First things first, you’ll never understand diabetes let alone type 1 diabetes if you don’t have it. There’s a major difference between prenatal, type 2 and type 1 diabetes. The reason the title has"MY" capitalized is because everyone's experience with the disease is different.
tNo, I didn’t get type 1 diabetes from my diet or weight. How do I know that? I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes because my pancreas stopped producing insulin when I was 18 months years old.
The worst possible thing someone can tell me is,”I heard you can get rid of your diabetes if you eat right and/or exercise more.” FALSE! The only way I can get rid of type 1 diabetes is if my body figures out a way to make insulin on its own to regulate my blood glucose.
This post isn’t to educate you on diabetes itself because you can read up on that and ask your doctor.
The point of this post is for me to be vulnerable and share my real life experience with living with type 1 diabetes.
You will NEVER hear me complain about my diabetes. Why? I really don’t know. Do I hate having diabetes? I’d be lying if I said I didn’t.
My mindset since I was a little girl is,”It can always be worse.” That’s true, to an extent. I’ve never really dug into my feelings about living with diabetes and tend to brush it off until I meet with my Endocrinologist and realize I have a life threatening disease.
Let’s start with my earliest memories... I remember hysterically crying and running away as a toddler from my parents because it was time for me to get a needle full of insulin injected into my body. I remember my father holding me down and my mother giving me the shot(and vise versa!)
From age 1 1/2(18 months old) to 9 1/2 (4th grade) my body needed to be injected by a needle with insulin 4-5 times a day and my blood glucose needed to be tested by a finger prick 5-6 times a day. In other words, a mini needle sticking into your finger to test your blood glucose levels.
^ This little girl reminds me of me! I remember those orange needed and how my dad would take the needle out and I'd pretend to be a doctor! Click here to read Maggie Trieschmann's story which is the girl in the picture.
My mom used to write letters to the teachers to make sure birthday parties in class that I had something “special” like pretzels because I couldn’t have a cupcake.
Once I was in elementary school and being in class for a full day, I was on a schedule. I used to wear a bracelet that indicated I had diabetes. Every day at school I’d have to leave class 10 minutes early to go to the nurses station to test my blood sugar. I remember being so upset when it was my favorite class and I’m the only one who had to leave.
After lunch, at 1:00 pm every single day I needed to eat a snack to prevent my blood sugars from going low. I would get so sad because an alarm would go off in the classroom, all eyes would be on me and I had to go to the nurses office to eat a snack even when I wasn’t even hungry. I remember missing some of my most favorite classes and assignments which always upset me as a kid.
Let’s move on to play dates. My mom didn’t allow me to go on many because she would worry about my diabetes. Would there be sugarless soda at the house? Who would give me a needle because I couldn’t do it on my own? What if there's a medical emergency?
Now let’s fast forward. In 4th grade I remember getting in front of the classroom announcing to the class that I wear an insulin pump. (I didn't want kids to think it was a phone and try to take it of my hands.) An insulin pump was something that was attached to my body 24/7 and it’s purpose is to give me insulin. For me, an insulin pump equaled freedom!
I can eat when I want and no longer need to leave class for a snack! However, I still would have to go to the nurses office everyday before lunch to test my glucose but I'll deal with it.
I’m going to say it again, the insulin pump gave me freedom!
I remember being 10 years old learning how to give myself a needle by practicing on a potato and a stuffed animal.
For Halloween, I never ate candy and would have to trade my candy for a toy. Eventually that stopped.
Every three months, I would need to get blood work taken and I remember crying on the way there. I would be happy by the time it was over because my mom would buy me a toy at the gift shop.
I also had siblings. Think I compared lifestyles? You bet! I would wish I could live a normal life like them and would ask myself “why me?”
Now, let’s talk about my teenage years as a diabetic. Wanna know my nickname? The diabetic delinquent. I started to not care about my diabetes. Doctors requested me to write down with a pen and paper every meal I ate and my blood sugar. I refused.
I wanted to live a “normal” life and not “log” my life.
Well that was a bad idea because my A1C levels reached its highest point which was 11.5. For those of you may not know, that is NOT good.
Until this day I feel embarrassment and shame around it. From time to time, I fear the complications of diabetes.
I feel like I’m a robot and always have something attached to me in order to live.
There are times I would test my blood glucose under a table so no one can see me.
There are multiple times that I was hospitalized due to high blood sugar levels.
There are times I’d wait to give myself insulin because I didn’t want to take out my insulin pump in front of others and I chose to jeopardize my health instead.
There are times I didn’t tell others my blood sugar was low because I didn’t want people to overreact and tell me to eat sugar.
There are times I don’t even want to tell people I’m diabetic because then they think they know everything about the disease because they know someone who has it.
There are times my insulin pump would start beeping and I’d get so embarrassed!
There are times in school when a teacher yelled at me to put my phone away and I didn’t have the courage to say “that’s my insulin pump.”
There are times I’m overly exhausted because my blood sugars are high.
There are times I feel cranky, aggravated and moody and have no explanation for it.
There are times where I cannot focus and feel dizzy.
There are times I need to cancel plans because I don’t feel well.
There are times no one can understand.
I hate how people categorize diabetes as a whole however, there are so many different types which have a different level of severity and a different lifestyle that goes with it.
After writing all this I came to a realization I’m so blessed to be in a world where technology is always advancing.
As mentioned, it’s hard for me to open up about this. However, I feel like I have diabetes for a reason which is to inspire those are struggling with the disease and to help them overcome challenges which may be similar to mine.
"Some days I forget I'm a diabetic.
Some days everything is simply a part of my routine, just like brushing my teeth and getting books from my locker. I dont think about it.
But some days, I'll just be sitting in class or on the bus, maybe even in my bed, and it suddenly slams into me, like a train out of nowhere, that I'm different.
Those are the hardest moments of being a diabetic"
- Internet post
The internet post you just read I feel relates to so many people living with diabetes in general. If your living with type 1 diabetes here are my words of advice:
"Take care of yourself. We can live a healthy life. No one is perfect and you are going to get lazy, screw up and forget things at times. Your only human. It’s ok to feel sad and angry. I get those same feelings too. However, please know you are stronger than this disease and it doesn't define the person you are. Take advantage of all the technology and education you can receive. Stop caring about what people will think of you and start thinking about yourself and your health. Remember, you are not alone." - Breanne Brooks, Founder of The Brooks Journal