Christmas Eve, 1997, should have been a joyous night for my four year old self. I should have been eating copious amounts of homemade goodies while I awaited the sound of Santa’s sleigh bells. I should have been able to fall asleep in my own cozy bed that night and wake up the next morning in my own home. Instead, I found myself opening my presents from a hospital bed that Christmas day.
This fateful Christmas occurred more than fifteen years ago, but my memories from my time in the hospital are vivid. I will never forget being poked and prodded by needles over and over again. I stopped crying after the first few times I got pricked. I remember my mother and father sticking by my side as day faded to night. I remember asking them what was happening to me.
Of course, diabetes is incomprehensible to a child that young. No matter what a parent tries to tell their child, it’s difficult for anyone to totally understand the lasting impact of this disease. However, my mother was fully aware. She had gestational diabetes when she was pregnant with my older brother. It returned for good during her pregnancy with me. Although we wish neither of us were affected by diabetes, we are thankful for the constant support we can provide each other. From day one, she has understood what it’s like, and with my father’s assistance she taught me all that a diabetic needs to know.
Thus, my winding journey down the diabetic path began. For the past fifteen years, I have been working diligently every day of my life to maintain healthy blood sugars. I have seen more endocrinologists and nurse practitioners than I can count. I have seen a myriad of technological advancements, as well: I remember having to wait a full 60 seconds to see the results of a blood glucose test during the first few years of my diabetes. I have tweaked my insulin dosage and carb ratios over and over again. Many times, I have explained diabetes to the people I have encountered in my life. I have experienced the highs and lows, literally and figuratively, on this diabetic journey. I am tested on a daily basis. My biggest challenge was presented in Fall 2011, when I made the transition from home to college life. It wasn’t seamless, but I have learned many valuable lessons along the way concerning my health and independence.
Today, I am nearly halfway through my college career. I have involved myself with the College Diabetes Network at UMass Amherst, which has consequently expanded my knowledge of the disease. Even though I am not a perfect diabetic, I consider myself a determined diabetic. I am confident in my ability to defy diabetes and its challenges every single day of my life.