Let me start this post off with a short story. On my second day after moving out for college, I was at a talk about leadership. I was, begrudgingly, taking out my meter to test my blood sugar before (okay, you caught me, 3/4 of the way through) my meal when another student in the room said, “Hey! Is that a meter?” When I responded that I did indeed have type one diabetes, he happily pulled out his cgm and rolled up his sleeve to show me his omnipod and stated, “I’m John.”
I do not think I thought much of this interaction in the moment, but now, with a year of hindsight, I realize that this interaction was the start to a brand new chapter in my type one diabetes journey. I was diagnosed with type one diabetes at the age of 1 and I grew up like any other normal, happy child. There were not a lot of other people with type one in my school but each year of elementary school I would read my class a picture book about my type one diabetes. I was always happy to engage in a conversation if anyone asked about my diabetes but people rarely even noticed. I was never ashamed of my diabetes but it was never anything I really talked about.
I had assumed this habit would be maintained in college but BOY was I wrong. My friendship with John was immediate. He understood what it felt like to be low, how much counting (guessing) carbs sucked and how sometimes an A1c felt like a label for how good of a person you are. Everyone deserves that. They deserve somebody who “gets it,” someone who allows you to bring into the light a part of your life that people don’t usually talk about.
I also decided during my first year to get involved with The Diabetes Link. After my first meeting I went back to my dorm room and cried. I remember walking in that room for our first meeting and feeling so at ease, surrounded by other people who beeped just as much as I did. My involvement with The Diabetes Link lit a fire in me. I wanted everyone with type one to know about the resources we had; from peer support to help with getting access to accommodations. I began actively seeking out students on campus who I saw with a pump on their hip and I began following countless people with type one on various social media platforms. Soon I made friends with people in my dorm hall and even a girl in multiple of my classes with type one diabetes. Through joining the T1D community, I was finally able to be more open and honest about the difficulties I face every day with my diabetes. It was through this community that I was able to learn the importance of self care.
Looking back one year later, I am so glad I chose to better acknowledge my type one diabetes. Today I am much more secure in who I am as a person and in my type one diabetes care. Plus I have made so many valuable connections with people I would do anything to help and I know would do anything to help me.
Editor’s note: this blog was originally written by Hannah and posted on the Miami University CDN Chapter blog in 2017. Check it out here.
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