Every Diabetic Has One: A Diagnosis Story
Short intro for everyone. My name is Drew Guarini and along with Stoyan I am another type 1 diabetic working to spread the message and ideas of the JDCA. Stoyan posted the story of his diagnosis a few days ago, so I have decided to follow up with my own.
When I think of the day I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes—January 15th, 2005—my senses and memory are in a constant state of shifting. Sometimes I feel the uncertainty and confusion in my stomach. Other times I smell old hospital ham sandwiches or hear the beeping of machinery. More than anything I remember thinking that my life was changed forever, but since I didn’t know what type 1 diabetes entailed I wasn’t sure what changes were in store at all.
I had gone into my pediatrician for a routine physical and was told some ominous news after a urine sample was taken: “there are traces of sugar in your urine. You need to go to the ER immediately.” To say I didn’t know what was going on is an understatement. I was beyond oblivious.
In the time leading up to my diagnosis I had felt and exhibited all the telltale signs of undiagnosed diabetes, but was either too ignorant or foolish to have them checked out. I was constantly thirsty and drank sugary Snapple drinks during school, a process that only made my condition worse. During the night I was waking up and urinating constantly to the point that I was only sleeping a few hours, if at all. My lack of sleep and energy began to show over the extended period I remained undiagnosed; I didn’t think coherently, felt awful and lacked energy.
As a result my grades and concentration began to slip and I was off to a terrible start in my freshman year of high school. Two unexplained instances of fainting in class were another red flag that I ignored for far too long. With the gift of hindsight, it’s hard to believe I allowed my body and mind to struggle so long under the burden of health so obviously in peril.
When I got to the emergency room my blood sugar was almost 500 mg/dL. A nurse who had no emotion in her voice told me immediately that I had type 1 diabetes. I remember my mother’s face becoming lined by wrinkles of worry and sadness. I remember thinking I lacked any clue of what I’d been told had meant.
It’s been almost 6 years since that night and I still think about it frequently because it’s a welcome reminder of how far I’ve gone in coming to terms with the diagnosis. I recall my anger at no longer being able to wolf down bowls of Penne Alla Vodka or drink Vanilla Coke. I’ve since understood that these are small concessions for a disease that allows you to continue living, albeit with limitations and immense responsibility.
Diabetes is a tremendous part of me and the same thing can be said for every other diabetic I meet. It’s like a tremendous family with one large similarity and hundreds of small commonalities lying under the surface. We all share the same frustrations, the same triumphs and the same meticulous attention towards managing the disease.
Since my diagnosis I’ve curiously combed the Internet constantly looking for news on a miracle cure. Now that I’ve found and am working with the Juvenile Diabetes Cure Alliance, I realize that there is no use in waiting around for an undefined cure with an ambiguous timetable.
As the voice of the donor, the JDCA has sights set for a cure for type 1 diabetes by 2025, with a concise and clear interpretation of what exactly a cure would mean. With proactive and innovative approaches and analysis, the JDCA is carefully examining which foundations give the cure search the most traction.
I will always look back at that January night as the night I was diagnosed with diabetes. With the help of the JDCA I am confident that I, and all the other type 1 diabetics, will remember the night we heard there was a cure.