Age: 24 Year Diagnosed: 2010 Location: Toluca Lake, Ca
I was diagnosed when I was 18 years old, and like so many Type 1 Diabetics, it was through a life-threatening event. Even though I had a full exam from a doctor two months prior to the diagnosis, and after unknowingly telling her I had some of the main symptoms of Type 1 Diabetics, she said nothing. I had developed an infection in my ear that spread to my other ear, and doctors thought it was the flu. I had previously had the flu and knew that this was something else. I felt like I was deteriorating. After a few more days, and many glasses of orange juice and gatorade later, my mother found my unconscious on our couch. The EMTs thought I had overdosed on drugs, and it wasn't until they checked my blood sugar that they asked my mother how long I had been a diabetic. She explained that I wasn't as they rushed me to the hospital. At first they told my mother that I might not make it; I had diabetic ketoacidosis and my blood sugar was 1100. My acid level in my stomach was unlivable and I was pretty much dying. After they stabilized me, I was in a coma and we learned that since Type 1 Diabetes is an auto-immune disease that I had developed a staff infection in my ear, that went through my bloodstream to the other ear and my lungs. They told my parents that I could be brain-damaged or deaf, and that they wouldn't know until I woke up. After five days in the coma, I woke up on Halloween, and thankfully I am okay. While I had a lot of complications in the hospital and some long term effects, I am generally okay and feel lucky to be alive and well. My takeaway from all of this is that it is vital to educate people about diabetes. It upsets me to think that this all could have been prevented if the doctor listened to my complaints that I was lethargic, thirsty, drinking liter upon liter of water hourly, and losing a lot of weight. I volunteered with my local JDRF chapter a few months after this and we went to different elementary and middle schools in the area to educate students about Type 1 Diabetes, matching the mode of explanation to their age group.