Steve's Controlling His Diabetes

Monday, August 7th, 1991 was a day my family and I will never forget. I can remember it as clearly as yesterday; I was sitting in McDonald's with my grandmother eating a pastry when my mother came running in. "We have to go to the hospital", she said. It was this day I was diagnosed with Type 1, or juvenile, diabetes. Changes were needed so I could live a healthy life. Three weeks after I was diagnosed, I started kindergarten. At first it was hard for me to be different in the classroom, but the past few years have been more enjoyable because people don't tease you if you're different. Ever since my diagnosis in 1991, major improvements in technology have allowed me to live my life as a normal teenager without the burden of diabetes always hanging over me. I am grateful for these new technologies, but the one day I'll be happiest is when a cure is announced.

After my diagnosis, major changes were needed in my lifestyle. I was started on a strict diet, two shots of insulin a day, and at least four finger sticks daily to determine my blood sugar levels. Trips to my endocrinologist were needed monthly. Many changes were also needed for my parents. They spent many sleepless nights checking up on me and testing my blood sugar. We also had to measure my food, learn how to treat high and low blood sugars, and learn how to fit exercise into my daily regimen.

Three weeks after I was diagnosed, I started kindergarten at Parker Farms Elementary School. Everybody was very worried about me starting school that day. In fact, my mother was so nervous she followed the bus to school! The first one or two years in school were very hard for me because my classmates were too young to understand what diabetes actually was. I did, however, get plenty of support from my teachers and my school nurse. As I continued my schooling, it got easier for me to fit in because people came to know me for who I am and it didn't matter that I had diabetes. Now that I am in the eighth grade, fitting in with classmates is the least of my worries.

Last spring, after talking with some friends on insulin pumps, I decided to investigate the possibility of going on a pump to take even better control of my diabetes. I questioned my endocrinologist and she responded positively to my request. On July 6, 1999, eight years and 8,700 shots after my diagnosis, I started on CSII (continuous subcutaneous insulin infusion), which is the medical term for insulin pumping. While not a cure, my insulin pump has changed my life again, this time for the better. I have freedom from eating schedules and daily shots. I am now living a life of a normal teenager and I control my diabetes rather than having it control me.

Diabetes has affected my life in many ways. Not all of them have been negative. I think that by having diabetes from such a young age, I have had to become more mature and responsible than other kids, and this has had a positive effect on my life.


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