In my 18 years of living there are only so many memories that I would consider “vivid.” March 6th, 2013 is one of those days that I remember vividly.
I hadn’t been feeling well for the past several months. I would wake up 3 times a night to use the bathroom and I was also waking up several times a night with massive cramps in my legs. I had been eating more than I ever had in my life but was consistently losing weight. I fell asleep in class, and was constantly tired and fatigued. Clearly something wasn’t right.
The night my mom realized she needed to take me to the doctor was when we were at the Maroon 5 concert- my Christmas gift from her. I drank 5 of the big jumbo concert sized cups of water and between every song I had to run up the steps to use the bathroom. When we returned home that night, my mom let me know that she was going to pick me up from school the next day and that she had an appointment for them to test me for diabetes. I immediately went to my room and promptly did what people do when they are curious... I googled what the symptoms of type 1 diabetes are and two minutes later I was back in my mom’s room with tears streaming down my naïve cheeks. I had every single symptom listed.
I was scared, anxious, upset, and completely unsure of what any of this meant and how it would impact my life going forward.
The next day my mom and I sat in the small room waiting for the doctors to rule out every other possibility before they tested me for diabetes. The pediatrician walked in and told my mom that we would be needing to head straight to the ER and that I was in diabetic ketoacidosis.
This means that there is a shortage of insulin, causing the body to burn fats and leaving acids in the blood stream. When we checked into the emergency room all I remember was asking my mom over and over for snack. My body was literally starving and very fatigued. My blood sugar was at 505 and I had been in that range for at least the past month and a half.
The next three days I spent time with my parents Martha and Tom and my older sister Lucy learning about the disease that I would be living with the rest of my life. I was pumped with fluids and put on an insulin drip to get healthy again. Leaving the hospital was one of the most vulnerable moments of my life. I was going to be living with a life threatening disease and not be under the care and supervision of nurses and doctors everyday. I am lucky that I have such an amazing support system. My family was as dedicated to learning about the disease as I was, and wanted to do anything and everything they could to help and support me—and they still do to this day.
Diabetes affects my every action, thought, and choice, but I don’t allow it to consume my life. I remember being so scared the day I was admitted into the hospital because I had zero control of what was happening to my body. I quickly learned that being Type 1 meant that I wasn’t going to be able to control everything in my life. Taking a stressful test in school causes my blood sugar to spike, or when I am playing tennis I always have a gatorade in case my blood sugar starts to drop (even though I would prefer to just drink water). But, this means that I take control of the things that I am able to. can plan my schedule, I can make sure my room is always the way I like it (semi tidy), and I can choose what I eat, when I go to bed and what makes my body feel better. I can also control how I let diabetes affect my attitude— and I choose to not let it hold me back! I love to be outdoors hanging out with friends and family, playing tennis and lacrosse, working out, traveling, going to sporting events, and I also love doing art projects. I am a captain of the girls varsity tennis team and I am also involved with my school’s student judiciary board. I am a big advocate for Type 1 Diabetes and was lucky enough to have the opportunity to be a 2015 JDRF Children’s Congress Minnesota delegate and travel to Washington D.C to advocate for T1D with my congressmen and senators. I hope to attend college in Boston next year and my dream degree is in Human Organizational Development.
I try and stay as in tune with my diabetes as possible, but sometimes I can’t help being frustrated or angry with this disease. When this happens I try to remember what my mom always tells me... “you are only given what you can handle.”
We got your back!