So, some of you may or may not know that I (Heather) have been living with Type 1 (juvenile) diabetes since I was 11 years old. Basically, my body doesn’t make its own insulin. Yep, diabetes has been my “companion” for most of my life now. I’m not really sure why I decided to write this post – maybe it’s because I just did a Google search to see if I could find other “photographers living with Type 1 diabetes” and couldn’t find any (well at least in my Google search, if any of you out there are though, please contact me, as I would love to chat with you about your story!)
I’m sure most of you know what diabetes is, in general, but many people don’t know as much about Type 1 - insulin-dependent diabetes that develops during childhood/adolescence. It’s the less common type of diabetes. Only 5% of people with diabetes have this type. I take insulin injections for everything I eat or when I need to correct my blood sugar, and I have to check my blood sugar every couple of hours, so basically I have lots of needles in my life. LOL I have to say, needles were one of my biggest fears as a child, so at least it helped me to conquer that fear. :) It’s more than just insulin injections and checking my blood sugar though, it’s also choosing the right foods and keeping my stress level down. It can be a lot to handle and frustrating at times, but I’m doing so well with it, God has looked out for me and has helped me to take care of myself and maintain my health.
Let me tell you a bit more on my diagnosis as a child….
I was 11 years old… I remember getting sick with a severe flu virus… the only thing was, that virus affected my pancreas somehow because instead of getting better after that flu virus left, I only got worse. It was a strange transition that was very subtle and hard to notice. I had lost a lot of weight and I was extremely thirsty and hungry during that time. My body wasn’t making the insulin I needed for the food I was eating. It all happened SO fast. I kept saying “I’m getting better! I’m getting better!” but I really wasn’t….. after a few days of this with no improvement I remember my parents decided it was time to take me to the emergency room ASAP. Diabetes didn’t run in our family, so my parents didn’t really know the warning signs, and neither did I. Especially since I was “getting over” the flu and a lot of my symptoms were sort of like “leftover flu symptoms” in a sense.
My mind was really foggy the morning they took me to the emergency room. I honestly can’t remember if I was able to walk into the hospital at that point or if I had to be carried. I think I started by walking in and got so weak they had to carry me the rest of the way. As soon as we got in, they did a few tests and then immediately put me into a room. I just remember being really really thirsty… begging for more and more water while I was sitting in the Dr’s room…immediately after I had just downed a whole glass. I was severely dehydrated. Things were starting to progress quickly. At that point I knew deep down something was wrong, no matter how much I wanted to be well. It happened so fast. My blood glucose level was 1400. That’s when they diagnosed me with Type 1 diabetes. I’m pretty sure I heard the nurse say that I had set a record at that hospital at that time, and that they didn’t know how I wasn’t in a coma… or dead. Most people either go into a coma and end up with major brain damage, or they are dead way before it gets to that level that I was at. God was watching out for me though, and he was protecting me, I have no doubt… because when they checked me for damage, they were amazed to tell me that my body had suffered NO damage from my blood sugar going that high. It was truly a near death experience and a miracle that I’m alive. It was a rough few days in the hospital. My whole life changed. It was very scary, but I came through it. Through those days I felt the peace and the strength that I knew was not my own.
Since then, I’ve always been able to handle myself well and I’ve been a healthy person my whole life. I’m truly thankful to God for protecting me. I’m not sure why I have diabetes and I’m not sure why my pancreas stopped making insulin…..it’s hard to know why God allows certain things to happen, but I doknow that God has helped me through and in spite of my diagnosis years ago, He’s kept me healthy and well and I’m able to live life just as normal as anyone else.
Does it get annoying when my blood sugar goes low and I have to eat something? Yes. Does it get annoying when my blood sugar goes a little high and I feel a little under the weather, and I have to take insulin to bring it down? Yep. Have I had embarrassing situations happen like accidentally drop a ton of insulin syringes while in the Wal-Mart shopping line? Yes, indeed. LOL But I haven’t let it stop me, and I don’t plan on letting it stop me. I can even laugh about it. Can it be a challenge? Of course. But LIFE in general is a challenge, and I am so, SO incredibly blessed and SO thankful for the life God has blessed me with. I wouldn't have it any other way.
Just thought I’d share a bit of my story in case you guys didn’t know. I’m open about it. Many people are shocked when they find out because there’s no way to tell it. Sometimes you may see me checking my blood glucose or taking an insulin shot…. but no worries, I’m OK, and God has a plan for my life and He’s taking care of me.
I’m hoping and praying that one day there’ll be a cure or that God will heal me, but no matter what happens, I won’t let diabetes get in my way of living a happy life and reaching for the stars :)