My parents and I started volunteering with the American Diabetes Association (ADA) when I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at age 12. I had been involved ever since. Working with ADA helped me understand that I was not alone with diabetes.
Diabetes is 99 percent self-managed – though you need doctors, nurses and support from your family. The primary burden of the disease rests on the individual. At an early age, I decided I didn’t want sympathy. I quickly grew tired of people who didn’t understand diabetes advising me how to manage it.
For years, I hid my insulin pump so that I wouldn’t have to explain that it wasn’t a pager. I also heard comments like: “You must have it bad” or “Did you eat too much sugar as a kid?” or “My grandfather had diabetes and he lost his foot.”
I owned a medic alert necklace but I didn’t wear it. It looked like military identification and it would draw attention to the “diabetic.” I hated the idea of being defined by disease.
Shortly after starting work at Kent State, I shared these feelings with a co-worker. Vicki urged me to tell a few others in the office about my disease, just in case I needed their help one day. I took Vicki’s advice, and feel better as a result.
One day, while walking back to my office from a meeting, I began to sweat, but I didn’t notice. Vicki noticed. And she also noticed that I was talking and not making much sense. I checked my blood sugar and sure enough, it was far below normal. That day, I ordered some medical alert bracelets. Who knows where I might be when it happened again?
I am not a writer and before coming to Kent State, I never gave a thought to blogging, especially about diabetes. But now, the time feels right for me to spread awareness and maybe correct some misconceptions. What better place to start educating others about this disease than right here on social media?
So, here goes nothing.