Diabetes Wiki

When I was about five years old, I suddenly started feeling thirsty all the time. I was constantly asking my mother for a drink of water, or just going and getting one for myself. My thirst just never went away. My mother actually tried to stop me from drinking water. She forbade me to drink water unless she said I could. I started getting up in the middle of the night, after my parents had gone to bed, to sneak glasses of water from the bathroom.

Of course, all of this fluid intake meant that I had to pee a lot, which is why my mother tried to stop me from drinking so much. After all, when you have five people in a house with one bathroom, one person can't monopolize it. I was probably fortunate that my kindergarten classroom had its own bathroom so that I didn't have to keep asking the teacher's permission to leave the room to go to the bathroom.

I started to lose weight rapidly. I've seen pictures that were taken of me at Christmas time that year. My eyes were sunken into my head, and I had dark black circles around them. I was incredibly pale. And I didn't smile for any of the pictures.

People at the church my family went to started asking questions of my mother: why was I so thin, so pale? Was I sick? Was there something wrong with me? My mother insisted that nothing was wrong. I was thin because I was growing rapidly. I had always been pale-skinned.

Around this time the Canadian Diabetes Association started running ads on television that described the symptoms of diabetes. My father saw the ads and told my mother that he thought I had diabets. My mother got mad at him and insisted there was nothing wrong with me. I saw the ads too, and I tried to draw my mother's attention to them, but she refused to watch them.

Finally one day I just lay down on the couch and couldn't or wouldn't get up again. My father finally overruled my mother, picked me up, carried me out to the car, and drove me to the hospital, where I was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes. My parents had to learn how to give me shots, how to test urine (this was a long time before home blood glucose testing), how to measure my food and what signs of low blood sugar and high blood sugar to look for. All I knew was, all of a sudden I wasn't allowed to eat candy or chocolate anymore, or ask for second helpings at dinnertime.

All of this happened more than 30 years ago.


One of the things I have to watch out for as an insulin-dependent diabetic is low blood sugar, or hypoglycemia. Hypoglycemia can leave me confused, dizzy, weak, sick, or all of the above. When your body doesn't have enough sugar in it, it impairs your brain functioning, and sometimes people may think you're drunk or high because you start acting strangely.

For example, one afternoon I got out of bed after a late-morning nap and went to my computer, as I always do. Only this particular morning, I fell out of my chair when I tried to sit down. I tried again to sit down, and I fell again. I tried a third time, with the same result. So I finally decided that I would have to sit on the floor and try to reach the keyboard from there.

My boyfriend John found me sitting there, and he figured out pretty quickly what was wrong. He asked me, "Have you had lunch?" My cat Calli happened to walk past me just then, so I picked her up and asked, "Is Calli lunch?" John said, "No, Calli is not lunch! Give me Calli!" He took the confused cat away from me.

At other times, John has had to stop me from walking outside to the mailbox when I had no clothes on, and has had to stop me from eating my clock radio. (Hey, it was the closest thing at hand at the time.)