So back in on July 22nd, I was sitting in the airport on my way to Indianapolis, when I received an email from one of my dblogging buddies Lora or "Lorabetes", who writes “The Diabetes & Stuff.”
Back Story: I first became aware of Lora when she starting leaving comments on Diabetesaliciousness, which in turn led me to her blog, TD&S, of which I became a HUGE fan of.
I found that I loved her writing style and witty sense of humor. We started emailing and Facebooking – and a friendship was born. We talked about life, our families, MY boyfriend John Cusack ( for some strange reason, Lora thought he was HER BF), and our diabetes experiences.
Lora’s a t1 like myself, and we share many similarities including a love for both the sardonic and ironic; martini’s, seltzer water, & John Cusack – but not necessarily in that order.
OK, I’m getting off track, back to July 22nd - Lora contacted me with an ideal to collaborate on a Blog posting- A conversation between to t1’s. One who was diagnosed as a child (ME) and the other diagnosed as an adult (HER).
Lora was curious to see if our experiences would be dramatically different, similar, or both.
As for me, I thought it was a phenomenal ideal and couldn’t wait to begin the process!
That is, until she actually started with the actual questions- then I got nervous which is strange- because I'm all about talking about The Big D.
Full disclosure folks- going back to the beginning of my life with Diabetes via someone else’s questions brought up a lot of unexpected emotions and memories. Once I got down to the business of answering - I was so glad that I did. The exercise was cathartic, liberating, and eye-opening on many levels.
The first part of the Conversation/meeting of the Dminds takes place here, and links to Lora’s “k2 + L1, Part Deux at the end of this post.”
And now, for your viewing pleasure…
K2 + L1, Part One….
Lora: Kelly, when were you diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes?
Kelly: I was 8 when I was diagnosed. It was Halloween.
Lora: Seems like we both got diagnosed around a holiday. I was diagnosed on July 3rd, when I was 34.
Kelly: Talk about fireworks! Tell me about your diagnosis. What made you decide to go to the doctor? Were you having symptoms? Did you suspect it was diabetes?
Lora: I did have symptoms, even more of them than I thought I did. I was generally feeling like crap, I was peeing all the time and I couldn’t get enough to drink. In fact, the day I made my doctor’s appointment, I had stopped at the grocery store on my way to work to buy about $60 worth of seltzer water in varying sizes; it was the only thing I could drink that would even remotely quench my thirst. It seemed like a perfectly rational thing to do at the time, but looking back on it, I was crazy. I just kept filling the cart with bottles thinking it wouldn’t be enough.
Kelly: I love seltzer water!
Lora: Me, too! Still do, even though I drank enough of it to fill a swimming pool. I looked up my symptoms (excessive drinking and peeing) in a medical book and one of the possibilities was diabetes. I called my mom and told her how I was feeling and she threw out diabetes as well. So I had this fleeting idea it could be diabetes, but I didn’t really think that’s what was wrong with me. You always put the worst in your mind when you go to the doctor, even though you think you’re just being paranoid and there’s no way it could possibly be that. I figured I just had the flu or some weird virus.
What about you? I know diabetes is something your family is familiar with. Were you having symptoms? Did your parents think you had diabetes?
Kelly: I’d been in a pretty severe bike accident in early August of that year, and had some internal bleeding. After that I began dropping a lot of weight. Keep in mind I was a tall, skinny kid to begin with, so at first my folks thought it was just a growth spurt. But slowly my parents started suspecting I had diabetes a few months before I was actually diagnosed. I remember going to the mall with my mom and stopping at a coffee shop; I literally drank all the creamers on the counter, which was disgusting when I look back and think about it. When we got up to leave, I had to go to the restroom, and after that, I went to the drinking fountain and couldn’t drink the water fast enough.
My family tried to get me to take several urine tests (SO GROSS) by peeing on something very diabetes medieval—something called Urine Test Tape. I refused. My sister (who was also diabetic) would offer me cans of Tab after school and because I had undiagnosed diabetes and was really thirsty, I’d drink two or three in a row. Then she’d chase me into the bathroom to try and get me to pee on the tape. Luckily I was too quick for her, but later that evening she finally cornered me and decided to change her strategy. She actually barred me from going to the bathroom until I agreed to pee on the test tape – I had just knocked back a few bottles of Tab- and REALLY had to use the facilities- I was practically crying -so I peed on the test strip. The next morning before dawn, we drove to the hospital.
Lora: Thank God for pushy older sisters. Mine told my mom I had Chicken Pox, even though I was trying to hide them.
Kelly: Older sisters think they know everything- and most times they don’t- but sometimes they do.
Kelly: Does diabetes run in your family at all? Were you familiar with the big D?
Lora: No one in my immediate family is diabetic, but I have an uncle who was a T1, as well as a couple of cousins. It was remote enough that no one was really on the lookout for it, but close enough that it crossed my mind. I’m the one who’s really breaking new ground for everyone else. My dad was diagnosed as “pre-diabetic” about a year ago and I’ve been a source of some information for my parents. My brother is also really curious and asks a lot of questions; he knows his odds of a dx are a little higher than they used to be. If anyone is diagnosed, I know I’ll be the authority, even though I feel like I don’t know half as much as I should. My diabetes education has been a crash-course since diagnosis. Speaking of which, tell me about your actual diagnosis (great transition, no?).
Kelly: YES, excellent transition! I remember going to Childrens Hospital in Philadelphia and seeing all the patients dressed in their Halloween costumes and trick-or treating on each floor. I remember a nurse dressed like a clown giving me a portable insulin drip. I cracked a joke about the IV drip looking like the Alaskan pipeline and tried to convince her that perhaps she was jumping to a diabetes conclusion.
I watched a lot of TV and memorized dialogue like some people memorize baseball stats. I told her in a very stern voice: “Look, we don’t have the test results, and the first set of tests were inconclusive, and they really don’t know if I have diabetes, so can I just come back tomorrow after I go trick-or-treating?” I totally lifted the test line from Quincy. I looked her straight in the eye when I said it and I didn’t flinch. I wanted to go trick-or-treating, and I wanted to go home, and I didn’t want to have diabetes! But Nurse Ratched got me. “Honey, you have diabetes—and you’re going to be taking shots for the rest of your life.”
That would be how I found out I had diabetes...and it was also the day I started to hate clowns.
Lora: Clowns can be creepy. And I love picturing you as an 8-year-old quoting Quincy.
Kelly: I was big on quotes- Carol Burnett was one of my favorites- but Quincy gave me much more medical street cred! Speaking of,what went through your mind when your doctor broke the news to you about your diabetes diagnosis?
Lora: Am I allowed to swear? Because I’m sure my very first reaction was a four-letter word. I was also terrified. I didn’t have any health insurance and I hadn’t been to the doctor in probably six or seven years. I had randomly called the medical center a couple blocks away from work and asked for an appointment with any doctor who was available to see me in the next day or two.
I went during my lunch hour. I was by myself, I was feeling crappy and I expected a prescription for antibiotics, and instead I got told, “I’d be surprised if you weren’t diabetic,” and about five minutes later after the blood test, “Yup. You’re diabetic.”
The doctor wrote me a prescription for Lantus and told me to go to the Walgreen’s down the street and have it filled, then come back to find out how to give myself a shot. I wandered out of the doctor’s office in a daze, dropped off my prescription, and then went to Border’s bookstore down the street, where I knew they had payphones. I called my boyfriend (now my husband) and my mom and told them both the doctor said I had diabetes. They asked me a lot of questions, but I didn’t have any kind of answers for them because the doctor hadn’t told me anything.
When I returned to the doctor’s office, he had a student nurse show me how to give a shot using a foam-rubber sponge. (By the way, knowing what I know now, she was wrong on so many levels in her technique...) The doctor told me just to take about four units each night so I wouldn’t go into “insulin shock,” and I had no idea what that meant.
It was Thursday, July 3, and the doctor was going out of town for the holiday. He said to make an appointment for the following Monday and he’d explain everything else I needed to know at the next appointment. Right before I left, he told me, “Oh, if you start throwing up and can’t stop, go to the emergency room.” He didn’t tell me why.
I’m hoping your education after diagnosis was a bit better than mine… You were so young, though—did you know what it meant when you heard you had diabetes?
Kelly: WOW. I don’t know if I actually was aware of what diabetes was. I knew some siblings had it, as did my dad. I knew that my one sister had some issues. I didn’t realize the finality of it all, though. Back then everything was off limits in terms of food. I don’t remember my very first low, but I do know I hated that feeling so much that I was very vocal in school when it came time for me to grab a snack. I never hid that I had diabetes; I didn’t want to be that person passed out on the gym floor. And for the most part- my classmates were wonderful.
My education began in earnest in the hospital. I had a CDE (certified diabetes educator) and his name was Joe. I was pretty much in love with Joe and wanted to make him proud so I learned all my exchanges. The hospital had a McDonald’s in its atrium and we practiced my exchanges over cheeseburgers and Tab. He sure knew how to treat a girl!
Joe had diabetes as well. He always told me that when they found the cure, he was going to rent out The Breyers Ice Cream Co. and we could go crazy on all the ice cream!
Lora: I think we should keep Joe’s number handy, just in case.
Kelly: I have it on very good authority that he works for Animas- Now, your turn to answer: Click on previous link to view the rest of the interview~