The topic today takes us down Memory Lane… diabetes-style!
As Karen instructs:
Today we’re going to share our most memorable diabetes day. You can take this anywhere…. your or your loved one’s diagnosis, a bad low, a bad high, a big success, any day that you’d like to share.
What is probably my most memorable diabetes day? Well, like many, I’d say it’s likely the day I was diagnosed.
Except I don’t remember that.
See, I was only 5 years old.
Most of what I know about that time comes from second-hand memories — as told by my mother and others — except for a few scattered flashes from that day in Spring 1984. And in the time immediately following my diagnosis…
Honestly, I can’t even say exactly when I was diagnosed because we just don’t know — my family didn’t keep a record of the exact day. We only know it was between my 5th birthday on Feb. 1 and when we ventured off to a California (DisneyLand) vacation in June, and before I started kindergarten that fall. So, I’ve decided March is as good a month as any to mark my dia-versary.
Anyhow, the diagnosis day…
I remember being at the house of my dad’s parents, and my mom and dad were off somewhere without me at the time. I have vague memories of those classic symptoms — excessive thirst and urination, and I remember gulping down glasses of both water and Sunny Delight (a staple in my grandparents’ house).
Do I remember being sick before that day? Nope, and apparently I wasn’t. But when my parents came to get me, and were told of the strange behavior, red warning flags and alarms went off in their heads… because they knew exactly what that meant, as my mom had been diagnosed with type 1 back when she was a little kid, too.
They took me to the pediatric hospital and I was transferred to Children’s Hospital of Michigan. But after only a few days, my new pediatric endos decided I could get better care at home with my diabetes-experienced mom, so they let me out. Only after I could prove that I was able to administer my own shot, of course.
My mom says she helped do a lot of the D-management tasks in those early days, and we shared one of those old-school meters the size of a brick that were the only ones around in the mid-80s. Mainly, she tells me I was a fussy kid who didn’t want to eat the food he had insulin on board for, which was even more of a problem back then since I took Lente insulin and had to eat to cover that insulin.
Another image that comes to mind is my first injection at my grandparents’ house. Apparently, some family member was coming after me with a scary syringe and I wasn’t fond of the idea of being stabbed with it. So, I was screaming my head off. And there was an orange being held up, possibly as a way to show my 5-year-old mind that it was OK and if the orange could get a shot, so could I.
Turns out, this isn’t even a real memory. Or not the way I recall it. My mom says, “You could do shots when you left the hospital after 3 days, and you did them. My guess would be that you figured it was something you might able to get out of sometimes… that wouldn’t work with me or my mother. But you knew who you could easily swill. I always watched you when you did the shot yourself to make sure you actually stuck it in. Many times we gave it to you, but we made you do it sometimes so you knew you could do it.”
The only other diabetes-specific memory I have from my early post-diagnosis days relates to being sent to D-Camp. That was Camp Midicha in Southeast Michigan. This was not a pleasant experience, as I remember it.
Yes, I do remember vaguely meeting some other children with diabetes, staying in a cool cabin and learning various diabetes tricks like using a tree to give myself a shot in the arm using one-hand. But after a week, I was homesick and wanted desperately to go home. And that wasn’t all.
Mosquitoes had their way with me, big time.
By the time camp was finished, a horde of them had nibbled away at this one spot on the back of my leg, just below my knee. The result? A bundle of bites on top of each other, that made my little leg swell up with a softball-sized lump and made it painful to even walk normally.
As a little kid, that’s what I remember the most about my D-Camp experience and why I never wanted to go back. What a shame!
Ironically, a quarter-century after that whole miserable mosquito-attack experience, I joined the governing board for my local D-Camp in Indiana. And I regret not giving the local ADA-run D-Camp up in Michigan more of a chance after that first year.
Those are my only memories from those early D-Days.
I may not remember much, but those experiences helped shaped me and make me who I am today. And now, I’m all about making new memories.