I had a great childhood filled with loving parents, and sibling, great friends, family, school, sports, and loads of extracurriculars. Sure my family wasn't perfect, but I was loved, happy, and healthy. Then, when I was 10 years old, I got sick, like really, really sick.
I had lost upwards of 20 pounds in two weeks, my naps had returned and were becoming longer and more frequent. I was going to the bathroom at least 5 or 6 times an hour. More often than not I was calling my grandparents begging for them to pick me up from school because of my pounding migraines and unfathomable upset stomach.
It got really bad in November and December and through the end February - I even began wetting the bed again at 10 years old. See, as a kid, my time was split in so many ways. My grandparents saw some symptoms, the school saw some symptoms, my parents saw some symptoms, but no one saw them all.
Most people around me chalked it up to the flu, too many sleepovers, or just normal growing changes. Then, two weeks after my 11th birthday on March 2, my mom used the restroom after I did and noticed a fruity smell (ketones). She called the doctor and demanded I be seen that day for she had been suspecting and the ketones had confirmed that I was in a far worse state than the flu.
I went to the doctors and received the diagnosis of Type 1 Diabetes. A chronic, lifelong condition where the immune system attacks the insulin-producing (beta cells) of the pancreas. I was promptly taken the ER and then rushed to the children's hospital by transport team where I spent the next few days in PICU (pediatric intensive care unit) and finished out the rest of the week in the hospital.
The first 48 hours were touch and go, no one was sure if I was going to survive. I did, but many do not.
November is Type 1 Diabetes Awareness Month. The colors to show support are blue and grey.
Type 1 is often fatally misdiagnosed as the flu. I want to spread awareness by urging you to demand a blood sugar tests. The test are quick and simple, often costing around $1.50. The doctor may try and tell you it is the flu, but you have a right to ask to be tested. Please advocate for yourself and friends. In most cases, it probably is just the flu, but you don't want to be the one case where it not.
So please, be aware of the symptoms listed above: extreme weight loss, upset stomach, fatigue, lethargy, headaches, dizziness, confusion, excess thirst, excess urination, any flu-like symptom.
If you feel like something is wrong, get tested. You have a right to live. Your life is worth more than a $1.50 test.
For more information and diabetes resources, you can visit JDRF or DYF websites.