April of 1996 required me to start my life over. The year started out with me and my 9-year-old friends playing, eating junk food and leading happy-go-lucky lives. However, by the time Spring rolled around, the similarity between me and the girls enchanted with possessing two digits in their age was practically non-existent. Instead, I was wondering about how I had been diagnosed with Diabetes Mellitus.
When I was diagnosed I considered why I had been inflicted with this hardship. ‘Was God angry with me? Why didn’t my body work?’ After my hospitalization, all of my affairs were stringently controlled and my choices exceedingly limited. Embarrassed and ashamed, I sat in the back row eating a snack in the middle of class, attempting to shrink away from the stares and whispers.
The doctors had forbidden me from eating my favorite foods. I had lost inconceivable amounts of weight, along with the happy glow of a healthy child. Before performing an activity, I had to consider how it would affect my sugar levels. If I wanted to play, it was compulsory for me to eat beforehand without considering my hunger. If I was hungry, however, I was delayed by the necessity of ensuring that my sugar levels were appropriate.
Diabetes required me to grow up faster. I was no longer “like everybody else”. When we are hungry, we eat. When we are tired, we sleep in. When we want to play, we play. It is a part of our nature. However, I am not afforded the luxury of spontaneity. I have to worry about what and when I eat, how and when I exercise, how much insulin I need to take, three times a day, every day, for the rest of my life.
Diabetes includes so much more than forcing a needle through my skin three to four times a day. It is more than squeezing blood out of my fingers at a minimum of every time I eat. It is more than having a limit on the food I consume. Diabetes is not just regulations concerning certain aspects of my life or something I have to think of at particular times, it is a way of life. It involves consideration for every single thing I do.
Despite being the occasional source of aggravation, Diabetes has probably improved my life rather than ruined it. The careful meal planning and regular exercise has made me healthier while blood glucose monitoring along with insulin shots has incorporated routine into my life. Diabetes has also taught me that there are always consequences for my actions. If I fail to take my insulin shots, it will result in a horrible headache due to the high concentration of sugar in my blood.
Every now and then, bitter reflections concerning this burden enter my mind. Yet I always remember something my father told me; “Life is one big specialized test where everyone has different trials to endure. What you have to remember is that everyone has the capability of getting a hundred percent on their test, and their test only.” My father’s point had been that God only gives people what they can handle. The fact that I have Diabetes means that I have the ability to manage it. Ironically, I feel stronger and more special as a result.
This disease has changed me in various ways and I speculate whether or not I would be the same regardless of this disorder. I believe I have become more responsible, more sensitive, and more mature. Diabetes is a part of my past, present, and will be a part of my future.