I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes on July 23, 2002. There are several things about that day that stick out in my mind, and there are a few things about that day that I don't remember.
On that day, I had the day off from my job as a Guest Service Representative at Target and was convinced my allergy medicine was making me tired and thirsty. I was watching Bold and the Beautiful on CBS while eating a "double cheese" grilled cheese sandwich after a routine doctor's appointment when my mom walked down our stairs and told me that I had diabetes. I imagine it was the hardest thing she's ever had to tell me, but I'm not quite sure we knew then what diabetes meant for someone my age. I don't remember crying, but I do remember being worried I was going to be fired from my job because I had to work the next day. I was told I was going to the hospital and should plan to be there for several days. It's funny what matters to you when you're 17.
I don't remember how the conversation with my boyfriend Ross went or how the conversation between my parents went. I remember battling DC rush hour traffic to get Walter Reed and being admitted and hooked up to an IV. I remember being cold and feeling out of place in the children's ward. I remember my mom, dad, and sister reluctantly leaving me that night to go home and get things in order. I remember being awoken several times that night by nurses just a few months older than me who would bring me People Magazine and chat about high school, the sports that I played, and my budding social life.
I remember getting the bag of information and trying to absorb so much information the first few days. I remember that first shot and those first few finger pokes. I was learning about how my body worked and realizing that my life would never be the same. Then we were turned loose to deal with this disease. I remember the ride home with my mom and talking about Steel Magnolias and having a family and her telling me it would be okay and we'd get through the journey together (we'd already experienced it a month earlier with my sister's diagnosis of JRA). I remember crying at my favorite bbq restaurant and my dad telling me it was okay to have a few fries as long as I counted the carbs, like I'd learned. I remember my dad saying that he'd take away my diabetes if he could.
I don't remember ever knowing what diabetes was before my diagnosis or ever thinking about what I would do if my life was changed by a disease. I don't really remember how sick I really was. I don't remember ever advocating for my own health, or even ever really listening to my body. I don't remember if I'd ever knew the distinction between Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes.
The most important thing I remember hearing was something that my dad continues to say to me even after living with diabetes for almost 6 years. He said that there has to be reason why diabetes has affected my life. I've always taken that to heart and realized that without diabetes, I probably wouldn't be in the career I'm in, or have the hobbies that I do. I wouldn't know about the wonderful community that exists online for people like me.
So today on our self-proclaimed T1 Diabetes Awareness Day, I promise to try everyday to sound the alert about diabetes and how it's affected the life I lead. Because I think that's what I'm supposed to do...