Written by: Christopher Henderson, Indiana Native and IU Student
Living with a disease, especially one with such drastic changes, can always be a little nerve wrecking. It’s not always the easiest to deal with, and definitely much more difficult to explain to others why you do what you do. My name is Chris Henderson, and I live with Type 1 diabetes. I have lived with it since I was two. I can say that through this amazing journey we call life, it hasn’t been the easiest. In elementary school I was always treated different, the other kids would say that I got the “Special Treatment”. Low blood sugars meant I would get to leave class and go eat a snack to get it back to normal. As I grew though, I realized just what this special treatment meant. It became abundantly clear that I was always going to be different, and no one; no matter how much I explained, or showed others, the videos explaining it or the pamphlets I passed out, would ever get others to see things the way I did. They would always just assume I was getting special treatment, for no real reason.
Things didn’t change much in middle school, or high school for that matter. I kept growing, out of my clothes, shoes, Tv shows, and interests. The only things I didn’t was my disease. High school brought things like responsibilities, after school sports, and girls. All of which seem to cause some form of stress that I would put on myself and cause my sugars to drop. Majority of the kids, having taken biology and other science classes understood to an extent, but I decided to hide my true self from others. Putting a metaphorical mask on myself to hide what I felt ashamed of. Hide the fact that I was different. The only thing I really wanted was to be like everyone else. Not going to the nurse’s office to check my sugars, or carrying around extra needles just in case. Normal people didn’t have to do these things. Normal people just went to lunch, ate what they wanted, and did what they wanted without any form of anchor that I could see. I envied them very much. Even with this anchor tied to my waist, I could graduate and move forward with my life.
College brought the best, and the worst out of me. A new sense of freedom allowed me to live on my own, do what I wanted, and when I wanted. However, with all these things I could now do, I allowed one thing that I needed to do in the shadows. For years I allowed myself to go without checking my sugars, or taking the right amount of insulin for what I ate. Looking back, I wish I had listened to the doctors and my mother when they told me to take better care of myself. I am currently 25 and still in college, I have no idea what I want to do. The only thing I do know, is that I want to live long enough to see where I go. Through all the struggles, through all the angst, and through all the discrimination that I put myself through, it was knowing that I am not alone that helped me the most.
So I want to propose a challenge. To any and all that read this suffering from T1D . Please comment and share a personal story from your life. Personally, letting others know how hard it is to live with T1D helps a load off of my shoulders. Let me know what you have done to overcome hardships in your life. Although we are searching for a cure, we don’t have to do it alone. Please, let me know what you have done to lift the weight off your own shoulders. I know I am not the only one.