It was Christmas eve, 1981. God had other plans for a little 5 year old that year, other than spending time with family, opening gifts, waiting and wishing for Santa to come and leave gifts for the next morning. Instead that little girl was taken to the hospital where she was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. That little girl was me. Thirty years ago today.
Now that I can say that I have lived with diabetes for a full 30 years, I can’t quite explain what an achievement that feels like. I’ve carried out my life the way I would have otherwise. Despite the fact that I’ve poked my fingers over 65,000 times. That I’ve had over 32,000 injections. That I’ve had countless low and high blood glucose readings. I am a reasonably healthy adult. For that I am extremely thankful.
So much has changed since those days of learning how to give injections to an orange. Having my parents give me my shots. Having to use urine strips to determine glucose levels. Fighting with insurance to cover a blood glucose monitor for us to use at home (a gigantic, slow, super expensive one at that!) Taking only one or two injections a day. Not counting carbs but eating a restricted diet. Testing just once or twice a day. For the past five years, I have been using an insulin pump. For the past three, I have been using a continuous glucose monitor. These two things alone are something that I never would have imagined using growing up. Having diabetes, I am so appreciative to be around in the days that these things are available. That things like the artificial pancreas are in the works. These things have helped me get to where I am today.
I wish, with all of my soul sometimes, that I didn’t have this disease. I would give anything to not have to test my BG before everything I do. Everything I eat. Every time I am active. Each time I go to sleep. And in between. Even more so, I would give anything not to have fear about losing my vision. About having nerve damage in my legs or hands. About my food not digesting properly. About the functions of my kidneys and heart. But God had other plans for me. Thirty years ago today I was diagnosed with this disease. And I will make the best of it. I will test my BG frequently each day. I will force myself to exercise even when I really don’t want to (still working on this one). I will go to a myriad of doctors to be proactive about the complications that have begun in my body. And most of all, I will fight diabetes with every ounce of my being. No matter what is in store for me after 30 years, I will not let diabetes destroy me.