A little over a month ago I came across an essay contest sponsored by a wonderful organization, The Diabetes Hope Foundation. They are an amazing group based in Ontario started by a mother of three young men–two of whom has type 1 diabetes. Her children have grown to be amazing men and her courage and dedication has never ceased to amaze me.
I looked over the contest for a bit and asked my mom what she thought. Had diabetes really made “me” stronger? I knew that if she could have reached through the phone she would have given me a large slap upside of the head so I figured it wouldn’t hurt to enter the contest. At stake was an IPod Touch and an IBGStar meter (I thought it was an iPad and was quite excited but I would not turn down an IPod either–actually my son won`t turn down the IPod!). I sat down and attempted to write my story in a brief, 500 word essay. That was the biggest challenge of all! Finally, I pressed submit and asked my friends to vote on what I had written. I was 100 votes behind to start but my story was listed. I had a month to wait and see what would happen.
Yesterday at the DHF’s annual diabetes walk, the winner was announced. I am proud to share the winning essay with you…mine!
Diabetes barged into my life on a stormy day in March of 2000. Life was simple and each day was taken for granted until I heard the words…”If he lives past the next twelve hours we will teach you how to handle a child with diabetes.“ From that moment forward, I learned a lot about myself and my personal strength. I was terrified of taking my son home from the hospital. Could I handle making a toddler eat at specific times? Could I make him bleed numerous times per day? Could I stab him with a needle at least four times each day without him understanding why? Yes. I had no choice. I would force him to eat. I would mark his tiny body. The alternative had been shown to me in the ICU and it was not an option. I cried in frustration, alone in the dark. People told me I was stronger than I knew. I could do this. They were right. I did it and continue to do it. Diabetes is a constant struggle. No two days are the same. I constantly learn something new. I realized that not everyone was as strong as me. Not everyone to handle the challenges presented by diabetes and the rest of the world. I worked to change that. I gave comfort and educated people as often as I could. I changed laws. I shared information and offered support. Diabetes had stormed into my life but it gave me the strength to create real change. It made me realize that one person really can make a difference. It made me push my fears aside and turn emotion into powerful energy that propels me forward to keep fighting and to keep working to change the world for all people living with diabetes.
Thank you again to all of the amazing friends and family who supported me!! You are my rock and my strength.