Having Diabetes (by 8-year-old Rachel)

I often forget I have this little piece of my diabetes history. My second grade teacher was a wonderful illustrator. She always had her classes write and illustrate a book – and that was the year I was diagnosed. Pencil and crayon are by no means archival quality. :sweat_smile:


You open a book and the cats come running! Can I lay on it? Could you look at me?

I like that even at 8, in 2003, I had the cultural memory of candy-stripe dresses and nursing caps even though I really doubt that’s what they were wearing. :joy:


“Top Secret”?! Please don’t be if/when the day comes!

I think I was only in the hospital for four days. I remember a few other details of the diagnosis, as snippets rather than stories:

  • My brother carrying me home from school (same day? same week?) because I only made it halfway and was absolutely exhausted.
  • It was the day that my brother was getting his first insulin pump, so I was being babysat by my grandma in the evening. Watching TV with her and seeing a commercial for a glucose meter (I thought she mentioned how grateful she was I didn’t have diabetes – but I think this is dramatic memory recreation rather than truth).
  • Laying in the back of our gray Buick Century with a blanket over my head because the streetlights hurt my eyes.
  • Being put in a wheelchair to go up to my room, even though I felt okay to walk by then.
  • My dad sleeping in the foldout chair in the corner, with those blue hospital blankets.
  • Being poked and prodded every few hours. Pretending to be asleep, hoping they’d get everything done faster that way.
  • Eating hospital breakfast and missing my dad’s scrambled eggs.

With two of the three kids with diabetes, my little sister was poked every time she felt a little bit “off” haha.

It’s weird to think it’s been over 20 years now. Some days I feel like an expert, but some days I feel like a kook! But hoping and working for better management (and life’s every joy) day by day.


Thank you for sharing. The drawings by your 8 yo self are both precious and heartbreaking at the same time. It is great to be able to look back at those days through your drawings. I’m glad your teacher encouraged you to capture your experience!


Thanks for sharing your story. Mine was a bit similar, when I was 5 in 1965. I was in hospital 10 days, sent home to begin single injection lente and mom testing urine in test tube. Later tested urine with yellow test tape.

There are no other T1s in my extended family but my mom and several aunts and uncles had/have Type 2. My mom is just oral T2 meds, not sure if others ended up on insulin, may have passed now. But my mom was never overweight, and delivered 8 healthy babies, while her siblings had many other health issues (many from smoking).

I only knew 1 other juvenile diabetic until college.

When my new neighbor moved in, I had let her know I had T1D. Several years later, her 7 yo was dx T1D. I let her do dexcom insertions on me for practice. She was glad to have me nearby.

If I want to try podds, they would gladly help me out.


Wow, that was very moving.

It’s wonderful that you wrote that as a child, and it’s also wonderful that you still have it.

Fortunately, my mom kept most of my “memorabilia”, and has given some of it to me recently. But I never wrote anything about it. I probably just wanted to internalize it and not share it.

It’s only been in recent years that I have started to look back at my diagnosis. And a lot of that I owe to FUD people.

I am always moved by stories of young people getting diagnosed, because I was young too.


Thanks, y’all. :green_heart: I’m glad I have it to look back on!

This is making me realize I don’t know my brother’s diagnosis story… I need to ask him for the details.

I think he was diagnosed at 7, so I would have only been 3-4 at the time. The only detail I know for sure is that my mom asked the doctor how long he had to live. Her cousin had type 1 and passed away in her 20s. Just heartbreaking… And that was her only experience with T1D up to that point. I’m glad she was reassured by the doctor.

My brother’s been a really good friend and T1D support my whole life. If I didn’t know what to do, I would ask him. When I finally got my first pump he was getting a new one. I admit I didn’t pay much attention to the educators and just watched how he did it – he was my favorite expert and example! Even now, at Thanksgiving dinner we always bounce our carb estimates and bolus strategies off each other. :joy:


That is a very touching story, it brings back such a flood of memories of my son’s diagnosis. He was diagnosed at 12. I remember him being in the hospital and excited because he was going to the arts and crafts room to make a shirt for a “sick kid”. He thought he was doing a good deed for someone else. At the end of the session, they gave him the shirt and it confused him. He still doesn’t think of himself as a “sick kid”. Thank you for sharing your story.


That book is fantastic! I wrote in my journal when I was diagnosed at 8 too - it’s funny to go back and read.


Thanks for sharing this story! It is very brave of you, and selfless to make this available to the others


I sat down with my brother and parents this weekend and asked them about his diagnosis story. My brother was only 6 years old at diagnosis, so he didn’t remember many of the details.

My brother had just started first grade. He’d been seeming down for several days, but my parents attributed it to difficulty transitioning to a new class.

One day my mom saw him get off the bus and he just dragged his backpack on the ground. He was just too tired to pick it up. She called a 24-hour nursing line, and the exhaustion made a nurse suspect diabetes. They took him to his pediatric doctor, she confirmed the suspicion, and she sent him straight to the ER for treatment.

Once they put in IVs to rehydrate him and give him insulin, my parents say he literally perked up. My dad pointed out to my mom that it was the first time my brother had smiled in a week.


Hi Rachel, I like your story and the pictures you made. Thanks for showing them to us.
I was diagnosed in 1945, when I was 6, like your brother.
I used insulin taken from pigs back then.
I have been type 1 for 78 years, and you can do that, too.
You can use wonderful; equipment like a glucometer and an insulin pump. They will make diabetes easier for you. You can have a long healthy life with diabetes.