Written by: Chrissy Richey
Imagine you’re seven years old, thirty-seven pounds, feeling nauseous and dehydrated with a tongue that feels as rough as sandpaper. Your mother immediately thinks – this must be the flu. Next comes the Gatorade. But you aren’t getting better. You begin wetting the bed and your symptoms won’t subside.
This was me. I was severely ill. My family was grasping at straws trying to figure out what was going on. After several appointments with the pediatrician, my mother insisted I have a blood test. After my initial glucose test I was told the results must be wrong. The blood tests needed to be rerun. After the second test, we drove straight to the pediatrician’s office where an ambulance was waiting for me. My blood sugar level was 586. The doctors were scared if I fell asleep they may not be able to wake me up due to my high glucose levels.
I went undiagnosed for nearly two months with every symptom of Insulin Dependent Diabetes. My way of life was forever changed after this diagnosis. My confidence in our health system had diminished. I was seven years old and learning to give myself multiple injections everyday. I was not feeling it. I had so many questions. Why didn’t the doctor know I had diabetes? Why did she let me get so sick? Why was this so hard to figure out?
This trying time in my young life ended up shaping me to be who I am today. After I graduated college I spent my early career working with the diabetes community in various aspects. Through this blessing and some miraculous events, I have now found myself in healthcare IT, and truly love it. I work for a company that is able to help health networks and other providers detect undiagnosed/undocumented patient conditions. Every day, I see and hear stories from our clients of how these tools have made their lives easier, and more importantly how it has helped improve healthcare for patients. I think back to my own story and how my pediatrician could have potentially benefited from this type of tooling. I am proud to be a part of this community.
Read more inspirational stories through HIMSS' yearlong #IHeartHIT storytelling initiative here.