At the beginning of my junior year in high school, I noticed I felt a little off and had challenges with the rigorous sports program I participated in. I was still able to keep up, so I let it go thinking I was suffering stress and lack of sleep.
I got up early the Morning of October 26, 1998, two weeks before my 17th birthday, knowing something was very wrong, and went to my mom's room to wake her up. I'd been ill with a possible virus 9 months earlier but in spite of emergency room care was not diagnosed with anything conclusive. My mom stated at the time of this visit that there was a family history of Type I Diabetes and I needed to be tested. We later discovered that blood work had not been done as requested to test for T1D.
I said "Mom, we need to do a finger stick... I think I have Diabetes". I've never seen my mom move so fast or so quiet as she did in that moment. I think she was doing everything she could to not cry in front of me and be strong, while hoping it might be something else and trying to not worry me.
The test seemed like it took forever even though it was only a few seconds. The result was 389 (289 points above normal) and my mom immediately got on the phone to find a pediatric endocrine doctor. I was in a state of mild DKA, but luckily we had caught it, not because of a doctor's diagnosis, but because my family knew and lived with Type I Diabetes every day.
My mom sat on the floor at the head of my bed for 4 weeks to ensure I was breathing and conscious and to stick my finger every 2 hours to keep me safe while I slept. She would nap a couple times during the day between checking on me at school to make sure I wasn't going into low blood sugars.
It was difficult for quite a while because combined with the athletic program at school and the Honeymoon phase I was in (still accessing some insulin) I was having trouble with low and erratic blood sugars. This went on for 3 years and was very difficult to manage.
I struggled with friends asking me if they could catch Diabetes, teachers that refused to follow my school accommodation plans (my mom was instrumental in changing this for all schools in Jefferson County, Colorado) and teachers who tried to deny me the ability to be in athletic programs when I was already a positioned leader. The attitudes and ignorance I dealt with everyday were staggering. Again... my mom was there in the thick of it, navigating to ensure I was denied nothing and support was there to allow me to live a full life.
I'm glad she's been with me on the road I travel and has been able to assist in protecting me from the major complications of the disease.
We have a special bond that while it was good before my diagnosis has deepened and become an amazing testament to helping others. We tease each other that one more pump and we could have bought a Dodge viper... and we find ways to assist each other on the bad days because we truly get it that T1D is forever, and depression and coping can become issues if you go in wrong directions.
I would not wish Type I Diabetes on any other person. I feel blessed to have been diagnosed with a support person who understands so much about health related to Diabetes and who is leaving me with her knowledge and teaching me how to understand Diabetes from a better perspective. I think her drive to assist others comes from the decades of failed treatment she has experienced and the success she has attained through that experience, combined with education specific to Type I Diabetes. I'm glad she's taking me with her.