I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes when I was 9. I didn’t know what diabetes was, and I didn’t realize that I would have this disease for the rest of my life. I was ignorant towards the whole situation, and more or less preoccupied with the fact that I couldn’t eat chocolate cake on my dad’s birthday.
I remember the weeks leading up to my diagnosis quite clearly. I knew that I was sick, but I didn’t realize that my life was going to be different because of it. The usual symptoms accompanied my diagnosis: sudden weight loss, extreme thirst, drowsiness and loss of appetite. As if growing up isn’t hard enough, life decided to throw in a few more obstacles. There are hurdles in life that you can easily move around and avoid. On the other hand, some obstacles are like a heavy ocean current that try to pull you under.
Diabetes has always been my obstacle, and sometimes there’s no way of swimming around it. My diagnosis was a shock for both myself and my family. It was like being pushed into a pool without knowing how to swim. It’s a sink or swim situation, so nine year old me had no choice but to learn to swim with it.
It was like being pushed into a pool without knowing how to swim. It’s a sink or swim situation, so nine year old me had no choice but to learn to swim with it.
The worries that accompany diabetes are bigger than anything a nine year old should have to deal with. It’s impossible to truly understand the pain of a type one diabetic unless you have experienced the feelings first hand. People are often quick to make judgements about your diabetes, yet they don’t know what it’s truly like to have high and low blood sugars. In reality, they don’t understand that every single decision you make can be impacted by your diabetes.
I was diagnosed at such a time in my life where all I wanted was to fit in. I wanted to be like all the other girls in my grade four class, but that was simply unrealistic considering I had needs that none of the other kids had. The truth of that reality hurt a lot more than I would like to admit. At the time, everything seemed to conflict with the needs of my diabetes: my after school activities, my friends, and even the sports that I loved, like soccer and ringuette. Part of me loathed my diabetes for making me different from everyone else, but another part of me was slowly starting to embrace it.
As much as my diagnosis was life changing, my family and I managed to deal with it. At the beginning, my parents played a crucial role in my diabetes life. As I grew older, they realized that diabetes had to become my own responsibility. My parents weren’t about to follow me around to double check my insulin doses and carb counting as I started my high school years. Despite the help that my parents were offering, I wanted my diabetes to become my own concern.
Dealing with diabetes is not something you can go through alone. As a teenager, I know that the support of the people around me is vital. My diabetes is overwhelming at times, and every so often I think that I’m alone in this fight against my dysfunctional pancreas. In a sense I am alone, because at the end of the day the blood sugar testing and insulin are completely my responsibility. I mean, no one else is going to poke my body with needles for me. Nonetheless, it’s important that I remind myself that there are so many supportive people in my life. Having the support of my family and friends has definitely made it easier for me to cope. I am surrounded by countless, remarkable individuals who inspire me to keep working towards my goals; I know that living with diabetes would be even more of a challenge without them.
As I grew older, they realized that diabetes had to become my own responsibility. Despite the help that my parents were offering, I wanted my diabetes to become my own concern.
As a teenager, it’s definitely a challenge to find a place for diabetes in your life. School, work, studying, volunteering, friends, boyfriends, social life; diabetes tends to be last on the list of things to do. Sometimes it’s hard to make it a priority while maintaining a certain level of balance and sanity in my life. Every individual with Type 1 Diabetes has highs and lows, whether you’re a teenager or not. A big part of diabetes in adolescence is about finding out what works. It’s all about finding out which foods may affect your blood sugar, and how to prevent highs and lows.
Plus, when you throw sports and physical activity into the equation, things get a little complicated. What’s worked best for me has been maintaining a healthy and active lifestyle. I’ve always thought that my sports and exercise has helped me manage my diabetes; it’s all about trial and error. I know that no one can figure out what works for my diabetes except myself.
Diabetes has a very emotional aspect to it, and sometimes the negative emotions try to take over which makes it challenging at times. Personally, I found that playing in team sports and exercising was the perfect form of “diabetes therapy” for me.
After a while, I started to realize that I really enjoyed helping others. It was an impulsive decision at the time, but I thought that my experiences could really help other people who are living with Type 1 Diabetes. I stared a blog, Seeing Sugar, which combines my passion for writing and my experiences with diabetes. I talk about the highs and lows, and I often share my opinions on different matters. My blog has become my method of turning my mentality towards diabetes into something more positive.
How I maintain my diabetes isn’t perfect, but then again life isn’t perfect either.
Whether you accept it or not, diabetes becomes a part of who you are. With time, I’ve come to realize that it’s really not worth the trouble, time and energy to loathe something that you cannot change. It causes more pain than good to hate your diabetes. Complaining about it won’t make it go away. You don’t have to become friends with your diabetes, but you do in a way have to come to terms with it. I accept my diabetes, which has consequently made it easier for me to live with it. Diabetes is part of my life, but it isn’t who I am. Diabetes doesn’t define me; I define it. From the very beginning, I haven’t let it control the things I do or the choices that I make. How I maintain my diabetes isn’t perfect, but then again life isn’t perfect either.
Diabetes is all about finding out what works. There is no way that ANYONE is capable of leading a normal life and having a flawless blood sugar control. It’s impossible to live the diabetes life without any highs or lows, especially when you’re a teenager trying to figure out who you are and what you want to do with your life. Diabetes will only hurt you if you allow it to. Overall, it’s just another obstacle that you have to work around and overcome.
I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when I was nine years old, and while it hasn’t always been easy, I have figured out how to ride those ocean waves.