Happy World Diabetes Day. There are a lot of aspects that have lead into this particular post, specifically that November is Diabetes Awareness Month, and that I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes two years ago to November 8th. For those that are newer here, or are still trying to break down the essence of this blog, not every post is on the same blatant topic, but rather the eight underlying values that tie my life together.
As I have said, I have many identities, as we all do. I’m a brother, son, friend, follower of God, NCAA student-athlete, baseball player, type 1 diabetic, among many other things to many different people. The things that allow me to be the best at each of those things are God, faith, prayer, family, education, sacrifice, character and discipline. Therefore, as I bounce between my experiences, lessons, and life, I can always fall back on those things, as I encourage you to do as well. All of those values are explained in my very first post to make them applicable to everyone, including ‘God’ and ‘faith.’
Today, I want to open up for the second time about my life as a Type 1. I originally told my diagnosis story a couple months ago, and if you’d like to go back to review, the link is below.
Since then, life has been all about adjustments. One of the most unique things about being type 1 is that it treats everyone differently. No two cases are the same, so it really comes down to learning yourself and how different things effect your body. Despite this uniqueness, there is still a high sense of community in diabetic people. There is a certain connection that is rooted in a spirit of ‘being in this together.’ When there is so much uncertainty, that yearning for community is vital.
As I have attempted to integrate myself into this community over the last two years, I find a lot of negativity. I see tough stories of hardship, I see people coping in different ways, I see frustration in change. So I wanted to find a way to inject some positivity into my story, and talk about the perspective that diabetes has added more things to my life than stress and hassles. Here’s how…
- More routine-oriented: This is the truest piece of advice any diabetic has realized and given. Life is so much easier when you have a routine. Down to leaving yourself a certain amount of times between meals, a certain amount of time between injections and meals, or a certain amount of time between being stagnant and exercise. When things change or abnormalities occur, have a routine that works to fall back on. Have something to be able to go back and say ‘this works best for me when…’ and continue to implement that. It’s not always easy because much of timing and daily events are out of our control. This also is applicable for many facets of life, but the underlying message is that you need some sense of consistency to balance the amount of change.
- More aware of my diet: As an athlete, I’ve always been well aware of my intake. I calorie count, I keep track of proteins and fibers, and I obviously have to carb count. That wasn’t a big adjustment for me. I’ve met with a good handful of different dieticians and nutritionists, and they are always complimentary of how well I know my body and my intake. That’s a big deal to me, but being a diabetic has amplified that. I had a hard time strategically gaining and maintaining weight as an athlete through the first year and a half, afraid of eating too much or losing my balance. I can’t sit here and say that I have it licked, but I’ve gained comfort in my diet and how it impacts my training.
- More independent: I’ve said before, I’ve handled much of this on my own. Being diagnosed two months before turning 18, my parents let me navigate my experiences for myself. I don’t rely on anybody else, and I try to be as proactive as possible. I don’t even really like to discuss it with other people because of how private it feels to me. That being said, I had to learn that sense of independence quickly. Right from the jump I had to embrace that.
- More appreciative of every day: There are certainly aspects of this disease that are life-threatening. There are instances where people don’t get up in the morning. That’s a real threat I guess, but I don’t really think about that, honestly. Nonetheless, I am more appreciative of every day, and I think that’s a part of being forced to live in the moment so often. It’s hard for me to remember the first 17 or so years of my life where I didn’t have to administer myself insulin before every meal, so I try to not take things as simple as that for granted anymore.
- More faithful: When change hits, especially unexpected change, you typically question a lot. What? Why? How? All of those things can be answered with faith, which has been there for me to lean on when I need it. Faith doesn’t always have the explicit, clear answers, but it can provide comfort to trust something greater than yourself, and that’s what I’ve brought myself to do.
- More than a diabetic: I cannot emphasis this enough. Diabetes should not stop you, me, or anyone you know from being the best version of ourselves in whatever we want to do. Obstacles aren’t barriers, and anything is still possible… it just feels a little harder every now and again. It is a piece of an identity, but by no means the entire identity. It’s easy to forget that.
As life deals us change, there are silver linings. There are lessons in hardships. There are ways to adapt. It doesn’t get much stranger than being diagnosed with an autoimmune disease one year, and then having a global pandemic that’s a threat to people with autoimmune diseases break out the next. That’s life, I guess.
Trust me, even when you feel like changes are making you less, there are always ways to look for more. The Super 8 can help you do that. It has a piece in everything we do, especially when we do those things well.
As I always do, I’ll conclude with a link to JDRF’s (Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation) donation link, if you feel any inclination to donate to the leading Type 1 Diabetes foundation on World Diabetes Day.
I’ll be back next week to express my gratitude and appreciation for some important people in my life for Thanksgiving.
Until then, look for more in life. Blessings,