Have you ever wondered what it’d be like to have your body fight against you? Well I never did—nor imagine—that my body would one day be solely dependent on a vile of liquid. On the 28th day of March I met my biggest demon ever—in 2011 I got diagnosed with Type One Diabetes.
Now—you may ask what exactly diabetes is, and if there’s type one then how many types are there. Well, to start off, there is two different types— type one and type two. Type 1 diabetes (T1D) can occur at any age, but is most commonly diagnosed from infancy to late 30s. If a person is diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, their pancreas produces little to no insulin, and the body’s immune system destroys the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. Those diagnosed with type 1 diabetes must inject insulin several times every day or continually infuse insulin through a pump, as well as manage their diet and exercise habits. Type 2 diabetes (T2D) typically develops after age 40, but has recently begun to appear with more frequency in children. If a person is diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, their pancreas still produces insulin, but the body does not produce enough or is not able to use it effectively. Those diagnosed with type 2 diabetes manage their disease through a combination of treatments, including diet control, exercise, self-monitoring of blood glucose, and in some cases, oral drugs or insulin.
It all started with the weakness—and I mean so weak you couldn’t even get off the couch, let alone lift your arm!—I lost a mass amount of weight. I also looked very sickly and lost my color. The bathroom becomes your best friend, because you stay constantly thirsty and that leads to you constantly urinating. I remember when we were at a skating rink for my cousin Michael’s birthday, and I was in the back seat and my mom and dad lingered in the doorway of the driver and passenger seat gathering all our belongings ready to go in the roller rink and at this point I laid my head back on the head rest and my mom looked at me and asked if I was okay because visibly I looked like I didn’t feel the slightest bit okay. “Aubrey, what’s wrong?” She questioned, and I replied with my eyes closed that I can’t get up because I felt so weak that I couldn’t even move my legs! This was one of the two straws that broke the camel’s back! After two weeks or so of me constantly downing liquids and going to the bathroom constantly and not wanting to eat and losing all the weight and me being so weak my mom said that we need to go to the emergency room. I was only ten at the time.
The other sign that saved my life was at my fourth grade choir practice, it was a normal day and I felt fine. Until mid-practice we got up on the stage and the stage lights came on—I remember pouring and drenched in sweat because they were so bright! That’s when my knees got weak and my vision started getting black, and blacker, and dimmer, slowly but surely it all went black and I passed out! Then I went to the ER and was put on two IV’s and they had no idea what kind of war was going on inside my body. I could’ve never—ever—had been prepared for what was yet to come…
A half an hour or so later the doctors checked my sugar…It was sky high—which is super dangerous and deadly! My sugar was so high that it only read as “high” on the meter, so they had to go get a meter that would read past the 500’s. After they came back with the higher reading meter, they checked my blood for the second time. The meter beeped and read a number in the 800’s! The doctors notified me that if I hadn’t come into the Emergency Room when I had I would’ve been in a coma. I think that my luck played a huge part in my journey…
I wound up being hospitalized for a total of four days, having to learn all the new “joys” that came with being a diabetic. I had to learn how to take injections, check my blood glucose (my sugar). I also had to learn some really tricky things like where my injection sites are on my body and how to count carbohydrates. I was so overwhelmed and sad that I spent almost all my nights and evenings in the hospital crying or just spacing out. It was hard for me to cope with—so hard in fact that I just ended up toughening up and not dealing with it, instead I just did what I had to do and I couldn’t cave, I had to be strong. Thinking back on it 6 years later makes me almost think that maybe I convinced myself that I was fine with it. It torn my mom and dad apart because they couldn’t take it away from me… Countless times, even still to this day they always say, “Babe I’d take it away from you if I could”. I resent diabetes because it made me grow up way ahead of my peers, it made me constantly have to worry about something else, if it came to eating, playing, swimming, even taking a walk, I had to think twice about it instead of just doing it, cause I always had diabetes on my back. Weighing me down like a two ton elephant who won’t let loose of his grip. I resent diabetes for beating me up every single turn I try to take, no matter how hard I try I still feel like I’m a “bad” diabetic, I feel like I disappoint my family when I can’t just get myself to do what I have to do in order to survive. Maybe now is when he caught up with me… Maybe now’s when it hits me like a rock. I resent diabetes for making my life—as well as the millions of other babies and children—more chaotic. I resent you, diabetes, for making so many parents gain so much stress and fear in wonder of if their baby will have a full happy normal life.
It’s hard to be yourself and unique when you have an illness as a bully who tries to overtake you. If I get sick, it must be because my sugar’s high. If I feel tired or worn out, I must have ketones. Most of all, the hardest part is learning how to manage this whole new life long battle that got thrown on me in a matter of seconds, without any sort of prevention. My luck definitely has helped me through all this, and even though having diabetes is definitely hard and can wear you down physically and mentally at times, I would never trade it in for anything in this world, because it makes me unique and it’s built my character. All I, along with thousands of others, could ask for… is a cure, and to do all we can to support JDRF (Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation). I have diabetes, Diabetes is not me.