By: Steve Edelman
When I was first diagnosed with type 1diabetes at the age of 15, I had no idea ofwhat was happening to me or what thefuture would hold.
I was put on one shot a day in the morning(NPH and Regular) and was told to test myurine four times a day with a little chemistryset and to use the old food exchange systemto figure out what to eat.
And all of my doctors and nurses kept tellingme, “You could live a normal life.”
They said it so often that I started to getworried, even though I didn’t even knowwhat to worry about.
Today’s People with Diabetes Have It Better
Today, the situation is very different andtremendously improved for the newlydiagnosed. The prognosis today for peoplewith diabetes can be on par with that forpeople without diabetes if the diabetic getsproper care and is motivated to take controlof his or her diabetes.
I didn’t get the proper education when I wasfirst diagnosed, and because of that, it tookme 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 mostof my friends and certainly not my firstgirlfriend.
Because I didn’t want anyone to know, Ididn’t take the best care of myself. I wouldnot test or inject my insulin at all when I waswith other people. I felt embarrassed andashamed that I had this disease and that Iwas “different.”
Just Another Raindrop
It was not until my undergraduate days atUCLA that I finally came out of the closet.
I worked for two dedicated diabetesspecialists at the hospital, Mayer Davidson,MD, and Richard Berkson, MD, who helpedme to improve my diabetes treatmentregimen as well as to make me feelcomfortable with my diabetes.
The way I look at it now, we are all here onearth with rain coming down, and eachraindrop contains some type of medicalproblem. Eventually a raindrop hitseveryone; only a lucky few never get wet,and an unfortunate few get soaked withmultiple problems.
From diabetes and asthma to arthritisand cancer, we need to take preventativemeasures to avoid conditions like heartdisease. But some diseases come withoutprediction or warning.
It turns out that having diabetes has mademe a stronger and healthier person with amore focused purpose in life.
We must make the most out of life, anddiabetes should not only not get in the way,it should strengthen our resolve and make usbetter people for having it.
Advice for the Newly Diagnosed
- Learn as much as you can about diabetes.Knowledge is power and wipes out ignorance and fear.
- Join a diabetes support group. Talking to peoplewho have been living with diabetes for a long time isvery helpful.
- If you are hesitant to “come out of the closet” abouthaving diabetes, you should start with your closestfriends and gauge their reaction, which will usually besupportive. Then move on to family, coworkers, and theother people in your life.
- Volunteer at your local hospital. This will give youa completely different perspective on illness and willhelp you understand the value of being open andcommunicating about having diabetes.