Joslin Blogging Project: The Beginning.
This month, I'm honored to be participating in a blogging project, alongside some of my favorite writers in the DOC, to raise awareness for diabetes and funds for the Joslin High Hopes Fund. As a patient at the Joslin Clinic in Boston, this hospital has helped me stay as healthy as possible, and I'm proud to be supporting them this month. You can made a donation to the fund by clicking on this link. Or you can just read the post. :)
This week’s topic is: The Beginning: Share a story from when you (or the person you blog for/about) were first diagnosed.
Before starting second grade, I started to wet the bed again. Nothing too dramatic, but enough that my parents were concerned. I seemed healthy, otherwise, so their response to this odd bedwetting revival was to buy an alarm that connected to my underpants.
“If you start to pee, these two metal pieces will connect and an alarm will go off. That way, you won’t wet the bed and you can get up and use the bathroom!” My mom seemed pleased, hoping this would fix the problem.
“Okay,” I said. I was embarrassed that I was wetting the bed. I hadn’t wet the bed in years. And a pee alarm? Come on. Totally weird. But I was mad I couldn’t control this – I remember that frustration . So I wore the pee alarm for about two weeks, and after waking up almost every night with my underpants going off like a fire engine siren, I was scared straight.
I spent the rest of the year climbing trees, sleeping over at my friends’ houses, and being a kid. Never wet the bed again. But something was still a little bit … off.
A few weeks before I was scheduled to start school, my mother took me in for my before-school physical. Standard peeing-in-the-cup sort of thing. Never in my life had so many people been so interested in my pee.
“Just wipe with these special wipes – front to back, Kerri – and pee into the cup. Close it up, bring it out, and we’ll have everything we need!” The nurse smiled at me while my mother and the pediatrician talked about how excited I was to start school.
I did what they asked, and a few days later, we received a call back from the pediatrician’s office. My parents repeated words I didn’t understand – “diabetes” and “hospital” – and the whirlwind of change began. I remember my mom was crying, which was scary. And I remember my dad crying too, which was even scarier.
I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes on September 11, 1986. I spent twelve nights in Rhode Island Hospital, learning to give practice injections of saline to an orange.
“We use an orange because its skin is most like human skin,” the diabetes educator explained. Which is when it dawned on me that these needles were intended for my skin. And at that moment, success was redefined by having the guts to press these needles into my body, every day, for the rest of my life.
I don’t have clear memories of what it was like those first few months. I know my parents had to learn what this “diabetes” thing was. My mom learned to give me injections, and she’d press the needle tip against my skin slowly and steadily, trying to go slowly so it wouldn’t bruise, while my father gave me my injections like I was a dart board and his challenge was to hit the bulls eye as quickly and efficiently as possible.
But this was our new normal. And it continues to be.