Before I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, I started wetting the bed. I was six years old.
We didn’t know to check for diabetes. I wasn’t exhibiting any other symptoms. But on a somewhat regular basis, my mother was changing my sheets and I was turning my pajamas into soggy bottoms.
“What do we do? What should we do?”
So my parents bought a pee alarm. For real. (You can still buy these things on Amazon, re-marketed as a “Chummie.” Birdy and I tried to build our own version one time.) It was this device that included a speaker attached to wires that had metal nodes on the ends of the wires, and you’d clip the two pieces to underpants, one on the inside of the underpants and on one the outside. If you introduced liquid to this environment (aka if you started to pee your pants while sleeping), the two metal nodes would connect and a small electrical currant would course between them, causing an alarm to sound.
And not just “any alarm.” This alarm was everything CGM alarms wished they could be. It rang out without warning at ten thousand decibels, ripping through ear drums and making the cats’ fur get all pouffy from fear. The sound would cut through the dead of night, blaring like a siren from my pants, vaulting me out of my bed and tearing down the hallway towards my parents’ room, where they’d fumble awkwardly to disconnect the metal nodes.
The noise would bring my four year old sister running in from her room, vaulting herself into the middle of my parents’ bed. And my brother from his room, karate chopping invisible enemies with his 12 year old arms. All while my underpants screamed.
The alarm did its job. Instead of wetting the bed, I woke up several times a night. Later that year, I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. The pee alarm was put into a box in the closet.
I do not know who made the initial purchase recommendation, but I do know that my mother kept the pee alarm. And long after my diagnosis, my mother put the alarm in a box and presented it to me as a gift.
Upon opening it, I immediately connected the metal nodes to see if it would still alarm. It did. I laughed for so long and with such horror that I almost needed the alarm again.