I was diagnosed with T1D in 1973 at age eight. While treatment options were very different then, and so barbaric compared to today, I still grew up having to deal with the same struggles. Many of those challenges have, for the better, shaped me into the person I am today.
Diabetes has taught me INDEPENDENCE. Soon after I came home from my first summer of sleep away camp, to a new house and a new school in a new town, I started having the classic symptoms of T1D. It was the frequent thirst, excessive urination, weight loss, and ultimate lethargy that caused my parents to take me to the pediatrician. After a blood sugar reading in the 500s, I was whisked away to the hospital. While the doctors and nurses were getting my blood sugar regulated, they immediately started teaching me how to give myself injections. This frightened eight-year-old left the hospital seven days later with a strict diet to follow and knowing how to test the sugar in my urine (I know many of you can’t relate to that!) and giving myself shots of NPH insulin daily. Those people believed that I could do it myself, and I was empowered. Even today, the only person I rely on for my well-being is ME!
Diabetes has taught me ORGANIZATION. Whether I was a cheerleader, ice skater, camper, student, mother, I always had/have to be prepared for a low or a high. That meant carrying so many supplies with me at all times… glucose tablets, syringes, insulin, meter, test strips, and extras of all of the above in case I ran out. I am always calculating, planning and preparing, all on my own, all in my own head. I am always looking for the smallest, discreet case to carry all of my supplies. And, back in the day (before social media!) I didn’t know anyone else who had diabetes to share helpful tips.
Diabetes has taught me MODERATION. When I was a child with diabetes, the treatment options were so limited. Actually, there weren’t options. There was one way to test for sugar in the urine, and one kind of insulin (long-acting NPH) to be taken by injection. I relied on a strict diet of calculated carbs. I think that has caused me to think and act more balanced and composed in every area of my life. The only time I do not practice moderation is when I am severely low and can’t get sugar fast enough!
Diabetes has taught me to be independent, organized, and moderate… not just in my diabetes world, but in my overall world… that’s the bright side.
If you want to share your story, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org