Now that I have embarked on this journey I want to take a moment to step back a little bit and tell you what was happening to me that lead up to that fateful day in the phlebotomist’s office.
I was always a chunky kid. At times I was a downright fat kid. Destined to wear “huskies” denim instead of Levis. Genetically, I come from a line of big people. Because I had a weight problem I was no stranger to Sweet-N-Low. My family didn’t really eat sugary things. It was rare to have a box of Fruit Loops or Trix in the cupboard. We were strictly a Cheerios and Raisin Bran family. TAB was the go to drink if we drank soda. The quality and quantity of the food was never an issue. The main issue was exercise. I really did not like to be physically active as a whole. I had friends and we would play together – like your average kids did. I walked to school, it was approximately a mile, I participated in physical education and I rode my bike – at least one of these things occurred on a daily basis. But given the choice between going outside and playing or staying inside and reading – I would be inside reading.
Sometime around September or October, before my diagnosis, I developed what most likely was the flu. Typical symptoms – fever, runny nose, cough, general malaise. It ran its course and after about 10 days the fever and congestion had left but I still had the general malaise AND now I was constantly thirsty, always hungry and urinating more than I put in. (In the medical world we call that the 3 P’s-polydipsia,polyphagia & polyuria.) What we now know as the classical signs of hyperglycemia or diabetes. However, there was no diabetes in our family AND I was just starting puberty so no one really thought anything of it.
I was losing weight and urinating every 15 minutes or so. I remember having to go at every commercial break. Everyone was happy to see me lose weight because I was finally fitting into the acceptable percentiles for growth for my age. Actually I was taller than I should have been. That had lead me to a pediatric endocrinologist the year prior. Nothing really came of that visit and hospitalization. Finally, my tongue started to become irritated and swollen. Initially there was no reason to suspect anything earth shattering. Perhaps I had burned it, bitten it, or irritated it from my braces.
After losing approximately 25 pounds in a month, the chronic thirst – urinate cycle, lethargy and now swollen, painful tongue my parents decided to visit the pediatrician. We know where this story ends now.
Two weeks ago I attended a webinar from dLife, “Missing the Diagnosis“. Part of the discussion was how physicians and diagnostic practitioners must do their due diligence to the fullest when presented with an acutely sick child or adult – especially when the diagnostic trail of a differential diagnosis can be started with just a drop of blood. Among all the issues surrounding diabetes – the treatment, the complications, insurance coverage, cost of medication, new technology- it is all for nothing if we cannot get the patient correctly diagnosed in a timely manner to save their life. Please click on the link to the webinar – it is a PDF file of the slides. Included are statistics and actions you can take as well as organizations created to enlighten the community on making earlier diagnosis of diabetes.
I would like to thank my pediatrician for doing his due diligence and putting me through the hoops. Please keep in mind that when I was diagnosed most doctor’s office did not have a portable glucose monitor. The A1C test was in its infancy. Fortunately, I did not have to experience the fatal effects of Diabetic Ketoacidosis. I was in ketosis on admission to the hospital.
That is the prequel to my story. Thank-you Dr. Brenner for pursuing the differential diagnosis to completion.
Diabetesdude is Tim Moeslein, RN. He lives in Eldersburg, MD, a small suburb in southern Carroll County. He is a former Certified Diabetes Educator and has had a diverse professional career as a Registered Nurse both in the diabetes arena and beyond.