My New Life
I had never felt so afraid. This was the first time I would inject myself, but certainly not the last. This was supposed to be my new life, and in order to progress, I had to do this. Everyone encouraged me, but I felt trapped. I had to stick needles into my skin every day from now on. I had just turned 11 yet had more stress than anyone I knew. I realized that taking insulin would make me healthy again, but a future filled with needles and carbohydrate counting had no appeal for me. This was the first step in a long journey that I resisted wholeheartedly. My life would never be the same.
"Type 1 diabetes." These are the words that changed my life. Because of these words, I was labeled a diseased freak at school, was judged by everyone I thought I knew, and cried myself to sleep every night for a year. I could not understand the injustice of this disease and of life. Why did I have to prick my fingers five times a day? Why could I not be normal? Why me?
My doctors criticized everything I did. Several years after my diagnosis, I was in a management slump. If I did something wrong, I would be heavily chastised. If I did something right, I would be told to do better. I felt alone in a sea of people who did not understand my pain. I had gotten lazy, and my doctors criticized me for having high blood sugars. One warned me of dangers such as blindness and amputation if I did not change. He told me that my future would be wasted and that I did not care.
Something snapped inside. I could not believe he thought I did not care, but I wondered if he was right. From then on, I wanted to prove to myself more than anyone that I cared. I joined the swim team, studied harder, recorded my daily blood sugars, and began using an insulin pump. I worked myself like crazy to live my life.
After hearing that I could hurt myself, I finally knew: Diabetes was my future. I did not like it, but I needed a change. I searched for proof that I cared, and I discovered myself in the process. My experiences with diabetes have affected me so much that I have changed everything. Now I see life differently, and I live differently.
From my first injection to today, almost seven years later, I have changed, but not as I feared I would. I now appreciate myself and every step I have taken on this worthwhile journey. I appreciate where I fall short and even how others sometimes fall short in how they treat me. And I appreciate having been able to get back on my feet. Most of all, I have come to appreciate diabetes. It really has changed me. Living with it is hard, but never before have I felt this free.
Rebecca Willis is a 17-year-old high school senior who lives in Novi, Mich.