The Story of How I Was Diagnosed

This coming Monday will mark six years of life with type 1 diabetes. Today, I’m revisiting the story of how I was diagnosed.

The first week of May holds a lot of significance for me. It marks six years since the turn of events that led to my diagnosis with type 1 diabetes, and yet I can remember it as though it happened yesterday.

I was 17 and midway through my first semester of uni. I was struggling to find my feet among uni assignments, my new job, and my 18th birthday looming a few weeks away. I had decided to skip uni for a few days to try and make some headway with my assignments. I had about three or four separate papers to write, which meant hours and hours of reading through mindless PDF scholarly journals for references. It was enough to put me to sleep.And speaking of sleep, I was absolutely exhausted. I could not be bothered in the slightest. After many Facebook sessions, browsing breaks, heading to the kitchen for a drink and then going to the toilet, I had wasted away almost 3 days. And by Wednesday night, I had achieved next to nothing. And for the most part, I just thought I was being a lazy kid procrastinating on his uni assignments.

Enter Thursday morning and I really didn’t want to get out of bed. I felt weak and lethargic, and my mouth felt really dry. I just put it down to my inactivity over the past three days, then forced myself up and prepared a super healthy lunch to take to work. I don’t think I even lasted half an hour at work that day. I didn’t have the energy to stand on my feet that day. I knew something wasn’t right. I told Mum I had to see a doctor ASAP. And I NEVER go to the doctor.

At such short notice, I had to settle for the first doctor I could find. After explaining my symptoms, he told me it was just a virus and ordered bedrest and hot drinks for 3 days. Phew! What a relief it wasn’t anything serious…or so I thought.

I spent the next 3 days in bed, which speaks volumes for me. I NEVER stay in bed when I’m sick, but I had absolutely no energy to do anything else. With a dry mouth stripped of all its saliva, I was struggling to eat anything despite my Mum telling me to “eat something!” (Its an Italian thing!). All I really felt like were cold refreshing drinks. I was constantly craving Orange Juice on the rocks.

By bedtime on Saturday I was restless. My mouth was bone dry. I was on my third or fourth iced orange juice when my rumblings in the kitchen got Mum out of bed. “What are you doing, the doctor told you to have hot drinks!” Mum yelled. My heart rate and pulse were getting more and more rapid, and I was urinating at least once every hour. I spewed and felt slightly better. I don’t know if I would have made it til morning had I not.

By the time I woke on Sunday morning – Mother’s Day no less – I was panting. My heart rate was extremely rapid and I felt breathless. Added to the list of no saliva, extreme thirst, constant urination and lethargy. I told Mum and Dad how I felt. I knew I needed to go to hospital, but was too scared to suggest it. I had so much faith, so much trust in my parents, and I needed to hear them say it first for it to be a real possibility. We talked about going back to the doctor, but I shot it down. There was no point. I knew I couldn’t hold out that long. As soon as the h word was mentioned, I was out the door.

The car ride to the hospital was a blur. I was panting the whole time, counting down the minutes until we got there. What was wrong with me? Was I ever going to get my saliva back? Would I ever be able to eat again? Honestly, then and there, I wasn’t even sure that I would make it to the hospital conscious or even alive.

I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes as soon as I walked through the door. If the hospital emergency staff picked up on my symptoms this quick, why couldn’t Thursday’s doctor? He could have saved me a whole lot of trouble and a whole lot of pain.

But looking back now, I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

After the ordeal I had been through, the relief of being able to get back to normal far outweighed coming to terms with diabetes, finger pricks and insulin injections. I don’t know if I would have embraced diabetes as well as I did had I not gone through this.

And I have a story to tell. I have memories that will last me a lifetime. I’m a stronger person because of what I’ve gone through. And, if anything, its made me even more passionate about diabetes awareness.


Updated: I’ve now climbed the Sydney Harbour Bridge twice. They were among the best experiences of my life, and it goes to show that diabetes hasn’t stopped me from living a normal life.


  1. Right on Frank. Injections, urine testing was nothing compared to the months, weeks and days prior to being diagnosed. Back in 1969 when i got diagnosed, the medical profession used to drag their feet, i was 10 years old, weighed just 37lbs and had basically and very secretively accepted i was dying, which in fact i was. Eventually i saw a GP whom did a urine test and confirmed i had “sugar in my urine”, 2 weeks later and a lot of suffering in between,
    i saw an endocrinologist and was admitted to hospital 5 days later. Insulin injections brought me back to life, that profound experience of being close to death as a child has never left me. Injections and all the diabetes associated inconveniences pale into insignificance when you are dying, the experience has given me resilience and a deep appreciation of life.

    It is unacceptable that HCP are still missing diabetes diagnosis, when a simple and what should be routine test could prevent this! I often look back and wonder how i lived for those last few days, after the endo told my parents i was “very sick”, i remember just laying in bed prior to hospital, only getting up to drink copious amounts of water and using a buck under my bed to pee in, as i was too weak to get to the toilet, today it sounds unbelievable to think this actually would happen and i am still unclear why i was left so long in such a state but with all the information available today about diabetes it is totally unacceptable that a prompt diagnosis of diabetes is still being missed.

  2. i hope you don’t mind me mentioning that there was an adverse effect of being left in this state of untreated diabetes that i did not realise until much later in life. Apart from the obvious damage that i would have sustained to my body, i was left with a skewed perception of what being unwell was, at the time i was totally unaware of how i would dismiss ill health due to what i now know was because i was subconsciously comparing any state of ill health to that childhood experience of near death and unless i was at a state of being completely debilitated with an illness i would not acknowledge it. This of course puts one at unnecessary risk but i am happy to say since coming to this realisation, i acknowledge my body’s warning signs of illness and am usually very proactive in getting treatment.

  3. Frank, thank you for sharing your story. We’re approaching my son’s diaversary in July, but he and I know that he has been living with this condition for more than a year now. Each milestone during the summer (UK) term reminds me of how sick he was, how I kept taking him to the doctor, how I wracked my brains for causes (he didn’t have the classic thirst until the day he was diagnosed). His diaversary is my little girl’s birthday so I don’t know if we’ll mark it but I do want to recognise how far we’ve come.

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