Sam's story

I was 29 years old. I had been noticing I was losing weight for some several weeks, and very thirsty. I had actually been teasing my wife about it… “see how easy is is to lose weight haha” while she was actively dieting. The last time I had weighed myself (I wasn’t in the habit of doing so very often) I was 197 lbs. I knew nothing about diabetes at the time–zero-- I thought it was just something that poor and uneducated people in the Deep South got when they ate too much junk food.

I was on my way to an assignment on a ship in a different part of Alaska, I was assigned as the second mate (the navigation officer, and in this case the first class pilot) at the time. I had a pretty long day of flying to get there. I fly frequently. I have never in my life before used the bathroom on an airplane before that day… but that day I used it twice. I remember every time the flight attendant walked by I waved her down and asked if I could please have some more water, I was so unbelievably thirsty. When I got to the ship I was met by other crew members I hadn’t seen in months and several of them commented, “are you alright? Your clothes are hanging off of you, you’ve lost a lot of weight…”. I didn’t know what to think. That night I called my mom, a pediatrician, and explained how thirsty I’d been and asked what could possibly be generating such an extreme thirst. She asked if there was someone there who could check my blood sugar in the morning before I ate. There is someone on the ships who’s tasked with such things, so I told her I could do it in the morning. She said it would just be good to rule out diabetes, which she said was unlikely because we have no family history of it and I didn’t fit the profile. I asked what should I expect my fasting blood sugar to be? I think she said something along the lines of “It should definitely be under 150 but its not an emergency unless you see something super high like 250+”

I laid there that night trying to read a book, but couldn’t even concentrate… every word I read just seemed to go in one ear and out the other. I’d read whole chapters then realize I had no idea what I’d just read. It was laying there that night that I really realized something was actually wrong with me…

The next morning I asked the medical person on board to check my blood sugar. She did so. 389 the meter said. “There is no way that can be right, can you check yourself with the same meter I asked”. She obliged… hers was 130 after a big pancake breakfast. She checked mine again, this time it said 354. That was the moment my world seemed to come crashing down. I went back to my room and called my mom and told her what had transpired. We were both pretty much shocked, I had diabetes. She told me I need to get to a doctor immediately.

I called the local clinic and told them I needed an urgent appointment because my fasting blood sugar was near 400 and I have no history with this issue and don’t know what to do. They squeezed me in right away. I walked to the clinic which was only a few blocks away. When the assistant had me step on the scale, fully clothed and with boots on, I weighed 160 lbs. I had lost 40 lbs without even realizing I was sick. The assistant checked my blood sugar with a glucometer too… this time it read 320-something.

Finally the doctor came in and confirmed that I was a diabetic, he assumed type 2. He prescribed metformin 500mg 2x daily and ordered a number of labs. He also set up an appointment with the diabetes educator at the hospital who I met with later the same day. When I met with her her first response was, “we have a lot to talk about, I am almost certain that you’re actually a type 1 diabetic but we won’t know for sure until your labs come back” then she proceeded with her usual diabetes education about diet and exercise etc… she taught me how to use a BG meter, gave me a meter, and had the doctor call in an rx for strips.

The next morning my phone rang. It was the doctor I’d seen. He told me my labs had come back and they needed to start me on insulin right away because I was actually T1. He had just ordered lantus, and explained that that was just to stabilize me until I got home and could meet with my own doctor to get on a longer term insulin regimen. He had me pick up the lantus at the pharmacy and then go strait back to the same CDE for injection training… that day I took my first shot of insulin.

Over the next several days in communication with the CDE and the doctor and checking my bg it became obvious that lantus alone wasn’t going to cut it, although it stabilized my fasting blood sugars I was still spiking to 300-400+ after modest meals. So the doctor prescribed novolog and sent me back to the CDE for an introduction to carb counting and MDI… explaining that how quickly I grasped the concepts would dictate whether they wanted me to do sliding scale corrections alone or actually carb counting. Apparently I figured it out quickly enough to earn the carb counting merit badge because that’s what they wanted me to do. I requested a relief from the ship assignment, before the ship set sail, and was on my way back home about a week after this first started unfolding.

I was crushed. I was certain in my mind that there was no way a type 1 diabetic on an intensive insulin regimen could pass the required yearly physical to pilot ships. I was certain I’d be no longer able to support my family. Thoughts as extreme as “I should just refuse treatment and let nature run its course” occupied my mind constantly. Fortunately none of that came true. I passed the physical with relatively mild hoops to jump through due to my diagnosis and treatment. I renewed my license and continued to upgrade it all the way to Unlimited Ocean Master. Life went on. I learned how to control my blood sugars tightly. I have never missed a day of work due to diabetes or any other illness since.

I’ve closely followed advances in insulin technology ever since, found tremendous relief with afrezza, and additional improvement with Tresiba. Diabetes slowly became my new normal and life went on.

Shortly after being diagnosed I found TuDiabetes and became an active member of that group. Some of the members that are here today were there then, and they became mentors in managing diabetes, and friends. I found a lot of support and learned a lot there, and eventually over time as I learned how to manage myself, I reached the point where I was able to offer advice and support to others. That was my online home for a long time, until unfortunately they decided to ban me, for reasons that are apparently inexplicable–which caused quite an uproar amongst the membership there. As a result, this phenomenal group of people got together and decided it was time to start a new forum. And here we are today. A group of mostly real-world strangers, united by diabetes on the internet. Coming from many different walks of life but all sharing one thing in common-- although our lives were changed by diabetes, we refuse to be limited by it.


Hi Sam, I don’t go on TuD much anymore but last time I did I wondered what happened to you and saw that you had been banned for several lifetimes! Anyway, good to “see” you again :slight_smile:


@Lilli, we were all so furious at the lack of due process that caused his unfair banning that thirty of us DOC veterans banded together and started this place… I am mentioning this myself because Sam will be too modest to explain :slight_smile:

Welcome, @Lilli!


Welcome Lilli, love the picture you chose!


Hi LIlli! Glad to have you here!


Welcome @Lilli!