Thursday, November 14, 2013

Type 1 By The Numbers: World Diabetes Day

November 14th is World Diabetes Day as declared by the International Diabetes Federation and the World Health Organization. The date - November 14th each year - is a significant date in the history of the disease, it is the birthday of Frederick Banting. In 1922 Banting, and a group of scientists discovered insulin...the life-giving juice we Diabetics require.

So today, in the spirit of World Diabetes Day and Diabetes Awareness Month, I want to share my story of advocacy, specifically my role as part of the Diabetes Online Community (aka "DOC").

I experienced a period of time during college where I was extremely overwhelmed. I was learning to be a rocket scientist, stressed beyond belief about college, low on sleep and low on motivation to control my Diabetes. My coping strategy was basically to forget that I had the disease...I would work tirelessly until I felt "weird" and then maybe check my blood sugar or maybe just treat the low "feeling" without a blood test. I absolutely rebelled against the idea of having a disease. Looking back of course this was ridiculous, the only person I was hurting was me, and I was feeling pretty bad while doing it. The constant struggle of Diabetes was just too much for me to handle.

I'm reluctant to admit this since it is completely insane to me now, but at one point I remember thinking, "Hmmm...I haven't tested my blood sugar in a whilllleeee....". When I looked back on my meter I realized it had been almost two weeks. Go ahead and throw the stones, I wish I could go back in time and throw them at myself.

Shortly after the two weeks incident I had an endo appointment. I reluctantly showed up and offered blood for the A1c test. Amazingly the nurse reported that I had a great A1c (I can't remember the exact number, probably around 7). I knew the number was not right so I told her I think she should re-check it. She seemed a little confused, "I've never had someone with such a good A1c reading ask for a repeat, haha!" The second one came back much higher (again, I can't remember the exact number, probably nearing 9). The appointment continued on with the doctor and nurse blabbing on and me sitting numb, just annoyed I had to put up with all of this judgement.

My mom sensed something was wrong and asked me to come down to her bedroom, she was acting strange. "Here, maybe it's an ok time for you to read this." She handed me the book "Sweet Invisible Body" by Lisa Roney. "Someone gave this to me a long time ago, shortly after you were diagnosed, but I didn't have the heart to let you read it then. It depressed me."

I grabbed the book and ran up to my room. I read the whole book in one night.

Finally, I had someone else to connect to.

I decided to seek out more personal stories of Type 1 Diabetics by turning to the internet, and there I found the DOC. Literally, the DOC saved me from a really deep Diabetes-induced pit. I initially found Kerri's blog, and then others, and then I met some of the bloggers I found online. And every time it was like we had been best friends all along. These people got me. They understood, even better than my mom could, how much these interpersonal Diabetes relationships mattered. I never needed to feel alone ever again.

And now, I have my own blog, a place to spread awareness (about Diabetes, space and wiener dogs ;-) and inspire others with the disease to dive right in. I truly believe writing about my own experiences and reading about others with similar struggles is extremely powerful.

Happy World Diabetes Day!! (is that an oxymoron?)