Diabetes Awareness Month

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November is National Diabetes Awareness Month, otherwise known as one of my favorite times of the year. Forget summer break or the holiday season; Diabetes Awareness Month is a time for me, a person living with Type 1 Diabetes, to celebrate my broken pancreas.

For those of you who may not be aware of what Diabetes is, let me enlighten you. First of all, there are two types of Diabetes; Type 1 and Type 2. Type 1 Diabetes is the inability for the body to produce the hormone insulin. Type 2 Diabetes is a resistance to insulin. To clarify - Type 1 means no insulin is being produced, while Type 2 is not enough insulin is being produced.

(Stay tuned next week for an article with more “fun facts” about Diabetes!)

So, if my body no longer produces insulin, why should I take a month to celebrate this? For a person living with Type 1, there is no vacation, no time off. I am on call 24/7 for the rest of my life. That’s a massive responsibility. To put it simply, I have to put in a lot of work to stay alive. I like to relate having Type 1 to having a baby. You have to give it constant attention because it can’t function on its own. You can’t sleep through the night because it wakes you up constantly. You can’t go an hour without thinking about it. You could read every book in the world on how to take care of it and still have no idea what you’re doing. And finally, you can do everything right and it will still cry and scream and poop all over you.

                Having Diabetes is a lot of work.

Most people don’t understand Diabetes. Either they have no idea what it is, or they have a misconstrued idea of what living with Diabetes means. This often makes a person living with Diabetes feel like an outcast, and can often lead to bullying or discrimination.

Diabetes Awareness Month is an opportunity for me to change the conversation. During November I like to turn the conversation to educating the people in my life on what living with Type 1 Diabetes is really like so people can be more aware and not be so afraid to talk about it. I do this each year in the hopes that at least one person will learn a little more about Diabetes and help contribute to creating a more knowledgeable and inclusive society.

    I do this to break the stigma that surrounds talking about chronic illnesses.

Yes. Diabetes sucks. Living with it is hard and ugly. But it’s my life and I cherish every moment of it. I have found that by talking more about it, I appreciate it more. I appreciate my circumstances, I appreciate living in 2017 where the medicine is improving all the time and where my life expectancy just keeps getting longer and longer. I appreciate my family and friends who support me every day. I appreciate the people I’ve had the privilege to meet through this disease. I appreciate it all, the ugly and the beautiful.

Take a moment to learn something new about Diabetes this month, whatever that may be. If there is someone in your life living with Diabetes, send them some extra love. And most importantly, if you are living with Diabetes, take a moment this month to think of ONE thing you are thankful for because of this disease. It can’t all be bad.

                Happy Diabetes Awareness Month.

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