The Prequel – The Journey Begins

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.


The Journey Begins

Welcome to my little spot on the web and the DOC avenue.  For those of you not familiar with the DOC, it simply means the Diabetes Online Community. Several months ago I was listening to Dr. Matthew Hertert’s podcast”Thriving Diabetics” and this particular podcast was an interview with Scott K. Johnson of  Dr. Hertert made a comment to Scott that the blog world in the DOC was predominantly occupied by female voices and that it was good that there was a man who was willing to share his feelings about being a PWD (person with diabetes) – both positive and negative, the struggles and triumphs experienced throughout his life as a PWD.  Dr. Hertert has insulin dependent diabetes for 40+ years.  His story is quite interesting and I highly recommend that you take some time to listen to his podcast.

With that being said, that comment lit a spark in my soul and ignited my brain to start to formulate what I would write that may be of interest to others.  The more I thought, the more ideas I came up with that I believed would be worth sharing.  As the lyrics to “Do-Re-Mi”, from ‘The Sound of Music’, state “Let’s start from the very beginning.  A very good place to start.”

It was Wednesday, January 17,1979 – 8:00 AM.  I was scheduled for a GTT (glucose tolerance test) at the local lab.  I had been feeling poorly for the last month or so and the pediatrician could not figure out what the underlying cause was. Peculiarly, I had symptom that just did not make any sense – my tongue was swollen with papules all over the surface.  It was quite painful and burned.  There was no thrush or signs of infection.  I had braces, so they sent me to the orthodontist. Shrugs.  He sent me to the dentist. More shrugs. After that I was scheduled for the GTT.  Maybe that would shed some light on the problem.  This was not my first GTT. I had undergone one before a couple years earlier and it was negative.

As is protocol for the GTT a blood sample was obtained for a pre-challenge baseline.  That’s when it all went down hill.  It was classic. The phlebotomist called my mother back into her office.  I was left in the waiting room.  Unbeknownst to me my mother was on the phone with my pediatrician.  The baseline sample was elevated (I do not know the value) and because of that my pediatrician was pretty sure I was suffering from diabetes.  He told my mother that he would call the hospital and have me admitted directly to the pediatric ward.

And so it began.  I was 10 years old.  Soon to be 11 in 6 days and I was off to the hospital.  I didn’t know what diabetes was.  No one in our family had diabetes.  Before going to the hospital my mother and grandmother decided that it would be a good idea to take me out for a “last meal” at The Greenspring Inn. My favorite thing on the menu was a creme de menthe parfait. Boy was it good!

The hospital was ready and waiting when I arrived.  I had no idea what I was in for, but if it was going to make me feel better then I was all for it.  I think the parfait confirmed that I was indeed a diabetic.  My admission baseline blood sugar was >600mg/dl!

Well, that’s how it all began 37 years ago today.  Going forward I will share with you my personal experiences as a child, teen, young adult and adult with insulin dependent diabetes.  A lot has changed since that Wednesday in 1979 and as they say “The more things change the more they stay the same”.  I will try to update this blog weekly but bare with me if it happens before or after that schedule.

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.