Staying Strong Through It All: Kaylee's Story

This article was written exclusively for Information About Diabetes by Kaylee Nelson, a teenager who was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes last year.

On Nov. 1, 2013, my life changed forever. You always ask yourself when your last day will be, and you never know when it will come. That's how I felt that day.

I wasn't feeling good that morning, but I hate missing school, so I went and tried my hardest to do the things that needed done. I was in class for about two class periods, then I gave up and went to the nurse. My stomach hurt so bad. My body was so tired, and I couldn't stay warm. My stomach was cramping, and I couldn't do anything about it but toughen up. The nurse called my mom, and I went home that afternoon. When I got home, I couldn't keep anything down. I tried eating crackers, and they didn't work. I drank a lot of water and 7-up. I stayed in my bed for most of the day.

Going to the Doctor

Before I got really sick, my mom had planned to take me to the doctor. The summer before I had lost a lot of weight and felt sick more often. I drank so much, it was unbelievable. I ate so much and I was always in the bathroom. My mom knew something was wrong, so she Googled my symptoms, and it was all linked to diabetes. My doctor’s appointment was that day. When my mom got home, she asked if I wanted to go to the appointment still because I was really sick. I didn't really want to go, but I wanted to know if I had it or not.

We went to the doctor, and they took a whole bunch of tests, and I was really nervous. My doctor came back with the results. He confirmed that I had type 1 diabetes. My heart sank. I was scared, and my whole life was changing in that doctor’s office. He told my mom that I needed admitted to the University of Iowa as of that night. He also told us that it was a good thing we came that day because if we didn't, things would have gotten worse. I would have went into a diabetic coma and possibly not have ever woken up from it. It was very serious. To this day, I'm still glad I went to the doctor.

Telling Family and Friends

After we left the hospital, I called my best friend. She was really worried about me. I told her that I had diabetes and that I had to go to the hospital for a while until I got better. We were both crying by then, and the worst part was that I didn't have her there with me to cry on. It was a day and a phone call that I will never forget.

When we were on our way home, my dad was there, and my mom called him and told him that he needed to pack some clothes and be ready when we got home. My siblings were there too and they had no clue what was going on. I really wish they could have come with me. I was scared and I just wanted my family there with me. My uncle had just gotten out of the hospital because he has cystic fibrosis. He was there getting his two-week treatment. When we got home, my dad was ready, and I went up to my room, packed my clothes and said my goodbyes. My uncle went with us, which made me feel better.

Staying in the Hospital

When we arrived to the hospital, my mom walked me into the emergency room. I got checked in and everything, then a nurse took me into a room with my parents and uncle. I had to ride in a wheelchair because I was too weak to do anything. The nurse had put an IV in and got me changed into a gown. I hate IV's, so that was probably the worst part. I got taken to my room and lied down. I had a few nurses explain everything to me that they were going to do: check my blood sugar every hour and put several bags of fluids in me. I was super dehydrated. I was in pain.

My grandma and grandpa came to see me and so did my aunts and uncles. The next day my mom came and saw me and so did my big brother and little sister. I cried when I saw them. My big brother is my role model, and I had missed him so much and I wanted him to stay but he wasn't old enough. I cried so much that weekend – from not seeing my family to having to learn so many things. I was in the hospital for four days. My doctors helped me so much.

Adjusting to Life with Diabetes

When I went home, I knew I had to soak in all this information I just got. I went back to school a day later, and my mom talked to the nurse. I got to see my best friend again. I felt so happy. When I went to my classes, everyone stared and smiled and welcomed me back. I didn't want to go back to school because I knew I would feel like a total outcast, and I did. I didn't feel normal or like I used to in school. I couldn't let diabetes get in the way, though. I had to do my work and do the things I needed to get done.

After a couple weeks, I started feeling normal. I started to feel better and I was gaining some weight, which was great. I didn't let people judge me because I had a disease. I stayed strong through it all.

So whenever you’re feeling down about something you don't like about yourself, just remind yourself that everything happens for a reason and you’re perfect. No one can change you but you. Always stay strong and always believe. You have diabetes; you are not diabetes.

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