Life Before Diagnosis

Everyone else seems to have a diagnosis story posted and I do not seem to share mine with anyone… so here it is.

It’s amazing that I have any recollection of life before diagnosis considering it was over 17 years ago! Lots of pricks, pokes, various pumps, stupid mistakes and ah-ha moments have landed me where I am today.

My mom is planning to move so she has been clearing out the attic. She calls me a few times a day to see if I want something that she saved from my childhood. I always say, “If I haven’t used for the last 20 years… I don’t need it now.” But, last week she called and said she had a box full of my old journals that I left when I moved. Of course I wanted them!

I started keeping a journal when I was 8 years old and have kept one every year since. I am so glad that I did too! How else does one remember all those little details of life?! Packed up in that little tupperware container, I had my journals dated from 1990-1996 (I already had 1997-2008 with me). I started reading them and it was so fun (and odd) to remember the things that I thought were so important to me back then.

In 1990, I was in second grade, I hated subtraction, loved my teacher, spent recess time making grass huts on the playground and playing “house” with the girls, won the spelling bee, still thought boys had cooties and got a “cootie shot” everyday for protection. It was in second grade that I also noticed that something was different. After reading my journal entry for Feb. 14, 1990, I remember the day vividly. We were having a Valentine’s Day party-- you know the kind… lots of punch and cookies, forced valentine day card from everyone in the class… I was on about my 18th trip to the water fountain (in our classroom), staring down at my hands while I waited in line and thought about how different it was to be thirsty… again.

In my journal, I wrote about how I would not tell my parents. Afterall, I knew the symptoms of diabetes. My dad and older brother both had it and I didn’t want it. Somehow, by ignoring it, I could make it go away… or so I thought.

Journal entries between Feb. 14, 1990- Aug 16, 1991 are littered here and there with symptoms that now are so obvious to me. I was diagnosed on August 16th, 1991 (do the math… that’s 18 months AFTER I first noticed anything “unusual”). I did everything I could to hide the symptoms at home… and it worked for a little while. Then, one fateful day in August of 1991, my body could not keep up with me any longer. My blood sugar was so high… I was throwing up and passed out. My parents took me to the emergency room where the nurses started taking my blood for tests. Since I had had brain cancer at age two, the doctors started there with a head scan and did not find anything abnormal. I did not have a fever so it wasn’t the flu. Since I had been hiding my symptoms, my parents did not mention them to the doctors, so a blood sugar test was not immediately done. Of course, when my lab results returned, it was obvious to everyone.

My blood sugar at diagnosis was nearly 700. I was immediately started on insulin and spent a week in the hospital. I learned to inject and test my blood sugar and somehow managed to learn how to exchange-- which is a foreign concept to me now. I did not have my journal to record every detail, but once home, I wrote what I remembered… everyone there was so nice, the beds were uncomfortable, my i/c ratios, how to exchange, what is “normal,” and of course, how much I hated it all.

To this day, my parents have not been told that I knew for a year and half before being diagnosed (unless my journals were read upon discovery!). I do not think it will make a difference now… well, I might still get a lecture on the complications I could have prevented or something. =o)