In 2001 I was coming to the end of my junior year in college. Fresh off major shoulder surgery and following my 21st birthday, I started noticing that I wasn’t feeling so well. In 2 weeks, I had lost 20 pounds, I had been constantly thirsty, drinking lots of fluid, very tired, and then started getting blurry vision. Thanks to WebMD, it appeared I had all the symptoms of type 1 diabetes. My mother said no way because it is not in the family. She checked with the surgeon who told her that these were not affects from surgery. On to the hospital I go! A roommate took me and the attending nurse told me I got the short straw!
Before I knew it I was in type 1 Bootcamp at the local hospital. I missed my sisters graduation. My family at a loss for words. Luckily I was headed home for the summer so I would be able to get control before going back to school.
Since then I have done over 30,000 finger sticks. Before an insulin pump, over 26,000 syringe injections, after pump therapy, over 1,000 site changes. Thanks to advanced technology, I have a continuous glucose monitor, and have had over 300 sensor changes.
Thousands of dollars spent on supplies and medication to stay alive. Countless sleepless nights. Low blood sugars that have me wondering if this is the one that will put me down. High blood sugars that have me throwing up wondering if my sugars were ever going to come down.
Fast forward to 2017. My youngest daughter had all the autoantibodies for type 1. I had my radar on high alert. Checking her sugar every time she threw up without a temperature. Checking her sugar every time she seemed tired. Then came bed wetting. Pee accident at school. Lucky I know what to look for. Lucky I have a meter. Meter reads HIGH. Cue the stomach drop. Time to head to the ER. I’m crying when I tell my mother. The fear I have had for over 4 years has come true. I did not want my daughter to go through what I have gone through. The type 1 diagnosis confirmed. A whirlwind weekend ensues. So many tears. The amount of information we get is unbelievable. Some new for me as a caregiver of a type 1, all new information for my wife. I can’t imagine what’s going through her head.
I have always taken care of my own disease so my wife is new to all this. 16 years with type 1 and never once have I hated this disease. Until now. I have always just done what I’ve had to. To stay alive. Luckily and unfortunately, at 5 1/2 year old, this will be all she knows. She won’t know what it’s like to live without the disease.
My daughter has done so well with her diabetes. Granted we do all the care for her, but she knows what she needs to do. She will always be special. There will be lows, there will be highs. She will feel left out. Mom and I will have sleepless nights.
Elyse and I will always have a special bond. I will have to make sure my other kids feel a bond as well. Until there’s a cure I will be on phone calls with insurance companies and supply companies. Appointments and emails to nurses, doctors, educators, and nutritionists.
Every day is always and will always be different. Consistently inconsistent is what type 1 diabetes is. There needs to be a cure. There should be a cure. We are on a medication where if we take to much we could die. If we take too little we could die. Every sickness, illness, cut and bruise is exacerbated by type 1.
But despite of it, we remain strong. Because of it we are stronger. Diabetes does not define us or control us. We control it and will beat it.