May 28, 2013:
“Jules, are you okay? You just woke up. Why are you sleeping on the couch?” My aunt questioned why I was so tired after sleeping for 10 hours on an early Sunday morning.
“I have a tummy ache,” my 9 ½ year old body responded in a quiet whisper.
These stomach aches would cause more problems over the next few weeks, even causing me to vomit during school hours and embarrassing myself in front of my classmates for not being able to make it to the bathroom or the nurse’s office. While I do not remember many hardcore details after that point, the most concrete memory I have is holding one of my mom’s pots in the car so I wouldn’t throw up all over the car as my father drove me from my pediatrician’s office to Strong Memorial Hospital. By this point, I am told that I was in a coma and do not remember much more for several hours.
“Julie Ann, who is the current president of the United States?” someone asked.
“Bill Clinton,” I responded quietly and weakly. I find this funny now since he was not yet inaugurated. They must have thought I was a genius for saying his name.
“And what is your date of birth?”
“November 19, 1982.” Then I realized what day it was, November 18, 1992. My birthday was tomorrow and I was in the hospital! And I had no idea what was going on. I was in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) now and was finally waking up from my coma. Hazy yet again, I still really have no memories of that first day in the hospital.
The next real memory I have is someone, I can’t who, coming in to my new hospital room to teach me how to give myself an injection of insulin. This was also my birthday and all I wanted to do was have birthday cake but realized at that point that would probably never happen again. I also remember my parents being in the hospital room with me and vaguely remember them staying with me in my hospital room, rotating who would stay with me each night. Since I was a child, the lesson in insulin injection expanded to me, my parents, and my brother since we all lived in the same house and they would be the ones learning along with me. Like most people, and especially at a young age, I was scared of needles, scared of blood, and scared of change. I got over this fear quickly! Practicing injections with saline solution and an orange, they made sure that my parents and brother were comfortable before they allowed the nursing staff to remove the insulin IV and let them give me the injections. I would not do it myself! As I have reflected back on this now, why should a ten year old have to give herself a shot? I was only a child. That was responsibility that no child should have to have, myself included. Parents take care of their children and they could be the ones to do it; I wanted no part of it. All I wanted was birthday cake – chocolate cake with chocolate frosting!
“You can have Angel Food Cake tonight for your dessert” the diabetes dietician told me as I picked out healthy, diabetic-“friendly” options for my meals for the remainder of my hospital stay, making sure that I had the appropriate amount of carbohydrate, fruit, vegetable, and fat choices per meal.
I thought to myself, “Alright, I like Angel Food Cake. I guess I can eat that.”
After many visitors, flower and stuffed animal deliveries, running back and forth to the playroom attached to the unit, and going in to the storage room for socks with the sticky things on the bottom, I was finally able to go home after a three and a half day stay in the hospital and have a proper birthday celebration with my parents, brother, grandparents, and aunt. And we did have cake (though I paid for it later)!
This is pretty much the bulk of what I remember as a ten year old girl being diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes (also known as Juvenile Diabetes).
This is the beginning of my thesis and the long journey and process that goes with writing something so intimate. Please enjoy!