Two months after my 4th birthday, my childish care-free world would come to an abrupt halt! Mine and my family's lives would be forever changed with one unforeseen life-long diagnosis… Juvenile (Type 1) Diabetes. It might have become official in the matter of one day in the hospital but it most certainly didn't hit my poor little body that fast.
No, this disease had been taking its toll on me for quite some time. See, I was potty trained shortly after I turned two and had become a pro at it shortly after. So my parents became very worried when I seemed to be regressing in those skills at the age of four! I would constantly have accidents, never being able to get to the bathroom in time, and having to go all the time. I would not sleep at night because I constantly had nightmares. I had no energy during the day and went from being a cheerful, happy, active kid to a whiny, clingy, couch potato (and little did we know, very sick) kid. I was also a very underweight child. When I was admitted to the hospital I weighed about 25lbs at the age of four! That is 10lbs below where I should have been. [We later learned that frequent urination, nightmares, and lack of energy, and weight loss are all side effects of high blood sugar.]
Growing up before this point I was constantly sick… I always had an ear infection. Maybe that is what set my body’s immune system into overdrive and caused it to attack my pancreas… who knows? But for whatever reason, my own immune system did just that. It attacked my pancreas and killed off all my insulin-producing cells. This causes major problems!
When you have no insulin in your body to break down glucose (sugar), it just stays put in your body where it causes damage. [This is also what causes the frequent urination. Because your body can’t process it normally, it is trying to get rid of it any way it can, so it tries to flush it out through your urine. Most newly diagnosed patients have an excessive amount of sugar in their urine.] High blood sugar levels eventually damage blood vessels, nerves, and organ systems in the body. For this reason, people with type 1 diabetes MUST take insulin in order to stay alive. This means undergoing multiple injections daily, or having insulin delivered through an insulin pump, and in addition to all that they must also test their blood sugar by pricking their fingers for blood six or more times a day! People with diabetes must also carefully balance their food intake and their exercise to regulate their blood sugar levels, in an attempt to avoid hypoglycemic (low blood sugar) and hyperglycemic (high blood sugar) reactions, which can be life threatening.
Imagine trying to explain why you have to do all this to a four year old, or better yet, why her brother and all her friends don’t have to do this but she does. Even better yet, try explaining to a four year old that this all happened so fast but it will NEVER end; she (I) will have to do this every day until I die! Or try to comprehend how you, as a parent, would feel knowing that you now had a child with very special needs and major health concerns and knowing that in order to keep her as healthy as possible you had to give her these injections 4-5times a day, but yet she cries because she doesn’t understand why you are choosing to “hurt” her. Insulin is not my cure but it is my life line so I have do this daily, but I don’t want to. That is why kids, teens, and adults living with Type 1 Diabetes, like me all across the world so badly need a cure! So that no more families have to face what we did. Children don’t need to suffer like this and parents shouldn’t have to put their kids through so much pain. Please support a cure in any way you can! (If you are interested in donating go to www.JDRF.org for more information!)
Thanks for reading the story of my diagnosis! I am now 20 years old and have been living with this disease for 16yrs! It hasn’t been without its complications but I am still here and am a junior in college! Never let your disease stop you from your dreams!!! If anything, use it as motivation, knowing you don’t have as long on this earth as others so you need to chase and reach your dreams faster! I started this blog to educate others, but more importantly, to provide support to anyone who is “in my shoes”. I will continue to update this blog until I catch you up to what is going on in my health world today. =) Please leave comments!!!!
~ Casey Karen