Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Early Life With T1, part 4

My Early Life With Type 1
........Part 4........
I was not a very good student during my first few years of elementary
school. I made a lot of C's but I never failed a grade. I studied hard,
and my Mother was a great help. She was a good tutor. She was the
valedictorian when she graduated from her high school. Impressed?
Well, I guess I should tell you that there were only four students in
the senior class that year. She attended a very small school house in
the area where she was raised. When she started school it was a one
room schoolhouse, and one teacher taught grades 1-12.
I had hypos during the night about once per week, and then ran high
blood sugar during the day. All those carbs caused the highs. Mother
was afraid I would have a hypo while at school. She approached the
teacher at the beginning of each year and explained my condition. She
said I should not exercise like the other kids. She convinced Dr. Davis
to write an excuse before school started each fall. I never
participated in play period or gymnastics of any kind. I sat and
watched the other kids. Mother would not have it any other way. My
classmates knew I was different, and they ignored me but never made fun
of me. I tried to make friends, but I was never very successful. I
became very withdrawn, and terribly shy. I hated my diabetes, and
blamed it for my misery in school. I never blamed my
Mother because I also feared having a hypo in school. Mother always
brought me out of my hypos at night by feeding me water containing a
lot of sugar. I knew there would not be anyone to do that for me at
school, so I sat and watched the kids play, and felt comfort in knowing
I would not have a hypo. I would have been so embarrassed if I had had
a hypo at school. I never did have a hypo in grades 1-12.
By the time I reached fourth grade I started making better grades. In
the sixth and seventh grades I made several A 's and B's, not many
C's. I was always the best in my class at spelling. I took great pride
in my ability to spell complicated words. I do make typos though. You
may spot a few. When I reached high school my Mother still wanted me
be excused from gym classes. I was rather good at basketball, at home.
Daddy nailed a basketball hoop to the side of the corn crib, and I
became very good at making baskets. I played and worked hard at home,
but always under Mother's watchful eyes. I still had that fear of
having hypos in high school, so I agreed to not participate in gym
classes. I wish now that I had rebelled and taken gym. I was still
withdrawn and shy in high school. I made a few friends though and my
grades were very good. I graduated number 13 in high school in June,
1957. My math teacher in my senior year found that I was not intending
to go to college. She begged me to go. I considered it but I knew my
parents would not approve.
My parents told me I could not go to college. They thought I would not be
successful because of my diabetes. None of my relatives had ever gone
to college. Many of them had good jobs and good salaries They lived in
fine homes. My parents did not understand my being so obsessed with
going to college. What they did not understand was that I was deeply
hurt by their telling me I would not make it through college because
of my diabetes. I had to show them I could do that, and do it well!
I had a good mind, and I wanted to use it in a meaningful way.
They begged me to apply for a job at the post office where my father worked. I could become become a post office clerk, and he could watch over me. So I had to choose between standing at a counter
selling stamps and weighing packages, or going to college. The only
coed college available was Roanoke College, just 20 minutes away. If
there had not been a college nearby I would never have gone to
college. My parents were disappointed in me, and Mother cried. They
were so dead set against my doing this that they refused to pay for
any part of my tuition or my college expenses. They were kind though,
they gave me free room and board. Daddy let me drive his older Chevy
instead of trading it in when he bought a new car. He kept the car in
good shape, and paid for the gas. I had no money of my own, so I had
to get a job. I started working at a supermarket the very month I
graduated from high school. I worked about 30 hours per week and
started off at 75 cents per hour. Every few months I would get a raise
of 5 or 10 cents per hour. I saved enough to pay for half of my
tuition for the fall semester. I was supposed to pay the other half
later during that semester. College expenses were so much more
reasonable back then. If someone was working at a grocery store to
pay for tuition in the 21'st century, it would be impossible. My being able
to live at home, and make enough money to pay tuitions, made it possible
for me to go to college.
I wanted to become an architect. There was a pre-engineering program at Roanoke College, and I chose courses that would enable me to transfer after two years to Va. Tech, to become an architect. I made all A's and B's (mostly A's) during my freshman year, except for chemistry. I was not ready for college chemistry. I talked to the chemistry teacher and she understood my problem but she could not do anything for me. I received C's in both semesters of chemistry, but I knew almost nothing about chemistry when the spring semester ended. Not having had the high school prerequisite chem course made it almost impossible for me. I felt the C grades were a gift. I was very grateful, but I felt guilty about it. I made new friends while in college, and we visited each other's homes. We played golf and went bowling many times. Good friends. I had a crush on several girls while in high school and during my freshman year of college but I was too shy to ask them for dates. I had my first date ever during my sophomore year of college. My shyness and lack of confidence kept me from dating until then.
One Saturday night I had to stay after hours at the grocery store to help with the mopping detail. Every aisle had to be clean and bright before we went home. I was so tired. I had not been on mop detail before. I got in my car and headed home. I thought my strange feelings were due to my fatigue. I turned a corner and collapsed at the wheel. I did not remember anything after that until I was awake, and my parents were standing over me with a crowd of men behind them. Several cops too. I had had a hypo. I never straightened the wheel after the turn so my car went off the road and down a steep hill into a creek bed. The car went between two vertical posts that were supporting a huge bill board. The people were measuring the distance between the posts and the width of my car. They said the opening was about two inches more than the width of the car. How could my car have passed between the posts and not touch either one of them??? I was not hurt and the car did not have a scratch on it. The guys standing in back were from a bar across the road. They had seen my car leave the road, and they found my parent's phone number in my wallet. Everyone but my parents thought I was drunk. I had never been drunk in my life. I had never tasted alcohol. My parents told the cops about my diabetes. I really don't think anyone there believed their explanation. There was no ticket though, and a big wrecker pulled my car up the hill later that night, or on Sunday. I was back at college Monday morning. It was like the whole thing was just a bad dream. I had many hypos during my early years during my sleep, or after a lot of exertion. There was no way for me to test my blood sugar before starting home that night. Glucose monitors were not available until many years after that. I had to go by the way I felt. It was that way for about 40 years until glucose monitors became available in the 1980's. My parents thought that God had protected me and that was why I was not hurt. I wasn't too sure about that, but I was certainly happy about having my car back and going to classes Monday morning. I never missed a class during my four years of undergraduate work. I never had a bad hypo on campus, but I had many lows, and had to eat sugar from a small container in my pocket.
There were no glucose tablets for a long time to come. Sugar worked very well. I remember having lows during tests, and my teachers never let me take a make-up test. I took my test with my class or not at all. I had a low during a calculus test that was so bad that my vision was blurred, and I could not read my test paper. My teacher would not believe me. That was the only math test I failed in college. There were only three tests and a comprehensive final exam in each math course I took. My failing grade on that test resulted in a B grade for first semester calculus. I made A's in all of my other math courses in college.

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