I was 11 years old in March of 1988, and I would be celebrating my 12th birthday in three weeks! I remember how excited I would get for my birthday (and still do), and I would start the count down at the beginning of each March! I didn’t know this at the beginning of that particular March, but it would be my last diabetes-free birthday…that is, at least half of that birthday was diabetes free.
About three weeks before my birthday that year, I started feeling off. After a day of running around, I would come in to tell my mom I felt weak. I would tell her I thought I should eat something, but since I was always eating, she would brush it off and tell me dinner was in an hour and I could wait. Other times, my thirst was unquenchable and I just couldn’t get enough to drink. I would guzzle milk, water, whatever I could grab. My mom started noticing an empty glass of water by my bedside every morning and could hear the amount of times I was up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom. In the matter of weeks, I had dropped 17 pounds, pretty noticeable on a 6th grader!
It was now my 12th birthday. I was weak and tired all the time. My mom knew the signs of diabetes and questioned whether or not she should let me have the cake she made. She called my aunt and talked things over, asking, “Should I let her have some cake? I think she may have diabetes.” This was 1988, nobody was running to the doctor for every little thing then. My aunt’s response was, “Of course you give her the cake, it’s her birthday!” After the cake, we headed to the hospital.
I can remember like it was yesterday what a hard time they gave my mom. “Why on earth are you bringing a seemingly healthy child to a busy E.R.?” was their reaction, particularly that of the attending physician. You have to understand, my mom is tough as nails, so if you’re going to push her, be prepared. Once she heard him condescendingly say to her, “Well MOM, what do YOU think is wrong?” she let loose! She rambled off every symptom, getting angrier with each one. She said, “Well DOC, I think she has diabetes, and I think a simple glucose test would be good, why don’t we start THERE?” He didn’t say a word, and a nurse returned to test my blood sugar. It was 419.
When the physician returned to the room, his tail was between his legs and he looked like a puppy who just had an accident. In his best I’m still in charge here voice, he curtly said, “Your daughter has Type 1 diabetes, and we are preparing a room for her.” I almost fainted, and my mom just stared at him, boy if looks could kill! She didn’t want to make waves about the way he treated us since I would be staying there for a while, but, like any good story ending, she did go straight to the top once I was released and he was reprimanded and told ALWAYS listen to a mom’s instincts, jackass (ok, I may have added the jackass part)!
And there it was, my 12th birthday. I had no idea how much my life was about to change with those simple words, your daughter has Type 1 diabetes. HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME!