Many meaningful events, experiences, and accomplishments have gone into making me the person that I am today. In my life, most of the important milestones came and went as they do for every kid. But for some of us, life throws a curveball and introduces a trauma or an unexpected event that will forever change our lives. When my most meaningful event occurred, on May 22, 2000, there were no cheers, applause, or laughter in the room. That was the day I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.
As a nine-year-old, I at first had no idea what had just happened. Being told that there was no Santa Claus was a whole lot more traumatic than being told I had diabetes. But after receiving my diagnosis, my life immediately changed. Every meal was a challenge to lower carbohydrates and sugars. I was taking as many as ten shots per day until my doctor put me on an insulin pump. My fingers became pincushions with the constant pricking to draw blood to test my sugar levels. There were days when my sugar levels were off so badly that we had to test my blood over twenty times.
I have learned a lot since that diagnosis, however. My meaningful event became a life-long sentence for me. If I wanted to live a healthy life, I would have to be extremely disciplined. My supportive parents and a caring doctor taught me how to control the disease. They showed me that I could accomplish anything I want as long as I stay vigilant in controlling my blood sugar levels .I am fortunate because I have a disease that can be controlled. Some children get diseases that are terminal or injuries that cannot be corrected.
When people meet me, they don’t know that I have diabetes. I try to appear as a duck on a lake, barely making a ripple in the water as I glide along in life. As we all know, that duck is doing a whole lot of paddling under the water to accomplish this seemingly effortless task. Life is all about making choices. We can choose to be depressed because something bad has happened, or we can learn from it and move on. I chose to learn from it and move on, and I intend to help those around me do the same.
You can’t always control the challenges that you will face in life, but you can control how you will deal with them. Helen Keller said, “Face your deficiencies and acknowledge them, but do not let them master you.” Diabetes has shown me the importance of discipline, vigilance, and determination if we are to overcome the difficulties and deficiencies that we encounter in life. At the end of basketball season of my junior year, I tore my ACL and had to have reconstructive knee surgery. I feel that what I learned from having diabetes was the major reason that I was able to deal with this injury and come back even stronger the following season. Diabetes has taught me to deal with whatever is thrown at me and move on. My senior year in high school, I was nominated for the McDonald’s All-American basketball team while maintaining a 4.2 GPA. Though I love playing basketball and had numerous offers to play basketball in college, I have decided that I want to do other things with my life.
I am currently attending Florida State University, still making A’s, but pursuing a modeling and acting career. I think that the discipline I have learned in controlling my diabetes will be a major factor in helping me succeed in my new career. I understand that I can never relax from being disciplined, and that is okay: It is what it is. Being upset that I have diabetes will do nothing to help me deal with it. As I said, I feel lucky that I have a disease that can be controlled.