I have had a weight problem all of my life. To put it into perspective, I have the same waist size now that I did when I was 10 years old!
When I got into 7th grade I hit the most I have ever weighed. I was at 265 lbs. It was awful and so I started eating a little better and walking to and from school. My Freshman year, I was in marching band and busy with school so I started losing weight, rapidly. All this time, my mother had noticed a change in my behavior. I was very rebellious and my moods changed faster Vanna White during commercial breaks. My mom was sure that it was just the teenager thing.
I was also thirsty all of the time. I would get up about 4 times during each night to use the restroom and it seemed like I was getting sick and feeling awful for a long time. I went to the doctors and they did blood work and said that my sugar was a little high but that I probably had a large meal the night before. First off, it was a fasting blood sugar and every meal at this point in my life was large!
On October 2nd of 1990, I was at Drum rehearsal on a Monday night and my drum instructor looked at me and asked if I was feeling okay. I told him that I had a headache but other then that I felt fine. He said I looked as white as a ghost and for a Cuban, Puerto Rican guy like me, white as a ghost is not even possible unless something is wrong. He told me to sit down and he called my mom to pick me up from practice.
I should add that at this time I weighed 160 lbs and looked very sickly. I really didn’t care because I was the thinnest I had ever been.
She took me straight to urgent care. Once there they checked my blood with a Glucose meter and said, “You’re Diabetic.” Just like that. I said, “well maybe I had a large meal.” The nurse replied, “If you did not have diabetes you could have just eaten a pound of sugar and your reading would not be this high!” I was at 504. I asked what normal was. “70 to 110” she said. I freaked out.
Not two years earlier my Type 2 Grandma (one of the two) started taking insulin and I remember saying to myself, “I would rather die then have to give myself shots for the rest of my life!” Famous last words…
The nurse then told me that a nurse would be coming to my house in the morning to give me a shot and to teach me how to give them to myself. For the next month I came in to the lab twice a day for blood tests. I was a regular pin cushion.
My father called me on the phone the night I was diagnosed. He was out of town on training and for the second and last time in my life, I heard my father cry. He was so scared and also felt very guilty as if his genes were the reason I had this disease. I remember to this day how scared I was to hear him cry. He was a Sheriff and always my rock. I think that was the first moment that I realized that this was a life changing and life long event.
My mother also kept blaming herself and the doctor had to reassure her that being a Type 1, was nobody’s fault. I spent most of my senior year in and out of the doctors and missed a ton of school. I almost did not graduate because I missed the last week of finals but my teachers let me take the finals the week of graduation practice and I passed just in time to walk during the ceremony.
I know that being diagnosed at age 17 has it’s pluses and minuses. I mean, sometimes I wish that I would have had it at a younger age so it would have been just a part of my life but then again, at least I had a few years to enjoy like shot free. The biggest problem that I found was that feeling of being different and knowing that something was wrong with me. It’s hard enough trying to figure yourself out personality wise as a teen and now not even understanding your own health and body made for a very difficult experience.
I know we all have our challenges no matter what age or how each of us gets introduced to our disease. One thing I have learned is that we are not alone. The support and friends I have made online have really changed my perspective so much.