24 years ago today, I was dx with T1 Diabetes. My story is made simpler because I had great medical care and a very supportive family. Though, I remember distinctly knowing that I had lost part of my childhood because I had to be a grown up every darn day. And there are many moments that come to mind when I screamed and cried and hid at check times, I just kind of dealt with it. I found respite in going to diabetes camp for 16 years where strangely enough was the only place I didn't feel like a diabetic. Since everyone was, I didn't have to carry that label and was allowed to just be me. I have a very close bond with my camp friends- they helped me grow up with this disease- especially over the teenage years and college when things were just, well, trickier with T1.
I remain complication free, in large part due to my mother, but I pat my own back, too. Because all of those years ago, I made decision that I would be in charge. I learned how to give my injections and how to treat my lows. I knew checking my sugar before driving was imperative. And no matter if it meant missing a tennis match, I had treat my high blood sugars to avoid trouble. I continue to put my work and busy life to the side as an adult to see my doctor as scheduled and eat my meals on time. Each stick, calorie, and lab test are keeping me healthy. But I also learned how to do all the things I love. Whether it was riding my bike through the neighborhood for hours as a kid, or on a 60 mile adventure these days, this "thing" was never going to stop me. And as my doc told me all those years ago, exercise would always help me. So a stagnant, sick person I was not.
Taking care of T1 daily isn't enough though. Even though my diabetes is in great control, the fear of complications are still out there. I have lost two friends to this terrible disease. There is no cure right now. And because we don't yet know what causes T1, we can't prevent it, which means we fear are loved ones being diagnosed as well. And that's where JDRF comes in. The number one researchers in the world are fighting alongside me every day to find a cure. Their advancements are making "less until none" a reality- lessening the load of T1 through better approaches to care and technology until diabetes has been conquered once and for all. When I was that little kid setting out to fight diabetes, I walked, biked, and jumped to raise funds for research. Somewhere there are tapes of me on the local news each year talking about T1D awareness. And now as an adult, I am still storming those streets by participating in the Ride to Cure Diabetes- which has raised over 14 million since I joined the program 3 years ago. We are still looking for a cure, but I remain healthy and fighting because JDRF is finding ways to best treat T1 and prevent complications on their path to finding a cure.
I have called the Ride program my adult diabetes camp. I have not only found a way to fight diabetes through raising funds for research, and by fighting my own diabetes with exercise, I have found a group of friends that provide me with support and comfort on the days that I find myself feeling like that 8 year old little girl- wanting to cry and scream and hide from my diabetes. And a group of people that I can also help with those same feelings. Because until there's a cure, we really are all in this together.
My story has both ups and downs I suppose. But one thing I am sure of- Thanks to my family and friends continued support of my, my ride and JDRF, T1 Diabetes will learn to regret the day it messed with me. Please donate to my ride this year- because we will be the ones that determine how this story really ends. As always, your support keeps me pedaling forward every day. Thank you.
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