Sunday, March 13, 2016

A Reflection

This day seven years ago I got a call.  I was sitting on the couch with my brother and the phone rang. The receptionist from my family doctor told me that my blood sugar was 24 mmol/L We had done blood work prior and that was the result, a really high blood sugar. I didn't know that meant a high blood sugar because the receptionist gave no inclination, but she did say that the doctor wanted to talk to me about it.  I hadn't showered yet, but I quickly grabbed my stuff and headed out the door. I was still living at home then, so I yelled up to my mom that the doctor called and my blood sugar was 24 mmol/L and as you can imagine we were all in for a shock, type 1 diabetes was the diagnosis.  I spent some time in the hospital and it never really dawned on me how much life was about to change for me. I wasn't upset like you'd imagine or you see in the movies.  I cried but it was brief and my fight or flight kicked into action. Looking back it is as if I knew that I was going to be O.K that diabetes wasn't going to be the end of me, but rather a new beginning unlike no other fresh start.

The first blessing was meeting Chloe from Connected in Motion. She played a huge role in how I took my diagnosis, probably more than she will ever know.  She was the first type 1 that I meant and when I saw how involved she was, speaking at events, running activities and having such a great group of friends with diabetes, I knew I wanted to be just like her. That is when I got involved with Connected in Motion and met a good chunk of the type 1's I know today. Connected in Motion also got me involved in physical challenges, something I avoided.  I began trying things that I had never imagined like obstacle races, triathlons (1/2) and fun runs.  I would credit Connected in Motion for encouraging me to get out of my comfort zone and try new things, which has impacted my life since in many ways.

The second blessing was for diabetes organizations like JDRF and the Canadian Diabetes Association.  The opened my eyes up to volunteering and participating in my community.  My first time speaking in public was because of an opportunity the Canadian Diabetes Association gave me. Following that I started doing more speaking events with both organizations in all kinds of places and events like Symposiums, and Camps.

The third blessing was by  means of a very odd google search.  I was looking to connect with others living with diabetes beyond my local community and I also wanted to send real hand written letters. I came across Krystal Boyea who was looking for something similar.  Now, if you've ever heard of anything more serendipitous, let me know.  Krystal and I sent hand written letters back and forth but also communicated online.  Little did I know how much of a roll Krystal would play in creating my diabetes 'portfolio' if you will.  Krystal is an outstanding leader in diabetes and has had many opportunities like myself, but the biggest opportunity came to me when Krystal asked me to climb Kilimanjaro with her.  That was the first time her and I had met in her person, a little hotel in Tanzania, Africa.   From paper, to Africa, to Australia, to Vancouver and Barbados - my friendship with Krystal will be one of the most thankful friendships I have in my life.

The fourth blessing comes from Jen Hanson. I met Jen through Connected in Motion. She is always smiling and if you know her, I just assume you love her because who couldn't love her!  Jen encouraged me to apply to go to the Young Leaders Programme run by the International Diabetes Federation. I am so thankful she supported me in the pursuit which gave me the opportunities to travel to Australia & Vancouver.

The fifth blessing is the Young Leaders Programme. Once I was selected, I didn't realize how impactful that programme would be. The people that I met from places around the world I had never even knew about.  The life stories that I heard from those living in places like Haiti and Zambia, I will never forget.  This programme is more than building a leader but it teaches compassion and gave me such an understanding for diabetes on a global level. I will forever be thankful for that program.

The sixth blessing comes from all of my supporters, friends and family that have supported my crazy ideas and passions for the past seven years.  Things like this blog, or the Type 1 Diabetes Meme Page, or T1 Empowerment, have been supported by so many and it makes my heart smile. I have never felt so much love, encouragement and positive vibes.  I am surrounded by people that will do anything for me and that without a doubt have made my diagnosis easier.

There is so many more blessins that have come from my diagnosis. I have been to California, Tanzania, Boston, Maine, Australia, British Columbia, and many others places around the world because of my diagnosis.  I have met so many outstanding individuals from all walks of life and made friendships that I know will last forever.  Now cheers to many more healthy years with type 1 diabetes.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Approaching Seven Years

It's hard to believe that this weekend will mark seven years of living with diabetes.  I want to say that I don't know where the time went, but to be honest, it feels like I have always had diabetes and I can imagine that when I am celebrating say, twenty years with diabetes that it will feel longer than forever.

When I think about the past seven years I think about all that I have accomplished in that time span. All the memories that I have made, all the people that have come and gone and those that have stuck around.  I also think about all the time I have put in thinking, crying, fighting, and struggling with my diabetes.

I think the fact that it feels like I have always had diabetes says a lot about the disease.  Diabetes takes all of you, it takes so much out of you sometimes that you can't focus on anything else. The endless carbohydrate counting, blood sugar checks, beeping, buzzing, site changes, low reservoirs, appointments, the list goes on.  Diabetes is relentless and that's why it feels longer than seven years.

But, what I have learned in the last seven years is that I am not alone in this.  There are so many others going through what I do on the daily, and I some days that is what pulls me through.   So, this Sunday, I will reflect on all that has been done to be where I am today in those last seven years, all the friendships I have made and all the opportunities that I have been blessed with.