It started at the end of the school year. I was almost 12 years old, thirsty all the time, going to the bathroom every 2 minutes, and altogether exhausted. Finally, at some point my father (a type 2 diabetic) realized I had some symptoms of high blood sugar. He decided to test me. Now you have to realize that I was always the kind of kid who would scream and kick my way through every shot. As you can probably imagine, it was not easy to get the tiny sample needed to check my blood sugar. We finally got it. The 60 grueling seconds later (yes, it was the old glucometer, not even elite!) the meter displayed the results that would change my life: HI.
My father looked confused. I asked him what it said. “It’s broken” was his reply. Let’s do it again."
Again?!?! Did he forget how hard it was to get that first sample? But we did it. Again. The result: you guessed it. HI. “Something is wrong,” my father said. “Let me check myself.” He checked, and the number was normal. Then he called over my sister, “cmhere!” he said. “I want to see if my meter is working”. He poked her, tested her, and the result: NORMAL. “It’s working now” my father said. “Let’s test you again”. Further screams and yells from me, and we had another blood sample. The result: of course it was HI.
At that point even my father was nervous. He called the company and asked what HI means. “over 600” they replied. “Get your daughter to a health care professional immediately”. My father called the doctor, who told us to call an ambulance. The ambulance came, and quickly called for backup. So there I was, a terrified little almost-twelve year old girl, surrounded my what seemed like hundreds of EMTs. They checked me again, which obviously caused lots more screaming. Eventually, we headed off to the trauma center of the nearby hospital.
And that was the beginning of the rest of my life.
The interesting part came in the ER. I have often asked friends to picture what it is like to be diagnosed with diabetes. Nobody has ever pictured anything like my diagnosis. I overheard the doctor saying to my parents: We are still not sure if it is type 1 or type 2.
“Type 2?” You may ask, “in a 12 year old child?”
“Yes”, I answer. Type 2. My mother had gestational diabetes with each pregnancy. My father had type 2 diabetes. Me and my entire family were extremely overweight (read: obese). So the doctors had a lot of reason to believe they were dealing with a case of juvenile type 2 diabetes.
So now you ask, “Type 1?”
“Yes”, I answer. Type1. Don’t forget that in today’s day and age type 2 diabetes in children is becoming more and more common, but back then it was almost unheard of. Children were diagnosed with type 1, adults were diagnosed with type 2. Period. End of story. In addition, you must realize that this came suddenly and quickly, as is typical of type 1, and, at the time of diagnosis I had a large amount of ketones, which is symptomatic of type 1 diabetes.
At that point, the diagnosis was rather irrelevant. The point was that I was a diabetic and I needed insulin. And so they started me on NPH and Regular.
And I went home from the hospital, not knowing if I was type 1 or type 2.
I would never have dreamed at that point just how long it would be until I would find out.