My name is Kristy I was born on June 24th 1980. I am now 32 years old. Most of my friends are saying how old they’re getting but me? I'm just happy to still be here!
You see, I have type 1 diabetes (T1D) my parents found out when I was 2 years old. I say that THEY found out because I was too young to remember. My mom knew that something was wrong because I would sit in front of the fridge and keep drinking lots and lots of juice and because I drank so much, I would wet my diaper more than is usual. My mom knew the signs because her mom, dad and sister all have diabetes, it runs in the family.
When the doctor checked my blood glucose, it was over 1000mg/dl (56mmol/L). I was admitted to the hospital right away and stayed for a week. Whilst there, mom and dad learned how to give an orange a shot of insulin and how to drain my diaper to check my blood glucose levels. The first time mom gave me a shot of insulin, she said that she was sorry to me, the nurse yelled at her and said “No! Never say that you’re sorry... you’re saving her life!!” We went home that night. They didn't have meters back then that you could take home. That’s why mom had to drain my diapers, to test my blood glucose/keytone levels. I was tested with reagent strips, using my urine to see how much was present. After applying the urine, mom had to wait for 30 seconds and check against a coloured chart to see the amount that was present, the darker the colour, the higher the glucose. I don't remember any of this.
My side of the story takes place after all that. I just never knew life without having diabetes!
I remember later in the 80's, we got a big meter to take home, big compared to what we have now! It used a ton of blood and took what seemed like forever to give me the result. While growing up, I never gave myself my insulin shots as this was too hard for me to attempt. If I ever slept over at a friend’s house, mom would come over the next morning to shoot me up in my butt. I decided at 9 years of age that I needed to do the shots myself. I was promised a nice new pink bicycle if I could do it! Dad took me to a local nurse that had previously taught my aunt how to inject, when she was diagnosed with diabetes at the age of 13. I remember dad had to leave the room and I was crying so badly. The truth is that I was scared, although... it didn’t really hurt that bad and it wasn't even that hard to do after all. Dad bought me my brand new pink bike that day and from then on I could sleep over at my friends’ houses and not have mom come over the next morning, it made my life a little easier from then onwards.
I hated the school day, at every 10am and 2 pm, I would have to have a snack in classs I felt like everyone was watching me. I also had to go to the nurse’s office to get my blood sugar checked. This was a real pain and I had to do this until high school!
High school was hard for me. I was also diagnosed with kidney cancer when I was 17 and I had to have treatments and eventually, my left kidney was removed. At that time, I was not too knowledgeable about my own diabetes health care and I left the nurses and doctors in charge of my diabetes. This caused a lot of highs and lows and stays in hospital. The truth is, diabetes for me is harder than the cancer was! But from then onwards, I learned to ask questions about what they’re giving me, how well controlled my blood glucose is, basically, I ask them everything about my diabetes and the best way to get good blood glucose levels, after all it's my body and I want what is best for it, I previously had learned the hard way.
A moment of inspiration came to me while in hospital. My mom bought met me a diabetes magazine that had Nicole Johnson, Miss America from 1999 on the cover. I noticed that Nicole was wearing a mini med insulin pump! I thought to myself”if Miss America can wear one why not me!” From that day on, we had to fight with the HMO insurance but finally won the right to wear a pump and I started using it soon after leaving the hospital. Things soon got so much easier. The pump was a lot bigger than the ones we have now but it was better than having shots several times a day.
That's my story from living with diabetes for the past 32 years! Things are not perfect, everyday is still a battle I just try and stay positive and enjoy my life to the fullest.