Art Teacher, Shannon Dooley, Faces a T1D Diagnosis During a Pandemic

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In a world so full of color, Shannon Dooley, Art Teacher in the Seminole County School District, faced a life changing diagnosis in the middle of a pandemic. Shannon didn’t have a choice but to adjust to her new lifestyle and she still chooses to see the world full of colors! She is an inspiration to young children, that anything is possible even as she battles type one diabetes everyday!

Thank you, Shannon, for sharing your T1D diagnosis experience with us and for continuing to inspire others!

“1.6 million Americans are living with T1D.

Seven months ago, in August of 2020, I became part of that statistic. Leading up to that moment, I had every sign on the list. Frequent urination (I would get up in the middle of the night SEVEN times.), dry mouth, excessive thirst (like extremely excessive…I would walk out of the grocery store with 5 gallons of juices and chocolate milk…embarrassing but an important note), I had lost 20 pounds in a month, I was experiencing insane mood swings and other signs that I had no idea were related that pointed directly to diabetes. Finally, I decided to get some blood work done to figure out what was wrong with me!

I don’t think I’ll ever forget the feeling I had when I received the call that I needed to head to the emergency room based on those blood test results. I will never forget being admitted into ICU to spend 5 days in the hospital in DKA with life threatening symptoms. You see, a normal insulin level is between 70-100, and I was being admitted with levels in the 700s. My A1C was at 14. According to my doctors, an A1C level of 14 indicates I may have had diabetes for 3-6 months prior to my diagnosis. I could have caught this way sooner, but my ignorance of not knowing the symptoms was extremely dangerous to my life. At the time when I was told this, I had no idea what my blood glucose meant let alone A1C. These terms were alien to me. So alien, in fact, that I thought my crazy sugar cravings is what gave me diabetes. I thought I had done this to myself. It was a crushing and difficult thought to swallow. All I had were nurses saying to me over and over, “I’ve never seen that high of A1C.”, and “You’re lucky you didn’t go into a coma.”  Of course that made me feel even better as a newly diagnosed diabetic, who knew absolutely nothing about diabetes, to hear these words. (NOT!) When I received the call to head to the hospital, I was already battling the idea of returning to my classroom in a week with no certainty of how safe it would be as a “healthy” individual. Little did I know, I was not healthy whatsoever.

After 2 days in ICU, alone (stupid COVID), and 3 days with continued monitoring at the hospital, I was sent home to start my life as a Type 1 Diabetic. I’m thankful for my family and friends, especially my husband, for the endless support. (And, of course, my two dogs for LOTS of cuddles.) I’m incredibly thankful for my mom who used her amazing teacher/researcher brain and went into action. My mom is the one who started my JDRF One Walk Team and I was, and continue to be, blown away by the team that came together to support me and others like me with T1D. (I love you, Mom!)

Within three months of my diagnosis, my A1C had come down to 5.7! Today, my A1C is 6 and I am growing more and more confident with Type 1 Diabetes. My blood sugar levels are staying more consistent since I received my Tandem Diabetes pump and I feel better than I’ve felt in a long time. I’m trying to be as vocal as I can on social media about Type 1 and how it affects my day to day while I’m teaching and living my life. I feel by doing this I can spread awareness about Type 1 and help others by spreading knowledge so that future Type 1 Diabetics will be able to realize their symptoms faster than I did. After all this, all I can say is thank you to all who support T1D research, and a special thank you to Team ShaKenDoo It!! Your support has helped me in so many ways. Thank you!”

-Shannon Dooley (Insta: @mrsdooleysdoodlers)