On Friday, September 9, 2009, my whole life changed; I was eight years old and was diagnosed with Diabetes. Juvenile Diabetes, or Type 1 Diabetes, is a condition that causes the production of insulin in the pancreas to stop. While over the past six years I have learned to live with and even love my diabetes, it often times is still a burden to me. Even though diabetes is MY disease, I have discovered that the burden is not mine to bear alone. I share this with my friends, my family, my teachers, and all the people around me. Because of my experiences, I believe that nobody should face a burden alone.
My journey began when I was taken from school to go get a check up at the doctor, it was an ordinary day. I got to the doctors office and all was fine, until I got the news. I had diabetes. I was in such shock that I sat and asked "What is diabetes?" for an hour straight, and the doctor didn't even blink an eye- he just explained the same thing to me as if each time was the first time I'd asked. My parents, though probably annoyed, sat and held my hand, and we shared the news together. I was not alone. My doctor sent me to T.C. Thompson's Children's Hospital. I made it to the ER, was checked in, and proceeded to lie in a cold, uncomfortable hospital bed for what felt like hours. In all honesty, and excuse my language, it sucked. Really, everything sucked. Cold bed, worried parents, paper thin sheets, and sterile white lights. Sucked. I just wanted to get out of there, go home, and forget everything. Then, in walked a familiar face: Ms. Stanfield, my friend's mom! Why was my friend's mom in my hospital room? Had news gotten out so soon that I wasn't normal anymore? Nope. Ms. Stanfield was the physician's assistant. We discussed the standard things that a kid and a friend's mom do, and she made me feel better. I wasn't alone. Then she said I needed an IV. In my head I added that to my list of things that sucked and then I looked my mom in the eyes and said "I am not getting an IV." Of course, after an hour of my crying and screaming in panic at the nurses, I got that IV. Exhausted from the IV wars, I was ready for bed. Bedtime meant pajamas and pajamas with an IV meant trouble. The nice nurse offered to help me, but I said "no thank you," thinking to myself "I'm not about to get naked in front of you!" My Aunt Tracy must've read my mind and she said with a smile"we've got this." She proceeded to completely dismantle the IV machine just so I could put pajamas on. (She's a nurse, so don't worry it was all ok.) I still wasn't alone. I was in the hospital for four days, and there was never a minute when I was in my hospital room alone.
For the past six years, I have been adapting to the challenges of diabetes. There haven't been anymore IVs and I put my pajamas on just fine, but sometimes I still need help from others to take care of myself. Not only is diabetes a huge part of my life, it has become a part of my friends' and family's lives too. Whenever I go to my friend Carolyn's house, she asks me at least three times "Have you taken a number? How are your blood sugars? Are you okay, is everything okay? Do you need anything? Because I have stuff if you need it..." It never annoys me because she's asking because she cares. I am not alone. During Vervé, my pump battery died, and I went to the infirmary only to discover that I had slipped up and didn't have any batteries in my medical supply box. In case you didn't know, the infirmary does not stock batteries. Carolyn's mom then volunteered to drive to go buy me batteries. When I returned to the dance studio my fellow dancers were waiting to check on me to make sure I was okay. I was not alone. Last year, my blood sugar dropped so low that I was in a state where I couldn't physically walk to the infirmary to get my juice. Learning this, Ms. Pettway jumped in her car and drove away from the infirmary and to the gas station outside of Baylor in search of juice. When she returned very quickly, obviously she had been speeding, she told me that she bought two different types of juices because she wanted to make sure I got what I needed. I was not alone.
Sometimes there are lighter moments to the shared burden of my diabetes, like the time William told Mr. Fluhr that I had "gone to my locker" but Mr. Fluhr misheard him and thought he said "Cecilia went to get her walker," thinking my blood sugar was so low I couldn't walk and I needed assistance. I was grateful that Mr. Fluhr was so concerned and invested in my safety, but I was curious... Would a walker fit in a locker? Then there was the time my pump flew off during dance. Who knew an artificial, plastic pancreas could change in an instant from a pump to a weapon of mass destruction? Everyone ran to make sure I was okay.... or wait.. maybe they were running FROM me, to avoid being hit by the flying pump. Either way, I was not alone.
Thanks to my diabetes there have been times in life that I have felt overwhelmed and stressed by it all. I think we all have times like that, times when things just, to use that word again, suck. Tough times are inevitable. Whether it be school, or friends, or emotions, or family, or extracurriculars, or even diabetes, we do not have to face tough times alone. As teenagers, we often think we are all alone in this world, school is stressful and overwhelming, we don't know what to do, and no one else understands us. We believe our problems are forever and we are alone. But I know differently. Nothing is forever and we are not alone. I remember that on September 4, 2009, 8-year-old me thought that diabetes was the end of the world, I would never be normal again, my life was over, doomed even, but 8-year-old me was very wrong. I am proud to say that in the past six years, I haven't learned to live with diabetes - diabetes has learned to live with me. Each day may present a new struggle, but each day also brings new technology to improve my life and to bring us one step closer to a cure. I believe my diabetes is not forever, but in the meantime, I have my friends, teachers, doctors, family members, and all the people in my life to share my struggle. I am not alone and that's why I believe no one should face a burden alone.
I believe we must all be there for one another. I believe we must help each get through whatever life throws at us. And I believe that while things may seem tough, maybe even impossible, they aren't, I promise. If you're feeling overwhelmed, tired, unhappy, or stressed, there are people who will help you carry the weight. We will all help you carry the weight. You are not alone.