The First Time My Mom Tested My Blood Sugar

A woman with Type 1 describes the night she learned she was the second child with Type 1 diabetes in her family.



Diabetes activist Quinn Nystrom has written a memoir called If I Kiss You, Will I Get Diabetes? In it, she discusses how she was the second child in her family to be diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. In this condensed excerpt, Quinn shares what it was like when her mother identified she had uncontrolled high blood sugars.

The buffet of takeout pizza and sheet cake upset my stomach. I returned to the back of the cafeteria for another cup of punch, but I was still thirsty. During the presentation for “outstanding skier of the year,” I went into the hallway to find a drinking fountain.

When we arrived home, I poured a large tumbler of water and downed it. When I looked up, my mom was watching me.

“Quinn, would you check your blood sugar on Will’s meter?”
“Why would I do that?”
“I saw you get up during the banquet a couple of times to get something more to drink. I’m worried. It’s probably nothing, but I want to check your blood sugar.”

The small display window on the pocket-sized meter finally flashed its result, but instead of a number, it produced a pair of letters. “HI.”Mom stood by the kitchen drawer with Will’s diabetes supplies. It was clear that I would not be leaving the kitchen without a glucose check. She squeezed my finger. A quick prick with the lancet produced a small drop of blood. Thirty seconds seemed like 30 minutes as we watched the glucose machine count down the results. The house was quiet.

Without a word, I ran down the stairs to my room. After two years and three months of helping Will monitor his blood sugar, I knew that a healthy glucose reading was between 80 mg/dL and 120 mg/dL. When he was first diagnosed, his blood sugar had been 600 mg/dL, the top number the meter could display. Above that, it flashes HI.

I was already in my pink plaid flannel pajamas under the covers when my mom and dad knocked on my bedroom door. One look at my father and I knew there was no going back. His big, brown eyes brimmed with love and compassion, just like a big teddy bear.

Dad had already called our pediatrician who directed him to give me a shot of ten units of short-acting insulin and report to the clinic first thing the next morning. As he advanced toward me holding the needle, I could hardly breathe. It was the family joke that Will was the only Nystrom who could handle hypodermic needles.

My dad pulled up my sleeve and plunged the needle into my arm, all the while murmuring reassurances. “We’ll get to the bottom of this. Don’t worry. Everything is going to be okay. You are going to be fine.”

We don’t mean to give away spoilers, but Quinn recovers from her initial
shock of her diagnosis to be a motivational speaker and diabetes activist.
To buy If I Kiss You, Will I Get Diabetes, or to book Quinn Nystrom for a
speaking engagement, please click here.

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For the past 20 years, Quinn Nystrom has been sharing her story of living with type 1 diabetes to audiences across the country speaking to over 300,000 people. Nystrom has been featured nationally on XM Radio, Glamour Magazine, MSN, Diabetes Forecast, Reader’s Digest and The Learning Channel (TLC). She received her Master of Science Degree in Communication Management from Syracuse University. Her graduate research focused on how communication messages from health care providers, parents and peers, impact an adolescent’s self-efficacy in their self-management with type 1 diabetes. She’s currently the National Diabetes Ambassador for Center for Change speaking out about the high prevalence of people with Type 1 diabetes and an eating disorder. To learn more about her work go to www.quinn.nystrom.com