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Facing Adversity: A Personal Experience of Overcoming the Difficulties of Type 1 Diabetes This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

My life changed suddenly on my first day of third grade. I was lying on a hospital bed when a doctor said, “I am sorry, you have type 1 diabetes.” At the time, I did not understand what diabetes was and how it would affect my future. All I knew was that my life would never be the same. My parents were worried that I would not be able to do things that other kids did, but as it turned out, maturing at a young age and taking on responsibilities made me who I am today.

My first reaction when I heard the news was to ask; “Will I ever be able to eat doughnuts again?” I had a feeling my life as I knew it was going to change. Fast food and desserts were hastily eliminated from my diet. During Girl Scout meetings and birthday parties, I had to turn down the sugary menu. Eventually, my new healthy diet helped manage my blood sugar levels and taught me an important lesson: feeling well starts with eating well.

I also had to learn to listen to my body. At first, I did not recognize the symptoms of hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia. I slowly started to match the dizzy, shaky feeling with low blood sugars and the nauseous moody feeling with high blood sugars. With this knowledge in mind, I was able to take the measures to correct the low or high blood sugar levels before they became dangerous. I learned to listen to my instincts.
Over time, I also learned the importance of being patient with others who may not understand diabetes. In elementary school, my classmates would ask me questions like “Can you not eat sugar ever again?” and “What is that?” as they point to my insulin pump. I knew that others did not understand what it is like to be in my shoes, so I always answered their questions sincerely and with patience. Sometimes, it was hard being the only child at school who had diabetes. Even though I had my family and many friends who supported me, I felt alone. My condition was new to me and I had no diabetic role models to show me the way. I had to learn about diabetes through experience. I knew others were striving to understand my diabetes too, but they could never know how it feels to have huge responsibilities that directly affect their health.
The major lifestyle change from my diagnosis was my new responsibilities and independence. I had to learn early on how to take care of my blood sugar levels without my parents' help since I was alone at school. My parents encouraged me to learn how to give myself insulin shots and check my blood sugar. After about a year, I could perform those tasks and manage my diabetes on my own. This trust made me responsible since I knew I had to make the best decisions for myself. My control over my diabetes showed my parents that I could be trusted with even bigger responsibilities down the road such as driving and deciding what career I should pursue. I also learned how to handle responsibilities as life gave them to me, such as homework and preparing for the ACT. Being diagnosed with diabetes taught me the importance of consequences. If I do not check my blood sugars and control my diabetes, I run the risk of putting myself in a medical emergency. In the same way, if I do not keep up with my homework and prepare for tests, my grades will suffer.

The moment I was diagnosed with diabetes was the beginning of a new me. At first, I did not think I could make the lifestyle changes I did in order to be healthy, but I did and I faced it with courage.



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