In 1967, my parents decided to send me to private school and in September I had the required physical exam. Just after the exam, my mom took me down to a lab, and I had my blood taken. When I asked her why, she said something about diabetes, but added, “don’t worry, you don’t have diabetes”. A few days later she said I had to go to Children’s Hospital in Washington DC, and did not tell me why. When I got there, the receptionist looked at me and said, “oh this is the little girl with diabetes!”. Everything turned black as I got in the elevator. I had on my favorite Madras plaid shirtwaist dress and Bass Weejuns with the pennies. It was September 20.
I was there for two lonely weeks(which happened to include my birthday), it being a long drive from our home in Virginia. Sure, I got the orange and the Clinitest test tube kit, and the huge gauge needles and Lente insulin. Every morning they lanced a fingertip with a torture knife that looked like a miniature scythe and smear the blood on a microscope glass slide, and in a matter of days, my fingers were hamburger. Nurses came at meals and told me to pee and 5 minutes later yelled at me to go again so they’d have a fresh sample. I cried every day. When I finally got home, my mother tried her best to keep me on the regime prescribed, but it was difficult to see how to use the results of a urine test to apply to a dose change when you were taking one shot a day. I didn’t keep up the testing for more than a year, and that just about coincided with my moving from a pediatrician to my mother’s internal medicine PCP, whom I ended up going to for more than 10 years. During this time, I was lucky not to ever need any emergency attention because of my diabetes. I also didn’t meet anyone else with type1.
When I was 25, I had a serious fall in a bathtub while I was in a motel on a business trip in NJ. I managed to get to the phone and call 911 before I passed out. I had ruptured my right kidney. I was in the hospital a very long time, and when I got out, I decided to take some good advice and go to an endo. There still wasn’t SMBG, and when it did appear in the mid 80s, I got one, an Ames Glucometer. It was as big as a brick! Not something to take with you. But it did give me an approximation of what my bg was, and I began a regime of 2 shots of Lente a day, in a combo shot with a sliding scale of Regular. I was on this until I got married and we soon after moved to Southern California, where I had the best endo ever, Dr. Art Charles, head of the Endocrinology clinic at UC Irvine.
Dr Charles had a long grey ponytail and drove a red Ferrari. He did an enormous amount of research. He wanted me pumping and when Disetronic came out with the waterproof one, I gave in. I’d already had hemorrhages in both retinas from peripheral diabetic retinopathy, and was in the process of getting all my periphery lasered out. I went in the hospital for 48 hours, where they checked my bg 48 times. The Disetronic rep came and showed me how to do everything, and I went home a bit nervous, but feeling like I had the support of a team. I got a card which showed I was Disetronic customer number 113. My first set change I did while on the phone with a Disetronic rep & fellow HTron user, and that was a great relief. In those days, you couldn’t take your pump off to take a shower or anything, you had something called a “shower bag”, which was basically a plastic bag hung from the shower head to put it in, suspended above the spray. I’ll never forget getting my first infusion sets with the quick release.
I kept the Disetronic through their transition to Accu-chek. I liked the pump and especially the ultimate security of having a second back up pump (they unfortunately don’t do this anymore). They even next-day-airmailed me a second pump to Tortola, British Virgin Islands when I got water in mine from a unseen hairline crack, so I wouldn’t be without a backup pump for more than a day. I have always found their customer service to be prompt, kind, patient, and smart. So I have never tried another brand in the over 25 years I’ve pumped.
In 2008 I was searching for info on how to deal with the complete wackiness my diabetes was doing as a result of my aging, and I stumbled on TuDiabetes. I’m sure many of you may have had the same feeling as scores of other PWDs seemed to gather round me, offering suggestions, support, friendship. In those days, @askmanny welcomed all the new members. I was inspired by the smart topics, creative artwork, inspiring videos, and the deep level of sincere care and love everywhere on the site. @Doris_D,@Judith_in_Portland, @Joe, @Andreina_Davila, @scott6, @kathy and many others were showing me the strength of the fabric of community here. But no one besides @askmanny had the profound effect on me as Sandy Barragan. Her selfless giving to others here, in spite of her own failing health, I will never forget. When she died, I vowed to myself that if I could do 1% of the work she did to create a strong , safe place for PWD to get help and information, it would be time well spent. I still get emotional, just thinking about her and our other TuDiabetes Giant @jrtpup, now our TuDiabetes Angels.
So to say I’ve made deep friendships here is only one of the blessings I’m grateful for. I’ve learned a LOT about all kinds of diabetes, been given the courage to try to make changes to improve my health, and kept my a1c below 7 for the past 7 years. I’ve enjoyed the fun times we have here and the Advocacy Initiatives we sponsor to increase diabetes awareness for all PWD. I loved being asked to make a quilt to represent us at CWD’s “Friends for Life” and getting folks excited every year to do The Big Blue Test. I’m proud to be an admin here, and happy to walk beside you all. As Sandy always said, “together we are stronger”.