Clarifying here: I'm NOT a fan, I think I may have watched Oprah about 3 times in my adult life, but I heard about this on the CWD site boards, and I figured if going on national television could help clear up some misconceptions about the type of Diabetes Grace and I deal with, I'd be willing. Here's my submission:
My story begins before I was ever born. My father's father was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes (also called juvenile diabetes) when he was 16 years old and newly married. He did not live long; in that time home testing supplies were simply not available. He died at 36 after going blind and being confined to a wheelchair, while my father was a senior in high school. I never met him. My father's mother and sister were both diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in following years.
In June of 1991, I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. I went through many years of ups and downs, thousands of finger-pokes for blood sugar checks and thousands more injections of insulin. I credit my mother with handing all the responsibility of the day-to-day management of this disease to me. It grounded me in a way nothing else could have. I remember her telling me that what happened when I was diagnosed reminded her of the Willie Nelson song "Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground."
After marrying in 1999, I knew that if I wanted children I would have to get better control. I got tired of hearing the myths that people still held onto that diabetic women should not have children. My doctor had talked to me about using an insulin pump, which would give me much better control. I started on it and found out we were expecting our first child a month later. Since then I've had several miscarriages and another healthy birth, so we now have two beautiful daughters, Grace and Mercy.
When Grace was 5, she was also diagnosed with the same disease. I think that was the first time I ever realized how my father must have felt when I was diagnosed-- it was scary, but perhaps not as much for me as it had been for him. Treatments have greatly improved, and quality of life for those with this chronic illness has been increased. Grace accepted it very easily because she has seen all her life how I learned to handle it.
We still have many things to do every day-- we still check our blood, we use our insulin pumps to regulate our blood sugars and to coincide with what we eat. We have constant reminders of the disease being a part of us. Many parents of children with diabetes I have come to know use the phrase, "We don't live with diabetes, diabetes lives with us." I find this to be true-- it's an unwelcome guest at every meal, whenever my daughter wants a snack.
I also struggle with not having medical insurance, and finding difficulty in budgeting to pay for my own with our finances. I have been able to continue using my pump through donations I have received from generous people who have upgraded their pumps to newer versions, so they have old supplies they can no longer use. My greatest struggle however comes through not being able to test my blood as often as I should. I've recieved testing strips donated as well, but these get used up much faster, and as a result of not testing frequently enough, I still suffer from some of the typical symptoms of the disease, and am starting to notice more complications arising. I pray all the time for a cure, but I also know that having diabetes has caused me to be a different person I would have been without it, and my daughter and I share a bond through the difficulties we have to endure.