As a Type 1 diabetic and the Outreach Manager for JDRF Rocky Mountain, I talk about diabetes A LOT. From reaching out to newly diagnosed families to communicating with our local media outlets about diabetes research all the while managing my own blood sugar roller coasters from day to day, somedays I feel like diabetes is the only thing I talk about. My life is completely immersed in the world of T1D and, as such, It is certainly not lost on me that a T1D diagnosis has a colossal impact on life. It’s devastating and downright consuming not just for the person living with T1D, but for the entire family.
When we talk collectively as a community in online forums or around a table about the impact T1D has on a life or a family, most of the connotations are generally pretty negative. Frequently people discuss the challenges that arise with Type 1, but rarely do you hear a story about Type 1 really having a positive impact. When a newly diagnosed parent Google’s the complications of Type 1 diabetes, it’s easy to understand the tailspin of worry and doubt that can follow as they begin to imagine the life-altering challenges their child and family will now face living with a chronic illness.
I was recently asked a question that made me stop and really think about what Type 1 diabetes has meant for my life. The question came from a parent needing to know from the depths of their parent heart that their child’s future was not nearly as bleak as the internet searches paint it to be. I did a little soul-searching, and reached out to a few other people living with Type 1 diabetes in our local community to get answers to the question I’ve never bothered to ask in 20 years of diabetes:
“What are the ways, if any, diabetes has made your life better?”
For me, I know I am stronger, more resilient, and more independent than I would ever be without T1D. I also know that T1D led me to my passion: connecting and supporting like-minded people to improve their health and wellness. Below are just some of the amazing responses our local community came up with for this question. As we continue to talk about the impact of Type 1 diabetes in our support circles I will be sure to add this talking point to the conversation. If we are always focused on the negative, it’s easy to let the good escape us. T1D isn’t something to celebrate or something we should hurl accolades at, however, I do think it’s important to keep our eyes open to the good and hold on to that. In my experience, you have to have those elements to hold onto on the worst of days when T1D tries to get the best of you. It is important to remember that there is good all around us; there is always hope; JDRF is making an impact on the present and future of T1D , and our type 1 community support is always, ALWAYS there if you need it.
Becky – Adult T1D, Professional T1D Athlete
“1) I always have candy on-hand for the screaming kid on the plane. I’m everyone’s hero when I fly.
2) Diabetes has taken me all over the world. I’ve raced on five contents, seen places I never dreamed, made friends on every corner of the earth.
3) When my son gets down about having autism or my daughter dyslexia, I get to remind them that we’ve all got challenges….it is how we respond that matters. Opportunities show up dressed in a lot of different ways, and they’re not always evident.
4) I’ve got a community of rad people who share my diagnosis. There’s a camaraderie others just don’t understand.”
Kathy, Mom of Brooklyn
“For me, it has shown me that everybody’s journey is different. Life isn’t perfect, but it’s doable. And at the end of every day, it could always be worse. My daughter will never let this define her…it’s a small part of the whole person she is, and will be. It’s shown Matt and I a strength I didn’t know existed in us,and a determination that will never stop until we find the cure. Not gonna lie, diagnosis is devastating! But it gets better, for sure”
Antoinette, Mom of Luciano
“1) I appreciate life, my husband and boys and all the little things much more.
2) it gives me a perspective on life that many others don’t have.
3) I have learned so much more about nutrition than I ever could imagine, and I keep learning.
4) I became more organized”
Bethany, Mom of Cooper
“T1D teaches you to appreciate the good days so much more, and that we are all much tougher than we realize. We live more consciously and don’t take our health for granted. I’ve made a deliberate effort to remove negativity from my life, to leave room for the important things. It has strengthened those relationships with the people that have stepped up and offered help at our weakest moments”
Christine Noel, Adult T1D, Athlete, Advocate
“It keeps me humble. It’s given me a passion to fight for in life. It’s made me empathetic to the struggles of others. I got a tattoo! No guilt over sweets (during a low). It has made me become super interested in exercise/long distance running.”
We would love to hear your answers to this question. Please share them below in the comments.
JDRF is making an impact by unlocking the science that will lead to a cure and universal prevention, and along the way, driving delivery of new treatments and therapies that make day-to-day life with T1D easier, safer and healthier. Read more about our impact HERE.
Do you need local support? Contact Kelli at Kraleigh@jdrf.org to get more information. Outreach volunteers are available for parents, teens, children and adult T1D’s to connect with.