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Happy Birthday, you have Diabetes

In 2005, I was a carefree 13 YO kid. I had very few worries and was happy with my life. In early December of that year, some friends and I decided to take a walk through some woods. The woods were split into two parts and my chubby 13 YO self decided to give up about half way through because it was hot and I was tired. My friends convinced me and so began the 2nd worst afternoon in my life. About 20 feet into the second woods we stumbled onto a Yellow Jacket nest and I got stung over 100 times. Besides being very sore and traumatized, I was fine and given steroids to heal.

Fast forward to early February 2006. I’m super excited because my birthday is on Saturday and I get to have a party on my actual birthday! Except I didn’t. The whole week leading up to my birthday I was constantly thirsty, had to pee all the time, and even started wetting the bed, and about mid-way through the week I started throwing up anything I ate. My father got home from a fishing trip on Friday and took me to the Dr. It was here that I had the worst afternoon of my life. I was told I was diabetic and that I was going to spend my birthday in the hospital. All my 13 YO self could think about was how I wasn’t going to get any cake.

I spent 5 days in St Mary’s Children’s Hospital (I also missed the FCAT writing test. I got a 6 on the makeup test though so YAY!) The doctors think that the steroids I was given to heal effectively killed my already dieing pancreas. I still feel bad for the poor nurse that I scared by breaking into hysterics when he said “It’ll only feel like a little bee sting.” Poor guy.

But here I am now, approaching my 10 year Dia-versary. I hope there’s cake.

Gaffney, SC

"Critical Condition, No Cure"

It started out as a great summer, but by the end of July, Alyssa, just 13, was having headaches and her mouth was really sore. We went to a dr who diagnosed her with thrush. I questioned it but he was confident and gave us a prescription. 10 days later the prescription was gone and the thrush came back so back to the dr we went. Another bottle of the same stuff. The hot summer and the thrush made Alyssa very thirsty, therefore she was using the bathroom a lot. And she was in a growth spurt too, apparently, as she seemed to be getting skinnier and was a bit clumsy. She's going to be tall and skinny like her mom, is what everyone said. The second prescription ran out and Alyssa really wasn't feeling well. Back to the drs, This doctor sent us for bloodwork and then we went to the mall to buy new clothes for Alyssa. All of her pants were literally falling off of her. The girl who could usually out lap me at the mall couldn't even do one wing.

Shortly after the mall, the dr called us to come back to his office ASAP. Her blood glucose was very high and she had lost 20 lbs in 2 weeks. He sent us directly to the kid's ward at the hospital. I was not expecting what I heard. All I remember hearing was "critical condition" "no cure" "for the rest of her life". She was in the hospital for 10 days. I cried a lot. A lot. All those signs that were blamed on other things! I didn't see my 2.5 yr old who had to stay home with dad much those 10 days. But 4 years later Alyssa is ok. We volunteer with JDRF and she has raised almost $4000 for it. She is active with her friends and little sister. It's a struggle at times and it's not the life I imagined for my girl, but she's winning this battle. And I thank God every day to still have her with us.

Trixie Sylvester
Kelowna, AB, Canada

Re: My dream

I have type 1 diabetes it started off as type 2 but it turned into type 1 real quickly and it took my dream away from me as an over the road truck driver but it has also caused me so other health problems/issues like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, sleep apnea, depression, insomnia, and etc. But hopefully after I have this one surgery that my endo wants me to have hopefully it will give me my dream and health back for me to control.

Joey Stevenson
Leitchfield, KY

Life can still be beautiful*

I was a very happy child with a healthy lifestyle when 13 Years ago, aged 10 I got bronchitis which triggered hereditary juvenile diabetes. For 3 days, i drank about 16 liters of water from the extreme thirst, lost a lot of weight, was weak and moody, and terrible headaches. Thankfully my mother had a nursing background so it didn't take long before she recognized the symptoms and we went straight to the doctor. First thing they did was test my blood sugar which the tester could not read. They took blood and sent it to the lab and we received a phone call with in an hour to say my blood glucose was 44.7mmol/l. I was rushed to hospital and i will never forget my doctor saying that he had never seen someone with a blood sugar that high, still alive. I was young and didn't understand what exactly was happening, i didn't know what to feel. I over heard my mother who was very upset, speaking with my father about how my whole future would change because of this illness and from that point i decided that this disease was not going to ruin my life, that i would just need to adapt to the lifestyle of being a diabetic. I manage my sugar as best as possible while continuing to pray for a cure to be found. Living with diabetes is a very different lifestyle, but a person can still enjoy life just as long as you do your best to take care of your body and blood glucose. I now have a beautiful 6 year old son and an incredible husband that stands by my side through all the ups and downs diabetes comes with :) I am grateful for the life i live, being diabetic is not the end of the world its a part of who i am!

Cape Town, South Africa

"Drink this milkshake"

When I was 12, my grandma picked me up from school one day to take me to the doctor. I was extremely tired, lost a lot of weight, drank water like an elephant and went to the bathroom every 5 minutes. On the way to the doctor my grandma insisted I must have been starving and needed to eat. Since it is a grandma's job to have happily fed grandchildren, she contributed my weight loss and lack of energy to being hungry. So she ordered me a large milkshake, since the thought of food was so unappetizing to me, and had me drink the entire thing. Little did she know what was in store for us in the next hour.

"Your daughter has Type 1 Diabetes", that's the only thing I remember from the doctor appointment, even though at the time I had no idea what that even meant. I had a blood glucose reading of over 1,000 (don't worry grandma I don't blame you :)), and was in DKA. Being only 12, as I laid in the hospital bed staring at the bright lights, connected to all sorts of tubes and wires, being pocked and pricked constantly with needles, I was so scared and confused. I didn't understand why I had to learn how to give myself shots and start learning about sugar intake.

Here I am, 15 years later, still learning how to control my diabetes and get those perfect glucose readings. Often times, it seems impossible, but I can't give up. Diabetes has taught me self-discipline, determination, and courage to do anything I want to do without letting it ruin my life. Completing half marathons while tending to my diabetes has been the most challenging, yet rewarding milestone in my life. Every day is a struggle, but I’m thankful for the advancement in treatment and my ability to live a somewhat normal life.

Sara Nothhelfer
San Diego, CA


Twenty-six years ago my daily routine was very stressful both at home and work. During one of my frequent business trips I decided I should go to the doctor, since the foot tall airport signs were blurry and I didn't wear glasses. The doctor took the requisite tests and the first thing he said to me was "How long have you been diabetic?" I told him I didn't know what he was talking about. I didn't recognize all the symptoms that I was displaying...frequent urination, loss of weight, blurry vision and a feeling of fatigue on a regular basis. I had always been a rigid diet person so that didn't seem difficult but everything else seemed really overwhelming. After a few weeks on my new regime I again went to the doctor. My blood sugar was now higher than when I went in for the first checkup. After more testing, it was determined I was a Type 1 diabetic! That many years ago there weren't any people in my diabetes classes that found out they were Type 1 at the age of 39. How did this happen to me? Well, I now know more about diabetes than I know about anything else, even though most people I either know or don't know feel free to tell me daily what I should or shouldn't be doing to correct my health problem. I've learned patience and that not eating that snack is okay because I will feel better. I've learned when my mother explains if I eat a certain diet I will be able to stop taking shots, to let it roll off my back. A really good day is feeling normal and I can do what it takes to get that "normal" feeling. Is it easy? No, but I've grown used to appreciating routine and the positive benefits that routine brings me. I find it comforting to see the advances medicine has made in the field of diabetes in the last twenty-six years, and I look forward to living longer than most people with my illness did twenty-six years ago.

Murrieta, CA

Me and my friend, diabetes

I was 12 years old when I started going to the bathroom constantly, having unending thirst, fatigue, and many awful headaches.

We didn't know what was wrong so I was taken to the hospital. I spent three nights and fours day there. When they had checked my glucose levels, it read 728. I was scared because I didn't know what diabetes was. All I knew was that my dad and grandma had type 2.

A year later, I went into diabetic ketoacidosis. I almost died in an ambulance truck on the way to a hospital. And I was uncouncious through it all.

I have been getting better, gradually. I still have some problems with wanting to eat sugar but I have been getting better. I am so excited to get an insulin pump because I have been doing so well (as my doctor says). I will never forget the day I woke up in the hospital with so many faces looking down at me. I call diabetes a friends because it taught me many things about life.

**I'm the one on the right :) **

Greenleaf, ID

My Mother's Battle

At 21 I did not expect to lose my mother. My mother was 53 years young and full of life. She lived every day for her girls (my sister and I). My mother was 28 when she was diagnosed with diabetes. She was never a good patient. She hated the disease. I remember having to grow up fast at a young age, making sure that my mom ate and tested her blood sugar. I knew how to give her a glucagon shot and bring her blood sugar up. On October 9th, 2015 was the last time I saw my mom healthy. On October 10th, 2015 around 10 a.m., I received a call at work from my sister saying mom was low. I arrived to see my mother passed out and sweaty in bed. Nothing I did was working. Finally, I tested her blood sugar again and it was 200...that's when we called the ambulance. My mom went unresponsive for a month. She lacked glucose for several hours. She eventually awoke, but couldn't walk or talk. She was moved to a nursing home where she seemed to get stronger every day. She was trying to talk and was walking great! I saw my mother slowly wasting away. Her strength was leaving her. At the beginning of the New Year, she was moved to a nursing home closer to home. She battled a cold/flu and was very weak. She barely talked and couldn't walk. On March 13th, 2015, my mother was taken to the hospital for blood clots in her lungs. On March 15th, 2015, I said goodbye to my mother. I never expected to feel so much pain. My mission in life now is to spread awareness on diabetes and how life threatening of a disease it can be.

Morgan Spiering
Danville, IL

College Teaches More than Science

Being a college student, it is very hard trying to balance life. There's classes, work if you have a job, a social life, parties, etc. Add diabetes into the mix, and well, it's not a dream come true in the very least. I refer to the acclimation period of college when you have diabetes a nightmare.

My first semester at my university I took terrible care of myself. I didn't do my insulin all the time and I hardly ever touched my blood sugar monitor. Even though just a few short weeks before moving on campus I found myself in the hospital in DKA, it hadn't really hit me just how important it was I take care of myself.

It hasn't been till recently that it registered in my mind that there is so much on the line. Being in college I only have a couple years before I leave and have a career. In less than 10 I'll be married and starting a family. For me to get the most out of these huge milestones I realized I needed to buckle down and take care of myself. I had to get over the hatred I've had for over 10 years towards this disease. I needed to get my crap in order or else I may lose a foot, lose a kidney, lose my ability to have healthy pregnancies, and may even lose my life.

College does more than teach me the information I need to have a successful career one day. It has taught me that to be my best me, to live to do what I want, I need to become a good diabetic. I hope other young people who have struggled like me will learn this sooner rather than later. I don't think anyone wants to become a statistic.

Indianapolis, IN

Are You Always This Thirsty?

I was 19 years old, a sophomore in college and working full time. Right around Thanksgiving is when I started being so thirsty that I would wake up in the middle of the night and drink from the bathroom sink because I was too weak and too thirsty to make it downstairs. I could eat two meals in a row and still be starving and the headaches; the worst possible ones you could imagine. I was sensitive to light and that made me tired. I spent more time sleeping than awake it felt like. And finally, the big indicator- I had lost 30 pounds in 3 months. I didn't want to believe that there was something wrong with me. It was every teenage girl's dream to eat whatever she wanted and still lose weight. Everyone was worried about me, except for myself. Finally, in late February of 2014 I was at my aunt's house for dinner. She had noticed I drank all the water in her Brita in about an hour. "Are you always this thirsty?" she asked me. I told her lately yes and she immediately said to me that she thinks I have diabetes. It runs in my family on my dad's side. My great-aunt was diagnosed with Type I when she was 29 years old. Three days later I went to the doctors (I had just switched so he knew nothing about me) and told him my symptoms and family history. He told me that he wasn't going to test me for it, but test my blood sugar. Sure enough my blood sugar was 402 and I hadn't eaten in over 8 hours. I gave myself my first dose of insulin in the office and left that day with everything I would need. I was scared, confused, and in denial.

It's been a year now and I still am trying to figure out this disease, but it doesn't define me. I am almost 21 and a teacher and still a full time student. I am proud to say I am a Type I diabetic.

Dudley, MA
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