I was an active, healthy kid, and because I was 5-feet 9-inches by the end of sixth grade, I couldn’t wait to get to middle school so I could finally put my taller-than-the-boys height to good use playing sports! By eighth grade, sports started to become much more competitive in order to prepare athletes for the high school level, and with this came much more physically exerting practices. I thought I welcomed this change in intensity because I had become known as one of the better female athletes in my class. But after the first week of basketball practice that year I just couldn’t keep up, and I knew something was wrong. I was constantly gasping for air, the cramps in my legs were unbearable, I had an insatiable desire for water, and I couldn’t even walk up the stairs at school without needing to stop and rest, let alone make it through sprinting drills during practice. I explained to one doctor that I felt like my muscles were being shriveled up into nothing; I found out soon thereafter I was exactly right.
By the time I finally had my bloodwork done and was rushed to the hospital, I could barely comprehend what was going on. I vaguely remember being helped into a wheelchair from the car and being placed on the scale with doctors gasping that I had lost 16 pounds overnight – my body was literally eating itself alive, and I was later told that I made it in just in time, or there could have been some very serious organ damage.
After making my way through the initial shock and wrestling in my head over the unanswerable, “why me?” I realized that question didn’t matter. What I needed to address was, “what’s next?” The diabetic education program in the hospital was awesome, but I couldn’t stay there with a nurse or doctor at my side for every sugar check or insulin injection. After a few days, I was sent out again into the abyss of middle school and I learned to take things day-by-day.
I’ll be very honest -- learning to live with diabetes is never easy, and being an adolescent didn’t make it any easier. But, I also learned that with a little effort, I could live a mostly normal life. I quickly realized that f I didn’t check my blood sugar before practice, I would struggle to make it through; if I did check and make any necessary adjustments, I was just fine. After a few weeks of getting back into the swing of things I had my starting position on the basketball team back, and at that moment, I knew living with diabetes would be ok!
Flash forward 15 years and here I am, doing Zumba instead of basketball, and working at a job I love instead of dealing with middle school. Just two-months ago I made the switch from injections to an insulin pump. Both methods work just fine for me, but I do enjoy the flexibility of the pump, especially now that I am a young professional who is often on-the-go and working long and unpredictable hours. Living with diabetes still isn’t easy, and I’m not sure it every will be, but I am very grateful to live at a time when if I give a little effort, I can control my blood sugar and live a healthy, happy life. I won’t be able to say that I’ve beat diabetes altogether until someday a cure is found, but until then, it’s a game-changer that won't hold me back from anything.