life with type 1 diabetes

DX Story

I was working from home, it was about lunch time, I hadn’t been feeling well, I decided that I should just give in and go get antibiotics… easy fix, head to urgent care to get a z-pak and be on my way… I wouldn’t be very long anyway, I didn’t even bother to log off of my office IM system.  It was a warm October day in Southern California, I was wearing my standard cotton shorts and a v-neck, threw on a pair of flip flops as I left the house, I was only going to be inside for a few minutes anyway. My phone was dying… I’ll plug it in as soon as I get back. I drive the 3 minutes down the road, park my car and walk into the refrigerator temperature doctor’s office — I should have brought a sweatshirt. I remember I had to wait a few minutes, then the standard, pee in a cup, we’ll be back in a minute. Then the doctor comes in and starts taking my history… thought: this is a bit extensive for a z-pak, but whatever… I answer his questions. He keeps asking about diabetes, family history, type 1 or type 2 — no one in my family has diabetes… why is this idiot asking me all these stupid questions… I actually sent my sister a text message that said just that. Then they sent in a tech to take my blood sugar… he had a terrible poker face. In the 5 second pause between when the blood is put on the strip and the meter dings to give its reading I had a disembodied thought… is this the last time I’m going to look at this process and not know what’s going on? … I had no idea what was next. I knew something was wrong because, as I mentioned, the tech did not hide his reaction very well… but of course he can’t tell me anything so he just cleans up the counter and walks out… at which point I probably started texting something else sarcastic/annoyed to my sister. The doctor comes flying in with a nurse, and the tech bobbing in the background — I felt like a zoo attraction — and he announces that I have diabetes… my first reaction… as stated out loud to the doctor “No I don’t”

So it goes from bad to worse. My blood sugar was in the 400s, which sounded ridiculous at the time — the number meant nothing, I had no context, was high good or bad? They wanted to send me to the hospital, I rationalized that I could not go to the hospital without a more clothing, a phone charger, my computer, I have been in hospitals, I was not about to sit there for hours with nothing to do… they put me in a room off to the side, the nurse came in and gave me my first ever shot of insulin. It was freezing, there was no cell service, I told the front desk I was going to step outside to make a call.

I was in a relationship at this point… you would figure that I would call that person… you would think… as luck would have it she had gone to Palm Springs for the weekend, and had left that morning for a weekend long meeting, during which she would not be answering her phone… yes, people I can’t make this shit up. And to make it even funnier, it was Friday — so even if she had wanted to come back that night it would have taken her hours because of LA/Palm Springs weekend traffic. So I call anyway, twice… as predicted, to voicemail… so in my slightly confused 400+ blood sugar mind I realize that I should probably text her since she doesn’t listen to voicemail (to be fair neither do I and I didn’t really want to commemorate my shaken up/edge of reason voice on a voicemail message anyway). And then I call my sister, I am convinced the reason Emma was still living in LA despite wanting to leave was because she was supposed to be there for me on this day… after a very brief “you what?!” conversation, she was on her way down to me, walking out for the day from work and driving all the way across town… she was my rock that day… my loud, kickass, amazing, sweet, rock.

Emma arrived after I had been moved over to the endocrinologist, which thank god meant I wouldn’t have to go to the ER. The max dose of insulin the urgent care was allowed to administer had begun to bring me down enough to be safely treated in office, under care of an endocrinologist I would be able to be given the additional insulin needed without the ER visit, thank god. The rest is a blur, learning how to manage my own care, a visit to the pharmacy, a phone call with my parents… the follow up appointment, the denial, my first business trip with diabetes four days later… I knew it was going to change everything, but at the same time I hadn’t grasped exactly what that meant.

In hindsight, I had all the classic symptoms the most glaring was the dramatic weight loss — 15lbs in a month while eating non-stop and not exercising, the next being the peeing all the time, I mean all the time and then being thirsty all the time, being tired — physically needing to nap/not being able to stay awake, all of which I blamed on summer heat…

Today I use an insulin pump and a continuous glucose monitor, I eat mostly what I want, while trying to be responsible most of the time. I’m slowly getting back to exercising, feeling comfortable running or lifting, without worrying about dying. That might sound drastic, but if your world has been touched by diabetes, as a patient or as a loved one, you understand that this is not an exaggeration. I have good days and bad days, but I try to be forgiving of myself and remember that there is only so much I can do to be my own pancreas.


  1. Chris

    Do insulin shots hurt? I was diagnosed last year and started having symptoms a little over a year ago, possibly as far back as two years.. I tested positive for autoantibodies so I have type 1 is what they say. My sugars as of late have been hovering in the low 200’s which isn’t good and I’m on metformin. I also have been told I have hyperthyroidism so that is probably contributing to my rise in blood sugar. I may need insulin soon, and am worried about the injections hurting. Are they more painful than the finger pricks? Does everyone with type 1 diabetes go blind? That’s my worst fear. How do you even live life after living carefeee? I was 25 when I was diagnosed so I lived very carefree and did whatever, I’m 26 now and had never taken insulin and can’t imagine it but I’m told its warranted. Please tell me it gets better

    • Sophie

      I think they were more scary than painful at first. I’m on an insulin pump now, but shots barely bothered me after a few weeks, just when the insulin was cold from the fridge, but even then it just stung for a minute. It’s an uphill battle, but I can at least tell you that I feel a thousand times better than I did before I was diagnosed, even though I barely knew anything was wrong, diabetes is weird like that, at least it has been for me. Please reach out anytime here or on twitter @thachert1d

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