June 8, 1987. Twenty years ago, just 6 days before my 10th birthday. My mom took me to the pediatrician for my annual checkup. Something wasn't normal. We had to go to the lab at the hospital first thing the next morning, before I even had breakfast. They drew some blood, then sent us out to Perkins to have a big breakfast. I've always loved breakfast, especially pancakes, but not when I felt forced to eat. Mom kept pouring more syrup on my pancakes, and trying to get me to keep eating even though I was full. Eventually she decided I'd eaten enough and we went back to the lab at the hospital, where they drew more blood. Apparently my bloodsugar had gone up quite a bit between the two samples - they said I had diabetes. I had no idea what this meant, but judging by the way Mom was crying, I was sure I was about to die.
Later that day, as Mom was trying to explain what diabetes was and what I was going to have to do to take care of myself (Mom is an RN, so she know a little bit about diabetes already), my dad gets an idea. I don't know why he thought it was a good idea, but he did it anyway. He told me that one of his fishing buddies' sons has diabetes and he thinks that this boy left a syringe in the boat. He goes out to the garage to look for it. When he comes back in and shows me the syringe, I went crazy. I cried, screamed, punched the couch cushions, and I think my whole body shook.
I had a dance recital coming up that weekend, and my birthday was on Sunday, so Mom convinced the Doctor to let me not go into the hospital for diabetes training until the day after my birthday. I remember being backstage at the recital, with my friends. Someone offered me some goldfish and I ate a handful. Then I remembered what Mom had told me about eating anything sugary, and I was convinced that if I liked them, goldfish must be sugary. As soon as the recital was over, I told Mom that I'd eaten them and I hoped I wasn't going to die from it. She somehow convinced me that I would live, and told me I did the right thing by telling her what I'd eaten.
To celebrate my birthday, I wanted to go out to dinner at my favorite restaurant at that time - Hoss's Steak House. I always ordered a steak off the kid's menu and got the Soup & Salad bar. Since it was my birthday, they would sing and bring me a birthday cake. Well the wait staff sang to me and brought out the cake, but Mom was not about to let me eat any of it. I think my grandparents convinced her to let me have at least a tiny piece of cake. That was probably the smallest slice of cake ever cut! I was devastated.
Other than the goldfish at the recital and my birthday dinner at Hoss's , I don't remember a lot about the week between my diagnosis and my hospital stay. Mom says that at one point she took me to the hospital where she worked (different from the hospital where I would go for my training) and checked my bloodsugar there. She said it was normal and that she called my Doctor to tell him he was wrong, that there was no way I had diabetes.
I was admitted to the hospital on June 15, 1987 as a perfectly healthy 10 year old. I spent a lot of time giving shots to an orange (until the saline I was injecting leaked from other holes in the orange!) and learning about what I should and shouldn't eat. Eventually I had to start giving myself injections. Just once a day to begin with, since I was still in the "honeymoon phase" of diabetes, where my pancreas was still producing some insulin. I was only taking 2 units of NPH back then!
Here's the good and the bad from my hospital stay:
My best friend sent me a card every single day.
My aunt's 4th grade class made cards and sent them to me. I eventually got to meet the kids who had made the cards for me because we moved and I ended up in their class for 5th grade!
Several family members brought me toys and gifts.
My grandfather gave me a 10-speed bike. He'd just been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, and he gave me the bike because "we can't eat the same stuff as everybody else".
I didn't get any sleep the entire week that I was in the hospital because nurses were constantly coming in to check my temp, bloodsugar, and whatever else.
I was a picky eater back then, so I wasn't thrilled with the hospital food.
I was bored. I was a perfectly healthy 10-year old stuck in the hospital. Thankfully, I don't think they do diabetes education like this anymore!
My room looked out to a playground across the street from the hospital. See above - I wanted to go out there!
So here I am, 20 years later. I have not had to stay overnight in the hospital since that week. I do not have any complications. I still get frustrated with diabetes, and yell, scream, cry, etc. but I get over it. And I'm still hoping and praying for a cure.