Ten Years: A “Dia-versary”

Ten years ago today I went to my college’s health clinic. I’d been chugging water like it was going out of style, my vision was blurry, and I just wasn’t feeling great. I didn’t want to go to the health clinic, but some friends of mine had pointed out that drinking so much water could be a sign of something worse.

I sat in the health clinic and explained my symptoms, draining the water bottle I’d brought with me between sentences. The nurse said it sounded like diabetes, then asked if anyone in my family had diabetes. I told her no, and wracked my brain for any information about diabetes. Wasn’t that just a disease for older people who weren’t very active? (One of many misconceptions I would later realize to be a gross oversimplification.)

The nurse pulled out a blood glucose meter, used a lancet on my finger tip and tested my blood glucose. The reading that came up was 584. She asked if I’d been carrying a brownie in that hand, made me wash my hands, then tested again. This time the reading was 610. She then looked quizzically at the meter and said, “This must be broken – it’s not working right. Can you come back tomorrow morning before you eat breakfast?”

I argued with her at first – not because I was sick and she was sending me away, but because I had a breakfast planning meeting the next morning about the next year’s student orientation activities. The nurse didn’t budge. “Just come,” she said, and sent me on my way. A few hours later I got a call from the health clinic confirming again that I would stop by in the morning. I found out later that a student with type 1 diabetes had stopped by the clinic after I did and they asked her to test the blood glucose meter. It wasn’t broken.

Ten years ago tomorrow, I stopped by the college health clinic again where they told me they’d already called the student activities council to tell them I was going to be late for my meeting. They tested my blood glucose again and confirmed my diagnosis of type 1 diabetes.

The following events are a blur: I remember I had to skip my college classes to go to meet with different members of my new diabetes health care team; I remember being scared of lancing my finger for the first time; I remember my school’s health clinic staff coming to my dorm room on the weekends to monitor my insulin injections; I remember only eating the foods that the school cafeteria had the nutrition information for; and I remember talking myself into believing it was fine and just another thing I needed to do. I don’t remember crying; I don’t remember understanding that “chronic disease” meant for the rest of my life; and I don’t remember how or when I told my parents about the diagnosis.

It was exactly two weeks after my 19th birthday. For a while, I thought the link to my birthday was what made it so easy for me to remember my diabetes diagnosis anniversary, or “dia-versary.” I since have learned that this day holds significance for many people. Once, while at a conference helping a mother of a child with diabetes fill out a form, I asked when her daughter was diagnosed. “Oh, I’ll never forget THAT day,” she said as she quickly filled in the date. The next question was for her daughter’s birthday. “Um…” she hesitated for a few moments before filling it out. Now I’m not saying that diabetes, or the day we are diagnosed with it, is a defining factor in who we are. It doesn’t need to be. But it is an important date in the history of who we are and who we become.

Tomorrow I will take a little time to celebrate my ten years with diabetes. I do this not just for me, but for those of you who have inspired me with your stories of living for 50+ years with diabetes, and for those who were diagnosed last week. Here’s to us!

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17 Responses to Ten Years: A “Dia-versary”

  1. Patty Mondsini says:

    Wow! As I was reading your story it sounds sooo much like mine-its only been 7 yrs for me-but I was diagnosed on Halloween-and we had a huge Halloween party that evening. Talk about ruining a party! My doctors office had the same reaction when they tested my blood as well. They asked if I had alot of sugar just before my appt and
    I said yes, a gatorade because I just can’t seem to quench my thirst. I lost 15 pounds in just over a week and was scared to death! Thanks for sharing!

    • Shanda says:

      I’m not the only one!! Haha my family thought I was a crazy person for celebrating my 10th Dia-versary, but after all the things I’ve been through since then (including DKA and diabulimia) it seemed necessary. I’ve been told so many times by well-meaning, but insensitive doctors I wouldn’t make it this long intact. I finally see that living with my Diabetes isn’t a punishment. That alone is reason to celebrate, I think! Thank you for writing this.

  2. Ryan Sageser says:

    What a great story! I was too young to remember when I was diagnosed (16 months old) with type 1, but each day when I get out of bed and check my blood sugar before I start my day, I have that reminder of what it is I deal with and how much it has allowed me to lead a normal life.

  3. Lois (Mom) says:

    The birth of a child is a significant event and its anniversary is always a special day. The diagnosis of type 1 diabetes of a child is also significant, and therefore that anniversary is a special day too. I hope you celebrate your anniversary in the most meaningful way possible, whatever that may be.

    You know better than anyone else how much I hate this disease. It was not easy – and still isn’t – to stand by helplessly and watch you being forced to deal with things the rest of us simply take for granted. I hope you also know how proud I am to have a daughter who over the past 10 years has lived fearlessly and passionately in the face of what others might consider limitations. You are truly my inspiration and I am grateful every single day that you are in my life.

  4. Victoria says:

    Happy Dia-versary Dayle!! I hope you have a wonderful day and enjoy eating cupcakes! Just remember to reflect on the positives and if not, remember Wednesday is another “normal” day. Good luck! And thanks for a heartfelt post!

  5. jamie says:

    In Nov. I will be celebrating my 10 year dia-versary also. I was also 19 and in college. I also made many trips to the health clinic with complaints of being exhausted and having heart burn non stop. I didn’t realise at the time that the burning was actually kitoasitosis.(sp?) The clinic blamed it on eating unhealthy eating and drinking beer. I should have mention the 3 liters of water I drank each night. Who would have known? Diabetes does not run in my family. It only took a few months before I was in a diabetic cone with BGs above 800. Amazing how many similar stories are out there. Hopefully with all the research out there, a cure is near.

  6. k2 says:

    Celebrate all the wonderful& fantasticalness that is you!!
    Celebrate your diaversary and how far you’ve come since that day 10 years ago, how much more your going to accomplish in your life & HAVE A CUPCAKE!
    kelly k

  7. Janet Whtie says:

    I, too was diagnosed out of the blue, but I was 48 years old. However, unlike the stigma for people my age, I am not obese or overweight nor do I have an immediate family member who is diabetic. I celebrated my 2 year anniversary in January. Its a major lifestyle change but it can be managed. Thank you for sharing your story!

  8. Kristina Evans says:

    I have had Type I diabetes for 29 years as of March 7. I am glad that I got it when I was younger. I imagine it is harder for people to change habits the older they are. Diabetes is not a death sentence. It is all about attitude and determination to pursue your life to the best of your abilities despite adversity.

    • v says:

      Thank you for sharing this. Your words are powerful and comforting. My husband was just diagnosed with diabetes type 2; he’s only 38. At home, I’ve tried to make healthy meals, but it’s not as easy as it seems. He just had an emergency room visit due to a gout attack; something that he never had before. Apparently some of the foods on the healthy menu I’d been preparing have high levels of _______ (can’t remember the word) and can cause this. AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAaahhhhh so scared and frustrated.

  9. Brenda says:

    For the last 6 months I have had tingling/numbness in the hands/feet, also a little in my face and up until today I did not realize that it might be diabetes. I am 60 yrs old African-American and a little overweight, 5’9″,173 lbs whose grandfather was diabetic and had one leg amputated. I work out (cardio) at least 4-5 times each week, eat very healthy including no sugar (most of the time), no bread (most of the time), no dairy (most of the time except non-fat milk and that is 1/4 of a cup in my oatmeal) and soft drinks. I plan to see ,my doctor tomorrow and I know I shouldn’t jump the gun or diagnosis but I believe that I have a pre-conditio for diabetes. A lot of things are all making sense, blurred vision, slow healing of a cut on my foot, unexplained fatigue. I will know for sure in a few days….

  10. Kathy says:

    I just celebrated? (no, not the right word) my 5-year diaversary. I was diagnosed type 2 at age 38. It was “out of the blue,” but looking back I realize that I was in denial. I had many symptoms and risk factors. Ironically, I am so much healthier now than I was at diagnosis. My favorite quote: “I have diabetes, but it doesn’t have me.”

    • Dayle says:

      Congratulations on five years – and five years of living healthier than before! Thanks for sharing this, Kathy 🙂

  11. Rodney says:

    I just found out today. Trying to deal with it. Thanks for your story.

  12. Karington says:

    I am coming up on my 2 year dia-versary this month. I was 20 and also in college. I remember drinking water like crazy (then making it again!), sleeping ALL the time, eating more than a girl of my size should ever be hungry for — and still being hungry. Despite that, I lost 20 lbs…I was 90 lbs when I was admitted to the hospital. When I came home for spring break, my mom knew I looked sick. We figured out what it probably was just before I went to the hospital, but we still ended up spending my spring break at “Medical City Resort” (aka the hospital). Two years later, I definitely appreciate what my doctor does and that couple minutes of carb counting I have to do before each meal. I am much healthier now, although with asymptotic lows and highs, I still have some difficulty. Happy dia-versary, and here’s to hoping they find a cure. One day maybe, we will be able to say we USED to have diabetes.

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