Origin Story

Every superhero has an origin story right? Why can’t I be any different? This story starts over a year before the fun really begins, so to put my diagnosis in proper context we’ll need to take a ride in the Way-Back Machine ((cue the angelic harp sound effect)).

Senior Year of High School, I get accepted (early) into Virginia Tech while I’m simultaneously burning out on all of the AP courses I’m taking. I decide to drop out of AP Spanish and opt for weight training for the second half of the year. Over the next couple of months, I gain a little muscle and continue to lift on and off throughout the summer leading up to my move to Blacksburg. My weight probably peaked somewhere between 135-140. Before freshman orientation, I participated in a 3 week “starter” program called ASPIRE, a program for incoming minority engineering students to get accustomed to life will be like at college and build a small network of friends and associates to help the real transition. Personally, I find the whole theory of achieving diversity by sticking together rather counter-intuitive, but that’s a separate discussion. My theory is that sometime during this 3 week session, the first dominoes fell.

Cut to College, Fall 2002. Over the course of the next 2 months, I eventually dropped 10-15 pounds. A combination of being rather stubborn about my health, NOT working out to start the semester and adjusting to life as a college freshman, I generally shrugged my shoulders and kept about my business.

Late September, Parents’ Weekend. “You don’t look well.” Of course a statement like that from your mom after you’ve been away for two months seems like a motherly thing you’d expect to hear, again: do the shoulder shrug. Looking back, I remember barely being able to stay awake while we were walking through the Wal-Mart for groceries. I think I was about 20 pounds lighter by the time they came down. None of my pants would fit even if they were tightened to the smallest size. I was going through Gatorade powder mix like a fiend. And I would wake up at least twice a night to go to the bathroom. Say it with me: shoulder shrug.

October 18. High School Homecoming was delayed two weeks due to a little sniper incident in the area. A bunch of us pile up in a car for the 4-hour ride back. I make us stop at least 3 times to go to the bathroom, we never stopped once for food/drink, but that apparently didn’t matter. Again, looking back…classic symptom. I believe I had dropped up to 25 pounds from when I first arrived in Hokie-ville. If I had the energy to shoulder shrug, I probably still would have. Thankfully my parents made me go to our doctor the next day.

I’m sure you can guess how that went.

October 19, 2002. The first day of the rest of my life. My initial B/G was 844 when I was admitted. So I spent 2.5 days in the hospital getting all cozy with test strips, needles, and carb counting and some pretty crappy hospital food trying to make sense of what was happening. The jury is still out on whether or not I have made any sense of all of this, but I’d like to think I’m off to a decent start.

So I’ve settled into a pretty comfortable routine 6 years later. Most people make sure they have their cell phone, wallet, car keys etc before they leave the house. Add insulin related goodies and I’m no different. Obviously it isn’t that simple, but I like to think it is. It keeps me sane.

21 thoughts on “Origin Story

  1. Well Chris, obviously this is not a “fun” story but you really seem to have a good attitude towards it. I can just imagine how hard it was for you when you were diagnosed. Is there any history in your family? Seeing as you were diagnosed when you were older, do you think that it’s easier to be diagnosed as a child? How did it affect your school work?

    Sorry, I know lots of questions, I’m just really curious how a person your age reacts to that. Also, it gives me glimpse as to what life may be for Tristan when he’s older. :)

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  2. Thanks for sharing. It seems like you have a great attitude & your dealing w/ diabetes head on! You are off to much more than just a “decent start” and are owning it!
    I was diagnosed on Halloween when I was 8. Lot’s of peeks & valleys, but being positive & proactive makes it much easier to deal with.
    Looking forward to reading more~
    k2

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  3. Yeah, I got type 1 IN college. I don’t think there is ever a good time. However, I try to look on the bright side and I’m thankful I didn’t have to worry about all of this when I was in grade or middle school.

    I’ve had it for years now and I just say, make sure you don’t burn out. I think it happens to everyone at some point, but I had some hard phases in my life and slagged off on taking care of myself. I’m lucky.

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  4. Thanks for sharing! Yes, all of us diabetic superheros should share our origins. My new roomate recently told me that she “admired my courage”. She shreiks everytime she sees me with a needle. She’s constantly worried that I will pass out from HG. I’m a little tired of being a superhero to people in that way. I’m really just struggling! I’m 34 but was diagnosed as T1 only 3 years ago– adult T1 runs in my family; my mom was diagnosed T1 about 10 years ago. I’m really working hard to just keep up. I started a new job recently and had a near dangerous moment while teaching class because I was rushing to get out of the house and forgot to bring my emergency supplies. I still feel a little resentment when I have to shoot up and count carbs when just going out for a bite with friends. Or especially when everyone else wants pizza and I have to get a salad. Does one ever become immune to that kryptonite?

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  5. Hi Chris,

    Greetings from a fellow diabetic and network engineer. :)

    I was diagnosed about 4 weeks ago (at the age of 36), and your story has a lot of external similarities to mine (minus the weightlifting – I’m not really into that sort of thing).

    So thanks for sharing from me, too. Reading your story and the stories of other bloggers has really helped me adjust.

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  6. An interesting story! And, of course, one that is not unfamiliar to most of us. Why is it that Type 1 diabetics who have such horrendous medical bills (strips, lancets, insulin, insulin pumps, supplies for the insulin pump [reservoirs, sets, sensors], transmitters, bg meters, etc.) don’t lobby more for public healthcare.

    Type 1s seem very content to sit down and submit bills to private healthcare plans, but not to lobby for other type 1s to get better coverage.

    Oh, yes, does anyone know of a site where I can find out what preparations are made for a type 1 at an emergency shelter when disaster strikes. My husband (my type 1) is need a lot of care. What kind of care would he get at an emergency shelter?

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    • Two separate points here…
      1. Dianna, do NOT expect to find any particular accommodations waiting for you in an emergency situation; the consequences of relying on someone else to have what you need available could be devastating. Trust me, as the wife, mom AND sister of people with T1, you need to have your OWN emergency plan/pack in place so you’re prepared on a moment’s notice. For us, that means that all of our supplies (except for the insulins, which get grabbed at the last minute along with FRIO or other means to keep it cool), are kept in two plastic containers that can be grabbed in an instant and taken with us. This probably isn’t everything, but off the top of my head, each box contains my husband/daughter’s entire current supply of strips, lancets, infusion sets, reservoirs, detachol and IV preps for site changes, bottle of glucose tabs, blood ketone test kit/strips, glucagon kit, syringes (in case of a pump failure and we have to temporarily go back to a Lantus/Novolog mix), extra meters, extra batteries for the meters AND insulin pump, a user guide for each device, paper copy of all current pump settings, list of contact information (doctors, pharmacy,pump manufacturer, etc). It sounds like a ton of stuff, but it fits easily (room to spare) in a 15″x18″ lidded plastic storage box (like they sell for paper files–because they have the ridges on the sides, I can keep the paperwork in a single hanging file at the back of the box). If we had to leave our home in an emergency, once the insulins go in the box, we can be reasonably confident that we’ll at least have the diabetes stuff covered. (There’s a whole other conversation about other things anyone should be able to put their hands on quickly in an emergency.) An everyday advantage of keeping everything together like this is you can see at a glance what needs to be ordered. Obviously if you’re away from home when disaster strikes, you won’t have everything on you–but that’s why we try to be sure we always have at least a meter and lots of strips and glucose tabs/snacks with each of us at all times. Never wait until the last minute to resupply any essential item; it’s a fool’s game. Sorry to be long-winded on the topic, but it’s worth it if gets even one person to start preparing–and hopefully none of us will ever actually need to grab the box and run!

      1. And to Chris: My brother was also diagnosed while he was in college, and unlike you, he spent a lot of years in denial and angry and more or less making an unfortunate situation worse by not accepting things and actively managing his condition. He’s paying a terrible price now in terms of complications. (In contrast, my husband and his family took the bull by the horns from the very start–he was dx-ed at age 6, at a time when blood testing was still unheard of and you had to boil your urine to test it, not to mention those steel syringes–and he never let it stop him from anything. At age 53 he still plays ice hockey and routinely outruns the 20-somethings on his softball team, with not a single complication. In the end, I think attitude is at least half the battle with diabetes. I congratulate you and wish you all the best!

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  7. Dude, I am so familiar with that story, it made me laugh out loud. I remember it well, and it was anything but fun or remotely funny when I was going through it, but now I sit back and chuckle.
    Thank You, I’m cruising around your site and getting to know you.
    I hope you’re having a great time at your new job, keep it goin’

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  8. I remember, I was diagnosed on my birthday, and, like you, I had little idea of what was happening. Sure, my best friend is T1, as are a few others in my school, but nobody realised until it was a little late. You took it well though, and good luck with everything!

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  9. i just found your blog.. and reading your origin story reminds me of my story and how i tell it … you have to keep light and sarcastic and funny or you might just go crazy! i love it!

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  10. Wow! Loved reading your Big D story. ;) I got T1 when I was 8, thirty-six-some years ago. *GASP!* yep, I’m really old. I saw someone comment about getting as a child vs. getting it when you’re older. I think either one really sucks. When you’re a kid it kinda brings carefree childhood to a screeching halt, but when you’re older, it’s like relearning how to live with SO many areas of your life. At least that’s what I imagine it’s like.
    You have an awesome attitude and I LOVE that! I try to keep positive, too & lean heavily on my faith in God to get me through the tough times.
    Hang in there, keep it up & I will definitely be back to wander through the place. I’m anxious to see how you’re doing!
    God bless!
    Geannie in KY
    T1 since 1975
    Mom of two grown sons, 1989 & 1993
    Pumper since 2004

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  11. My hat off to all of you who have T1. I am a Type 2 and work on managing it through diet and exercise. I’ve had to make lifestyles changes but my changes pale in comparison to your experiences and the adjustments you have to make. Thank you for sharing!

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  12. Chris, you were diagnosed on my birthday! I find myself always saying how much it feels like I’m reading my own story when reading others’, but I think that’s because we’re all pretty similar in how the process goes. When you said your pants didn’t fit! Oh I hear ya! I had to go to the high school office one day to get a safety pin to pin my pants like a belt because nothing else worked. My pants were literally falling down! Thanks for sharing!

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  13. Love love love your superhero analogy. I was diagnosed during my second semester of grad school. Talk about inconvenient! I’m glad I developed it then instead of when I was younger though. I’m glad that my parents have never had to be my pancreas for me. It’s affected them, definitely: initially, my dad was more upset by my diagnosis than I was. But I’m old enough to take care of the day to day stuff myself. I’m also glad, in a weird way, that t1 runs in my family. I was able to catch it much sooner and didn’t end up in the hospital. (I had no time for a hospital visit.)

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  14. Hi Sweetheart,
    I will never forget the sense of dread I had when you came home that weekend. The only consolation if that if it wasn’t for the Beltway Snipers, you might not have come home at all.. Every time you inject yourself in my presence … I feel it :-(. That keeps us connected which is how I want it. I am proud and amazed at how you cope with Type -1 every day. I give thanks to Dayle for how she has helped you.
    Mom

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  15. Hi Chris,
    I remember the shock of being diagnosed very clearly. It’s a shock, but it sounds as if we are the “lucky” ones – we came to terms with it and made the changes we ended to. I’m enjoying your blog – keep going!

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