The day was May 28, 2007. I remember it quite vividly, even now. I sat in the parking lot for a good twenty minutes; chain smoking Marlboro cigarettes and contemplating whether I should actually put aside my fear and go into the medical center. Deliberating as I finished the rest of my pack, I wiped the sweat from by forehead (it was unseasonably hot for Michigan) and headed inside.
I had never seen the inside of the year-old center before. Having been uninsured since my third year of college, I made it a point to avoid all unnecessary medical expenses; that meant pretty much anything short of the plague would be handled with two Tylenol and a shot of Nyquil. However, I couldn’t avoid this particular trip. After several months of incessant complaining, my mother had made the appointment and supplied me with a blank check.
Ever since the beginning of the year my body had begun to fail me. I was losing weight, down to 115 pounds from my standard 150, and I was sleeping a mere three hours or so a night, constantly awoken by the need to use the bathroom. My back always hurt, and if by some chance my back didn’t hurt, my throat would. The constant dry-mouth was like a vacuum sucking the air from my lungs. I was in pretty bad shape.
I was convinced that my thyroid was acting up. There was history of such a condition in my family. It made sense…heck, even those internet medical sites seemed to diagnose it that way. Then imagine my surprise, when after a half hour inside the doctor’s office, I had a syringe sticking out of my stomach and a pamphlet telling me I was going to die.
Let me clarify, I suppose. The pamphlets about the type-one diabetes (I had somehow been “lucky enough” to get) didn’t say I was going to die. Nor did any of the websites I visited, as I tried to learn about my new diagnosis. But they might as well have. I tried to absorb every ounce of information about diabetes I could, and I swear, I never did I feel like I could handle it – I never did I feel like I understood it. And I definitely never got the feeling that things were going to be okay.
After a month of struggling, both emotionally and financially, I had enough. On July 8th, 2007, I decided I had to make my own luck…or go down trying. On July 10th, just two days later, I pulled up in New York City, armed with two vials of insulin, two suitcases and a pillow. I had no plan and I really didn’t even have any money. But I did have one thing, the same thing that drives me every day now: frustration and anger.
Unlike in Michigan, things came together for me in New York. I was able to find a sublet, get a restaurant job and some health insurance. I say some because it didn’t really cover me for anything, but if I ever fell off a building or was hit by a car, well, I think twenty percent or so of my hospital stay was covered, or something like that.
Even though life was changing direction for me, the frustration of my diagnosis was still with me. I had no one to help me through it; sure, I had friends and family, but they didn’t really know how to help me. The emotional side was tough, but the financial side was the true spirit killer. To afford my supplies, prescriptions and medical care, it would take literally half of my paycheck. In New York City, things were better, but I still had some of the same problems.
So, just as I had when I left one city for a new start, I decided I would try to do something about my situation. Not for me personally, I was a lost cause. But if someone like me, who had hundreds of friends, a great family and a middle class background, could struggle and contemplate the extreme negatives I had been through – well, anyone could.
Soon www.diabeticrockstar.com arrived. It’s a community where people like me could come together – people who just wanted to live life, and not let diabetes live it for them. To my surprise, people from all over the world started joining the social network, and I realized that something special was starting to take shape. Even though my college major had been writing, and my knowledge of diabetes was still pretty raw, I decided that Diabetic Rockstar would stand for something, accomplish something.
Today, Diabetic Rockstar is both a charity and a social network. It’s the Diabetic Revolution! Not only do we aim to inspire and motivate diabetics of all ages to get up and get busy living, we both manage and operate several programs aimed at helping newly diagnosed, uninsured or financially struggling people with diabetes. In the near future, I hope to address many diabetes complications, such as eating disorders and depression.
Some people say I have too much on my plate, or that I am dreaming too big. To those naysayers I can only say, “Yes, I agree with you.” I do have too much on my plate, and I am dreaming really big. But that’s not going to stop me. I’ve found my calling. I am ready for the challenges, and I will persevere through them, just like I did with my initial diabetes diagnosis. We all have that one moment in our lives that changes us forever. Mine was on May 28, 2007.