I vividly remember the feeling of emptiness when I was sick. I recall feeling weak, fragile, and helpless. I could barely walk, I felt so broken and malnourished. There was something wrong with me – I just knew.
I was right. When I finally went to the doctor after being violently ill for weeks, I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. I remember the nurse saying the word for the first time. The way that the blonde nurse’s voice urgently determined diabetes was the culprit of my shocking weight loss and overall feeling of unhealthiness, is eternally seared into my memory. Diabetes is a word that holds much more than consonants, vowels and syllables to me. It’s a word that holds meaning of a much greater significance. It is the reason for who I am today and is shaping me into a person full of confidence, independence, and great work-ethic.
I was home from school the day of my diagnosis. My body felt as though it was eating away at itself. I could not stomach eating or drinking anything for days. Whenever I even took a sip of water, my body would tremble in sharp pain. I could tell that there was something seriously wrong, and I could not mentally or physically handle another day of it.
I went to my local doctor that day, only to be rushed to Children’s Hospital in Boston, where I had no idea what was in store. In Boston, I was immediately given an IV and placed under constant monitoring. My blood sugar exceeded 600 that day, more than five times what it should have been. I remember having an unquenchable thirst, only one minor discomfort in this unfamiliar place.
The days to follow were full of meetings with doctors, nutritionists and therapists, attending informational classes, and learning everything about carb counting and how to use insulin, all so I could manage this new disease independently. I did not understand any of it, but leaving that hospital I knew one thing, I needed to grow up, fast.
I now had the responsibility of checking my blood sugar, calculating insulin units, and injecting myself with insulin, up to ten times a day. After having this heavy burden placed upon my shoulders, I began to feel resentful and angry. Why did I have to suffer everyday unlike all my other friends? Why did I have to be different? These were questions that I soon discovered no one but myself had answers to.
I truly believe that diabetes forced me into becoming the strong individual that confidently developing into. It taught me so much about life. Not only did I learn how to deal formally with adults in a professional setting, but I also learned a lot about maturity, time management, independence, and learning quickly.
All of these things that I learned in the hospital years ago have been applicable to my life and I have used them to benefit me. In school, I faced academic hardships that I persevered through, knowing that I possessed the type of strength required to do so; a strength provided to me by diabetes. When returning back to school things were different, they were harder. School was getting tougher and managing my health was too, so I made the decision to march on. Not only did I gain physical strength, but emotional strength too. This decision changed me, it made me more fundamentally driven. I took on leadership roles at school as the editor of the school newspaper and as student council president, and at work as a manager at a senior living community. The characteristics I gained through having diabetes delivered me through times of difficulty and will serve as tools to me in the future. Moving forward in life, I will be able to adapt to new life changing transitions with ease as a result of my experiences with my disease. I learned in life that no matter how many forces are acting against you, human strength can get you through anything.