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March 10, 2023

Growing Up with Type 1 Diabetes: My Story from Diagnosis to Empowerment.

 

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It was my ninth Diaversary recently.

It has been quite a journey. A daily roller coaster, from calm to panic, back to calm, and repeat.

Nine years ago, I was away on vacation in Thailand with my family. My parents found it weird that I was thirsty constantly and that even gallons of water couldn’t quench my thirst. I was peeing repeatedly too, even while asleep. Upon our return to India, my mom took me to the paediatrician, only to be told that I was probably “behaving” like this because I felt insecure after the birth of my younger brother.

I don’t remember much of the day of my diagnosis. Just in bits and pieces.

A few weeks after being dismissed by the pediatrician, I fainted at school; the next thing I remember was being at the doctor’s. He had done some tests, and as I sat there eating a snack, I remember him seeming really alarmed and speaking urgently with my mom. I don’t recall quite accurately. And then I started puking again.

He told my mom to take me to the hospital immediately, and they were debating whether to call an ambulance or drive me there. I fainted again in the car, they tell me. Next thing I remember we were in the emergency room; my mom was fighting with the staff to get me in because they didn’t believe that I needed to be admitted to the ER (I looked not so bad outwardly). That’s when I started to faint again.

I was in the ICU for the next two days. At night, my mom had to leave to go home, and my grandmother stayed behind. It was a night that I don’t like to recall because it was one of the most horrific nights I have lived.

There was screaming all around me. Another child who had been diagnosed with kidney failure was in a lot of pain. Then there were nurses jamming injections into me all night. I was scared and it was all really painful, physically as well as emotionally. After all, I was only seven. My grandmother stayed there consoling me all night. In the morning my grandfather came in, reassuring me and asking me to stay strong. Other family members came with gifts and toys and dolls to cheer me up.

I was made to do another blood test. After a while, there was confidence building up in me, and even though it had been just a day, I was feeling calmer and more confident. I didn’t feel as scared by injections and blood tests anymore. I don’t know what had changed, but it was there, and something deep inside me knew that this was going to stay. It wasn’t going to go away, so it would be I who would have to adapt.

Diabetes changed not only my life but also of those around me.

At first, we thought it was a terrible, one-time event, like an acute condition that would be treated and life would be back to normal soon. It dawned on us soon that this was going to be my reality for life.

The society where I am from still has a lot of taboos and ignorance around chronic conditions, especially if afflicted in childhood. Being a girl didn’t help. There was gloom all around, and my family had to hear things such as “this child has no future,” “she would be dependent on others all her life…even a burden,” and so on. My mother shared later as I grew older that it was almost as if they were grieving me while I was still alive.

My mother has been my rock and has raised me to be self-assured and independent—to not just manage my health and life but also to be a beacon of hope for other children going through similar challenges.

I will be sharing my journey of how I evolved from a scared seven-year-old to who I am now through a series of articles in the coming weeks. Follow my journey here.

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