I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age 2. My parents say that it uprooted their lives: Diets changed. Sleeping patterns changed. Habits changed. But I don’t remember the uprooting. I don’t remember my life changing. In fact, I don’t remember not having diabetes.
Sometimes I think that’s better. I never had to go through a lifestyle change. I never lashed out at my parents for their genetics or blamed them for my disease—and I never will.
So far, I’ve been blessed with a wonderful life. I deal with my disease in a positive manner. I’ve never let diabetes control me.
On the outside, it would appear that I am just like everyone else (if you can ignore the bulge on my belt loop where my insulin pump sits and the small circle at my waist from my continuous glucose monitor). If you could tap into my brain, you’d see it’s a different story. My thoughts are clouded with whether I’m low, what my blood glucose number is, why my pump is beeping, and how many grams of carbs are in my meal.
My mother once told me that God never gives anyone anything they cannot handle, and I should feel blessed that I was diagnosed with such a livable disease. She said there are much worse things that I could have had. I like that. I tell myself that I have diabetes—it does not have me.
But now I have my own child, and the fear that encapsulates me is indescribable. I am the one who might have passed on the gene, not my husband. While I know that I’ve been blessed with such a wonderful life, I would never wish this disease on anyone.
I looked up research information today on diabetes.org and found that women with type 1 diabetes who become pregnant before age 25 have offspring with a 1 in 25 chance of developing the disease. Women over the age of 25—like me—have children with a 1 in 100 chance of developing the disease. If a woman was diagnosed before age 11, however, the chance of her children developing the disease doubles.
In over 24 years, I’ve yet to have a diabetes-related complication, and it’s my goal to always keep it that way. If my children ever get diagnosed, I will teach them the same vigorous mindset for keeping themselves healthy that my parents taught me.
That being said, my fear comes from responsibility. I pray to God that my daughter does not blame me if she’s diagnosed someday. That she realizes I would do anything possible to prevent her from having this. That she can live a beautifully happy, healthy life. Mostly, I pray to God that she never has to deal with diabetes. But come what may, she will live a normal, happy, healthy life and be truly loved.
Kaitlin Taurianen, RD, is a registered dietitian who manages the West De Pere School District’s food service program and teaches nutrition education to students. She lives in Green Bay, Wisconsin, with her husband, Matt, and newborn daughter.
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