with me and all I could do is imagine what my blond hair would look like with tomato soup in it. This was the family tradition when we wouldn’t eat our food, we wore it.
It didn’t happen. My older brother who was seventeen at the time yelled at my Dad and stook up for me. He yelled back at my Dad “Leave her alone, can’t you see something is wrong with her?” I cried because they were yelling and mad.
The next thing I knew, my brother and mother were driving me to the hospital.
I don’t remember much about the emergency room other than I was in a lot of pain and going into shock. I was delirious. Soon after I was admitted and spent weeks in the hospital. Some nurses were very mean, one or two, were really cool. I had turkey sandwiches every day for lunch and dinner because that is what I wanted. The nurses and doctors tried to fool me by sending up meat loaf once and I threw a fit. That was a nasty temper tantrum I’m sure no one forgot. I know I haven’t.
The nurses taught me take my own “shots” by bringing in an orange to practice on. They left me alone with it one day and when they came back into the room I had shot so much water into the orange, it was oozing! They shouldn’t have left me alone. Hey I was a kid and I was easily bored.
I remember my third grade classmates sent get well letters that the teacher put them up to. They even sent me turkeys that were made out by tracing their hands on construction paper. I wish I had all those letters and turkeys now. I don’t know whatever happened to them. Maybe my father threw them out because he was a neat freak.
My release was set for Thanksgiving Day, my birthday. We have always celebrated my birthday on Thanksgiving because I was born on Thanksgiving even if it wasn’t the actual date of my birth. As long as my birthday was remembered, I didn’t care what day it was. I was a kid.
My poor mother was a fanatic about administering my dosage of insulin and feeding me. I recall giving away my celery and carrot sticks to a friend at school during lunch. I ate them at home though. I also recall my older sister getting mad because she thought my mother was babying me by giving me vegetables all the time. My older sister was something else.
I remember going to a pediatrician soon after the diagnosis. He specialized in diabetes. He wanted to go over my medical history with my mother. In it he became concerned when my mother told him that when I was five and vacationing with my aunt and uncle in Florida I had sustained second and third degree burns on my back from the sun. My aunt was not kid friendly and she threw my brother and myself out of the house after we ate breakfast without our shirts on. Luckily my brother has an olive skin type. I am fair skinned. I remember that pain too. Anyway, the doctor was looking for some answer as to why I had type one diabetes and no one else did in my family.
I do recall reading somewhere that diabetes may be the result of a major illness or trauma and virus to the body. I often wonder about the possible cause too. I’m still the only type one diabetic in my family and the family has grown quite large in thirty five years. I do not wish this disease on any one. Not even my enemies, not that I have any.
This is how it all began… Stay tuned for more!