Test your Family! 

December 18, 2023
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Sarah Auletta
My name is Sarah Auletta, and I am the president of the Simmons University Diabetes Link chapter, class of 2024. I am majoring in Public Health and Spanish and involved in our student run science magazine, Partners in Health Engage chapter, and campus activities board. I love all things health, which makes it hard for me to decide what direction I want to take my career after graduation (but I almost guarantee it includes more school!). Tw: @sarah_auletta IG: @sarahauletta

Spoiler alert: this is a story with a happy ending (yours can have one too!), so don’t worry 🙂 

I was diagnosed in March 2017 when I was almost 14 and my younger brothers were 11, 11, and 9. It was about a month or two after I had been diagnosed that I was at the kitchen island testing before having a snack and, as best I can remember, one of the 11-year-old brothers (they’re twins) hadn’t been feeling great. He had been just generally under the weather. Under the shadow of the recent T1D diagnosis, we were on high alert for anyone not feeling well, since we learned the hard way not to ignore symptoms (DKA anyone?). 

When my brother came into the kitchen, he said that he had been super thirsty, so of course I think it’s a great idea to finger stick him and find out if his blood glucose is high. Low and behold, he is somewhere in the 300s. My brother, this young and healthy kid, is in the 300s and is super thirsty and oh my god MOOOOOOOM we need to go to the doctor- stat!! 

My very calm, cool and collected mother starts to call the pediatrician while I text my other T1D friend, and she sympathizes with another one of us potentially having type 1. However, this is where the story gets interesting. At this point, my lonely little brother, being the child he is, shares with us that he was just having a snack before we did the finger stick. What was the snack you ask? Oh, just some M&Ms that had coated his fingers in sugar. 

Wisely, my mom decides to do one more finger stick before rushing to conclusions and this time, she has him wash his hands first. The first thing they teach you about doing a finger stick, is the step we forgot. Now the meter reads 92. Now we all start breathing again. 

A few very important takeaways from my story.

  1. The first and maybe most obvious is to wash your hands before doing a finger stick, even if you don’t think there is anything on your hands.
  2. Second, don’t panic, even if you think someone might have serious symptoms. Act swiftly and accordingly, but there is no need for panic that leads to heightened feelings of anxiety and stress. Stay as calm as possible and do the next right thing.
  3. Lastly, don’t be afraid to test. Testing is so critical to find out not only what our blood glucose is, but to find out if someone is at an increased risk of developing diabetes. 

As scary as it might seem to find out if those symptoms are a precursor to diabetes or if you are at an increased risk, finding out early can make the difference between delaying disease onset and entering a stage of the disease that you can only manage but not prevent. 

Take it from me, a type 1 diabetic who almost watched her brother go through a similar diagnosis process, I would rather be able to prevent the disease in the first place than go on letting it get worse. And you can only know that if you test with Screening for Type 1. Family members of diabetics are at an increased risk of developing the disease, and testing can help delay that outcome. 

 

 

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