When You're Diagnosed As A Young Adult: Adventures in T1D

Madi Lambert, Simmons College '19

Almost three weeks before I was supposed to move to Boston for my first-year of school at Simmons College, my entire life was flipped in a completely unexpected direction. At 18 years-old, on August 6th, 2015 I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes (T1D) during a routine check-up at my pediatrician’s office. My doctor discovered that I had lost 10 pounds since the year before, even though I was not trying to lose weight. She immediately began to investigate, and when they took my blood sugar, it was over 600. At the time, I did not realize I was showing some of the classic symptoms of T1D – I was painfully thirsty, but I blamed it on the hot weather. I was always tired, but I blamed it on my long work hours and having to get up early. I was always hungry and ate snacks and meals all-day, but I always have had a big appetite. I never suspected anything was wrong because I was absolutely unaware and ignorant of what T1D even was.

Both my parents and I (mostly them) were already on edge and worried about my transition to Boston, but diabetes made the transition even more difficult. Being diagnosed at 18, no one knew if I should be admitted to pediatric care or adult care; I ended up staying 3-days in adult care. I left that stay both confused and uneducated about T1D and what it meant for my future. Both of my parents were concerned about the rapidly approaching move-in date and suggested that I wait a semester before leaving. I insisted on going to Boston when we had originally planned, which left little time for me to adjust to life with T1D. Luckily, I had a handful of close friends that I met at orientation who cared about my new diagnosis and were willing to learn about my diabetes with me.

Soon after arriving to campus for my first year, I was fortunate to meet three other Simmons students with diabetes. We were all eager to try to start a diabetes club, and the College Diabetes Network (CDN) was the perfect resource that enabled us to have a foundation. From there, we established a CDN chapter and became an official organization on campus. We also began making more and more connections with T1D students and students that have a personal connection to T1D at Simmons. Our CDN Chapter is still a new organization on campus, but we continue to work to be a resource for incoming and current students with T1D and to educate our fellow peers through tabling and other events.

Being diagnosed with T1D at a later age proved to have its challenges and difficulties. But with my diagnosis came invaluable and irreplaceable connections with other type 1 folks and with other students that are eager to learn, educate, and advocate for people with diabetes. I have found while facing the challenges that come with T1D, they can feel much smaller and reduce the feeling of loneliness when I have diabesties to learn from and grow with.

I learned valuable T1D lessons from the CDN and my new diabesties, and gained useful tips and tricks early into my diagnosis.  Without the friendships and connections I made in the first couple of months of being diagnosed, I don’t know where I’d be in my adventure with diabetes.


Editor's note: for more information about being diagnosed as a young adult, check out our new guide: "You've Got This: A Guide for Young Adults Diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes", and the accompanying video series.