An Insulin Junkie!
In an effort to raise donations for a Walk to Cure Diabetes team it is recommended that you write a letter that includes “your story” to potential donors. After a lot of thought and consideration about what my story is, I decided I would write the short version. I believe the story of me becoming a T1D is not as important as the message behind what I would like to accomplish on my journey through being a T1D.
So here’s the short version. I was diagnosed on 9/11/2000. At the time I was 6 months pregnant with my daughter, Arryanna. When I was diagnosed I was not prepared for what to expect next. I spent two days in the hospital learning how to inject insulin, test blood sugars, eat food in smaller sizes and not drink regular soda. The doctors all expected my diabetes to go away once my daughter was born. In response to their theories I didn’t spend a lot of time learning about what could come next, I just dealt with what was happening right then.
The initial thought process, that this was a short term problem, was short lived. In a matter of weeks I was having problems with temporary blindness along with spells of both low and high blood sugar. I wanted to enjoy being a new mom, but I was filled with a lot of anger and very little knowledge about what was happening. Looking back now I’m shocked at how little information the doctors gave me.
For the next couple of years I did everything in my power to get through without actually facing my diabetes. I adjusted to shooting up insulin in bathrooms and learned to avoid family questions about how I was doing, hence the term insulin junkie. I didn’t adjust well to living alone while my husband was stationed in Virginia. The worst place for a diabetic to be is caught up in your own head. Listening to your fears play over in your head, seeing bruises accumulate from over use of the same leg site, seeing yourself in the mirror and questioning what happened to you. With no one there to offer an objection your thought weighs heavily on your daily life. It becomes a bad haircut, a big nose or extra weight you can’t lose. You judge yourself the same way everyone else does, but you know very few people who actually understand what you are dealing with. There’s no hair dresser or plastic surgeon that can fix it. Ironically there’s not even a diet that can cure it. You have to find your inspiration somewhere else.
Now on to what I want to accomplish. I struggled for years to convince myself to even consider using an insulin pump. The questions that plagued me; what if people see it, how will I ever be able to wear a bathing suit again, could someone look past it and still find me attractive. The most important question for me was whether or not I could look past my pump. Could I see myself as beautiful with my pump when most women struggle to see themselves as anything more than average? I learned early on that you could find over 100 websites that had training on how to hide your insulin pump, but nothing that expresses how beautiful and confident you can be wearing it. I want to show the world that your T1D’s does not define you, but that you define who you are as a diabetic.
In early 2013 I had to replace my pump and chose a pink one. It was not a decision that came lightly, because at the end of the day, it wasn’t going to be as easy to make the pink pump blend in. What I soon realized was that more T1D’s approached me. I had children and parents asking me about my diabetes. I became more confident, more accepting and a lot less angry. I saw a lot of my pain came from the fact that people can’t see diabetes. People assume their colds, headaches and even their version of low blood sugar is the same as mine. Certain cold medicines cause my blood sugars to spiral out of control, headaches are typically caused by reactions to extreme highs and your low blood sugar of 86 in no way compares to my lowest measurable blood sugar of 23. At the end of the day, no one needs to feel bad for me, or any diabetic for that matter, but knowledge is power. Understanding that every day is a fight, not with the world but with yourself. You have to want to be better, be stronger and always be accepting of what is. You can’t hold on to the lost moments in time during lows and instead you have to define your version of normal and a new version of impulsive.
So what does impulsiveness look like? It always looks like a plan. No matter what you are doing you have to have insulin, your glucose meter and all the pieces of your backup plan in case something goes wrong (because it can always go wrong). So what does it stop you from doing? Nothing. You have to learn to do things different, but it doesn’t stop you from doing them. Go swimming, just remember to check your sugar, wear your bathing suit and realize that if people see your pump then they probably aren’t paying attention to the body flaws you see. If you want to participate in a mud run do it, but you have to be overly cautious and check your sugars a million more times than usual. You have to test theories and train at the gym running without your meter attached, then check your sugars a million more times. If you want to skydive, you have to know your body, know your responses and check your blood sugar….yep a million times. It all makes you better. A better person, a better diabetic, a more grateful human being.
Through all of this I have met some of the most amazing children and I have more respect for them than they will ever know. I was diagnosed at age 20 and I fought what seemed like an impossible battle. But I can’t even imagine being a child and doing any of this. There is no comparison for what they endure daily, but the strength I realize they have is immeasurable. So my goal is that through experience I can share what possibilities are out there and that I can show what beauty does exist when you accept and build your diabetes around you. Until there is an end to parents checking blood sugars at 2am, or kids sitting in the nurse’s office at school to inject insulin, I want to improve the individual acceptance of what this is and can be. If I could send one message it would be to always keep in mind that beauty is never perfect, for anyone.
I am an insulin junkie, but I make the best of who I am. I learn every day how to be a better version of myself and how to use my experience to help other people. Now I’m asking for you to help me. My family is supporting me in building team “Insulin Junkie”. We are going to participate in the April 12th, 2014 Walk to Cure Diabetes with JDRF. I would greatly appreciate your help in raising donations to help support Type 1 Diabetes. There is no minimum amount and every cent will help, in more ways than you can see.