There were four things I wanted when growing up.
- Curly Hair
Normally children have dreams of what they want to be when they grow up, or a doll they want for christams. I had those dreams too, but also wanted the four things listed above. My sister had and still has the most beautiful natural curly hair that I wanted so bad. My sister also had really cool and thick looking glasses. I would try to wear them, but the prescription was so intense it made it so I couldn't see at all. The last item on the list corresponds not to my older sister, but to my older brother.
My older brother has Type 1 Diabetes, and he has had it my entire life. You might ask, why on earth would I want Type 1 Diabetes?!!!?
- He received new toys all the time (I got all the hand-me-downs)
- He always got mom and dads attention
- He got cool snacks, treats, and it just looked cool!
So you can see why of course, to any child, why these would look like such great reasons to of course have a life-changing disease that costs money, time, and nerve endings.
During this same time period, I was taking part in a study, with what I was told, was to help cure diabetes. Now that I'm older, it was actually a study to see if I would eventually get Type 1 Diabetes, and they were using it to try and predict the disesase. I had to go to Detroit every so often to get blood work done. I got my first wish about diabetes..the brand new toys. One time they couldn't get any blood out of my hands or elbow-crook, after multiple pricks with the needles, I was given four new stuffed animals. During another one of these blood work trips, I also received my favorite, and most prized possession..Rufles..aka "rufus, the bear with diabetes." You could say these were all signs that yep, I was going to get diabetes. Of course, I didn't see them as signs at the time, but I see them now.
Well it wasn't until the night of November 31st 2003 that the signs became even more apparent to my parents. It was about 9:30, on a Sunday Night. I was so hungry that I couldn't stop eating. I was also very thirsty, and had used the bathroom many times. I got a bowl of cereal, the only cereal we had in the house of course was the least sugary cereal possible: Rice Crispy's. I always said my last meal wasn't even full of sugar, but thinking back now, it's probably a good thing that we didn't have something like Lucky Charms in the House. I was eating my bowl of cereal when I brought to light to my parents that I was starving, thirsty, and using the bathroom alot. My parents looked at each other, and I think at that point, they knew exactly what was going on.
My mom called the doctor, and there were to take me to the hospital right away. I changed my clothing, from my PJ's, into my favorite blue jeans, and St. Lorenz Volleyball Camp T-Shirt. I had Ruflus in tow, and we set off for the hospital. While at home, I was made to take a finger check on my brother's Glucose meter, the meter read HI. That means my Glucose was over 500 (normal range 70-120). My father stayed home (I think), and I left with my mother. I had only been 12years old for a Month, and that meant it was time for me to prove myself adult enough. The test...Diabetes.
We arrived at the hospital, and I thought all these people are much more sicker than myself, why am I here. My parents probably could have just said that I was Diabetic, but since they didn't blatantly say it out loud I had no clue.
I had to take another finger check, and this one read a number in the 500's. They sat me in a wheel chair, and rolled me to a temporary room, where I was made to change my clothing, given an I.V. and stuck to watch "The Cosby Show" on the tiny portable television screen. People kept popping into my room, and a parent of a friend who was working that night came because she saw my name on the list, and had to see if it was me.
From here I was rolled by what 12 year old's standard, a Hot guy, in my wheelchair to my actual room in the children's ward. He kept trying to run me into walls, it made me laugh. I wonder if he knew how much that meant to me, and that I still remember him doing that.
In my new room, which was much larger, and had a more fun bed, I learned the hard way that the 300+channel t.v. remote could only go in one direction. So, to not lose a good channel, I ended up watching an all night Marathon of "Kim Possible". Thinking back now, I feel bad for my mom who had to watch it with me!
During the night, I was still thirsty, but was only given ice cubs. I was also extremely hungry. My stomach was completely empty and it felt like it was eating itself from the inside out. I was not allowed anything until they contacted my doctor in the morning. My nurses solution to this...to give me orange juice. Orange Juice. Ok, so for those of you who are diabetics, your probably going like WHAT?, and for everyone else, I'll tell you. Orange Juice is a very sugary drink, and is normally had when someone has Low Blood Sugar levels, not high ones like myself. Orange juice was probably the LAST thing I should have been given, but I didn't care, I was hungry and thirsty. No I did not receive any insulin at this time either.
In the end, because it was probably past 2 am, my mother gave me about 2 crackers with some cheese when no nurse was in sight, and that was all I needed to fall asleep. Just something in my stomach. I only remember waking up once after that, and that was when a nurse came in to check my IV, and I was thinking it was my mom doing something, so I asked her what she was doing, but I don't remember her response.
The following morning, I was informed that I was allowed to have breakfast, so I ordered the a HUGE breakfast from the hospital. I can only imagine now how much money that must have cost my parents. Here is the next blunder of the day, which shows the little faith I have in nurses....I received no insulin for my breakfast, Nothing. Later that morning, when I had to take another check, a different nurse asked about my last dosage of insulin, and she flipped out when I told her I didn't have any. They hurried to give me some insulin to cover my giant sugary breakfast.
I met with a diabetic nurse, and broke down and cried. I realized that I had diabetes. After that moment, when my parents said what kind of insulin I would be on (they had been through various kinds with my older brother, and wanted to make sure I was on the same, and the most flexible). Although the nurse didn't like that, they came up with an algorithm for me to follow, I received syringes, a meter, and humolog and lantus.
With my new supplies, I was ready to go, and I told my parents so. Nothing was going to change, so why waste away my life in the hospital. The main reason I wanted to leave, was because I was set to give a speech that night in front of representatives of the then Governor who was planning on cutting funding to 4-H. 4-H has been a huge aspect of my entire life, and I knew I had to go to this meeting. After much convincing of the doctor. I was realized. The date of my Diaversary is officially December 1st, 2003. Incidentally, December 1st is also the date I was baptized when I was a baby into the Lutheran Faith. Sometimes I laugh at Gods planning, other times I wonder, but I know life just goes on.
We got home with time for me to shower, and then we took off to the huge event at one of the public schools. I was the youngest person at the meeting to speak on behalf of 4-H. My 4-H leaders were the first to learn that I was in the hospital, and had Diabetes. Looking back now, sometimes I wish I would have implemented that hospital story into my speech to convince the representatives to not cut funding, and saying how I left the hospital to be there to show how important 4-H was in my life. That night, i took my own finger check, ate a buffet of food, and my parents gave me a shot.
The rest of my week was not interrupted much. I might have missed two days of school total that week. My mother came into school during lunch the following few days to help me give myself some insulin. We met with my teachers who were and are some the best people I had met. They were fully supportive, understanding, and wanted to do whatever they could to help. By that weekend, I was back to my normal schedule, giving myself my own shots and checking my own blood sugar, and just as active as before.
Diabetes has always been a part of my life. If it was when my brother had it, or now. Diabetes has not stopped me either, and I WILL NOT let it stop me. I have been to Washington D.C. 4.5 times after that diagnoses. I have been to Germany, Italy, and New York City. I played Volleyball and Soccer, Ran Track and Cross Country, participated in forensic Public Speaking competitions on weekends. Attended sleepovers, midnight movie premiers, and lived on campus at my college.
Now, I am living in New York City, On my own and working at JDRF as part of their marketing and Communications team.
Those four things I wanted when growing up, I received, and I wouldn't change them for anything. Yes if a cure comes, I will leap for joy, but until that time, I will continue to check my blood sugar, eat, give myself insulin, exercise, eat, and repeat. I know I am healthier because of my diabetes, I have travelled more, I have made smart choices, and met some awesome people. Going back to when I was younger, I wanted diabetes, but for all the wrong reasons, now that I have it, I wouldn't want to wish it on anyone else (most days). Sometimes, I say that I have diabetes, because I can handle it, and that means that someone else in the world, doesn't have to overcome this obstacle.
I'm proud to be handed this hurdle, and I will keep jumping until the cure is found. yes I might trip once in a while, but it wont stop me from finishing this race on top.
I might have diabetes, but diabetes doesn't have me.
I am a curly haired, always smiling, contact wearing diabetic, and proud of it!