Being diagnosed with Diabetes can be a scary experience for anyone. Receiving news that for the rest of your life, you will be responsible for injections, finger pricks, and keeping track of your blood sugar and carbohydrate intake is a lot for someone to handle simply because it completely changes your life. This diagnosis can be especially scary for a mere child, still learning the ways of life, let alone having to adapt to a totally new, chaotic lifestyle.
I received the bad news when I was only 7 years old. The biggest thing on my mind was catching up with my friends on the first day of second grade the following month. After a summer of unexplainable tantrums, out of charachter behavior, and more than a few accidents while waiting for the Old Navy restroom, my mother decided it was best to take me to the pediatrician's office. My grandmother joined us for the trip, expecting a simple 'antibiotic and folow up appointment in a few weeks' sort of appointment. I had waited in that waiting room multiple times in my life for a case of the sniffles or a minor cold but, based on the looks of my family members' faces I could tell that whatever this was required more than chicken noodle soup and some rest.
Upon being admitted to Phoenix Children's Hospital, we were ushered into a colorful ER room. I still had no clue what was going on or why in the world I was at a hospital. As far as I knew, the only thing hospitals were for was having babies and dying. You can only imagine my reaction upon being told I had DIE-abetes. (Not the most comforting name, I'm sure you've noticed) Despite all of this fuss over my current condition, it wasn't until a team of male nurses had to hold me down to a hospital bed in order to take my blood sugar that I started to grasp onto the concept. The doctor then explained to me that I would have to keep track of (and limit) my carbohydrate intake and monitor my blood sugar closely by checking it often and correcting with food or insulin as necessary. Eventhough the doctor swore up and down I wasn't dying, my life was over.
My life quickly changed once I returned home. I was now responsible for making sure my blood sugar stayed in its place and my friends from school didn't quite understand that Diabetes was not something they could catch from being around me. I felt isolated because of this life altering disease I had acquired for some unknown reason. I didn't eat too much sugar, I didn't neglect my health, I just got it. And it wasn't until that November when I attended my first Walk to Cure that I realized I wasn't alone. I was surrounded by hundreds of people who were affected in some way by this very disease I had! They were all walking for my cause. They were all walking for me.
To this very day, I have not missed a single Walk to Cure. I have learned how to manage my illness effectively and came to the conclusion that I can live a normal life despite my far from average lifestyle. I have met many new friends who understand my illness and are supportive of my need to take responsibility for my health. I can drive a car, I just have to check my blood sugar before entering the vehicle. I can eat whatever I want, I just had to learn to properly operate an insulin pump. I can go out with friends, I just have to make certain that I have extra medical supplies in case of an emergency. Most importantly, I realized my life is not over.
If it weren't for the scientific advances that have been made in the area of Diabetes, I would not be here today. I would not have a chance to drive a car, go out, or do anything a normal teenager does. I walk to further these advances until we have wiped out the existance of Diabetes. You walk to support those close to you have been affected by diabetes whether it be a grandparent, sibling, or yourself. We walk to remind eachother that we stand together against this disease. Because, if we stand as one, we can conquer this monster once and for all.
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