I was an energetic, healthy, happy, academic, social kid. I was tall and generally well liked. I was good at sports. I was a sister and a daughter. Then, I was just sick. I didn’t feel sick. I was lucky. True, I was tired, and thirsty and losing weight. I looked like an emaciated giraffe, as some of my friends pointed out. I was still lucky. I didn’t wake up in the hospital. Instead, my parents had a fight. My mother saw a commercial about diabetes on TV. I had no idea that anyone noticed I was drinking an entire 2 liter bottle drink when I came home from school. That all of a sudden I had to raise my hand every few minutes to be excused to go to the bathroom in class or that I once almost dozed off in class. I was lucky, I had been a good student and my teachers didn’t think I was being bad, they thought something was wrong. My parents noticed that I ate everything in the pantry and I was losing weight. I was tall and thin to begin with. I didn’t notice. They did. They fought about whether I was bulimic or anorexic. My mom saw the commercial and thought I was a diabetic. My dad, said only old people got diabetes and it wasn’t in our family. I was lucky, I had a thorough mom. I went to my pediatrician and then was sent straight to an endocrinologist. I had a long, painful and nauseating day of testing and then I knew. Type I diabetes.
So now what am I? I am a woman. I happen to have Type I diabetes. I’ve been a student, an athlete, a dancer (ok, not a good one), a student government member, a yearbook staff member, an honors society member, a girlfriend, a volunteer, a part-time job holder, a lifeguard, a babysitter, a kid, a tween, a teenager, a college student, an employee, a friend, a fiancé, a wife, a mother, a stay at home mom, a working mom, a teacher, a runner, a walker, a fund raiser, and a diabetic. I also have been stressed out, a person obsessed by blood sugars, weight, the condition of my skin, my A1Cs, lab work, what others thought of me, what my doctors thought of me, what my diabetes educators thought of me. I’ve worried to the point of frustration, tears and paralyzing fear of what lies down the road. I’m a diabetic. I’ve also been a role model, a counselor and a person some younger diabetics and their parents can look up to, perhaps. I’m a T1, with relatively no complications, I‘m relatively happy, I had a healthy baby, I’m a volunteer, a mentor , I’m an advocate, active and I am in control.
What does this mean for you? I’ve been there– plain and simple. My doctors were not diabetics, my certified diabetes educators were not diabetics. I was a teacher and I loved it. The most incredible moments were when I could actually help a student understand something, maybe they physically couldn’t do it yet, but they finally made that connection and saw that they could do it. Letting a parent know this was always a highlight. I can’t cure the diabetes, but I can help you reframe your thoughts about it. During certain parts of my life, I didn’t want to talk to my parents, or my doctors, or even my friends about what I was dealing with. It never left me and I just wanted to be like everyone else. I’ll never be like anyone else, but guess what? They won’t be either! I can help you understand and deal with some of the concerns, frustrations and choices that a diabetic has to make. They aren’t always fun, but they can be handled and you can have the life you want!