Why I Wanted to Get a Diabetes Autoantibodies Panel at 16 Years Old
Editor’s Note: Anyone can get tested for the autoantibody markers of type 1 diabetes through JDRF’s T1Detect program. Read more about why this mom with type 1 diabetes decided to get her children screened.
Today, I took a test to identify if I have the Autoantibodies are abnormal antibodies that target an individual’s own tissue. Their development is the very beginning stages of an autoimmune reaction.autoantibodies to develop type 1 diabetes. This test was a long time coming and not an easy step for my family and me to take as my mom has been living with type 1 diabetes for over 26 years and my dad lives with latent autoimmune diabetes in adults (LADA).
My mom was diagnosed at the age of 16, the age I am now, which prompted my curiosity. She had many hesitations and fears about discovering my status, but we’re glad we did it at the end of the day—I’ll explain why!
How we decided to get me tested
Earlier this year, my family and I had COVID-19. Shortly after that, some reports came out from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) about possible links between COVID-19 and developing type 1 diabetes. From the initial information I read, it seemed that an autoimmune trigger, such as a viral infection, could make people who already have antibodies develop the final stages of type 1 diabetes (T1D).
My family and I contemplated getting me tested for the autoantibodies before COVID-19 but pushed it off. Then, my friend, who is the same age as me, decided to get tested because his mother also has type 1 diabetes. His decision to get tested made me even more interested to find out my status.
Still, my family and I kept pushing off my test because of my mom’s fears that I may have the autoantibodies to develop T1D. She said, “ignorance is bliss” and if the test for the autoantibodies came out positive, she wouldn’t be able to stop thinking about it and wondering when I’d start exhibiting symptoms. I told her that we already knew what it was like to live with the disease anyway and that it wouldn’t make much difference. I said, “although ignorance is a blessing, in the long run, it can become a curse.”
Power in information
Together, we investigated the pros and cons of getting screened for T1D. If I was positive for the autoantibodies, we discovered that I could be a candidate to participate in a medical study that could delay the onset of type 1 diabetes. We also learned that we could prepare and anticipate my living with diabetes.
It’s crucial to be aware of the symptoms of type 1 diabetes, as it can help prevent serious complications. When my mom was diagnosed, she was in a coma for several days due to diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA). Her glucose was 64.7 mmol/L (millimoles per liter)1165 mg/dL at diagnosis, while the typical person should be somewhere within the range of 70-130 mg/dL. No diagnosis is pretty, but this situation was horrible. Luckily, she received the care needed to get healthy and now works as a diabetes educator!
I’m still me—diabetes or not!
In a nutshell, I’m glad my family and I agreed that I should get tested. This test will help me know if I have the possibility or risk of having diabetes like my mom. I’d rather know and be prepared!
Of course, if I were to get type 1 diabetes someday, it wouldn’t mean that I would have to stop doing the things I love, like playing soccer or being with my family and friends. It would just mean being more careful with my diet, taking insulin and whatever other medications I need, and delaying or preventing the long-term effects of diabetes by creating healthy habits. Whatever the result, I won’t change, nor will my dreams.
The testing process (and results)
The test is quite simple, and if you live with someone who has diabetes or have had your blood glucose levels checked at all, you will be familiar with the process. The healthcare team performs the autoantibodies test with a lancing device that draws blood from your finger. Then, the doctor or nurse puts the blood into different circles on a card. They said filling two circles is enough, but we filled all five to be sure. Once you fill the circles, the test needs to dry, and then it is mailed to the lab for analysis, where it begins processing.
If you have never gotten your finger pricked with a lancet before, don’t worry—it didn’t hurt at all! Now, we are just waiting on the results. I am anxious and impatient to know! But, as I said before, whatever the outcome, I am confident that we’ve got this.
If you’re curious about getting tested, talk with your family to decide together if it’s right for you. If you decide to do so, you can get tested through JDRF’s T1Detect program.
This content was developed in partnership with JDRF, an active partner of Beyond Type 1 at the time of publication, as part of the JDRF – Beyond Type 1 Alliance.