Anne Rice Says Diabetes Nearly Killed Her

ByABC News via GMA logo
June 23, 2004, 3:22 PM

June 26, 2004 -- Author Anne Rice, known for her best-selling "Vampire Chronicles" series, has been dealing with an all-too-real horror story of her own, a health crisis that at first terrified her, and then nearly took her life.

After enduring a series of strange symptoms that her doctors were not able to explain, Rice reached a pivotal point five years ago, when she woke up early one morning with a pounding headache. She was also having difficulty breathing.

As her condition worsened, Rice's husband and her assistant called 911. When an ambulance crew arrived at the house, Rice was unconscious.

Rice later learned that she had been in a coma, and just minutes from death. She also learned the cause: diabetes.

"They ran the tests and they got a blood-sugar [level] of 800, which is pretty much I think fatal," Rice said. "What they told me later was that I was in a coma, and of course death would have followed in about five to 10, maybe 15 minutes."

Rice learned she has type 1 diabetes, which ordinarily strikes children, and requires insulin injections. Now she is now speaking out to raise awareness of the disease.

The first signs of illness surfaced more than five years ago. They began subtly, with digestive problems that Rice tried to brush aside.

"It started with this chronic indigestion, just having cramps after every meal and feeling like something was wrong," Rice said. "Then the really horrifying symptoms appeared. I started to lose weight, and this was nothing short of bizarre, because I had been overweight all my adult life."

Writers Block

From the earliest days of dealing with the disease, Rice knew something was very wrong. In addition to losing weight, the prolific writer was losing focus, and with it, her ability to write and create. She feared her career was in jeopardy.

"I was sitting at the computer, and trying to write, and the simplest descriptions were impossible for me," Rice said. "I simply couldn't find the words."