Celebrate. That’s not usually the word people correlate with diabetes. Maybe a birthday or national holiday, but not a chronic illness – especially if diagnosed as a toddler. Which, I was – at age three. So, I had three glorious years of living without diabetes, and I don’t even remember them. Even though it’s certainly not a holiday, I was diagnosed on a holiday – July 4, 1993. The day our nation declared its independence is also the day my independence began forming.
Maybe my independence didn’t begin right away, seeing as a three-year-old can’t give themselves shots and whatnot. But, four short years later, I was! I guess you could say that was a big year for me.
That summer, my parents did one of the best things they could’ve ever done for me. I was sent to a week-long summer camp that was just for diabetics. This camp taught me about insulin, blood sugar testing, and healthy eating over the next nine years.
But, more importantly, it gave me friends. Friends who knew what it felt like to be the only diabetic in school, to be low during class, or to take four shots a day. Sometimes people become “burnt out” on diabetes – and one of the reasons being a lack of a support system. I don’t have that problem though.
Diabetes made me stronger and smarter as an individual, especially through the tough times. It’s made me healthier. Most of all, it gave me a strong sense of independence and a best friend to call if I feel like diabetes is getting the best of me. So, instead of pouting about diabetes, I celebrate what’s it given me.