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Diabetes Awareness: A Personal Story

There is life before diabetes, and then there is life after. I don’t remember much of the “before,” but boy do I know about life after. Being diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes has been the biggest curse one could even begin to imagine, and yet, the biggest blessing at the same time.

Honestly, the diagnosis was one of pure surprise. I’m known as the “black sheep” in the family because of it. It started the end of February 2011. I noticed a lot of changes within that month. I lost about fifteen pounds, drank any fluids I could get my hands on, and was constantly using the restroom…it was a never-ending stream of odd symptoms. My mom tried to brush them off as growing up and anything else, not realizing the connection. That was until I woke up one morning with a bone in my neck poking out of my back. I was in a tremendous amount of pain, which led my mom to make an appointment with our family physician. I went through the normal routine of being weighed, measured, told to give a urine sample, etc. Everything seemed normal until he walked in and said, “I’m so sorry, she has Type 1 Diabetes…” We just froze. I didn’t know what it meant. My mom was floored, how could this even happen? Not one member of my family has this disease, so why me?

The rest of that night is a blur. I remember crying all day. I was sent to Children’s Medical Center, where I was given the best treatment possible. In three short days, my family was given extensive training about how life would be forever changed. I had to quickly learn to adjust. My life went from not caring a bit about what I ate or drank to counting every single carb that entered my mouth. I was now forced to take 4+ shots a day and prick my finger 6-8 times a day. This was a nightmare for an 11 year old…but luckily, my family and friends helped me through it all.

Flash forward to my senior year of high school. I was a mess. Diabetes had finally caught up to me. I had handled it responsibly for 7 years, and now it was overwhelming. I cried every night – it was too much. I was sick of being different; I was tired of worrying about so many things. Most seniors are worried about getting into college and making straight A’s…I was worried about all of that PLUS maintaining blood sugars and insulin at an acceptable level. How could someone only 18 years old manage all that? It was difficult. Honestly, it is still the hardest thing I do everyday. But these moments have blessed me more than I even thought possible.

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Through this journey, I have developed a passion to help others like me. I want to become a pediatric endocrinologist; I want to help kids fight this disease the way my doctors have helped me. I am responsible (well, I try to be). I am different, and that is okay. I have taken over 10,000 shots, pricked my finger over 20,000 times, and changed my insulin pump site over 580 times since my diagnosis. Diabetes isn’t something that defines me, but it is a massive part of my life. It is a battle I fight every single day, a battle that my family fights with me. It is a struggle to fight life and death decisions along with being a normal college student. Overall, diabetes is something that has blessed me with passion and character traits I will never forget, but it has also given me hell far greater than most people imagine.

The month of November is about diabetes awareness. No, it isn’t pink. It isn’t well known. It isn’t something that is known as a terrible disease. But, it should be. Diabetes is something that affects so many people (in fact, you probably know someone with it). It is a disease that involves life and death choices, every single day. Diabetes is a disease that needs more awareness; it needs to be fought for, because, honestly, I don’t want my kids to have to deal with what I’m dealing with. I don’t want my kids to face the fears and decisions that I face every morning when my feet hit the floor. So as the month comes to an end, I encourage making the awareness go well beyond just 30 days of November. I hope to bring constant awareness, support, and love to all those suffering with diabetes. So let’s focus on something that comes in a shade of blue and is often super sweet (blood sugar, of course!).

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Lauren McManus

Lauren McManus is going through her first year at Texas Tech University, majoring in Nutritional Science with minors in Biology and Chemistry. She is a Kappa Delta, who loves her sisters, to travel, and passionately learn about life. Her favorite things include chocolate, books, and Pinterest.

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