I had just turned 12, and I was still going to the pediatrician I'd been seeing since birth. His office decor was a 1970s riot of color and kid-themed prints; textured wallpaper with blue striped zebras, orange lions, purple monkeys, and red giraffes. After the workup Mom and I sat down in the doctor's office, waiting to see what it was that had caused me to morph from normal into a thirsty, pale scarecrow of a girl in so short a time. The doctor finally came in. He looked very serious and concerned.
"I'm afraid you have diabetes," he said.
My mom burst into tears. Her mother had suffered from type 1 for 20 years. I remember trying to comfort her, saying "it's all right Ma" and holding her hand. The doctor read off the symptoms I'd been having and explained why I needed to go right to the hospital. I remember asking him if he was sure, since I hadn't been hungry at all. I was very calm; my doubt gave me strength. I was sure this was all just some temporary misunderstanding. I remember calling my dad from the room. Mom was still too upset to talk.
"Hi, Dad. The doctor thinks I have diabetes, so we have to go to Children's after we leave. I'll be OK, though, so don't worry." (Later Pop said he'd been working on a ladder at home and, when my brother handed him the phone, he nearly fell off it after hearing what I said.)
Children's Memorial Hospital was only three blocks away. I had been there once as a four-year-old, to have my tonsils removed, but never since. The gusty, humid wind hit me as we walked from the parking garage to the lobby. It was the last time I would be outdoors for eight days.