Real post coming shortly. Until then:
"January 24, 2004:
I was diagnosed with diabetes 10 years ago today.
I'm only 18 years old and, to me, that seems like a really long time. I know there are people who are a lot older than I am who have had it a longer than I have, but 10 years just seems like a long time. Maybe that's because centuries are divided into decades and I've had diabetes for a whole decade.
I was 8 years old and in third grade was I was diagnosed. I didn't know anything about diabetes. I think I might have heard the word before- I was an avid reader of The Babysitter's Club and one of the characters, Stacey, had diabetes. I learned quickly what it was I needed to do and I was supposed to live. I can't remember having too much trouble adjusting to my life. Though it wasn't too much fun listening to my parents argue about whether I should have a bedtime snack or waiting until my presentation was over before saying I was low and had to leave, because I was afraid that I would get in trouble if I stopped. My parents were amazing though, and so was the staff at my schools. I only wish every diabetic could be as lucky to have people who really care without being too overly controlling.
I have certainly learned more about how to stick up for myself in situations where I might not be getting the best treatment. Nobody knows better than me what I need to do to be healthy, even if I don't always want to admit it.
A lot of people know me from my work on Teen Talk or with the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation or the American Diabetes Association. Truth is, I fought doing any diabetes advocacy for years. That was not me, I thought. Why on earth should I complain about diabetes? All I had done was say how "not a big deal" it was and how I was "perfectly normal." One of my best friends, Clare Rosenfeld, has been doing diabetes advocacy for 10 years, as long as we've both had it. We weren't great friends when we first met, but I read about her in the monthly Diabetes Forecast, and occasionally saw her in the newspaper. It wasn't until we were older, and in high school, that she finally convinced me to become a diabetes advocate. It wasn't a direct vocalization that this is what I should do. She led by example. Clare showed me, and a lot of people, that not everyone has the easiest time in the world with diabetes. There are a lot of unfair things that happen because of something none of us asked for. But it wasn't enough to sit around moaning and complaining about how much life sucks. If we were going to complain, we might as well complain while getting results.
So, finally, seven years into the disease, I decided I was going to do something too.
Long story short, in three years I have gone from babysitter for diabetic children, to Children's Congress delegate, to webmaster of CureNow, to host of Teen Talk and mentor to teens and adults dealing with having diabetes in their life. I'm making up for lost time, I say.
One of my least favorite memories, but my favorite reason to stay a diabetes advocate, was the time when I was babysitting a little three-year-old diabetic, Amanda, and her older sister, Julia. I was babysitting them over dinnertime and I had to give Amanda her evening insulin shot. Amanda is a tiny little girl, so the needle was quite large compared to her. She held her breath, and I injected her as quickly as I could. But she still cried. I don't know how parents of children with diabetes do it. I have hard enough time doing it to myself, but I at least know why I'm doing it. Amanda was only three.
On this past Sunday, I hosted another Teen Talk. This chat was on insulin pumps, but one boy mentioned that he hated having diabetes and he was obviously very upset. Our special guest, Gary Scheiner, posted some excellent advice: "There's this thing called the "Serenity Prayer" that taught me a lot. It goes like this: Grant me the power to change what I can, the ability to accept what I cannot, and the wisdom to know the difference. I think it applies really well to living with diabetes. As long as you take care of the little daily things that you have control over, be content in knowing that you are doing what you can."
In 10 years of having diabetes, this is also what I have learned and I don't expect I will learn anything more important than that."