Nearly 15 years ago in September, my 10 year-old brain and body was forced to comprehend an absurd and sudden diagnosis that has subsequently shaped my life as an adult. Type 1 diabetes (T1D) in my eyes then, was something I had never heard of, and surely I’d end up blind like my aunt, taking several shots a day for the rest of my life.
Looking back now at the initial diagnosis, T1D has ultimately shaped my goals and dreams. Although, I will say it took me a time or six to get that through my head, especially during college, and to stop putting my diabetes on the back burner, ignoring the fact I had to deal with this disease on a daily basis. That was the toughest issue I’ve had to face and overcome with T1D to date. Ignoring my diabetes and trying to live the life all of my friends were living during college did nothing but land me in the hospital on several occasions and leave me with hospital bills to pay at 22 years old.
Talk about a reality check. It was my 23rd birthday. I was in a bed in the ICU. I began re-evaluating where my life and my health stood– rock bottom just about, if I were completely honest. I spent that birthday alone in the hospital. I must say, it was the worst 4 day stretch of my life. My parents did come to check on me, but now I get why they didn’t stay. That was the last time they would take responsibility for the damage I was doing to my health. I walked out of that hospital a different person- I did a complete 180 with my daily choices and the attention that I devoted to diabetes, IMMEDIATELY and with no excuses. After all, I didn’t have any more time to waste. It was definitely time for a big change.
Now, I am the Development Coordinator for JDRF in Oklahoma City! I have spent the last two years getting my diabetes under control, and making it my top priority to stand out in the diabetes community, rather than blending in. I never thought telling others the raw and honest story of my life with T1D would be able to inspire others, without a hint of judgment thrown my way. Not once has that happened.
If it weren’t for the mistakes I’ve made, I would not be in the position I am in now, where I have the opportunity every single day to help make an impact within the T1D community. This has always been my dream and calling, it just took a couple of times around the block to realize it. Finally, at 25 years old, I’ve been able to turn my supposed biggest burden, and develop it to my advantage.
It has been the biggest blessing in my life thus far, and I fully intend on keeping it that way.