Think type 1 diabetes is just for kids? Think again.
Because it was thought to only strike children and teens, type 1 was known as juvenile diabetes for a long time. The truth is a growing number of adults are being diagnosed with it in their 20s, 30s, 40s and beyond.
All week long, we will present stories from adults who were diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, describing the emotions and frustrations that came with their experiences. Each person defines success in different ways, but they all celebrate the triumphs that have helped them reach their goal of living well with diabetes.
Name: Victoria Newton
Age: 29 (diagnosed at 28)
Location: Merriam, Kan.
I was diagnosed with diabetes on April 25 of this year.
In late March I traveled to San Diego for work. One night I woke up in my hotel room with a thirst that I cannot explain. It was almost like I was gasping for air, but I was gasping for water. I found myself sitting on the floor in front of the mini-refrigerator guzzling the two bottles of water that were chilling. I did not care how much the overpriced hotel water cost, I HAD to have it.
I was restless for the remainder of my trip. At breakfast the waiter could not keep my water and juice filled up. Finally a coworker at the trade show commented that she could not believe how quickly I drank a bottle of water. But I attributed everything to traveling and being two hours off my normal time schedule, plus all the entertaining I had to do with clients.
Back at home, I was still drinking so much water (over 200 ounces a day) and had to go to the bathroom all the time. Then I just felt sick. My throat hurt, I had a fever and I just wanted to crawl into bed. This “cold” lasted for days and my throat was red and had white spots all over it. I got some antibiotics.
The sore throat passed, but I still struggled with thirst. Weight loss, exhaustion and blurry vision followed. Finally I made an appointment to see the doctor (one month after my work trip in March). I figured it was thyroid problems, as that runs in my family. I could see the concern in my doctor’s face when she evaluated me. Four days later I returned for a follow up, at her request. That’s when I found out I have diabetes.
I sobbed. “I am not overweight so why, why, why, is this happening to me?” I thought. I had to go back to the lab for more testing to figure out if I had type 1 or type 2. The nurse helped me with a glucose meter and we started with Levemir (an insulin injection that stays in your system for 24 hours). I was surprised at how easy it was to inject, thanks to fine and short needles. Later on, we added Novolog for mealtimes.
Then I was sent home for the weekend (it was a Friday). All I had was Google and the movie “Steel Magnolias.” The next day I did some actual research at the library, but that was really overwhelming, as I still didn’t know what type of diabetes I had.
I found out that I tested for both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. My doctor informed me that only 80 percent of people with type 2 are overweight, so they couldn’t immediately rule that out. The difference lies in what your pancreas is (or is not) doing: Type 1 means you produce little to no insulin, while type 2 means you are insulin resistant. After an appointment with a nutritionist and another with my doctor, my diabetes was finally diagnosed as type 1.
I thought knew what diabetes was then I was diagnosed with it, but now I really know. There is a lot to learn about this disease, with all the prescriptions and devices and safety precautions and carb counting. It’s also very expensive to live with. The pharmacy staff know me by name.
I have my moments. But I’m adjusting. I know my body better than I ever thought possible.
If you’re new to type 1 diabetes, become an active participant in your health. Reach out for support, whether it’s family, friends or a type 1 diabetes support group. You have to talk about what’s going on and you have to be understood (regardless of your age).
Read more about Victoria on her Step Out: Walk to Stop Diabetes® fundraising page!
Thanks for walking with us to Stop Diabetes®—and for exceeding your $1,000 goal. (Go Red Strider!)