Gloria’s Story: Diabetes and Me

By Gloria Ferreira

In March of 2016, I started to develop symptoms that are typical of someone with type 1 diabetes: increased thirst, frequent urination, extreme hunger, unintended weight loss, mood swings, fatigue and weakness, and blurred vision. The symptoms presented themselves slowly.

I recall my first symptom was excessive thirst. I distinctly remember being frustrated with myself because I could not quench my thirst no matter how much water I drank. Soon thereafter, my second symptom began – frequent bathroom breaks. I figured that this was from all the water I had been drinking throughout the day. When I mentioned my symptoms to my mom, she suspected that was something wrong. My uncle, my mom’s brother, is a type 1 diabetic. His symptoms were similar to mine, but my mom wasn’t quite sure.

My symptoms began to progress. During my senior year in high school, I experienced my third symptom – I found myself to be extremely hungry. Every morning after my first-period class I would go down to the cafeteria and buy a large chocolate chip cookie and small chocolate milk. During class hours leading up to my diagnosis date, I found myself having blurred vision, headaches, excessive thirst, and frequent bathroom breaks. Every night after school I would go straight to bed without eating dinner and sleep through the whole night.

The week before I was diagnosed, we hosted a barbeque with some family. When my uncle saw me, he got concerned. He told my mom to take me to the doctor because I looked sick. After hearing my uncle say that, I got nervous. I asked my cousin to look up the symptoms of diabetes. When we read the symptoms together, I remember fear washing over me and running through my mind. I had all the symptoms. Every single one. What really frightened me was that, during the barbeque – I drank half of a case of regular coke (6 cans!) all by myself – I had no idea that I was essentially trying to satisfy my sugary cravings.

We didn’t go to the doctor the next day, but the day I was diagnosed was very interesting. Like a typical weeknight, my mom was preparing dinner. When she placed everything on the table, my mom walked in front of me and, for some reason, I let out a big sigh. That sigh changed my entire life. My mom stopped in her tracks because she smelled ketones on my breath (ketones have a fruity smell, like acetone. And when you don’t have enough insulin in your body to turn sugar into energy, you produce ketones.).

At that very moment, my mom diagnosed me with diabetes.

In the blink of an eye, I was rushed into the emergency room. I remember when they were bringing me in, my mom explained to the nurse that she smelled ketones on my breath. The doctor on call took me right away. My blood sugar was dangerously low and was life-threatening. The doctors told us that if I wasn’t brought in, I could’ve been in a coma or even dead. My mom saved my life.

That night I was officially diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.

Four years ago, I thought my life as I knew it ended. I will admit I was sad for some time. I grieved and accepted the challenges of living my life as a type 1 diabetic. When in fact, living with type 1 diabetes changed my life for the better. Diabetes has no cause, no cure, and I had no choice but to fight each challenge when it came into my life. Diabetes has made me stronger than ever before.

I know that I am blessed to be here. And I feel safe, knowing that my MedicAlert ID will always protect me.

Cheers to four years and many more to come!