One shot per day, one urine test, large portions of food, and no worries. We did not know there was any potential problem, and I led a rather normal day to day existence. Ignorance was bliss!! There were no health problems with my diabetes throughout my childhood, despite my very irregular blood sugars. I have often wondered why I did not have DKA back then. Was something protecting me? All the fast acting carbs I ate each day, without correction boluses like I take now, must have kept my blood sugar very high. The only times I had lows and hypos were when I got too much exercise, and sometimes during the night. My insulin was working during the night just like it did during the day, but without food. That would sometimes give me lows and seizures while I was sleeping, if I did not eat enough before bedtime.
My parents did the best they could for me during my childhood. Dr. Davis gave no instructions that helped. My parents raised me in much the same way that they were raised in their mountain homes. They did not drink, smoke or swear. They were good Christians, and kept to themselves. They bought land outside the Roanoke, Va. city limits so they could have a farm. They were raised on farms, and they loved that kind of living. That had a lot to do with the way I grew up, the development of my shyness, and my overall personality.
My mother wrote her own story when she was in her 80's. She only briefly mentioned my diabetes diagnosis. She did not say anything about the months leading up to my diagnosis, or the trauma in the months that followed. My parents were devastated by my diabetes, and not knowing how to care for me. The memories were probably too painful for her, and she chose not to include those details in her story. It is impossible for me to remember all that happened back then, but my parents told me all the details years later.
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. 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. 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 barrel 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 nice 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!
The picture below is my senior year picture in high school.