Cindy's Story -- Hear From A Teen

An event that has influenced my life significantly was when I was diagnosed with diabetes in March of 1993. I had been showing all the major signs and symptoms of diabetes. I was 12 years old and weighed only 82 pounds, despite the nonstop eating which gained me the nickname “bottomless pit” in my family. I couldn't go more than an hour without a stop at the water fountain or the restroom at school. My friends and family could see there was something wrong, but I just thought I was blessed with a good metabolism. This continued until I started falling asleep in school. Then my mom took me to the doctor's and sure enough I had diabetes. At first, I thought diabetes was something that made me special and I liked it. I didn't understand that giving myself shots and testing my blood sugars would be a difficult thing. My teachers and friends frowned and said how they could never do it themselves. My family was also upset that I would have to go through this.

I finally began to realize what they meant when I was admitted into the hospital. Luckily, I wasn't sick enough to need an IV, but I was immediately started on my two shots a day of insulin. I began to learn about the diet I would have to schedule around for the rest of my life. I was told I had to eat more fruits and vegetables, which was no problem because I always loved them. My attitude about everything was very positive because they weren't telling me anything I couldn't handle so far. However, I couldn't help but be a little worried that this was more serious than I thought. I thought that when I got older I would be miserable from the diabetes related complications I was learning about. Then, I met the person that has most influenced my life, and became my role model, mentor, and friend, Nancy Cullinan. She was the one to teach me to give myself shots and about living with diabetes. Nancy had been diagnosed with diabetes when she was about 20, and told me about all the horror stories she had heard about diabetes and amputations. The one thing she told me that changed my entire life, was that all I had to do was keep my blood glucose levels under control ( not perfect ) and I would never experience any complications related to diabetes. She had lived with it a long time, and had no effects. And with the growing technology, there should be no reason why I should ever have any negative effects. With this positive encouragement, I set my goal to never have any problems either. She was there with me when I gave myself my first shot, and helped me get my blood sugars under control so I could get out of the hospital. With her help I got out in only three days. However, just because I was out, it did not mean that I would not have problems. Nancy invited me into her support group and I called her whenever I had troubles with anything.

In February of 1997, when I had made the decision that I wanted to go on the insulin pump. I had been with a doctor who had set my insulin dosages to over 100 units more than was necessary for me. I was experiencing hypoglycemia so often that I would eat candy and junk food all day just to counteract the insulin and prevent myself from passing out. Nancy recommended a new doctor who was experienced in working with teens on insulin pumps. Coincidentally she had just gone on the insulin pump a year or so before and once again offered her experience and trained me on the insulin pump. She made my life better by introducing me to the conveniences of the insulin pump such as less injections, a more flexible diet, and the accessibility of insulin. Now I joined her new insulin pump support group. I still go to her support group meetings and keep in touch with her. She never fails to give me advice whenever I might need help with my diabetes.

Living with diabetes has taught me responsibility and made me more conscious of my health. Now that I am a diabetic, it is necessary for me to watch my health closely. A simple case of the flu could send me back into the hospital very quickly. It takes me twice as long to recover from an illness, I get sick twice as often, and my wounds heal slowly. Luckily, with Nancy's influence I have never been admitted back into the hospital since my first diagnosis with diabetes in March of 1993.

Submitted by her father

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