As a child one of our favorite activities was to go camping with our pop up camper. We went close to every weekend or every other weekend during the spring and summer seasons. As I was enjoying riding my bike I felt something that was unusual. I had a thirst that could not be quenched come over me and at the time I did not realize that this trip would be very different from any other in the past. We left for our usual camping trip on a Friday but this time we would be in the doctor’s office as they were opening on Monday morning.
As I sit in the diabetic specialist’s office hearing the news that I was diabetic I realized that the life I had known so far would never be the same. It was August of 1989 we were on our way to another weekend of fishing, bike riding, and camping. I was eight years old at the time and was getting ready to start the third grade in elementary school. As soon as we got unloaded I could tell that I didn’t feel quite right. I had a thirst that I could not quench. There was a paved circle where our camper was parked and I remember riding my bike around it continually.
In the middle of the circle was a water faucet for the campers to use any time they needed it. I can vividly remember not being able to pass that water faucet without stopping and drinking as much as I could stomach. We also had a case of soda and other drinks for the weekend that I finished off after a day at the campsite. The constant thirst was the worst part of the symptoms, but frequent urination obviously came with it. remember getting up close to a dozen times in one night to use the restroom. The following day I was on my way to the doctor.
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I lived with other family members that were diabetics so we already had the blood sugar monitoring equipment. My parents checked my blood sugar the next morning and it was over five hundred. A normal person’s blood glucose level should range between eighty and one hundred and twenty. I also used a blood glucose urine test strip that showed I was passing ketones through my urine. All these symptoms combined gave my parents a good idea of what was happening to me. I remember immediately packing our camping gear up and leaving a day early from our trip which was unusual.
I was told that we just needed to get to the doctor to make sure everything was ok, but I could feel that there was more to it by their somber mood. On the way to the doctor was told that he was a different doctor that I had never seen. He was a diabetic specialist that I would come to know very well over the next ten years. After being poked, stuck, and having blood drawn repeatedly they finally took me and my parents into his office. I remember my mom crying the whole time and I didn’t completely comprehend what was happening or why she was crying until they told me I would have to take multiple shots every day for the rest of my life.
I remember that I was most upset because I would never be able to have candy again. That was one of many changes that were about to change my life forever. I already had an older brother that was a juvenile diabetic. He had been diagnosed when he was twelve, which was about ten years prior to my diagnosis. My father was also already an insulin dependent type II diabetic at this time. Our whole family was very familiar with the disease, its symptoms, and the care that went along with it. I grew up seeing my father and brother taking shots of insulin and not being able to eat certain things.
This experience undoubtedly helped me in the transition to learn how to live with this disease. It has been almost twenty five years since that weekend camping when I became diabetic and there is no doubt that my life has never been the same since then. The good news is that my life was different but you would have never known there was anything different about me. I played sports, went swimming, and had sleepovers just like any other kid. The only difference is that I carried insulin and a blood machine with me that most kids did not have to worry about.
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