This is the first in a planned series of articles about diabetes. Several physicians have graciously agreed to share their expertise to provide you with the most current, insightful medical information. It is also a story of never-ending hope, accompanied by faith and another constant companion – humor.
What do I know about this topic? I was diagnosed with type 1 Diabetes Mellitus as a teenager. Over the years many technological advances along with medical discoveries have made living with the disease easier, however there are still obstacles.
It is my hope that by sharing my journey on this path, that you may avoid complications. Also, that you will learn the newest medical advancements that continue to make life better for us.
How do you adjust to the diagnosis?
Frankly it’s hard, but you can’t ignore this disease or pretend you don’t have it. Living with diabetes requires patience, understanding, education, a tremendous amount of responsibility, a good sense of humor, and realizing it is a marathon – not a race.
We’re in this together for the long haul until a cure is discovered. Many people that you love will not understand. They will make strange comments to you, or feel the need to announce to the world that you cannot have a luscious dessert they are serving because you are diabetic. After their news flash they may hand you a banana, but they mean well.
Being a teenager or young adult is difficult enough, but throw in an incurable disease and life gets instantly more complicated. When I was diagnosed with diabetes, it honestly felt as if the world crumbled around me. The disease wasn’t in our family, nor did we know anyone that had Sugar Diabetes, as it was most often called at the time.
As frightening as the diagnosis was for me, it was harder for my parents to accept. Looking back, it’s understandable due to the fact that patient education was lacking at the time and the only medicine for someone my age was insulin. Initially, thoughts of giving myself a shot felt like the hardest part of the disease to accept however soon it was the least of my worries.
It’s still vividly clear in my mind how my mother reacted one evening, during the second week of my initial hospitalization. The nurses had worked with me throughout the day on a vital part of my treatment. I held an orange in my hand and explained to my parents how the peel was similar to the thickness of human skin. Next I demonstrated my newly acquired skill of how to fill a syringe, before proudly giving a successful saline injection to the orange, with no complaints from the little orb. By then the poor fruit had been tortured all day with shots and I couldn’t help wondering how it tasted.
Mom didn’t appreciate my technique. My sweet mother looked horrified as she gasped, “Oh, my God.”
Her honest reaction hit me hard.