A small hand slowly rises at the back of the room. "Yes, in the black shirt," I call out. I can't see the woman; she seems somehow shrunken into herself, a sweater pulled around her so tightly as if she's trying to escape into the fabric. Silence seems to pervade until a small sniffle echoes through the conference room, then suddenly, sobbing-the kind that breaks your heart just hearing it.
Living with type 1 diabetes means that you have a different relationship with food than other people. You live your life in between the demanding rituals that happen multiple times a day; before and after a meal or any type of snack.
I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of 14. Suddenly, I went from being a carefree teenager to a patient who had to be concerned with every carbohydrate in a cracker. Not only was I dealing with the hormones and emotional adjustments of adolescence, but I was also learning to cope with and accept a disease that wanted a part of every minute of my day. I also had to deal with the illusion that other teenagers had nothing to worry about except how to fit in, and the fact that I was no longer part of that group of carefree kids. I was now the student who had a free pass from teachers to eat or drink during class. The girl who left fourth period ten minutes early to go to the nurse's office to test her glucose. The sick kid who had a doctor's appointment every two months and came late to school because of it.
I've had type 1 diabetes for nearly 14 years. I have fallen off the wagon a few times, battled diabulimia, survived numerous insulin shock comas and ketoacidosis episodes, and struggled with acceptance: I have my scars. Despite these mistakes, I've picked myself up countless times and have prevailed. I've persevered with a disease that doesn't take vacations for even a minute, and I've come out on top. I'm alive and healthy, with a full life and a child of my own.
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