When I was 11 years old I went into the doctor’s office to get looked at for what my mom and I thought was a common cold. After listening to me tell him of my symptoms he decided to test the amount of sugar in my blood. My blood sugar level was so high that the meter in the clinic just flashed “HI”. It was at that moment that I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes and the world I had known for 11 years was ambushed by a frightening reality.
Scared? Try being driven to a hospital at 1:00 in the morning and have someone stick an I.V. in your arm. Try making your fingers bleed 8 times a day so that you can know where your blood sugar level is at. Try learning that you will have to stick a needle in your own arms, legs or buttocks 5 to 6 times a day for the rest of your life. Try being told that if you don’t take care of your disorder then you will go blind, lose limbs and die of kidney failure as a middle age man possibly leaving behind a wife and kids.
Now I am a 21 year old sophomore studying to get a degree in music education. Sometimes you might hear me singing in a room, trying to pronounce the German words correctly. I sympathize greatly with fellow students who are scared because of the cost of tuition, or the difficulty of their classes. I don’t believe I go through more difficult things than anyone else in this world has to go through, but I do have a challenge that many people do not.
Despite the effects diabetes can have on a person who doesn’t take care of themselves, I am very healthy. I have a fit body, and as healthy a diet as a poor college student can have. My doctor told me when I visited with him last that I was doing great. Of course as one may guess I didn’t move from a pale, frightened 11 year old to a confident, healthy 21 year old overnight.
The night I was diagnosed my new guideline became, “What do I need to do to make my life comfortable again?” To be honest my first attempt at achieving this was denial. I tried pretending my disorder didn’t exist, hoping it would go away. Being grounded a couple of times and having stories told to me about people who had suffered because of their denial helped me get past that stage.
It was when I accepted my disorder and followed the necessary steps to take care of it that I gained a belief I still hold today. I believe that discomfort is a key ingredient in my life. Whether it is forced, like diabetes or chosen like university I believe that uncomfortable situations make us grow and become strong.
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