Looking back through my four year old eyes I had no perception of disease or long term illness. I could focus on building the biggest Lego house, or fastest Hot Wheels track, but after being diagnosed with type one diabetes at age five everything changed. I was suddenly different from everyone, I felt excluded, alienated, and scared.
At birthday parties I couldn’t even eat the cake, which seems like such a small problem now, but at such a tender age it seemed like the end of the world. I did what I was supposed to do because I was scared.
As I grew older, I developed a very negative outlook on my diabetes. I grew less scared and angrier, and questioned why it had to be me. Often I would try to pretend I didn’t even have diabetes, I figured if I ignored it, it would go away. I tried this method through middle school. I ignored the diabetes, and fought my parents when they tried to make me take care of myself.
Well to say the least this did not make my diabetes just disappear as I had intended. Instead it made me feel horrible when my blood sugars were not in a healthy range. My legs would feel weak and start to shake, I would begin to sweat excessively, and I would become very dehydrated. It came to be something I could no longer ignore. It was bad enough to have this constant burden on my shoulders, but I came to realize in high school that it was possible for me to be just like everyone else, at least if I took care of myself.
I began to manage my diabetes just as high school began which was good for me because it taught me a great deal of responsibility . I began to check my blood sugars without being told, and to do my own injections. I even handled my own doctor visits. This sense of responsibility began to show through in my school work where I became much more disciplined. My stable blood sugar levels also brought about a huge performance increase in my basketball career, which thrived in my final high school years. Feeling like everyone else for a change as far as how good I felt physically was reason enough for me to maintain my health, eat right, and manage my blood sugars.
This life-long experience has showed me if I believe in myself, and take control of my life, I can accomplish anything. I learned I have to control my diabetes, and not let it control me. I have come to believe that when faced with adverse circumstances in our lives, we must do everything in our power to control and rise above our difficulties. Life is not always fair, and it does no good to whine about it. I believe success comes to those who take on the challenges life presents to them. I am a healthier and happier person for having done so.
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