Talking Type 1: Jennifer Thomas Vensil

Think type 1 diabetes is just for kids? Think again.

Because it was thought to only strike children and teens, type 1 was known as juvenile diabetes for a long time. The truth is a growing number of adults are being diagnosed with it in their 20s, 30s, 40s and beyond.

All week long, we will present stories from adults who were diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, describing the emotions and frustrations that came with their experiences. Each person defines success in different ways, but they all celebrate the triumphs that have helped them reach their goal of living well with diabetes.


jennifer

Jennifer and her husband Austin

Name: Jennifer Thomas Vensil
Age: 37 (diagnosed at 36)
Location: Dresden, Ohio

I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes four months ago at age 36. I had all the classic symptoms but couldn’t believe it was type 1.

What were those symptoms? We were on a trip in England and Scotland in early June 2014, and the whole time I was so thirsty and had to urinate a lot. I craved orange juice and ice cream. When we got back I got a really bad yeast infection. I was also losing weight, which is very weird for me—especially when living off OJ and ice cream.

I went to my regular doctor for yearly blood work. I have high cholesterol, so I try to watch that. They called me back and said my blood glucose was 342mg/dL. I didn’t even know what normal was (turns out it’s less than 100 if you’re fasting).

I bought a test kit over 4th of July weekend and checked throughout the weekend. One night my husband, kids and I had ice cream. I thought it would be “fun” for us all to check our blood glucose. Well, they were all very normal. Mine was 570. We decided that I needed help right away.

At the hospital my blood glucose level was 570mg/dL. I am not overweight, and I don’t have a family history of type 2 diabetes. But because of my age, they treated me for type 2 and gave me some insulin and metformin. And that really did make sense.

I was lucky and was able to get into a specialist the next day. Right away he put me on Novolog insulin shots three times a day and Lantus at night. After a week of doing that and checking my numbers four to six times a day, I called him with the results. That is how he determined I was type 1.

I am now on a pump and like it much better. When I originally went in my A1C was around 17-18 percent, and at my three-month follow-up it was 6.4 percent. I am very happy with that progress!

This has been completely life-changing for me. People tell me all the time how proud they are of me for taking this on and doing what I have been doing. However, I look at it as I have no other choice. This is my life now.

The hardest thing for me is carb counting. I get pretty frustrated trying to figure that out. I also wish they could come up with another way to check your blood. That finger poking is the worst part. And my eyesight was blurry from my blood glucose being so high for so long. Even after I got things back under control, it took my eyes a couple weeks to return to normal. That was so scary. I can deal with diabetes, but not blindness.

My advice to people who are new to diabetes, like me, is to use every resource that is given to you. I have gone to education classes and find them so helpful. My endocrinologist’s office knows it’s me before I say my name.

I have a 27-year-old cousin who is a nurse and has had type 1 for 20 years. She has been my best resource. She says she feels sorrier for me than herself because diabetes is the only life she has known. I guess it just is what it is.

You really don’t hear much about someone in their 30s getting type 1 diabetes. I do enjoy sharing my story, and I hope it helps others.

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9 Responses to Talking Type 1: Jennifer Thomas Vensil

  1. Pingback: Talking Type 1: Jennifer Thomas Vensil | Help with Controlling Diabetes

  2. Jessica says:

    The exact same thing happened to me – was losing weight like crazy, yeast infection, blurry vision and was exhausted all the time. I was 29 when I was diagnosed, and initially they thought I was a type 2. My highest BS reading (that I’m aware of) was a 492. It was so scary, especially at that time, because my husband and I wanted to start a family. 2 years later, I am a proud mother of a healthy baby girl and my A1C is under a 7. Congrats to you! I find it so comforting to read similar stories like my own.

  3. Jennifer says:

    The same thing happened to me this year. I hadn’t been feeling great most of March and one weekend in April I spent the night so thirsty I was up every hour to drink more water and use the restroom. I got up that next morning and weighed myself and had lost about 25 lbs. My brother was diagnosed at 28 with Type 1 and has been on a pump for 12 years, so I decided to go to his house to check my sugar and it was 530. We went to the hospital and they said I had Type 2, I was treated with Metformin until September when I finally insisted to see my brother’s endocrinologist and got an appointment with him. He immediately knew it wasn’t Type 2. I turned 34 in November and am now working with my CDE to try get my carb ratio and to decide on a pump. I am currently taking 4 shots a day. I would like to start a family soon, but my doctor wants me on a pump and better regulated before that can happen.

  4. Karen says:

    Thank you for sharing. I was 52. I had a few friends who were T1s since childhood so I knew a lot about the disease but had never heard of it hitting adults. It was a huge shock. I am very grateful I did not get it as a child; it is a lot of responsibility. 6 months before symptoms I had blood tests that were fine. My doctor suggests that since I always ate low carb that was masking the disease. I lost 10 pounds over 2 months which was unheard of for me, but not such a rapid loss as others. I too started eating more carbs during this period, bread, oatmeal, sweets. It was fun while it lasted and really bad for me. My mistake was that though knew the weight loss was not OK I put off going to the doctor. The resources said to see a doctor if you loose more then 10 pounds or more then 10% of your weight so I rationalized I was fine, even though I knew better. Then when the test results came in I was on my way to vacation, creating a hassle. All worked out and I am doing really great.

  5. Carla says:

    I was diagnosed 14Oct, type 2. All the same symptoms, also downed orange juice to try to quench my thirst. I am starting with a nutritionist next week then classes. I am on metformin twice a day.. My blood glucose is up and down, from 103, my lowest, to 545, darn bagel. I don’t have an endocrinologist, a friend of mine who is a PA, said any doctor can help me manage diabetes, as if I was being ridiculous. Of course everyone who does not have diabetes knows it all. I am trying to do this right so I don’t progress to type 1, but how do you know? What was it that those doctors saw that told them type 1?
    This has completely overwhelmed me, trying to learn as much as possible.

  6. Jodi says:

    I was also misdiagnosed as a type 2 at the age of 31 after having my son and gestational diabetes. Blood glucose was 500 and I was sent home with a script for Metformin. Luckily was able to get into an internal medicine specialist the next day whom properly diagnosed me. I’m going on 3 years now and just started a pump. My sweet baby girl is also about to turn one and my pregnancy was perfectly healthy, besides a multitude standard tests and ultrasounds.
    It’s alarming to me how many type 1’s are misdiagnosed. I would think it would be pretty apparent to most doctors. It’s comforting to know others have gone through similar situations.

  7. Rebecca says:

    I was diagnosed in 2003 at age 30. My brother is also T1 and famy members recognized my symptoms before I did. I was very lucky-my family insisted I do a finger stick with a meter of my brother’s. After testing I was 560-less than 48 hours later I was giving myself insulin shots. So much has changed since that time. Back then I didn’t know anyone diagnosed as an adult. During the past few years I’ve met lots of people diagnosed as adults. It’s not as uncommon as people think!

  8. Tracey says:

    Congrats on your amazing attitude… As that is the
    Key to it all!
    23+ years ago at age 25 I too was diagnosed
    With type 1… Had the signs but was
    Also trying to lose wright., working out like
    Crazy… Now I will finally say I have embraced
    This and always educated myself .. Be your own
    Advocate

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