The Plot Twist, A Dad’s Story

WRITTEN BY: Steve Onti

Albuquerque 2012 – My daughter Iliana was diagnosed at age 4, scariest days of my life. Little did I know at that time that the roller coaster of emotions doesn’t stop. The T1D lifestyle can be summed up in one phrase, “One drop of insulin at the right time is a life saver, the wrong time can be fatal.”

D-day December 10

A couple weeks prior to her D-day, we noticed she was not the same energetic little girl and was displaying some strange behavior. She seemed very worn out and was always drinking and peeing.

We took Iliana to the doctor but did not mention her behavior, not knowing at the time how important it was. The doctor told us there was a bad virus going around and to take her home and have her drink lots of liquids.

We started pumping her with more and more sugary drinks, not knowing we were slowly poisoning her.

Learn the Warning Signs of Type 1 Diabetes.

Her condition worsened, of course, so we went back to the doctor two days later. At this point she was lethargic and very skinny. The PCP tested her sugars and she was at 670 mg/dl (35 mmol/L) and was in full-on DKA (Diabetic ketoacidosis). We rushed by ambulance to the hospital and spent the next few days with her hooked to an IV, slowly bringing my baby back from near death.

T1D Warrior mode

We knew we could not fix Iliana so we were dedicated to do everything in our power to support the people who one day could. We ran, we walked, we bowled and we held different events to raise funds every year after Iliana’s D-Day. So many family members and friends joined our cause and I cannot thank them enough.

I cannot begin to thank the Ruiz family enough for organizing multiple fundraiser bowling tournaments. I cannot thank RotoSchlem from Roto Grip enough for seeing my desperation in an email and supporting our cause to help raise funds. The love and support from our family and friends have been is amazing and we could not carry on without them. Apparently, we have such a strong team of T1D warriors on our side helping us fight this fight that life decided to up the ante.

Plot twist

My wife Liz was feeling crappy for a couple weeks. She explained it like she had no energy — her legs were so heavy, her vision was blurry. After a few days some other very familiar symptoms started to emerge. She had this unquenchable thirst and was peeing all the time. We knew those signs, we preached about awareness to look out for these deadly signs, we knew what it meant, and we couldn’t believe it. Liz tested with Iliana’s extra equipment … 330 mg/dl (18.5 mmol/L).

At age 42 and five years after her daughter’s D-day, Liz was told her pancreas was producing very little insulin.

D-day #2 for the family

January 10, 2018 – After a visit with her endocrinologist, Liz called me at work to deliver the news. Her body was producing very little insulin and she had Type 1 diabetes. We shared a good cry because we knew how hard the road ahead was, but ultimately Liz summed it up best by saying, “If Iliana has to live with it, why don’t I?”

The bond these two have is amazing and even stronger now. Watching them test and inject together is adorable. Liz has an incredible attitude even making little jokes like, “Can you imagine how many test strips we will find around the house now?”

The Talk

As you can imagine, telling our now 20-year-old Jasmine that her mom got T1D at age 42 and there is a chance she could get it as well was not easy. Jaz was very positive. She knows the signs so she will be ready if that dreadful day comes. All we can do is hope for the best.

My soundtrack

I am always listening to music and when I hear these three songs I cannot hold back the tears. They remind me of what we have gone through and that we’re going to be alright:

  • One Direction – “Story of My Life”
    This song was on the radio when we drove home from the hospital after Iliana was diagnosed
    Written in these walls are the stories that I can’t explain…
    The story of my life, I take her home I drive all night to keep her warm and time Is frozen… (I am legit crying as I type this)
  • Ed Sheeran ft. Beyonce – “Perfect”
    The song that was playing as Liz and I broke down in the Einstein Bagels parking lot
    Darling you look perfect tonight (additional waterworks at this point)
  • Korn – “So Unfair”
    Jonathan Davis has a son with Type 1 and he made this song to raise funds. That’s an amazing thing for him to do, you know.
    There’s times I have bad days
    But he is still alive and well
    It’s all I need now… (I’m not crying, you’re crying!)

The round up

  • T1D sucks
  • Good people will help in your time of need
  • Be a T1D warrior for your family
  • Rock on

What are the Warning Signs of Type 1 Diabetes?

Steve Onti

Steve is a dad to two girls and hubby to a wonderful wife, living in Albuquerque NM. His daughter Iliana has had T1D for five years and his wife Liz has had it for a few weeks. They are a true T1D warrior family who loves to fund raise, bowl, camp, fish and stay busy. He thinks it's important to share their unique story from a dad's perspective.