You Gotta Know

“Lets kick off the week by talking about why we are here, in the diabetes blog space. What is the most important diabetes awareness message to you? Why is that message important for you, and what are you trying to accomplish by sharing it on your blog?”

The above quote is directly from the topic post for today -the first day of Diabetes Blog Week 2016. Bitter-Sweet Diabetes blog hosts a Diabetes Blog Week event every year. This is my second year participating and I must say I really enjoy it.

If you read my About Me section you’ll see that I say that Stephen King says to “Write what you know”. I know diabetes, so I write about it. I know what it’s like to live with type 1; the emotional, psychological, and physical toll it takes on the diabetic and those close to them. I don’t just live as a type 1, I’ve also lost 4 other family members way too young to the ultimate evil of this disease. I have found that talking about it, writing about it has helped me to put it into perspective and helped me to better deal with the bad things it brings. Also, by writing my blog, I hope to reach those diabetics out there that struggle like I have and still am. We are not alone, we can do this!

“What is the most important diabetes awareness message to you?” Geez, there is so much people don’t understand about diabetes. I often feel like I am always repeating the same information over and over…and to the same people! I could go with the staples like ‘type 1 and type 2 are not the same thing!’, ‘diabetes is not caused by lifestyle!’, or ‘insulin is not a cure!’, or even ‘yes, I can eat sugar (it’s just not good for me)!’. But I think in the end I’ll go with one I’ve been fuming about for months now…

I have read several stories in the news this past year about young children who got sick, were taken to the doctor or ER, were diagnosed with the flu or whatnot and sent home and then died…from type 1 diabetes.


These children’s lives could have been saved with just one tiny little prick of the finger. It should be standard practice for doctors to check blood glucose level when children show symptoms of the stomach flu, dehydration, etc.

My point here is that the most important diabetes awareness message is to KNOW THE SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS.

Early signs and symptoms:

excessive thirst
lethargy/ fatigue
sudden weightloss
increased hunger/appetite
blurry vision
frequent urination
itchy skin

Emergency symptoms (DKA):

Same as above, plus

Nausea and vomiting
Fruity smell on the breath (acetone)
stomach ache
shortness of breath
loss of consciousness

Knowing these symptoms is immensely important for EVERYONE because absolutely no one is immune to diabetes, it can strike anyone at any time and if it is not caught early enough it will result in death.


You touch on one of my hottest hot buttons: misdiagnosis that is due not to honest mistakes that anyone could make, but to simple laziness or ignorance. This subject has been written about exhaustively both here and elsewhere and I won’t take up space repeating any of the conversation. But it really pushes my buttons.


I had all of those symptoms, and had googled them and type 1 kept popping up, so I called my PCP and made an appointment. I tortured my poor husband the whole week leading up to that appointment. I normally get carried away with Web MD and tend to freak myself out over nothing, so my husband just kept telling me quit stressing about it. When I went in to see the Doctor, I told him all of my symptoms and said I was worried about diabetes type 1, and he said with all the symptoms he was going to check for that anyway. I kind of wonder if he would have checked for that if I hadn’t said anything?

Good point on the symptoms. I certainly had no trouble explaining them all away, one by one, when they first started showing up, having no clue that taken together they added up to something really serious. I was in grad school and just thought it was all pre-exam period funk or something, until they got so bad I had to face the fact that there was something seriously not right. That was in 1983–no Dr Google back then.

I never Googled my symptoms either 'cos like DrBB, there seemed to be reasonable explanations (hot weather, stress due to family situation, walking way more than usual, etc.) for my problems. But one thing that stands out in my mind is that I kept telling my husband that my mouth was so dry…and never said “I’m thirsty”. So I’d like to suggest adding “dry mouth” to your list of symptoms, @Tamra11.

Ironically (or maybe not), Type 1 diabetes is one of the few diseases WebMD gets right almost without fail (instead of leading you to believe that your constellation of [any other] symptoms means “I’m gonna die, and soon.”)

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I too tried to rationalize in my head, and come up with an explanation for my symptoms before I went into full bore panic mode. I had a horrible cold that caused me to lose my voice a couple weeks before diagnosis, so I kept telling myself my frequent trips to the bathroom were from all the hot tea I had been drinking. But then I stopped drinking so much tea when I started getting my voice back, and I was still rushing to the bathroom way more than normal. There were a couple times I came pretty darn close to peeing the bed.

And @CatLady06, I had terrible dry mouth as well, which was at it’s worst in the morning.

Also, did anyone else have really DRY skin? In the week before I went in for my Dr. appointment, the entire lower part of my face had gotten so dry and red, and even started peeling. I also had some crusty dry skin on both of my ear lobes as well. A few days with insulin and it had completely cleared up.

The plural of anecdote isn’t evidence of course, but the more versions of this story I see, the more it tends to confirm my own suspicion that that nasty effing cold I’d had a week or two before my symptoms started may have also marked the death of my beta cells. First popped into my head the day of my dx, when they explained about it being an auto-immune disease probably triggered by a virus of some kind. “Hey, I was just finally getting over that damn cold when I first started having that whole peeing/thirst thing. Wonder if…”

I was googling for any actual research on the “nasty cold followed by T1” pattern and found this, which is very much on topic for this thread:

We’ve all heard the stories: a child or adult starts experiencing symptoms that seem to be nothing more than a cold or the flu. There’s no sign of anything more serious afoot, at first, so no one catches on to what’s really happening. The doctor doesn’t catch the cycle of high blood sugars, and that spirals into hospitalization, often with dangerous diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA).

For many, that leads to shock and panic, because it seems like a diabetes diagnosis came out of nowhere. And sadly, some don’t make it.

All because there may not have been enough awareness of this illness ahead of time, either in the public eye or even among the practicing general medical community.
Type 1 Diabetes Exercises: Types, Precautions, and More

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Days before my diagnosis I remember telling my parents that my mouth felt like it was full of cotton. I think that’s what made my parents decide to check my blood sugar (my dad was type 1 as well).

In a similar vein, some people report a traumatic emotional event preceded their T1 diagnosis and then they mistakenly conclude the event caused it. My dad died a month before I was diagnosed and I think the connection for me is that I was eating TONS of comfort carbs and it overwhelmed my remaining beta cells’ ability to keep the BG problem hidden.

I was talking to my husband about this the other day. I’ve read at least two accounts of adults being diagnosed following a bad cold. You are the third. :open_mouth:

Then there’s this one looking at the roll of enterovirus as a trigger, which states “Infections are more prevalent in summer and fall months.” My cold was end of October and dragged on for a couple of weeks. Dx was early December.