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What Happens in Sixteen Years.

January 27, 2010

Sixteen years ago, a little girl in Oregon, who drank her weight in water, was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. I remember lying in the hospital bed, with my parents on either side of me, listening to my new endocrinologist (I’m pretty sure I couldn’t even pronounce that at the time) explain to my parents and I what had just happened.

While I don’t remember his exact words, I remember being scared. I remember cringing and crying as the nurses tried to test my blood sugar for the first time. I know my parents were frightened, like many others, of what could happen to me. Of what diabetes was going to prevent me from doing. What would people say? What could happen to me?

I’d like to say nothing happened to me, but that’s not true.

What happened was I grew up fighting with my little brother and arguing with my parents about my curfew. What happened to me was that I spent Christmas vacation making candy houses with my best friends and sneaking sugar cookies from the freezer. What happened to me was that I went to summer camp and met the greatest people who taught me what real friendship looked like. What happened was that I learned to drive a car, went to prom, graduated from high school, and moved away for college. What happened was I drank alcohol at house parties, took a roadtrip to San Francisco, took final exams and aced them, and had a serious crush on guy that was no good for me. What happened was I graduated from college, moved across the country, made new friends and cried a little. What happened was that I met a boy and fell in love. What happened was I moved to a great apartment in Manhattan, traveled to England alone and tried to remember to call my mother at least once a week.

What happened was that diabetes was not my life, but diabetes was in my life.

What happened was that I clipped my insulin pump to the back of my prom dress, tested my blood sugar before taking my final exam, and made sure to bring enough supplies to London to last me until Christmas. What happened was I spoke in front of hundreds of people at a gala about what my life was like. What happened was journalists called me up and I had my picture in the newspaper and magazines and on TV and what happened was that I wasn’t afraid to tell people what is was like to be normal and different at the same time.

What happened is all this and much more.

What also happened in the last sixteen years is that I met you. I met a wonderful extended family (my brothers from another mother and my sisters from another mister!) who have shaped me in unbelievable ways. I am stronger and a better person because of  you. I have been challenged and called out, I have been supported and encouraged, and I have been entertained by gloriously funny people.

Making it this far is just as much about you as it is about me. Thank you.

  1. January 27, 2010 10:08 AM

    Very touching and beautifully written!

  2. January 27, 2010 10:18 AM

    Love this, and it’s beautifully written. My husband’s goddaughter was diagnosed with Type 1 right after Thanksgiving (she’s 6), and this really proves that it’s not the end of the world. I know right now for my husband’s goddaughter it’s a tough change & road ahead of her, but this gives hope. Thank you 🙂

    • January 27, 2010 11:17 AM

      I love giving people hope. It’s one of my favorite things to do! Please feel free to pass this along to her parents, too.

  3. January 27, 2010 10:26 AM

    Hope you have plans to celebrate. With cake. (And Erik, of course.)

  4. January 27, 2010 10:48 AM

    Aw. I can’t wait to write about my d-anniversary…in 9 days! One day we need to pick a middle day and throw ourselves a party. 🙂

  5. tmana permalink
    January 27, 2010 10:51 AM

    Touching. And yes, Life goes on — with or without diabetes. It’s just another aspect to our “normality”, to our daily lives.

  6. January 27, 2010 11:08 AM

    Happy D-versary Allison! Great post!

  7. January 27, 2010 12:24 PM

    Happy D-anniversary! You’ve done well for yourself. 16 years! amazing. I really enjoyed reading your post today.

  8. Tina permalink
    January 27, 2010 12:30 PM

    Happy Diaversary! I hit 16 years in March. My story is different from yours and yet so the same. I love that you aren’t afraid to share about your disease. I love that folks like you came into my life! Celebrate! If I had known sooner I would have baked you a cake.

  9. January 27, 2010 1:45 PM

    Wow – didn’t know you have been living with Diabetes for that long! I am sure it was so overwhelming at the time, and I am sure it still overwhelms you to this day, but you are thriving! So yea for you!

  10. Colleen permalink
    January 27, 2010 3:12 PM

    “What happened was that diabetes was not my life, but diabetes was in my life…what happened was that I wasn’t afraid to tell people what is was like to be normal and different at the same time.”

    You hit the nail right on the head. Words to live by!

    Congrats! Keep on kickin butt!

  11. January 27, 2010 3:36 PM

    Happy D-Anniversary, Allison!

  12. January 27, 2010 4:42 PM

    Happy D-Anniversary. Here is to 16 more years!

  13. January 27, 2010 10:33 PM

    Touching, made me sad actually. I will be going on 12 years in April, and it’s a celebration of no complications. I feel that because of type 1 diabetes, we have to be creative to do ‘normal things.’ Take care & congrats on the 16 years! Hope for another healthy year!

  14. Gayle permalink
    January 29, 2010 8:07 PM

    Let’s celebrate!!

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