I am not a needle. I am not a vial of insulin. I am not a blood glucose monitor. I have type 1 Diabetes, but I am not my disease. Separation of me and my disease has been a priority to me from day one.
Three years ago my mom took me to the doctor. I was very sick and the illness was progressing quickly. In the time to drive to the doctor’s office, I became unconscious. My mom carried me in and immediately alerted the nurse at the front desk to my unresponsive state. The nurse ran to call a doctor who preformed the many required procedures including checking my blood glucose. It was 475, a dangerously high number. That moment, they suspected I was in Diabetic Ketoacidosis. Ketoacidosis is a condition in which ketones, or acid, builds up in the blood and can effect other body organs. The doctors rushed me to the nearest Emergency Room. They then diagnosed me with Type 1 Adolescent Diabetes. I was life-flighted to Primary Children’s Hospital and taken to the Intensive Care Unit. The doctors believed I wouldn’t survive because of how long this disease had gone undetected. However, in the next few days I regained consciousness and moved into a regular patient room. Nurses, doctors, and dietitians came into my room daily to teach me how to control my recently diagnosed disease. That day on, I decided I would not let this disease take control of me.
My life definitely changed after my diagnosis. Most of it being how people treated me. They treated me like I was a fragile piece of glass. One of my best friends even came up to me one day at school and said she couldn’t hang out with me anymore because she might, “catch diabetes”.
My parents and other family members were more affected by disease than I was. The funny part about that is, I am the one that has to live with it, not them. The doctor said an emotional breakdown from the affected patient and their parents was normal. I saw both of my parents go through this, but I never did. Crying, at that point, would feel like I was giving into the disease. Yes, I now had a life-threatening illness that I would have to control every day constantly because allowing it to control me would make things worse.
I, like other teenagers, have dreams and ambitions. I want to become a doctor, a mom, and an amazing person. To be able to do those things, I have to anticipate that some people may treat me differently because of my disease. I am okay with that, because I am an individual who believes I am not my disease.