Thursday, November 8, 2012

Joslin Blog Project: In The Beginning......

I'm really excited to be participating in the Joslin Diabetes Center's Blog Project - Along with some other fantastical Diabetes Bloggers & Advocates. Each of us will be writing four posts about our life with diabetes  hopefully raising $5,000 for Joslin High Hopes Fund in the process. 
This week's starts is about the beginning or life with diabetes - And there's a lot I remember  - And a lot I don't. 

In the very beginning...... I remember growing really tall that summer before I was diagnosed and being happy that my two front teeth had finally grown in after almost a year of me being without them.

I was lanky and my mom had to keep buying me clothes that summer because everything was getting to short. 
And then there was a bad bike accident that August where there was some internal bleeding. 
By the end of August I continued to get thinner and taller, so much so that the new bathing suit my mom bought me at the beginning of the summer started to get loose. 
But I kept getting growing so my parents didn’t think to much of it.... at least not at first.

And I was incredibly thirsty, like all the time!  I remember drinking gallons of water and sprite out of spotted green bottles and Tab from clear glass bottles with  a design that resembled tiny little braille like dots.  

When school started I kept raising my had to go to use the rest room and my teacher would excuse me & I'd go the the Girls Room. Afterwards  I'd literally stand at the water fountain and drink like a camel until the teacher would stick her head out from the classroom door and yell at me to come in. If my parents and I went out for to eat, I'd drink the coffee creamer shots that sat on the table and then ask the waitress for more. I think I even wet the bed a few times - Something that I’d never done as an eight year old- And I was embarrassed. And I kept getting skinnier and lankier and taller.
A few weeks before Halloween I started hearing my parents and my sister Debbie whisper about diabetes.

Two of my sisters and my dad had type1 diabetes and so did two of my dad's sisters and one of my cousins -  So I knew what diabetes meant - At least what it meant in my 8 year old world. 
Diabetes meant needles and taking shots before every meal and not being able to eat cookies or cake. Diabetes meant lots of visits to doctors and even more shots. 
Diabetes meant boiling needles on the stove top and insulin bottles in the fridge and Diabetes meant saying goodbye to Sprite and Pixie Sticks and my beloved Nutterbutters. 

And I knew I didn’t want diabetes - I didn’t want anything to do with it.  I didn’t want to be like my sisters or my father or my aunts - At least not in the diabetes sense. I just wanted to be me - Or Wonder Woman, or one of The Charlie’s Angels - And none of them had diabetes.  

Finally, it was the day before Halloween and I came home from school, where my sister Debbie greeted me at the door with a fresh cold bottle of Tab. I snatched the bottle out of her hands and drank the bottle down in 5 seconds flat. Then she offered me another one, and then another one  - And I drank them all. 
And then I had to go to the bathroom - REALLY BAD.  And my older sister Debbie with diabetes wouldn’t let me, unless I peed on something called tes-tape, which was in every bathroom in the house. And I refused - until my eyeballs almost turned yellow from having to go to the bathroom so bad!

And then I peed on something called Tes-Tape and did a back up with the clina-test and watched as the fizzy blue pill in the test tube turned a greenish yellow. The results weren’t good - They weren’t terrible (which would have been an orange color, which occurred the next morning when I woke up, ) but because it was late in the day and I hadn’t eaten since lunch. Still, NOT GOOD. 
The next day was Halloween and early that morning, my parents and I drove an hour to Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia and began the process of checking me in. 
I remember being interviewed by social workers and I remember a nurse dressed up like a clown coming into the exam room to start me on an insulin drip and telling me that I had diabetes.
I watched a lot of TV as a kid and medical show called QUINCY was really popular at the time. I didn’t want another needle, especially one that would be attached to me - I wanted to go trick or treating.

So I looked at the nurse clown and repeated a few terms I’d heard Quincy say on his show: Look, the test results are inconclusive, so if you just let me go home , I can go Trick- or- Treating and then I’ll come back tomorrow and we can do the tests again. 
And then the nurse looked at me and said: Honey you have diabetes  - And you’re not going home. And that’s the exact moment in my life when I started to hate clowns. 
I remember nurses dressed up in Halloween costumes and patients trick-or-treating at around the hospital - it was surreal.  And I remember being told that I could join in the fun - but I would have to have “diatetic candy  - And I flat out refused. 

And I remember sobbing in the middle of the night so no one else would see that I was scared and afraid and that I didn’t want to have diabetes, because I knew that my family was sad and that it was up to me to be a trooper and make them smile. 

I have so many admission memories; like injecting oranges and being deathly afraid to inject myself - So much so that my whole body would literally shake when ever I tried to give myself an injection -And not being able to go home until almost Thanksgiving.

But mostly I remember wanting to go home and wanting desperately to go back to the way things were before
And I think that’s when I realized that you can never go back to the way things were before in life - Or your life with diabetes. 

It was Halloween, 1977 and I was all of 8 years old - And I've never missed celebrating a Halloween since.

1 comment:

Katie said...

I was diagnosed on October 26, 1995 and thought I had it bad because it was 5 days before Halloween. I was 12. You take the cake (not trying to make a cake joke here) by being diagnosed on Halloween. It's really a sick joke for any kid to be diagnosed on a day where all you're supposed to do is eat a s**t ton of candy. Thanks for sharing your story.