Allie and Me

Surviving a Diabetes Diagnosis With My Best Friend

My Best Diabetes Support

| Sep 1, 2011

When diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, I was eighteen years old, scared, and confused.  Although bone thin, I was older than the usual juvenile diabetic, so the doctor didn't know if I had type 1 or type 2 diabetes.  At first, the doctor gave me pills to lower my blood sugar.  I avoided carbohydrates and threw myself into exercise, then watched helplessly as the numbers on my blood sugar meter continued to rise.

Seeing the numbers, the doctor diagnosed type 1 and declared that it was time for me to go on insulin.  I was told to visit the diabetic educator for injection training the next morning.

During my drive home, I contemplated for the first time launching my Ford Mustang off a bridge.  I wanted to end it all.  The pain and the disease appeared so much stronger than I was. It seemed that I would never master the art of testing my blood sugar without a thirty minute cry fest.  There was no diabetic online community at that time, and I felt hopeless and alone.

Just before my diagnosis, I had purchased a little white puppy, an American Eskimo named Allie.  She seemed so helpless, and I adored the way she would cuddle up to me and rest her fuzzy little head in my lap.  She went everywhere with me and even had her own seatbelt in my car.  She needed me and I needed her.  

On that distraught drive home, I began to think about Allie. What if I never came home?  No one would ever be able to explain my absence to my little dog.  She would feel abandoned and, perhaps, as lost as I was. Remembering Allie changed the course of my thinking, and I drove home safely to see her.

The next day, I went to my appointment with the diabetic educator for my first insulin shot and discovered that I'd be giving it to an orange.  I held the syringe in my sweaty, shaky hands and plunged it into the orange, half expecting it to scream.  I was amazed at how easily it slid in, though not convinced that I could do it to myself.  When the educator directed me to give myself the next shot, it was the toughest moment of my life.  I held my breath, sank the needle into the back of my arm, and injected the insulin.  It really didn't hurt much at all!   

People often say to me that they could never give themselves shots.  My reply is always the same:  You could if you had to.  I had no choice if I wanted to live.  I felt a mixture of victory and sadness.  I'd be okay.  
Allie stayed with me through every ordeal.  She went for walks with me to lower my blood sugars, licked my tears when I cried and swore that I couldn't do it anymore, provided comic relief with her circus tricks, and laid her worried head on my bed when I returned from the emergency room after a blood sugar of 800 due to flu complications.

It has been nearly seventeen years since my diagnosis.  I barely give a thought to taking my shots and testing my blood sugars anymore. The routine is just an accepted part of my daily life.  

Allie has been gone almost ten years, having passed away quickly at age seven from cancer.  But she taught me that life is precious and that I can accomplish anything.  I will always be needed by someone.

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Posted by Anonymous on 1 September 2011

I'm glad you had Allie...

Posted by betty on 1 September 2011

What a lovely story, it made me cry, and I've had diabetes for 62 yrs. Takes a great story to make me cry.

Animals certainly can do remarkabe things can't they? Did you get another doggoie after Allie passed?

I hope you write more about yourself and your dog


Posted by rosiolady on 1 September 2011

When I was first diagnosed in 1970, I was taught by a nurse at the hospital to give myself injections. At that time, there were no disposable syringes. They were made of glass and the needles and syringes had to be boiled in between uses for the sake of sanitation. For the first several days, it would take me around 20 minutes to get up the nerve to inject myself!

I think stories such as the above are really important as most people don't realize how traumatic a diagnosis of a disease such as type 1 diabetes is. It takes all the strength a person has to adapt to it. It helps if the non-diabetics in your life understand this.

Posted by Anonymous on 2 September 2011

That is such a sweet story. I also hope you continue to write about yourself. I was diagnosed at 9 years old, and am now 31 but I didn't truly truly realize the significance of caring for myself until I decided I wanted to have a child. I started to control my sugar levels better than ever, and started exercising. It is now a part of my routine, and I can say that I have a much better chance of living a long healthy life and watch my son grow up.

Posted by amysmercer on 2 September 2011

Great story Meagan, it reminds me very much of my own and the way my children inspire me to keep going when the going gets tough!

Posted by Anonymous on 2 September 2011

Like you, I was 17 when I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. At that time, we had disposable needles, but no way to test our blood sugars except in the lab and no A1Cs either. Luckily the meters and strips appeared on the market a short time later. My American Eskimo dog came into my life when I was in my early 30s - and like Allie, Juneau was my rock. Because of her I began to take my health much more seriously. Our daily walks really improved my health (not to mention the insulin pump I went on when I was 28). I'm now 55 and as healthier than the day I was diagnosed! Juneau also passed away about 11 years ago and not a day goes by when I don't think of her and how she helped me stay on the right track.

Posted by Anonymous on 3 September 2011

This story brought tears to my eyes , as it did with others.
I too, have a Ford Mustang that I briefly thought of driving of a bridge I pass.It would be easier I thought.Its such a difficult diagnosis to accept at first.Like Meagan said, it eventually becomes a part of your life.You get help and inspiration from were ever you can, whether its a beloved pet, family or freinds.

Posted by cjensen61 on 4 September 2011


I love your story! It goes to show that resiliency and hope are always possible. I have grown up with dogs and have had many special ones during my lifetime. I agree totally with you about how our beloved pets can take us out of the dark holes we sometimes find ourselves in. They seem to understand us better than we sometimes understand ourselves! I hope that after you lost Allie, you were able to open up your heart to another sweet pet. Losing our beloved pets is as difficult as losing a child. I have lost both and I think the pain was equally as difficult with both. Thanks for sharing your story.


Posted by Anonymous on 4 September 2011

What a beautiful story.

God bless you, Allie.

Good friends remain in our hearts forever.

Posted by Anonymous on 5 November 2011

This is great. this is allan from FB by the way. Great story :)

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