I was diagnosed with Diabetes Mellitus in mid-November 1976. I wasn’t diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. I wasn’t diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. Those terms were not in use in the 1970’s. I went to the eye doctor because I was having blurry vision and thought I needed new glasses. I suspect I smelled like fruity nail polish remover, and he told me that it was likely I had diabetes and should see a doctor immediately.
I was 24 years old, recently married, and although I had heard of diabetes, I was totally ignorant about the specifics of the disease. I dutifully went to see the recommended internist the next day.
Now you’re expecting to get to the part of the story that says he took my blood and tested my c-peptide and GAD antibodies. Those tests were not part of the laboratory diagnostic arsenal then. I was given a urine test and told to go downstairs to the medical office restaurant. I was instructed to have a pancake breakfast with lots of syrup and come back in two hours. Once again I was given a urine test and was immediately told that I had diabetes. I didn’t know enough about diabetes to be worried, scared, or surprised. This was a Friday and I was told to go home for the weekend and be admitted to the hospital on Monday morning. That seems odd to me in retrospect, but Monday morning came and I started my life as a PWD with a 4-day hospitalization. Like many Type 1’s, I learned to give shots on an orange. I was discharged with a 2,200 calorie exchange diet and prescribed Ketodiastix for testing my urine for glucose and ketones. I was instructed to take 35 units of Lente insulin daily in one injection. No mealtime insulin in those days.
Not once in the 36 years since my diagnosis has any doctor suggested that I wasn’t in the category of what we now call Type 1 diabetes. I have still never had a c-peptide or an antibody test. My understanding is that I will be required to have a c-peptide test when I reach Medicare age in order to keep my pump.
With today’s sophisticated lab tests and the increased knowledge about diabetes, I don’t understand why so many young adults are being misdiagnosed as Type 2. They are given pills instead of insulin and often must struggle for months or years to get a correct diagnosis. Many doctors are blinded by the Type 2 epidemic and are not considering that the incidence of Type 1 in all ages is also increasing.
It makes me think that maybe a pancake diagnosis wasn’t so bad after all.