By Madelyn Corwin
I haven’t felt this way about my diabetes before this year. When I was diagnosed, it was a “do or die” attitude. No time to cry. No time to make my classmates pity me.
My teachers rarely believed me when I said I needed to get a snack for a low of 40. I believed them when they’d tell me, “I’ve had diabetic students in the past, but it’s never been like this. None of them have needed to leave the classroom this much.” I believed them.
I thought I was being dramatic. I thought I was doing something wrong. And that I was annoying. So from those points on, I hid it. Injections in the bathroom and skipping the nurse’s office before lunch. Sometimes I wouldn’t even inject for lunch because I’d be walking with my friend to the lunchroom, and I didn’t want to cut off our conversation because I had to inject myself. I’d skip completely. Because I was always told, “It’s not a big deal,” “You’re fine,” “It’s not deadly.” I didn’t want to be different. And I feared the comments of “Oh, you have to go do that?” because I thought people would think I was weak for injecting myself.
That’s how bad it got. I’d sit in the class after lunch period, and my vision would be so f***ing blurry, I couldn’t see the board or even focus. And then the teacher would, of course, get mad at me because I couldn’t answer a question they’d randomly called on me for. I’d play soccer with blood glucose levels up in the 350s and think it was fine. I’d get yelled at for “not running to the ball quickly enough.” I didn’t wanna say “because I’m f***ing dying coach!” I didn’t want to be viewed as weak.
I wish I had this community (Diabetes Online Community) when I was in high school and my early college years but I didn’t. I take myself so much more seriously now. I got my first A1c below 7.4% since I’ve joined this community. I’ve gotten rid of my microalbumin. My vision doesn’t blur as bad as it used to during highs. I eat healthier. I always give insulin. I always correct highs. I always change my site. I always check my sugar. I don’t think I would be able to do all that without meeting everyone I met online. Because I was conditioned to believe I was fine. That nothing was wrong. That I was normal. But that was the furthest thing from the truth.
I was made to feel for 8 years of having type 1 diabetes that my disease wasn’t serious and that if I complained about it, the typical reply was “at least you don’t have cancer.” I am so glad I found thousands of other type 1s online, especially those who’ve lived with this since they were kids as well that I can relate to. I used to have thoughts in my head like, “This s**t is so f***ing hard. Why am I always being told it’s not a big deal by perfectly healthy people?” or “I can’t believe I’ve had to do this since I was a kid and I have to do this for the rest of my life and everyone’s first response is, ‘At least, it’s not cancer.’”
I stayed quiet for seven years. I didn’t share with my online friends what was wrong with me because I was conditioned to believe it “wasn’t a big deal.” I thought if I told people what was wrong with me, they wouldn’t care, or they’d just say the typical “well, it’s manageable!” comments. I even hid the struggles from people I dated, which caused me to not take good care of myself because I wouldn’t correct if I was high because I didn’t want them to think I’m being dramatic or “too serious” about diabetes.
I’m so glad I found all of you. It helps me feel more validated for all the hard work I put in every hour of the day just to see the next. I feel my hard work to keep my body alive is finally recognized through the people I met online. I don’t think I was ever validated like this before. I was told I was “normal” and “can do anything” but I’m so glad I met some of you all to tell me that we aren’t normal, and we do need to have boundaries, and that’s OK. Thank you.
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