Life as a diabetic 16-year-old

Honorable Mention, Personal Column

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Balancing a life of fun and work is difficult anyway, but when you’re 16 and a type 1 diabetic, life can be a whole lot tougher.

Every day consists of finger pricks, insulin shots, and calculating carbohydrates. Watching the sugary sodas and the sweets can be a pain, but it has to be done. Sometimes things can go haywire in your body and you have to visit the doctor to fix the problem.

I have been diabetic for a dozen years now, going on 13. In December 2006 when I was 3, my mother heard me groaning in bed, asleep. A diabetic herself, she decided to test my blood sugar. It was skyrocketing high, and my mother knew then what had happened.

Three days later, I was released from the hospital with a diagnosis: Type 1 diabetes.

Since then, it has been a rollercoaster trying to control the disease.  Four years ago, when I was in seventh grade, I had been going through a difficult time and I decided to stop taking care of my diabetes.  In November 2015, I was rushed to the hospital with a condition called diabetic ketoacidosis. This basically means that I let my blood sugar get too high too often. It was a really good wakeup call for me to take care of my body. I only have one and I need to take care of it.

Over the years, I have continued to try to understand my body more and trying to keep my blood sugar levels in range. It can be difficult with the busy life of being a teenager who works and is on the swim team, but there is so much more support than there was before.

In elementary school, I had no school nurse. My mother had to come to my school on her lunch break every day to administer insulin and help me calculate the level of carbohydrates in my food. Later, I got the chance to try a CGM, or Constant Glucose Monitor. It is an implant that constantly monitors your blood sugar. It was highly helpful only having to carry your phone and an insulin pen with you.

Having knowledge of what to do helps a diabetic, but having a certain attitude makes all the difference. When you have a negative attitude toward your diabetes, it can be harmful to your body, such as when I needed to be rushed to the hospital. You need to see this disease as a constant battle in your journey of life.

Type 1 diabetes is genetic. I inherited it from my mother. What many people don’t realize is that if family members have diabetes this is a pretty significant warning sign that you might have it, too.

Unfortunately, the warning signs can come fairly quickly, just before it begins to harm you and you are able to get a proper diagnosis. Some warning signs are extreme thirst, frequent urination, fatigue and weakness.

Some parting thoughts. Have you checked to see if you have any of the symptoms out type 1 diabetes? Have you ever helped a friend with type 1 diabetes monitor what she was eating or check on her blood sugar level?

This story was an honoree in the 2020 Lesher Awards competition.