By: Steven Matthews
I was 11 when I was first diagnosed with diabetes. I would later find out that Juvenile Diabetes (Type 1) affects nearly 1.25 million Americans, but at the time all I knew was that it had affected me and my family.
Diabetes doesn’t run in my family so when I started losing weight suddenly, was constantly thirsty and was always tired and lethargic, my parents took me to the hospital not knowing what to expect.
What doctors found was that my blood sugar was close to 600. I spent a week in the hospital as they worked to get my blood sugar regulated and teach me and my family how to handle my new life with diabetes.
My whole life seemed to change overnight.
Between nutritionists, endocrinologists, technicians and all the others, I spent the next few months surrounded by doctors almost constantly. I was giving myself insulin injections about 6 times a day and checking my blood sugar 8-10 times a day and had to call my doctor with numbers every week.
I had to make sure that I was staying active, but doing so without causing my blood sugar levels to spike or dip too much. Hours of gaming with my friends became a thing of the past.
My parents had to work with my school in order to make sure that I could take my insulin at certain times and was eating the right kind of foods in the cafeteria. When I say the right kind of foods I mean nothing to sugary, not too many carbs and NO more orange juice. I remember that being the worst part for me , because I loved orange juice.
And I was carrying my insulin and test strips everywhere I went in my ninja turtles lunch box.
Go to school. Ninja turtles lunch box.
Go to dinner. Ninja turtles lunch box.
Go to the beach. Ninja turtles lunch box.
Everywhere I went I had to pack that thing with me and hope that I didn’t lose it somewhere, which at that age is always a concern.
But I got used to it. Healthy food choices became normal, getting the right amount of exercise was second nature, and that lunch box was a permanent fixture in my life.
Now that I’m older I have an insulin pump which gives me more freedom from the multiple injections and means I only carry a blood sugar testing kit with me now. Most people don’t even know I am diabetic anymore they just think I make healthy food choices and exercise because it’s good for me… which is true, it’s just not the only reason.
Even though I think my diabetes has made me make better life decisions than I would have made otherwise, it doesn’t mean it doesn’t make it easy or mean that I don’t worry that my kids might get it. The day my first son was born I looked at him and thought what if…
We’ve been incredibly blessed so far that none of our three children has developed juvenile diabetes, but I constantly find myself monitoring their behaviors, looking for any symptoms in them. But if one of our kids develops it at least I’ll know more than my parents did and we’ll get through it together as a family.
Learn more about Juvenile Diabetes at http://www.jdrf.org/