This year I will be celebrating 19 years as a type 1 diabetic and oh, what a journey it’s been! Low blood sugars, high blood sugars, perfect unicorns…it’s been literal highs and lows since day one. I’ve had many sleepless nights and rough days; days when I’ve felt so alone, like no one could ever understand what I go through as a person living with diabetes. But you know what? Without this condition, I wouldn’t be the strong, independent, resilient person I am today. I look up to the younger me. In fact, here are the five things I’d tell my younger, diabetic self.
1. You don’t have to hide your diabetes
There is absolutely nothing wrong with your gadgets, needles, or any of the things you have to do differently compared to a person who doesn’t have diabetes. You don’t have to go to the bathroom to inject, you don’t have to hide your insulin pump so that people don’t see. Be brave and own this condition. Remember that diabetes is a part of you but it’s not all that you are. Having diabetes doesn’t make you less of a person, if anything it makes you that much greater because of all that you do. If people ask questions, it means they’re curious. Those who truly matter will never judge you because of your diabetes.
2. Your A1C doesn’t define you
I get it. So many years being praised or, what feels like being “punished” for a number. A number used to measure your diabetes management even though it doesn’t even tell the full story. It’s hard not to feel defined by this number but here’s what you do, you don’t let it. If you let it, then it’s going to consume you and girl, that is no way to live. Remember, you’re doing the job of hormones in your body that no longer works. This takes A LOT of work, so don’t be hard on yourself. You’re not a bad diabetic, you’re simply doing the best you can.
3. Don’t be afraid to learn about your own diabetes
Diabetes is a condition that involves a lot of self-management. You can’t rely on an endo, they probably won’t have all the answers anyway and that’s ok! Don’t be afraid to read books about diabetes, and to ask your endo what they look for when making adjustments to your doses. Study your patterns, write your numbers down, figure out how certain foods affect you. Knowledge is power. The more you educate yourself on these variables and how they impact your diabetes, the more confident you’ll feel with your diabetes management. Trust me.
4. How about following other diabetics on social media?
Do you have any idea how many people there are in the DOC (Diabetes Online Community)? Well, there’s tons! Tons of people who are going through the same thing you are- the same struggles, thoughts, and questions. Imagine seeing someone post a picture or a story about the low blood sugar they experienced while shopping. You know exactly what that’s like! That annoying Dexcom alarm that you can hear from a mile away? Don’t even get me started on that! Now, not only do people share their struggles but they also come through with tips and tricks on diabetes management. And you want to know the coolest part? These people are ALL OVER THE WORLD. Crazy right? Little by little, you’ll feel less alone and more understood.
5. I’m SO proud of you
Let’s be real here, diabetes sucks. It’s annoying, it’s frustrating and boy does it interrupt with life sometimes (picture the Elmo in flames meme). However, I just want to say that I’m proud of you. Proud of you for not letting it stop you from doing anything you set your mind to. Proud of you for your positive outlook on life and for the ability to speak up and educate people. Proud of you for gaining self-awareness and donating to other diabetics who are less fortunate. Proud of you for being compassionate and despite hating diabetes sometimes, never wishing it on another person. I’m proud of you for coming to terms with your diabetes. Most importantly, I’m proud of you for finding balance in your life to live with this condition and still live to the fullest.
Hello! My name is Sam and I’ve had Type 1 diabetes for 18 years. I’m currently on the Omnipod and I use the Dexcom G6 as my CGM. I recently started a T1D instagram page because I wanted to share my life with Type 1. It’s only been about 2 months but I’ve already felt like I’ve connected with so many people who also have diabetes. I knew I wasn’t alone living with this condition, but finding so many individuals sharing their daily struggles and/or celebrations has made me feel so understood. My heart is so full. I hope to inspire other people by sharing my life as a T1D.