The day my organ gave up

Well, March 3rd or 4th, 2016, we found out that my pancreas died. My body killed it. I no longer have the organ that eats the sugar in my body. Crazy, right? So let’s go back.

I don’t remember much about diagnosis because a lot of my memory was wiped. But I do remember this: March 3rd, technically the 4th, because it was past midnight, was the day I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. We were on a trip to see some family about 13 hours away. Did you know that, when you are diagnosed with T1D, (Type 1 Diabetes) you usually have ketones. So your body needs to flush them out. Let’s stop right there.

You get T1D because your pancreas no longer makes insulin. Insulin eats the sugar in your body. So if you eat literally anything, your pancreas, an organ, will release this ‘insulin’ to use the sugar. If your body uses sugar, you don’t get many ketones.

So you can’t have a lot of ketones in your body. That’s not good. Too many ketones can kill you. So now at this point of the story, I have many ketones in my body because my pancreas is now dead. My body is flushing them out. I know what you’re thinking, “Flushing, like flushing the toilet? Haha!” Yes, like flushing the toilet. I did that about every 5 minutes. Now remember, this is a 13ish hour trip. Every 5 minutes stopping to go flush my ketones. Yeah. Now it’s like a 38 hour trip. But, whenever you pee, you get thirsty.  I was really thirsty. Worst. Family. Vacation. EVER. This was just horrible. I had to pee all the time! That was the worst trip I have ever taken.

So we get to Tennessee because we’re still on the road driving home. My parents are in the front, literally hiding any and every liquid in the car from me. I am now moaning like a wounded cow trying to reach for any water. (Diabetes fun fact! Having high ketones makes you dehydrated.  So, that water was helpful, mom.) So I’m a moaning cow trying to reach half way across the van for some juice or whatever liquid I can find in the car. My dad is driving and literally hiding the water and juice from me because he thinks that must be what’s causing my bathroom breaks. Well it’s not. But no one knew that yet.

So my mom, knowing quite a lot in the medical field, turns around and looks at me like I was some ghost. During this trip, in about 7 days, I lost 10 pounds. Now being 10 years old and around 60 pounds to start with, I didn’t have that kinda weight to lose! I’m now like 50 pounds and you can see bone. Not outside of the skin, gross, but like the actual bone. If you’re reading this, stop and touch right under your eye. Feel that bone there? That’s the bone you could see through my skin. I was so skinny, you could actually see that. I looked like a sad skeleton. (You can stop touching your eye now.) So my mom turns around basically seeing a 10 year old skeleton. She’s shocked. she puts it together. Weight loss + Thirsty all the time +  peeing 24/7 = …T1D. My mom turns around quickly to face my dad, who is in the process of telling me to be quiet with the moaning cow routine while holding a bottle of water to hide from me. My mom looks at him with a deadly stare. “Give her the water”. My dad looked at her like she had a pumpkin stuck on her head. It was priceless, I actually don’t think I could ever forget that look. “What?!” My dad is so confused because my mom also thought the water was causing the bathroom breaks and they both decided ‘No more liquid for Charlotte’. My mom looks at him again. “Give me the water!” I can’t remember if dad handed the water over, or if she snatched it from his hands. Mom, in a panic, tosses me the water. Now I’m confused. Even though I’ve been asking, eh, moaning, for it for about an hour now, I’m shocked. Why would they give me the water? I pondered this for only a few seconds, before drinking it.

Before I know it, we’re pulling into an ER. I found out later that we got there so quickly because mom pushed down on dad’s right knee, to make him use the gas pedal more.  My legs weren’t exactly working and dad carried me. We go into a little room and the guy who is talking to my parents says “Charlotte has Type 1 Diabetes”. I’m really not that concerned, because my blood sugar is now like 750 and I’m a couple hours away from a coma, but I know I wasn’t thinking that this was forever. He or someone else sticks some IVs in me. “Good job! You’re so brave!” I was about ready to knock them out. Brave? Are ‘Brave!’ and ‘A few hours away from a coma and having ketones with a BG (Blood Glucose, which most diabetics call a Blood Sugar) of 750’ the same thing? I don’t think so. I’m not even willing to speak now. I’m so tired and thirsty…

So, even though I’ve been wanting to ride in an ambulance, who hasn’t? I mean, a big box looking car with sirens and lights zooming around… I’ve always wanted to be in an ambulance, you know, without the being hurt or dead part. So I’ve always wanted to be in an ambulance, and the first time I get into one, I’m so tired I can’t even stay awake. I can’t remember the ride at all other than one moment where I’m slowly falling asleep looking at my mom who looks like she just witnessed a baby panda’s death. Probably she was just motion sick from the bumpy ride, but I like the first option better.

So eventually we get to the hospital and stay for a week, getting insulin and everything. By the way, if you’re new to this whole ‘Diabetes not the you ate too much sugar kind’, you get insulin through an actual needle. Yes. A shot. How often do you need an insulin shot? Every time you eat. No joke. Candy? Shot. Pizza? Shot. Something healthy like green beans? Shot. Everything with sugar in it. Even natural sugar! Like an apple. Shot. So I’m getting insulin shots and Lantus shots. (Lantus is a form of insulin that steadies the BG, Blood sugar, you have.) So I’m having many shots here for a week with different people waking me up at the most random times so they can run stuff through the IV or give another shot when I just woke up.

There’s much more, but we’ll leave it at that. It’s been two years now and I’m doing much better. Diabetes has brought me new friends and new experiences, that I never would have had without it.  I now have an insulin pump, which is a little thing that looks like the first iPhone with wires that has insulin in it. So I type in the amount of carbs, (Sugar, basically.) and it gives me the insulin through the tubes/wires and then into my skin. I don’t have to get a shot! So I now have the pump and I have a good A1C, 6.6 currently. If you’re a non-diabetic, your A1C (Like an over all blood sugar or BG) would be like 5.0. When I was diagnosed, my A1C was 14.0. Yeah. So now I’m doing well and excited to share my future Diabetes stories with you on this page. Hope you stick with me through the journey.  Thanks for reading! -Charlotte

10 thoughts on “The day my organ gave up

  1. Charlotte you are doing some really great stuff. Getting your story out there and sharing with everyone. I am sure you are helping a ton of people. Kids your age will look at this and see it will be ok.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Charlotte. You don’t know me, but I was friends with your dad in elementary school and I have an 8-year-old daughter with diabetes myself. In fact, it was five years ago this week that she was diagnosed. It was really interesting to read about the diagnosis from your point of view and brought back many memories of when we discovered our daughter’s diabetes. I just wanted to tell you that you are a very talented writer and you seem to have such a good understanding of diabetes- that’s really wonderful (and your a1c is fantastic, by the way- great job!). I pray for a cure for diabetes every day and have prayed for you by name (along with several other diabetics I know) since your diagnosis. Take care and keep writing!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your feedback! I think my dad mentioned you and your daughter… So glad to hear this is getting out there. I hope, that when she is willing, she could read this, too and know she’s not alone. 🙂


  3. Crazy story. I too needed to drink and use the restroom like crazy. One thing though, your pancreas is not dead and your body did not kill it. It still works and provides extremely important functions, it just doesn’t produce insulin. 😊


    1. Thank you for your feedback! Yes, the back half of it still works. But the front is completely dead. I guess by “dead pancreas” I meant “I no longer make insulin”. Thank you for the info, though! 🙂


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