A Sarine Thought… or Two

photo by Matt Cornelius
photo by Matt Cornelius

Just Your Type-1-ical Gal

Nowadays there seems to be a day or a month to celebrate, or bring awareness to, a myriad of topics: National Donut Day, Bring-Your-Child-to Work Day, No-Shave November and National Root Vegetable and Exotic Fruits Month to name a few. While November is definitely our nation’s month of thanksgiving, it is also National Diabetes month. As many of you know from past articles, I am a Type 1 Diabetic. I was diagnosed at two years old because of the observant eye of an exceptional babysitter who told my mother something just wasn’t right. While one might think of this as one of the biggest negatives to face daily, I’m here to tell you why it is not. It may make my life different from others’, but it does not make it worse.

Let me be very candid. There is only one thing I cannot do as a Type 1 diabetic—produce and secrete my own insulin. I take daily injections for that. I also must be mindful of my diet and eat regularly, even when I don’t really feel like it. Everything else I could desire to do is a definite possibility! In fact, I have run two half-marathons. I have thrown human beings above my head and caught them with my bare arms (high school cheerleader, holla!). I have grown a tiny human in my belly for almost nine months and then delivered a healthy baby boy with the aid of multiple pain-relieving drugs. I have played sports, gone to camps, spoken in front of an audience of hundreds, eaten sugary snacks and survived and traveled to multiple countries around the world. This is not a comprehensive list! I have done so many things!

While this chronic illness is very serious, and I do not take my treatment lightly, it has not been a life-stopper, just a life-style changer. I am so unbelievably thankful God allowed me to experience this disease from a young age. I have no memory of life before my diagnosis. I have awesome parents who were extremely proactive in my care and never let negative health issues escalate due to the neglect of dietary and medicinal requirements. My experiences with diabetes, both good and bad, have given me the opportunity to offer comfort and encouragement to others when Type 1 diabetes enters their world and rocks it to the core.

Any time someone receives a diagnosis of a chronic disease that has no known cure, it sucks all the air out of a room. It is a feeling like the earth is caving in and you’re the one in the crevasse with your hands above your head trying to hold it all together. It is overwhelming and scary. There is so much you need to know, and the life of the patient hangs in the balance. But this feeling is temporary. You will learn the dosages of insulin and which treatment type works best. You will eventually understand how to calculate the amount of carbohydrates eaten and then how much insulin should be given to correct the glucose amount in the bloodstream. You will find the places where you can get a good deal on diabetic equipment and supplies. You will discover where to get the best snacks that don’t mess up blood glucose numbers too badly. Everyone’s Type 1 diabetes journey is unique, and a lot of stuff is trial and error. One day, out of the blue, all these worries will no longer be the primary focus of your thoughts day and night. They will become routine. That anxious fear will no longer be the default setting of life. At least not because of the diabetes...

I look forward to a cure, and hope one will come, but I do not hold my breath while missing out on all life offers. I don’t wish this diagnosis on anyone, but I want to encourage those who receive it that diabetes will not define your life, but only become an aspect of it.

Since this is a month to bring awareness to the disease, I want to share the signs that one might have diabetes, as noted by the American Diabetes Association. Symptoms include frequent urination, excessive thirst, excessive hunger even when continuing to eat regularly, extreme fatigue, blurry vision, slow healing of cuts and bruises, weight loss despite continued food consumption (Type 1), and tingling, pain or numbness in the hands and feet (Type 2). If you or someone one you know are experiencing any or all the symptoms to any degree, I encourage you to see your physician and let them take a simple blood test to see where your glucose levels are. The earlier you catch this disease, the better off you will be.

Being a diabetic has its ups and downs. Like literally, my blood sugar goes up and down ALL the time, but it has provided me with so many opportunities. The Lord has used this to build my character and cause me to trust Him especially when I do not understand why the amounts of insulin I have been taking for the past six months are no longer effective, or why I have to give up certain foods I really love for the betterment of my health. But even with the things I don’t understand, the low blood sugars, the high blood sugars, the needles and the finger sticks, my life has been and continues to be so good! So, in this month of diabetes awareness and thankfulness, I believe I will just have to be both!


 

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