Monday, April 14, 2008

Raising my voice today and everyday

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...

11 comments:

Kerri. said...

Thanks for raising your voice, Allison! :D

Scott K. Johnson said...

Great post Allison.

Hannah said...

Thanks for this--you seem pretty rad yourself! :)

Colleen said...

Thanks for sharing your story - You have great parents!

Jillian said...

Thanks for sharing this.

I can't help but notice how weirdly similar our families are. You have Type 1 and so do I, but guess what? My sister has JRA like your's. I also remember you mentioning that we are the same age apart from our sisters. Crazy business.

in search of balance said...

Great post. It's certainly inspiring to think of all the ways that diabetes has affected our lives in powerful or positive ways.

(But I still want a cure ;)

in search of balance said...

Ha! Of course. We all do.

I hope all those researchers are reading these posts and getting inspired themselves...

Ashley said...

thanks for posting your diagnosis story! i'm glad your parents are so supportive.

snd1590 said...

thanks for posting your story, I especially like how you look for the positive in having t1 diabetes!

Herbal Remedies said...

We could always learn from how Nature provides a holistic healing of various systemic disorders through herbal remedies. Natural treatments for a complicated disorder such as this can provide a relief for diabetics, without the unslightly side-effects...

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