As an English teacher, I know that every story has three basic components: the beginning, the middle, and the end. What falls into those components..the ideas, the characters, the storyline…either make or break a story. I’ve always felt like a “broken” story, a “not good enough” or “passed” story. A story not worth telling, sharing, or celebrating. But I also know that my story is similar to many others. Others who struggle each and every day with a multitude of different issues, but they are all struggles and they all hurt, damage, and scar. So, while I still am not sure if my story has value, I’ve decided to share it for those who need it. For those who struggle with their weight, who struggle with their worth, and who struggle with chronic illness, like diabetes.
My story begins when I was twenty years old. I was having a weird health issue, totally unrelated to diabetes, so I went to a new doctor to have it addressed. This doctor knew my family and my family’s health history, so she ordered a round of tests. I had no idea what they were for, didn’t think twice, gave my blood, and off I went.
About a week later I received a phone call wanting me to set up an appointment as soon as possible. This is obviously not a good sign, especially coming from a doctor, and I was a little nervous, but not that bad. I knew my family had a history of thyroid issues, so I figured that was it. I went into the doctor ready to hear “You have hypothyroidism,” and, indeed, I did hear those words. But I also heard more. Something completely different that wasn’t even on my radar. “Your tests show that you are diabetic.”
What? I’m 20. I’m in college.
It’s because I’m fat, right?
Ugh. I hate myself. I turned myself into this. This is my fault.
I walked into the lobby after my appointment and my aunt, who was the receptionist, was waiting for me. I just started bawling and she gave me some encouraging words and dammed our family’s genetics. I don’t remember feeling anything in particular. My tears were just a reaction to something I didn’t quite know or understand.
So, that’s my beginning. I would like to say that being diagnosed with diabetes at age 20 “totally changed my life for the better”. I would love to say that I took it seriously, that I fought hard, and got control over my life. But, ten years later, I’m still here wrestling with blood sugars, fighting my weight, and hating myself.
Despite these past ten years, this is still my “middle”. My story isn’t over yet and, in some ways, it has barely started. I refuse to let it be the end. I refuse to let my diabetes defeat me. Tomorrow is a new day.