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My Illness Does Define Me

How Type One Diabetes Has Made Me Who I Am Today

There are lots of key things that can define a person. Beliefs, lifelong values, humility, empathy, and so much more. However, one thing that society has said that does not define us is our illnesses. Well, why not? Does it make us weak if we let our illness shape us into a different person? Is everyone so certain that there are no bright sides to being ill? I believe that my illness does in fact define me, and has changed me for the better.

At the age of 11, I was diagnosed with a chronic illness. There was nothing I, nor my doctors, could do to prevent this from becoming my reality. Before my diagnosis, I was apprehensive about everything. I refused to enter a house that owned a dog, I would not get on the roller coasters at any of the amusement parks my family loved so much, and I certainly wasn’t going anywhere, familiar or not, without someone holding my hand along the way. I was this way until May 25 of 2012.

Laying in a hospital bed, with everyone unsure if you are going to make it another week, had a puissant effect on me. There is a chance that I may not be here tomorrow. Most 11-year-olds do not have to think about living every day like it is their last, and quite frankly, I am sure most people do not begin to think this way until reaching the later stages of their life. In that moment I realized that life is not guaranteed. There is not a definite timeline of your life spread out in front of you, allowing you to prepare yourself for what is coming. In that moment, the way I thought of life changed for the better.

I found hope in my illness. I made an identity for myself where I not only accepted the reality that I will have this condition for the rest of my life, I embraced it. Although I have to take injections almost hourly, constantly monitor my glucose levels, and watch anything and everything I eat, I no longer consider these to be burdens. Everyone has obstacles, and these are just the few I have to get through. This illness changed the way I live my life and belittling its importance only hides the reality of what I must go through daily.

My priorities have changed and amplified. I now have to show more responsibility than the average teenager. I have learned to always look for the bright side of every dark situation, and not let one dark day make me lose track of all the good in the world. I have learned the meaning of empathy, and how to show others that I understand that not everything goes as planned. I have learned to not let my fears stand in the way because there is no way to guarantee that I can try again tomorrow.

I have found that dogs are some of the sweetest creatures created, that loopty loops are more fun when my hands are in the air, and that sometimes it is nice to let go of others' hands and go out for myself. I will never be cured from this illness, and to be completely honest, I am okay with that. This burden has turned into a blessing, and turned me into the person I am today. I without a doubt believe that my illness defines me. 

Before Diabetes; During ketoacidosis; shortly after diagnoses and learning the ways of managing diabetes, First insulin pump; and living my life to the fullest regardless of my illness. Diabetes has made me who I AM.

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