My Life With Diabetes
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This is Lil, she’s 16 and has been diabetic for 6 years now. Ok, what’s the big deal? Everyone knows a person or two with diabetes. It’s not like it’s something really exotic – everyone knows what diabetes is. Or do they? If you think about it a little more, however, you’ll realize that apart from avoiding eating too much sugar, you probably don’t really know that much about diabetes. This is the story of Lil’s life, and it will help you find out a bit more.
She was an absolutely typical kid. And as often happens, everything went fine until one morning…She fell down the stairs while she was in a hurry for the school bus. She sprained her ankle, and instead of taking her to school her scared parents took her to the hospital. While they were on their way, she explained to them that she’d fallen because her vision had gone blurry, and it was still like that in the car. She was also extremely thirsty. This alarmed her parents at once. So the doctor examined her with two complaints in mind. He had two bits of news for her – the good one and the bad one. The good news was that her ankle would be ok in no time. The bad news was that her blood sugar was sky high, and after several analyses she was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes – an incurable condition.
What did it mean? To Lil at that time, it was just an odd-sounding word. But the doctor explained it to her very vividly. Imagine you’re in the middle of a seesaw. The seesaw’s board is your blood sugar level. In order to keep stable you need to maintain your balance, but it will never be stable on its own – it will go up and down, up and down, and you need to do a lot of work to keep it more or less balanced. And if it goes too far up or too far down, you’ll fall down. And end up in the hospital. Otherwise…otherwise you’ll fall down and go to the hospital. Or something much worse.
This was a shock more to her parents than to her. Lil’s mom was totally lost, not knowing what to do, where to start…But she herself was actually cool; you know, even with the seesaw metaphor it was still very abstract. It was only later that she realized how limiting diabetes could be. She received a brand new glucose meter and she had to check her blood 6-7 times a day. She had to check the numbers she saw there and take the necessary action, which was either an insulin injection if it was too high, or eating candy, drinking a glass of juice or consuming something else that was sweet if it was too low.
What effects did it have on her life? First, it was embarrassing. She had a specialized kit that she had to carry with her, and she had to take it out wherever she was and carry out strange procedures in order to check her sugar levels. Secondly, the whole thing was disappointing. She loved eating candy, and the idea that from now on she would have to take strict control of her diet was heartbreaking. You have to calculate carbohydrates and evaluate every tiny lollipop you dare to eat. She remembers every time someone in her family took a cookie, she came up asking, “Can I have one as well?” She already knew what the response would be, but she still hoped that maybe THAT time she could.
And last, but not least, it was scary. When you start along your path as a diabetic, you just don’t realize that something dangerous is happening. So you’re not too obsessive about it. Not until the day when you have a low-sugar crisis, called a hypo, and you find yourself absolutely disoriented, like a zombie, trying to eat anything you can reach. Or when you forget your kit at home and go to the hospital because you’ve missed your shot and your sugar levels are skyrocketing.
This is the reason why, unfortunately, Lil’s teen years were not the best ones you can imagine. She was always slightly depressed, because first of all, she had to grow up real quick and develop a sense of responsibility she wasn’t eager to have. Imagine you’re 10 years old and you need to give yourself a shot, and your life depends on it. Lots of other diabetic people have this problem – from one crisis to another you realize that you’re irresponsible, because you don’t control it well enough. It’s such a stressful situation to see those numbers going up and down and back up again all day long. Even if any doctor would tell you that you’re not irresponsible, you’re still diabetic, and everyone has the same struggle.
However there’s always a silver lining to every cloud! First of all, being cautious about your health brings only benefits. Secondly, your ability to adapt grows considerably. Now she’s studying hard, because her ambition is to become a biochemistry scientist some time in the future. That’s why she says that diabetes is not a fun condition to have, but even so it can make you a better, more responsible and more determined person.