WTMJ Cares: My 35 year journey with T1D

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I was seven years old when my body started to 'turn' on me.

"You were very thin," my older brother Mark told me.  "Thin shoulders, and your ribs were exposed."

I was thirsty too.  I would drink anything I could get my hands on.

"I remember you using the bathroom all the time. " said my other brother Scott.  "We would make fun of you for it."

Everything changed when I was diagnosed in October 1984.  

"(Mom and Dad) were trying to explain to us that you were going to need (insulin injections) for the rest of your life,"  recalled Mark.  "I thought 'that's awful.'"

"I was told 'your brother will have to take (insulin injections) every day, and he can't have candy,'" Scott recounted.  "That sounded like a devastating blow (for a child)."

As a new Type 1 Diabetic, I was under a strict diet, and would be required to check my blood sugar levels multiple times a day.

But life goes on.  There was no other option.

"We always told you that you had to adjust to the situation.  The situation wouldn't adjust to you," my mother, Nila, explained to me.  "There was nothing you couldn't do.  You had to adjust."

My parents' advice worked.  I was able to figure things out.  But there a few bumps along the way.  I would often suffer from dangerously low blood sugars, causing hypoglycemic shock.

"It was scary to see," said Scott.

"You would thrash around," my mother said.  "You would yell.  We couldn't wake you."

Over time, my family learned how to deal with my low blood sugar issues.  But even now, with good control, I can still run into problems. 

"Sometimes you can't form a thought," Mom explained.  "You try to say something and you say it two or three times (in a row).  You still do that now as an adult."

It's a good reminder that people with Type 1 Diabetes must remain vigilant even when they have good control of their diabetes.

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