This week, we are sharing personal stories of what it’s like to be diagnosed with type 1 diabetes as an adult. Today we’ll meet Hannah, whose college career was interrupted, but not derailed, by type 1.
Age: 21 (diagnosed at age 19)
Location: Port Lavaca, Texas
I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes on Feb. 11, 2011. It was a complete and total shock to me. I knew that something was wrong, but I would have never guessed diabetes. I had lost about 10 pounds in six months and had the classic symptoms of thirst, frequent urination, hunger and weakness. I was a sophomore in college, and looking back now, I can see how even my grades were suffering as a result of my undiagnosed disease. For every class, I would take notes, pay attention, study hard and walk away from a test thinking I aced it—then the grade would come back an F.
When I went to the doctor, my blood glucose was around 300 mg/dl (normal range is about 80 to 140, depending on the time of day or when you have last eaten). She told me how blessed I was to have caught it so early.
Still, I don’t think anything can prepare you for that diagnosis. I was devastated and cried a lot that day. I remember the first thing I said was, “That’s the bad one, isn’t it?” I knew I was going to have to give myself shots, and I kept thinking about Valentine’s Day coming up and how I wouldn’t be able to have any chocolate.
I had taken anatomy in college, so I knew of type 1 but didn’t really know type 1. I was one of those people who heard the word “diabetes” and thought of some old, overweight person who had to eat a healthy diet and take a morning pill.
I live in a small town with only a small emergency hospital and clinic. I had no way of getting insulin right away because I was diagnosed on a Friday, and I couldn’t get in to see an endocrinologist until the following Monday. I didn’t know what to do and didn’t know what to eat. I spent all of my time online trying to find answers and was overwhelmed.
But once Monday came around and I was finally able to see the doctor, everything got better. My A1C (a measure of a person’s average blood glucose level over the past two to three months) was around 10, and I learned how to check my glucose and give myself insulin shots. I was still scared, but I was coming to terms with my disease. I think that’s one of the things that type 1s do so well usually—coming to terms with their diabetes.
I am now 21 years old. My most recent A1C was a 6, and I’m on a pump. I love my pump. It’s made my life a lot easier, even though it’s still a challenge. I’m still new to this disease, but I think I’m learning pretty well.
My family has been really great about my diabetes. They’ve tried their best to learn with me, and while they don’t quite understand everything yet, they’re getting better. Friendships can be hard in college, but I’m thankful for the good friends I have who don’t mind when I pull out my insulin pen to give myself a shot in the middle of lunch. It’s really just about finding the true friends who will accept you and your diabetes.
I’m definitely looking forward to the day when all of us are cured.