The Girl I Used to Be

February 3, 2012
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I used to be a girl who rolled up her sleeve every morning and every night, poked and prodded the fleshy arm to find a suitable place for a slender, sharp needle, and winced as one of her parents pushed the life-sustaining insulin past her skin. I was eleven and twelve, and I used to see myself wearing a clean, white lab coat and holding a vial of . . . well, I wasn’t sure yet just what I would be holding, but I knew that it would be a life-changer for me as well as millions like me. I pictured myself standing on a podium in front of a deafening crowd, smiling as I thanked everyone for their admiration and support. As I cringed against the unforgiving needle, I pictured a cure for type-one diabetes, and I was sure that it was coming faster than anyone imagined.

I used to be a girl who was scared of eternity. I was just a child- next year seemed a thousand years away, and beyond that was practically unfathomable. I could handle deadlines and due dates with remarkable ease, but I couldn’t face the fact that some things would last forever. I believed that everything had an ending, so the notion that diabetes would last forever was not one that I was comfortable with. Try telling a child that something painful would come back every day, every week, every month, every year for the rest of their lives. My doctors never stated it in such a dread-inspiring way, but as soon as I realized that I would never be rid of them with their endless tests and examinations, I understood that diabetes would never end, either. I was a girl who couldn’t cope with the idea that something I disliked so much would be there for the rest of my life, and so I created the idea that it wouldn’t be. I would create a cure and put an end to the dreadful forever that I was doomed for, and that was better.

Between the girl I was then and the one I am today, I became a girl who began to understand that a cure was going to take a while, and that I should do something more productive than sit there and dream of a miracle that, while imminent, was surely many years away. I was a girl who grasped the syringe with trembling fingers and pushed the needle into her body for the very first time. I was a girl who began to make a game out of testing her blood sugar: guessing the number in advance and putting the equipment together in record time- under thirty seconds. Later, I was a girl who was introduced to the idea of an insulin pump and began to dream of a life where there were less needles and less restrictions. This miracle would only take a few months to come true- this is about the time when I began to accept that a cure might be farther away than I could see.

Now I am a girl who has stopped believing in a cure. I’m not a girl that has given up- on the contrary, I’m a girl who is immensely satisfied with where she is in her life, and what she has been given to work with. I’m a girl who’s grateful for the lessons that battling with the disease has taught, and for the strength that comes with meeting a formidable opponent and still holding the higher ground. I used to be a girl who used a cure as a beacon of light, a mere spark that was the only glimmer of hope in the darkened sky, a sky that only someone with a chronic illness is able to see. Now, I’m a girl who’s satisfied and fascinated by her life; I’m a girl who sees millions of stars dancing in the heavens and sees the skies ablaze with hope and possibility. I’m a girl who watched with amazement and awe as that lone, dim star faded as brilliant meteors lit the sky with their radiance and fire, and I’m the girl who is only a little sorry that she didn’t see it sooner.

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This article has 5 comments. Post your own now!

ispoli16 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
May 2, 2012 at 5:42 pm
Thanks!! I still particpate in the Walk every year. It's not that I don't support the research efforts and everything, it's just that I'm not waiting for the cure myself.
Anni45 replied...
May 2, 2012 at 5:48 pm
I love how you worded it and the use of description. I, too have diabetes. I think at times it's hard, but mostly it's just another thing in my day. I try to write TeenInk articles, but I don't just want to be 'the girl with diabetes', you know?
KatsK This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
May 2, 2012 at 4:43 pm
Good for you. Type one is very hard to live with-- my sister and cousin both have it. It is very inspiring to see that you have turned what some may call a curse, around, to know that you aren't just your diabetes. (That being said, I'm doing the Ride for a Cure in LaCrosse, Wisconsin, for my sister . . . I'm still internally applauding you, though.)
CourtneyElaine said...
May 1, 2012 at 10:27 am
Wow this is truely amazin and so inspiring :)
SA123 said...
Apr. 30, 2012 at 10:22 am
What a beautiful piece. You've got a great outlook on life and there's a lot people can learn from you!
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