I’m thru-hiking the 2600 mile Pacific Crest trail (Daily Hike Updates) as a fundraiser for JDRF because I believe in their vision of a world without type 1 diabetes (T1D) and I believe in my daughter, Maura. To help you you understand, I would like to share a story she wrote.
Seen But Not Heard
I am part of a culture where I am rarely able to acknowledge others in my culture group, but when we do see each other, we greet each other like old friends and ask all of the standard questions. We say, “Hey! Me too! Are you on the pump? Which one? What do you use? Humalog or Novolog?” We have a language, which others may not understand. Others may not know what we mean when we talk about our A1C’s and our honeymoon period. Others may not know what we mean when we talk about checking our blood sugar, counting our carbs, and giving ourselves insulin. If you opened my cultural knapsack, it is possible you will find some words you don’t understand. That’s okay. I can teach you. Only those that are close to me—family, friends—understand because I taught them.
If you open my cultural knapsack, you’ll find a lot of physical supplies I have to carry with me, but you’ll also find an emotional burden. You may see a blood sugar monitor, strips, lancets, alcohol swabs, and syringes. You can also find a girl with low’s and high’s. She is grumpy and hungry when her blood sugar is low while she is lethargic when her blood sugar is high. Sometimes she wishes that she didn’t have to worry about it. She wishes that it could disappear and she didn’t have to worry about checking her blood sugars, ordering supplies, and paying for everything. Even though she doesn’t always like all of these facts, she feels like a healthier person and she relates to people like her. Lastly, she will always carry this in her knapsack: Type 1 Diabetes.
When I was 17 years old, I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. I was going in for a routine check-up at the pediatrician to get some vaccines. They found that glucose had spilled into my urine, so the nurse checked my blood sugar. It was about 225, which is high, but not as high as some undiagnosed diabetics who go to the hospital with a blood sugar of 600-800. The nurse asked if I felt okay and I said that I felt fine. Still, the doctor recommended that I check into the hospital. After getting blood drawn and being at the hospital until about 10:00 at night, they sent me home. My blood sugar had gone back down to normal, but I wasn’t done with the doctor. I did indeed have Type 1 Diabetes, but I was one of the lucky ones because it was caught early. This meant that my pancreas was still producing some insulin. Although Diabetes can be frustrating some days, I’ve learned to live with it and the journey it has taken me on.