21st diabetes anniversary
Updated: Mar 19
Yesterday was my 21st Diabetes Anniversary. My diabetes can drink! I have had many miracles come out of this disease. It has made me stronger, healthier, smarter, and has allowed me more success than I ever could’ve imagined for myself. I am so proud to say that it has never once held me back from accomplishing my goals. Yes, sometimes it’s hard. Who am I kidding…. it’s always hard, but I take pride in the fact that I can do anything anyone else can do, AND I can do it with diabetes. Only someone with personal experience can possibly understand the amount of extra effort it takes to go through daily living activities with DM. Although it is a struggle I am constantly facing, I believe it has given me a passion and appreciation for life that I may have otherwise missed. On May 12th, 21 years ago, my mom took me our Primary Care doctor on Kauai and based on my symptoms, he recognized diabetes immediately. I had lost a ton of weight, was thirsty, tired, and irritable. That week there happened to be a doctor from the Make-a-Wish foundation visiting another kid in the hospital on my island. This generous man found out about my diagnosis and came to visit my room. I’m not sure why he was so kind to me, but he was, and he made me a promise… If I could take care of myself for 6 months, he would grant me a wish. This was everything. It inspired me not to give up on myself. I diligently tried to make him and my parents proud, because to be honest...I desperately wanted to meet the Spice Girls. I took really good care of myself. I learned how to carb count, and how to test and inject myself with insulin. After 6 months he agreed to grant my wish and I decided to take a trip to Disney World with my parents and fellow diabetic friend, or as I called her my “betes buddy” (the Spice Girls weren’t cool anymore).
I am so grateful that I chose this wish because it allowed me to be around other Make-a-Wish kids. We stayed at Disney’s Give Kids the World Village where there were unlimited rides, games, and character meet-and-greets. One night I was riding on the carousel in the village with a girl who didn’t have any hair. She was young like me and had been diagnosed with cancer. She told me that she would probably live for another 3 months. I was sad, but she was happy and laughing. Most often, wishes are granted to terminally ill children and, in that moment, I actually felt lucky to have diabetes.
Her awareness for her disease and her profound appreciation for her time left astounded me. I realized I had been given a gift. Although my disease has the potential to be terminal, it doesn’t have to be. It also has the potential to cause complications, but I won’t let it. That was the night I realized that I had the opportunity to take control of my diabetes and I no longer needed the motivation of the Make-a-Wish foundation to do it. I’m lucky that I now get to find inspiration in my patients. Their strength is constantly driving me forward in my own battles with the disease. I have lived happily, healthy, and passionately with diabetes and when I start to feel sorry for myself, I try to remember the little girl on the carousel and am again reminded that I am blessed.