Diagnosed with Type 1 at Age 57
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I thought 2015 was to be the best year ever. I was 57 and had recently followed my dream by opening a small home design shop in my hometown of Lambertville, NJ. My oldest daughter was married, second daughter was engaged, my son was in college and we were expecting our first grandchild in November! My mom was suffering with cancer, but it too, seemed to be under control. One week before Penny was born, I developed shingles. A mild case as the doctor said and was treated. Unfortunately it prevented me from spending time with my brand new granddaughter until the virus disappeared.
Then in the first week of January, 2015, we rented a house in St. Thomas for the holidays. It was a longer than normal vacation, (two weeks). The day we arrived, I received a call from my brother who said that our mom was in the hospital, but it appeared she would be fine and not to come home. The second day, we received a message from my daughter that our poodle was very ill and needed to be put to sleep. I could feel the stress increasing, but we decided to stay.
About one week into the vacation, I noticed my vision had gotten strange. At first, it was just blurry, but as the week progressed, I couldn’t see the TV. As there was a mosquito illness present on the island, I was concerned that I had been bitten. The week progressed with a thirst I had never encountered. I was chugging water, juice, eating ice pops, chewing ice, etc. Nothing quenched my thirst and my mouth felt glued shut. My husband thought I was insane as I carried around bottles of water.
I was also exhausted beyond belief and couldn’t get a good night’s sleep as I was up every hour urinating. The last day on St. Thomas, I never got out of bed. By now, we knew something was wrong but not sure what! At the airport, I consumed five containers of fruit just to quench my thirst, (not the ideal snack as I know now)! I got off the plane and sat on the baggage carousel knowing something was definitely wrong.
We went to the ER when we got home. Laying there on the stretcher, I told the doctor that I knew I was bitten by a mosquito and probably had the Chikungunya virus. He looked at me and said my blood sugar level was 750 and I was in diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA). My husband and I were in disbelief. I had had a complete physical in December with an AIC of 5 and blood sugar of 90. After testing for antibodies, it was confirmed that I had type 1 diabetes. I spent three days in the hospital learning to inject myself, trying to digest the fact that this would be my new normal.
Unfortunately, at this point, my mom took a turn for the worse and passed away a week after I got out of the hospital. I did tell her that I had type 1 diabetes but not sure if she ever understood completely. Not having my mother around for support is the most difficult thing in my life now. The big question is how I got type 1 at 57. Some doctors think the shingles virus and the stress set off the autoimmune disorder; others just think it was always in my genetics, just waiting to come out. Now it is almost two years since diagnosis. My sweet granddaughter Penny is almost 2 years old and we are expecting our second grandchild in January. I wear an insulin pump and continuous glucose monitor (CGM) and life is as normal as it can be type 1. My husband is my rock and helps me get through the days that my blood sugar jumps from 40 to 400. I miss my mother like hell but I do my best so that I will be around for a very long time to see my grandchildren grow into amazing adults.
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