Why It's Important For All Newcomers with Diabetes to Come Out of the Closet!

Today's People with Diabetes Have It Better

| Jan 1, 2005

When I was first diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of 15, I had no idea of what was happening to me or what the future would hold.

I was put on one shot a day in the morning (NPH and Regular) and was told to test my urine four times a day with a little chemistry set and to use the old food exchange system to figure out what to eat.

And all of my doctors and nurses kept telling me, “You could live a normal life.”

They said it so often that I started to get worried, even though I didn’t even know what to worry about.

Today’s People with Diabetes Have It Better

Today, the situation is very different and tremendously improved for the newly diagnosed. The prognosis today for people with diabetes can be on par with that for people without diabetes if the diabetic gets proper care and is motivated to take control of his or her diabetes.

I didn’t get the proper education when I was first diagnosed, and because of that, it took me a long time to “come out of the closet” about my diabetes.

I didn’t want anyone to know I had diabetes. Not even my teachers at school or most of my friends and certainly not my first girlfriend.

Because I didn’t want anyone to know, I didn’t take the best care of myself. I would not test or inject my insulin at all when I was with other people. I felt embarrassed and ashamed that I had this disease and that I was “different.”

Just Another Raindrop

It was not until my undergraduate days at UCLA that I finally came out of the closet.

I worked for two dedicated diabetes specialists at the hospital, Mayer Davidson, MD, and Richard Berkson, MD, who helped me to improve my diabetes treatment regimen as well as to make me feel comfortable with my diabetes.

The way I look at it now, we are all here on earth with rain coming down, and each raindrop contains some type of medical problem. Eventually a raindrop hits everyone; only a lucky few never get wet, and an unfortunate few get soaked with multiple problems.

From diabetes and asthma to arthritis and cancer, we need to take preventative measures to avoid conditions like heart disease. But some diseases come without prediction or warning.

It turns out that having diabetes has made me a stronger and healthier person with a more focused purpose in life.

We must make the most out of life, and diabetes should not only not get in the way, it should strengthen our resolve and make us better people for having it.

Advice for the Newly Diagnosed

  1. Learn as much as you can about diabetes. Knowledge is power and wipes out ignorance and fear.
  2. Join a diabetes support group. Talking to people who have been living with diabetes for a long time is very helpful.
  3. If you are hesitant to “come out of the closet” about having diabetes, you should start with your closest friends and gauge their reaction, which will usually be supportive. Then move on to family, coworkers, and the other people in your life.
  4. Volunteer at your local hospital. This will give you a completely different perspective on illness and will help you understand the value of being open and communicating about having diabetes.

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