The Beginning

6 Nov

“Breathe on me.

Again. Breathe on me.”

I breathed into the doctor’s face at least 10 times. His bug-eyes were tightly closed behind his coke bottle glasses. It was as if he was breathing in a fine wine, making sure his nose was firmly planted in the glass (in this case, the glass was my face…).

“Yes. It’s fruity. A sign of Juvenile Diabetes.”

Since I don't remember smelling my own breath at the time, I imagine it smelled something like a bowl of Fruit Loops? Maybe?

I was 10 years old, but could pick up the “huh?” look from my parents as I lay in my hospital bed. I was embarrassed mostly because there is no way I brushed my teeth that morning and now the whole world would know. It would be in my diagnosis chart. “Female. 10 years old. Horrible breath. Obviously did not brush teeth before coming to the hospital.” I was also embarrassed because breathing on someone’s face is just a strange thing to do. Right? Maybe in a foreign culture it’s commonplace where you let them guess what you had for dinner. Beef stroganoff? Yum.

After he left the room, my mom (the nurse), came over and had me breathe in her face too. Was the fruity breath something she should have known about? She shut her eyes gently, waiting to smell it. Wanting to smell it. She wanted to pick up on the subtle cues. My dad, the constant joker, would make me laugh by impersonating the Dr. and his out-of-this-world bug eyes.

The months leading up to my diagnosis were as subtle as fruity breath. Three signs are all we can look back on: thirst, frequent urination, and weight loss. I didn’t have some dramatic scene of collapsing into the arms of a stranger calling out, “Mama, I see the bright light.” It crept up slowly and quietly.

Diabetes isn’t always about the big, obvious signs. More often than not, it’s the subtle cues and learning what they are (and what to do when you notice them) that can make the difference.


I have been invited by Joslin Diabetes Center to participate in a blogging contest this November – National Diabetes Awareness Month. Myself and a select few other amazing bloggers are taking part in hopes of raising $5,000 for the Joslin Diabetes High Hopes Fund.

Click here to donate today! Every little bit helps and will make a difference.

One Response to “The Beginning”

  1. Scott K. Johnson 06. Nov, 2012 at 8:26 pm #

    Yes! That IS a weird thing to do (breathing in someone’s face).

    I bet you still get a kick out of your dad’s impersonation.

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