Imagine relying on a juice box to save your entire life, having hands so sweaty that you drop everything you pick up and waking up every morning, not being able to get up because you feel like you’ll faint.
A common autoimmune disease where the pancreas does not produce insulin impacts billions of people around the world. There are two different types of this disease– type one and type two diabetes.
Type One diabetes is inherited by family genes and often times diagnosed before patients enter their twenties. Type two diabetes is not passed down by genes. Most older adults inherit type two because of their diet, weight, or can be medically induced due to different circumstances.
Before being diagnosed, every day I would wake up feeling too weak to get out of bed. For three months, I would wake up almost six times a night to go to the bathroom and never got a good night of sleep. Throughout the day, I would drink of tons and tons of water and never be satisfied. I was always thirsty, tired, and had no energy. The symptoms that I faced were not too severe, but it was extremely exhausting doing normal day to day activities.
At the time, I shared a room with my sister. Since we were always in the same room and always together, she could tell there was something off about the way I was acting.
Being twelve years old, I never knew how to tell people what was wrong or how I felt. I didn’t think anything was really wrong with me, and I assumed everything would pass. I kept it to myself and hoped that I would feel normal in a couple days, but I never did.
The weekend I was diagnosed, my family and I drove from Virginia Beach, Virginia to Durham, North Carolina to visit relatives. The four hour road trip was one of the worst experiences of my life because of how sick I felt, and my parents still never knew anything.
Throughout the trip, I asked for water and to go to the bathroom so many times. My parents then began to worry about why I was asking so much but never thought anything of it.
Once we hit the Virginian Emporium, there were two more hours until we arrived in North Carolina. By this time, I could not take the thirst and pain anymore.
There was about an hour and a half left of driving, and since I had already asked for water so many times, I didn’t want to make my parents stop at a gas station again. I decided to text my sister who was sitting beside me, only so my parents couldn’t hear me ask. “If I don’t get water soon, Im going to cry!” I texted Kyndall. She knew I was scared to ask for water again, so she asked for me and showed my mom the text I sent her.
We stopped at a traveling rest spot when we got to NC. When I saw the snack machine and how much water it had inside, this place was a literal heaven on earth to me.
Once my family and I made it to the house, Kyndall and my mom told my grandma what was happening during the trip. From what my mom was telling my grandma, she was concerned that I was having symptoms of diabetes. Unfortunately, she was right.
The next morning, I woke up feeling the exact same way, but I felt a little better because everyone knew I wasn’t feeling well. It felt good to not have to hide how much water I was drinking or how often I went to the bathroom. Looking back, I am not sure why I was so afraid to tell everyone how I was feeling.
My grandma told me that she was going to check my blood glucose before I ate anything for breakfast. My blood sugar was 356, which is extremely high for a non-diabetic at the time. My grandma knew it was time for me to get examined, so we left for the closest Urgent Care.
Urgent Care was the first place to diagnose me; They told me that I was living with diabetes for three months before I ever noticed any symptoms. One of the nurses took me to the exam room and drew blood. Everything was happening so fast, it was extremely overwhelming. When I walked out of the exam room, it seemed like my entire family was in the waiting room– my mom, dad, two aunts, my brother and sister, and my grandma.
From the Urgent Care they sent us to the Duke emergency room so that I could be admitted for a couple of days. Knowing that I was going to be staying in the hospital was terrifying. I thought I was going to be alone in the hospital room. Luckily, my mom stayed with me the entire time, and I am so thankful for that.
The Duke hospital assured us that it was okay to travel back four hours to Virginia. From Duke, we drove to the Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters (CHKD).
When we arrived to CHKD, a room was set aside for me. Throughout the night, nurses came in and out to check on me.
The following morning, my Doctors made an appointment for me to meet with one of the endocrinologists at the hospital. Mrs.Renee, the nurse educator, told me the basics and what diabetes was overall, how to check my blood sugar, and where to give myself shots. Leaving the appointment, I felt more familiar with what had to become the new normal for my family and I.
On the second day of staying in the hospital, I had already gotten used to getting shots. I met so many nurses in two days, I never knew it was possible.
The second night of staying in the hospital, I got a better amount of sleep and when I woke up, they told me that I could go home as soon as they print the release papers. I wasn’t ready to leave the supervision of nurses. Eventually, I packed everything up and left CHKD.
On the way home, I remember being so excited to see my sister again and be back in my room. My parents were asking me how felt about the whole situation. Honestly, I was just happy I didn’t have to drink so much water anymore. I finally felt good again.
Everyday got better and better, and I had so much help from my parents; my aunt and grandma drove down to Virginia to help me too! Having diabetes was becoming part of my everyday life, but of course there were some really hard days that were mixed in with the good days.
It’s been five years since being diagnosed, and I have gotten so much stronger, making sure I am eating more healthy foods and exercising. I’ve made new friends with diabetes when I moved to North Carolina. Leesville has their own Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) that forms a team for the annual diabetes walk that takes place in October. Each year Leesville also has a week of donation where students contribute money to the JDRF so that a cure is closer to come, and type one diabetes will soon become type none diabetes.