You may not know someone has diabetes unless you pay close attention - like when you see a girl going in and out of the nurse’s office every day; the same girl who’s poked her fingers for what seems like a million times, and has the marks to prove it; the girl who runs into the bathroom to inject herself so she can eat.
I am that girl. I have diabetes. And I am here to tell other people with diabetes: You are not alone.
It all happened so fast for me. I was eight years old. One day I was fine, and the next I wasn’t. My mom could tell something wasn’t right, so she took me to a pediatrician. It wasn’t until I raised my shirt to change in the doctor’s office that anyone knew how sick I was. I had lost so much weight in only a week that I looked like I was starving. That day little eight-year-old Sheisa went to the ER.
I remember all these strange people poking my fingers, and the more they did it the more worried they looked. I didn’t know what was happening. I was taken to a kids hospital for emergency treatment. Then they told me I had diabetes.
Imagine being a little girl scared of your yearly flu shots and being told you’ll have to poke and inject yourself just to eat. Or that one miscalculation can make you more sick, or worse. That day everything changed for me. While my friends lived carefree, the new rules I had to follow made me feel like I was locked down by invisible chains.
Looking back now that I’m 17, that day made me stronger. I know how lucky I am to be alive, and won’t be someone who takes life for granted. It doesn’t mean there aren’t bad days when I resent having diabetes, or don’t want a pump attached to me, but I have grown to love myself with all my imperfections.
Even though my body seemed to turn against me, it has taught me my most valuable lesson. It’s something I don’t think a lot of teenagers understand. Unless you’ve gone through a similar experience, something like getting a new phone may be your greatest wish. But I, and other young people who have diabetes, know the honor of living, of being healthy, of acceptance, and making the most of it. We know to truly appreciate life.
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It was “lights, camera, action!” for patient ambassadors working with Novo Nordisk at ObesityWeek 2018, the largest obesity conference in the world.