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Nine year-old girl gets Juvenile Diabetes diagnosis; the crowd goes wild!

Updated on August 16, 2016

I was the fat kid who always got picked last in gym class.

When I was little, I liked food. My mom was (and still is) an excellent cook. We were never hungry. I was the chunky kid in school. Not obese, not awkward, but chunky. I had chipmunk cheeks and a little belly. I was not the popular one in elementary school by any means. Speaking of, kids are mean in elementary school. I was made fun of, talked about behind my back, all things that the fat kid gets to put up with. Only I wasn't fat. I was only chunky. Please remember that.

When I was nine, I started feeling different. I was finding that I had cotton mouth a lot. I was also very thirsty all the time. Being thirsty in and of itself isn't terrible, but when you drink constantly and your thirst is never being quenched, it can be rather annoying. I was also getting interrupted sleep every night because with all the excessive drinking, well, what goes in must come out. So I was in the bathroom in the middle of the night 4, 5, 6 times or more.

If extreme weight loss was an Olympic event, I would have the Gold Medal.

As you can imagine, my parents were concerned with the way I was feeling. I was going to school feeling tired, cotton-mouthy (is that a word? If not, it is now) and super lethargic. I couldn't pay attention, I don't remember if my grades were slipping, I was in 4th grade so that was like, a thousand years ago. Anyway, there was another issue that started happening. I was losing weight like crazy. My mom didn't know what was going on, so she did what any mother would do- she fed me more! The more weight I lost, the more I was given to eat. The more I ate, the worse I felt. Little did anyone know.

A diagnosis.. finally!

After a few months of this feeling of death, my parents were talking to someone (again, I don't remember to whom) who said to them that all of my symptoms were pointing towards Diabetes. I went to get blood work and sure enough, my blood sugar was up past 500 mg/dl. To put that into perspective, someone who is not diabetic has a blood sugar of 85-110 mg/dl. The amount of sugar in my blood stream would have killed me in another short while. I was immediately taken to the hospital where I was monitored and given an IV of insulin to bring my blood sugar down. Now remember, this was in 1982 before miniscule-gauged needles and human synthetic insulin. I was administering my insulin with a syringe that's needle was the size of a harpoon compared to today's hair-thin needle, and the insulin I was administering was made from beef and pork. Yes, you read that correctly.

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a good, no.. a GREAT outcome!

This October 12, 2016, will be my 34th year with this disease. I celebrate every year because I have lived with this disease for 34 YEARS. It almost took my life, not once but twice, and I am here to tell you about it. My initial diagnosis came just in time. With a blood sugar of 500+, that was the beginning of DKA or Diabetic Ketoacidosis, which can be deadly. There are several ways DKA can happen, in my case, letting my blood sugar go too long at such an elevated level. The second time, my insulin pump was not delivering my insulin because there was a hole in the tubing that somehow went undetected, so my pump was telling me I was receiving insulin that I was not, in fact, getting. Insulin pumps have a safety mechanism for occlusions and this one, somehow, didn't register. I actually went into DKA, I couldn't breathe because of the carbon dioxide my body was putting out, I was throwing up continually for an hour or so, and it was the scariest event I have ever been through. I wouldn't wish that feeling on anyone.

The downside to being diabetic for so long, is even though I am only 43, I am experiencing things that people in their 60's, 70's and 80's experience. One of those things is failing eyesight.I have retinopathy. I wear glasses so I can see far away, especially when I'm driving at night. I also have neuropathy which is the tingling in your hands and feet. My feet are fine, but I wake up every morning with my hands numb and tingly. That's really not a fun way to wake up. On the bright side, however, I have my hearing, my eye sight well enough to enjoy life, I have my kidneys and my liver and my vital organs are healthy. I need to keep going in this direction because I have 3 kids who need me. Maybe not my 21 year-old so much (even though yeah he does) but definitely my 6 year-old and 4 year-old girls. My kids are my reason for existing.

Education is key.

It is my wish that if you read this to the end, you have been well-informed and would know these signs and symptoms if you were to see them in someone you know, family or friend, and how imperative it is to get that blood work done and get that diagnosis before DKA sets in. Believe me, you do not want to watch anyone go through that. My son was there for the onset and he had to call my mother so she could take me to the hospital. Time is of the essence regarding DKA.

If you or someone you love has been recently diagnosed with diabetes and you need someone to talk to, advice, experience, anything at all, I would love for you to contact me. My mother and I were counselors to parents of children who were newly diagnosed. A child with diabetes is more likely to take advice from a peer than from a family member, parent or doctor. My mother went to every school in my school district and educated teachers, staff, and nurses on what to do if I'm found acting in a peculiar way or worse, unresponsive at my desk or wherever. She was my warrior the first several years of my young, diabetic life. I owe her everything I am today because of her determination to make me as "normal" as possible. She did a phenomenal job. To this day, I use the same Endocrinologist I've had from day one. He's practically my dad. He has seen me grow up, has been through all three of my pregnancies, and has been through every milestone in my life. Make sure if you are diabetic that you have an Endocrinologist and not just go through your family doctor. While you may love your doctor, your Endocrinologist specializes in your disease and will know how to better treat you. I cannot stress that enough.

Thank you

Thank you for taking the time to read this. Let's summarize the important points:

  • know your signs
  • get tested IMMEDIATELY
  • research Endocrinologists who can help you
  • stay educated on therapies, diet and exercise
  • contact me anytime :-)


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