This post was previously written and edited with a few minor adjustments.
24 years ago, I was 5 years old. My mother made a doctor’s appointment for me because I had been sick with a cold for a month and still wasn’t feeling right, and my mom, god bless her, knew that something was truly wrong with me. After an attempt to see a doctor and he told me everything was absolutely okay, which was not and could have resulted in me not being here today. I remembered watching The Lion King and couldn’t finish it. We went to the doctor, she checked my blood sugar and it was off the charts. I was officially diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes, my life forever changed. I also was ordered to be taken to the hospital to begin immediate treatment.
All I can remember is how frightened I was. I sat on my mom’s lap during intake, took good observations over everyone in the hospital and realized at this moment, how much I truly hate to be touched, poked, prodded, and even looked at….still to this day.
Anytime my mom left the room to go talk to someone or do something, she would leave me at the nurse’s station because I was horrified of the doctors coming in gawking at me. I had a doll with me since I was born, I had brought her with me but I hadn’t quite named her yet. I just called her “Baby” but she was definitely a source of comfort for me.
Luckily, 24 hours later we were able to go home from the hospital because my mom learned everything necessary. We came home and she wrote in notebooks every blood sugar taken and the amount of insulin needed and all the details needed to adjust. Still to this day, I have yet to be admitted into a hospital and I take such pride knowing that.
Constant shots giving me insulin, a new life to be adjusted to, no more sugary drinks or snacks and careful observation of my body’s new reaction to this annoying medical condition I never asked for. But there’s a reason why I got it and hopefully one day I will know why I was chosen. Maybe God knows I was such a strong human being, and such a badass that I could handle anything… And everything this annoying disease would bestow upon me.
I was in 1st grade when I was diagnosed, and let me tell you, it was not fun. I was suddenly the kid who was always and forever quiet, but now I couldn’t eat sugar or drink anything the “normal” kids were drinking. Grammar school was rough. Every year my mom wrote a letter to the teacher stating my diagnosis, which I called “Aliveabetes” because I HATED Diabetes had “Die” in it.
I also realized through this time my true strength and perseverance. You literally have to teach your body when you have low blood sugar, when you feel you are high and need insulin. It was very hard to adjust but I did nonetheless. It was also very hard for me to accept this for the rest of my life and I always felt so shameful, still kind of do. I also realized my hatred for the school nurse or anyone annoying wanting to touch me. There was no touching me. I would willingly test my blood sugar under my jacket in school surrounded by people because it inconvenienced me to go to the bathroom just to test. The school nurse once called my mother berating me because I wasn’t the kid willingly going to the nurse’s office to get out of class. No, it annoyed me to be bothered and then to be gawked at or had all this attention on me, I couldn’t stand it…. And I refused to allow it, even at 5, 6 years old and until I graduated grammar school. I never make a big deal about it, even being in school. The principle luckily told the nurse to leave me alone. My mother had to write notes not to even speak to me or bother me. Because I knew very well what I was doing and there was no way, absolutely no way I would allow a “school nurse” to tell me how I felt… Or what I needed. Writing about this now makes me proud. I didn’t take no shit from anybody, and I still don’t. Especially when it comes to the Diabetes.
I received an insulin pump when I was in 7th grade and 7 hellish years later, I willingly took myself off of it and went back to constant insulin injections, which I would rather do over a pump over anything. If they told me tomorrow, I needed to be on a pump or else, I would tell them to go shove it. It was just not for me. It was uncomfortable having something underneath your skin(I always injected it into my stomach for three days) and then take it out and find a new place. The tape itched, pulled, did everything you didn’t want it to do. Picture having and feeling a piece of plastic underneath your skin, 24/7. I had to shower with it, sleep with it, even swim in a pool with it, of course the exception that I would detach the machine from my 18 inch tubing. It was a nightmare.
I will always remember the first night I slept without the pump. I felt free..and comfortable. The pump was supposed to make me feel more comfortable and my blood sugars more in range. It actually made them worse. It would constantly beep or tell me I had no insulin delivery, which meant I would need to change the site. The site alone was a wound. Luckily that was one of the things I got so great with taking care of. I would drown the spot in neosporin and vitamin E and within a day it would be healed.
It killed my confidence, my ability to feel beautiful on the outside and wanting to wear bathing suits, ever again. I’m still so self conscious.
Dating was interesting being a Diabetic. Most didn’t understand it. Many asked stupid, ignorant questions like if I ate too much chocolate as a kid or because I was a fat five year old. No and no were my answers. My biggest pet peeve was when people say they just hate needles and would die if they had to inject themselves. So ignorant. Yes, I just love stabbing myself with needles and pricking my fingers to test my blood sugar. But if I don’t, I’m dead. Way to go. Luckily, I got really blessed with the man that is in my life now and I am forever grateful to him. He was willing to give me my injections, or running downstairs to get me orange juice…. And the best thing was showing him my meter with a blood sugar of 63, and him calmly and nonchalantly saying,” okay let’s go downstairs.” He doesn’t make a big deal of it because he knows, without me even telling him, how much I hate being the center of attention, especially Diabetes related. He just does what he needs to do to help me.
I am always open to answering questions and empowering facts and being an inspiration. Sometimes I wish people asked me more things sometimes.
24 + years later, it’s an everyday battle but I refuse to let it kill me. The eating everything in sight lows to drinking what feels like an entire ocean when high and being so sleepy. I’ve literally been so low, I have almost died. I would stick a cookie in my mouth and I would tell myself no, I will not let this kill me. I’ve had a lot of highs, all too often and I pray someday it’ll be more in control.
I hope I can be an inspiration to someone someday. I’ve been rock bottom more times but the only way to come back is to go up.
My yearly anniversary ritual with my family is to go buy vanilla sundaes with strawberries. I used to test everyone’s blood sugar when I was younger. Everyone hated it but at least they got to semi-feel what I endure every day of my life. Sometimes it helps when your loved ones take the pain away even if it’s just a little bit.
Cheers to a good life and to finding a cure. Either day my fellow diabetics, you’re all my heroes. We are purely badass.