I am seven years old and I am on the way to go to EXPO in Vancouver. It is 1986 and I am in the car with my mom, dad and little brother. My mom tells me that we are taking a quick stop at the doctors office because she wants me to get a check up. I argue. I am excited to be going to EXPO. I dont remember much about the doctors office but I do remember that all of a sudden we were not going to EXPO anymore. I remember sitting in a bed at the Royal Columbian Hospital wearing one of those hospital gowns and my mom is crying. I dont understand why but I do know that we are not going to EXPO anymore.
It turns out that over the past couple of weeks my mom has noticed a few things that were a little unusual. I was lethargic, I was drinking glass after glass of water, I didnt play, I looked pale and I was losing weight.
After a quick blood test and urine test it was confirmed. I was a type 1 diabetic child.
This didnt mean much to me, I was told that I had to spend two weeks in the hospital and I didn't mind that too much. There was a young girl in the bed next to mine who had a broken leg, and we became friends quickly. I was not happy about the pokes in my finger for blood testing. In 1986 the blood testing took two minutes and required a lot more blood than the five second tiny drip blood tests require now. I was not happy about the needles and I'm sure I argued sometimes, but for the most part - I felt better and I had fun. The nurses loved me - they nicknamed me Muffin Crumbs because my bed time snack (a muffin every night) always resulted in a trail of crumbs throughout my bed that they would sweep out with the same hands that poked and prodded me before they let me go to sleep.
My parents were amazing. During the time I was in the hospital my mother must have read every book published on Diabetes, and attended every possible group or meeting to learn everything she could. I was taken care of extremely well. She taught me everything I know and I learned by example. She tested my blood for me, gave me my needles, measured my food, and slowly I learned how to do this by myself. I started gaining a bit of independence however I was still afraid (or stubborn) and refused to do my own needles, or even learn how. Eventually I decided that I was going to do it when my parents had to come to a sleepover I was attending and do my bedtime insulin. Ever since I have been doing my own needles, monitoring my own blood sugar levels, and following my own diet.
The most important part of my childhood with diabetes was the constant support from my family, the good example I was able to follow, and the understanding that was offered when I was having a bad day. I can honestly say that without that, I never would have been able to learn as much as I was able to, and know the consequences of my decisions. The advice I can offer any parent who has a child with diabetes is lead by example. Show your child how to take care of themselves, and be consistent with the food choices that you provide, the consistency of monitoring sugar levels and insulin injections, and create a regular routine for the entire family to make it just that little bit easier for a child with diabetes to learn what they need to in order to survive as a teen and an adult.