Diabetic Rockstar

adventures with type one diabetes

Category: The First Days With Diabetes

When I Was Diagnosed

My aunt learns how to give me a shot.

My aunt learns how to give me a shot.

I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes on March 6, 2007.

It has been six years since my life changed dramatically. But never fear! I am still totally awesome and in control of my diabetes (feel free to lay heaps of praise on me). But let me tell you my story.

My parents thought I was lazy. It’s a sad story, but it’s the truth. I couldn’t walk up the stairs without having to stop and catch my breath. I read all the time. I was tired all the time. I didn’t want to do anything. And there was the bonus factor of me never being hungry and having to drink and go to the bathroom ALL THE TIME. (My parents still feel guilty for not noticing. But what the heck. I still got diagnosed.)

We went skiing right before I was diagnosed with diabetes. And ice skating. And I wasn’t having a fun time for either of these activities. And just a warning: My parents and I don’t agree on an exact order of the events that followed. But we all agree that they happened. So because of that I am going to tell the story of three separate events that can be put into any order that you want. And then after that I will go into the story of events that I know for sure happened when they did.

Event 1:

We went ice skating. We were up in the mountains of Colorado, so the lake was huge and very frozen. And I could not ice skate for the life of me. I kept having to sit down on the benches that they had on the edge of the lake, and watching my parents and my siblings skate. And I also remember that I was really thirsty, but there was nothing to drink. Finally, our ice skating excursion ended, but my parents by this point had noticed that I couldn’t walk, so Dad pulled the car up and Mom carried me to it.

Event 2:

Dad went to the store to get root beer and ice cream because we were going to have root beer floats. But first we had to eat a good amount of dinner. I distinctly remember having chicken that night, but I did not eat because at that point my body was resistant to food. But I still got the root beer float.

Event 3:

The purpose of the trip to the mountains was to go skiing. Except I never got to the skiing part of the trip. As we reached the ski resort, I threw up in the parking lot. Dad promptly took me back to where we were staying, and then I slept for the rest of the day.

So those are the three events. But what I do distinctly remember is the actual day that I was diagnosed.

That morning was the morning that we were going to go back down to Denver from where we were staying. It was cleanup time, but I didn’t help clean up because by that point it was pretty obvious that I was sick. So my siblings and parents cleaned up, while I lied in bed and drank sugared limeade (which is pretty ironic) and felt miserable. Finally we all piled in our car and started the drive down to Denver. After about thirty or so minutes of driving I started to get really scared. I was having these hallucinations or something like it, which now I assume were a result of a prolonged extremely high blood sugar. So we pulled over and then Mom went to this store and bought me a stick of candy (which is also pretty ironic). Then we continued driving. Then I really had to pee so we stopped at my grandfather’s house so I could use his bathroom. At that point my parents had called the pediatrician and arranged an appointment. So when we got home it pretty much worked out that my mom and siblings got out of the car, and then my dad and I pulled right back out on the way to the pediatrician.

When we got to the doctor’s office, I was pretty miserable. And that was an understatement. When we finally got into the little examining room the doctor who was me examining took one look at me and guessed. She sent me to the bathroom to go pee in a cup, and that was all the confirmation  she needed. She told me that I had diabetes, and that I needed to go to the emergency room immediately. She didn’t want me to go in an ambulance, however, but they told my dad to drive as fast as he could, and that they had already called ahead for me.

After the diagnosis several other doctors came in the room to look at me, because apparently I was a “textbook case”. I really felt like I was in a fish tank.

I spent the night in the Intensive Care Unit of Children’s Hospital in Denver. I really don’t remember a whole lot about that particular experience, except that when I got to the hospital, there were quite a few other kids waiting to be looked at in the emergency room, except  when my dad told them who I was, they took me in immediately. It was apparently pretty serious.

I was so dehydrated that the nurses couldn’t find any veins to stick and IV into. Which sucked. And I felt really bad so I threw up on a nurse. Sorry about that. The night nurse kept waking me up every hour to pull my blood, which was annoying, since I really wanted to sleep.

And I can’t really remember much about that morning either. Except that Mom had stayed the night and Dad went home to be with my brother and sister, and when he arrived at the hospital in the morning I asked him if we could finish watching 101 Dalmatians, the movie I had started to watch the day before. My father claims that is the moment he knew that I would be okay.

My godparents came to visit and gave me a stuffed dog, which I promptly spilled water all over, which earned him the name of Puddles. A couple of other people came to visit too, but I can’t really remember.

Because I responded so well to the treatment, the hospital released me that day and we went straight to the Barbara Davis Center for Childhood Diabetes in Denver for training. It was a long day, because it’s pretty hard to give someone  complete rundown of diabetes in a couple of hours. I know now that most of my information about diabetes is based on experience.

When we got home that night my mother and father and I were all pretty overwhelmed. We were going to eat, and my parents were freaking out about giving me a shot, which made my brother and sister cry. So the freaking out part of the whole equation was a failure.

Since then, diabetes has been a whirlwind adventure for me that has changed my life. And here’s for hoping for a cure. :)


Claire Montgomery

Type 1 Diabetic, Diabetic Rockstar, Awesome

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Fan Mail: Aimee
Fan Mail: Leiren

Fan Mail: Leiren

As I’ve said in previous posts, I absolutely love it when my readers reach out to me. In this case it was via email, and I loved what Leiren said so much that I’ve decided to post it on my blog. Thanks Leiren!


Hi! My name is Leiren (pronounced “leer,” like a creeper, and “in,” like walking through a door). I’m 16 years old and I live in Kentucky. I’m obsessed with musical theater and perform in community theater shows nearly constantly. As a triple threat (an actor/singer/dancer), my dream is to study all three in college and then hopefully one day make it to the Broadway stage. I’m a straight A student at a little school, I have an oversized (and insane!) Yorkie named PJ, I wish J.K. Rowling wrote my life, I love Star Wars and LOTR, my brother is my best friend in the whole wide world… You get the picture. I lead the life of a completely normal theater kid (I know, the words “normal” and “theater kid” should never be used together, but that’s my life! :D).

That is, until three weeks ago.

I guess I should back up. In February, I had two really big auditions for projects that would happen over the summer. I kept my summer completely open, turning down camps, mission trips, vacation invitations from friends, and community theater auditions. I don’t want to sound cocky, but I’d never auditioned for something I hadn’t gotten before, so I kind of assumed I had a good shot at getting at least one of them. I was wrong. For the first time in my life, I nailed both auditions and didn’t get so much as a callback. I was devastated. Now, not only did I not have a big professional summer project to work on, I had turned down so many other opportunities and those deadlines were over. And so all I had to look forward to was a bleak summer of sitting behind a desk entering data; the only deadline I hadn’t missed was my summer job application! :/ “Something huge is coming for you this summer,” my mom told me. “That’s why nothing’s working out for you. I can feel it.”

Then came May. It was the end of the school year. I had finals, end of the year parties, teachers piling on tons of last minute homework, and, on top of that, I was the lead role in an extremely physically challenging show involving lots of tap dancing, singing my butt off, and moving furniture. I was exhausted, falling asleep in class every day, coming home and sleeping for my measly hour between school and rehearsal, collapsing in the car on the way home from rehearsal (not while driving, thankfully!), and just generally feeling very lackluster. Then there was the eating. I’ve always had a healthy appetite, especially for a petite girl of 4’10”), but I was getting hungrier all the time, so much so that near the end of May, people began to comment on how I was so lucky to be able to eat so much and still stay so thin. “You know, hollow leg!” I’d say, or, “Dancers need their energy.” I was laughing it off, but I began to worry that I was going to get fat. I couldn’t seem to control myself, though. I wasn’t gaining any weight, if anything the opposite, so I figured my body just really needed the extra food.

Well, you see where all this is going. For the next seven weeks, I began to feel worse and worse. I was waking up, eating as much as I could, drinking 6 glasses of water, grabbing food for my desk, going to work, practically crawling up the steps with my heart racing like I’d run a marathon, eating and drinking all day at work, coming home, passing out, waking up for dinner, stuffing my face, going back to bed, and doing it all over again. Through all of this I was having severe abdominal pain, sweet tastes in my mouth with a white film, leg cramps, blurry vision, frequent peeing, nausea, classic symptoms. Plus, I lost 14 pounds, which on a 110 pound girl is extremely noticeable. I was a (barely) walking skeleton.

Looking back, my mom and I don’t see how we didn’t realize what was happening, but honestly, the word diabetes never crossed my mind. The stomach pain was the most predominant, and I’d had mild stomach issues in the past, so we were so focused on treating that that we ignored the other symptoms that might’ve led us to a quicker correct diagnosis. The first doctor I saw put me on Prilosec and some other stomach medication. After several weeks of everything only worsening, my mom took me to a different doctor. She thought it was my gallbladder or maybe my thyroid, and she took blood to send off for a lab test, not to test my sugar specifically, but just to see what she could find. She scheduled a thyroid scan for two days later. I went and did the scan, came back home, and went to sleep. My mom came and woke me up an hour later. There was a hint of panic in her eyes. “Leiren,” she said, “we have to go to the hospital. Dr. Telle called.”

“Now?” I said groggily.

“Now. Your gallbladder function is a little low, but your blood tests came back and we have to go test your sugar.”

We went. I sat in the chair, they took my blood. “What’s a normal blood sugar?” I asked the lady taking my blood.

“Well,” she replied, “If you’ve had a really sugary lunch, it can be up to 140 or 160, but normal is around 120.”

“What was mine, Mom?”

It barely came out in a whisper: “400.”

The hospital told us to wait there until the results came back. About 20 minutes later, mom got a call from Dr. Telle. My sugar was 520.

We were rushed to Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital in Nashville, Tennessee. I was immediately admitted to the ER, placed on an insulin drip, and given one of those breathing tube looking things to monitor my CO2 levels, which were dangerously low. 12 hours and tons of needles later, my sugar was down to 128 and I was officially told that I was a Type 1 diabetic. I had been in Diabetic Ketoacidosis for about 6 weeks. Most people last two before they crash or go into a coma. The doctors kept saying it was a miracle I had stayed up for so long.

The last three weeks have been a whirlwind of education, carb counting, doctor’s appointments, and some really, really bad blood sugar readings. I feel so grateful to know what’s wrong with me( an that it is manageable) and also to be a part of the awesome diabetic community, but at the same time I realize that life as it once was will never be again. I can’t just go to the fridge and eat anymore, I have to watch for lows at rehearsal and dance class (and everywhere else), and I’m about to have to do shots and test my blood at school for the first time. I’m not complaining, but I know things are going to be very different.

My family is on vacation in Florida right now, and on the way here, I was looking up diabetes blogs online. The first thing that popped up was your post about wearing your pump on your boot. I don’t have a pump yet, but I clicked on it because it seemed so like something this fashionista would do! I spent the next three hours reading your posts, some to myself, and some aloud to my whole family. We were dying laughing at your story about your girl scout camp experience (you poor thing!!) and when you told your Tae Kwan Do teacher about having diabetes. I was “amen, sister!!” all through your post about Type 2 and Randy Jackson. I can’t tell you how many people have said things like, “Well, when you learn how to take care of yourself” (excuse me, I’m 100% positive that I’m a healthier eater than you are), or “When you cut back on the sugar,” (I’ve NEVER had much of a sweet tooth, and mashed potatoes or a biscuit have way more carbs than one Hershey’s kiss, thank you!), or, worst of all, “If you don’t quit sweets now, the insulin will stop working in about 10 or 15 years.” (Huh?? That stupidity doesn’t even deserve a response.) Everyone assumes that I have Type 2, and that drives me crazy! I’m a thin, healthy, active girl, and there is no way to reverse the fact that my pancreas simply DOESN’T PRODUCE insulin. I’m glad there’s someone else out there who understands this.

Your tips about school have been extremely helpful as well! I’m about to go to school with diabetes for the first time, and your advice has definitely put me at ease. I definitely see some Smarties in a pencil bag in my near future. :) I want to go to a diabetes camp this summer!! It sounds like a blast.

Well, I guess I’d better wrap things up or I’ll go on forever. Mom was right, something huge was coming for me this summer, and that’s why nothing was working out for me as far as plans went. Of course, I hoped it would be something fabulous like a record deal or a better audition opportunity, but this diagnosis could be one of the best things that’s ever happened to me. I’ve already met some amazing people and gotten the chance to educate some others on what Type 1 really is. I’ve come across your blog, which has given me hope that normalcy and an active life are extremely possible. God has placed me in the diabetic community for a reason, and I think great things will come from it.

Thanks for all the help and encouragement, and best of luck in all you do! I’ll be reading your posts and you’ll be in my prayers.

Your friend,

Leiren Jackson

Thanks again Leiren for sharing your story!

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