This is a paper my sister did on me for school. She did an AMAZING job. I’m very pleased with it. 🙂
Broken or Built
“My pancreas broke” she says to her four-year-old niece. The little one had been showing off her graffiti green cast where she had broken both bones in her forearm. But Deborah’s “broken” wasn’t quite the kind to be bound up or showed off as a childhood rollerblade battlescar. “Do you wanna go poke yourself?” the little one asked, almost excitedly. As the diabetic smilingly demonstrated to her niece how to put a needle in your tummy so a nice crepe breakfast could be had, both are content in being healed.
“Most of the time it’s just part of your routine,” the young woman says casually, “like ok, you wake up, you check your sugar, go do whatever you have to do. Sometimes I’ll check it again before I eat and then just take my insulin and then eat. Check it again three or four hours later, take insulin, eat lunch. It’s just a routine, and you have to get used to that routine.”
But initially handling this disease was far from her usual morning plans. “It was a little after I had just turned 13 that this all started” she explains, “but it was pretty crazy man. You’re starting your teenage years and you’re like “what the heck is going on?”” As she continues she matter-of-factly informs me of the vision problems she had been experiencing, taking me to the hospital with her as she describes just how “crazy” the confusion of symptoms, dozens of incessant doctor visits, the eight switches between good and bad doctors, the sickness and DKA, trips to the ER, recurring headaches, nausea, and overall prolonged processes of going through the system. Retrospectively, she expresses gratitude to her diabetic mother, a nurse, who guided her through the dragging appointments and pains with her experience.
Upon inquiry of her mother, she tells me that despite what her daughter has passed through, it has matured her youngest in good ways. “You know, my family has always passed down the proverb “I complained because I had no shoes until I saw a man who had no feet.” Deborah has learned that for herself. People who live healthy not because they need to but want to is all well and good, but for the people who eat healthy and try to live right and do what’s good for them and still fall short because of things outside of their control, Deborah is right there alongside them, because she knows what it’s like to try your best to live healthy and still have problems out of your control, no matter how hard you try. She’s the one who’s there to offer encouragement and support to them, and she applies this everywhere not just with health.”
Curiously delving further into just how a disease might be applied everywhere in this way; I ask her flat out, “What’s the best part of having this disease?” She laughs lightly, pondering the question and thoughtfully saying “hm!” three times before answering, “It’s been a really big learning experience and definitely, like a learning curve for me. I really have learned a lot. Sometimes it’s just interesting because you can develop a relationship with other people based on what you’ve had health-wise, like I feel like you can do that, and I feel like it’s easier you know? So I think it’s probably networking with other diabetics and getting to know other people, I think that’s a pretty cool thing.”
After hearing this I couldn’t keep back the kicker question, “If you could choose not having this disease, would you?” Almost instantly she has her answer, “No.” She feels she has learned too much and that even though it has been hard, and not even health-wise but in general she feels it has helped her become a more compassionate person. She goes on emphatically that her suffering has helped her realize that “when you have health problems you don’t want to take those lightly on people when someone talks to you about them because, no, I understand because I have health issues.”
Soon she told me of the other nurse who inspired her most when she was first diagnosed, giving her sweet descriptions such as “freakin’ awesome” and “loved her”. This lady made her want to do better, whom she quotes as telling her, “I have a really good friend that’s type one diabetic and she’s done the Iron Man marathon in Hawaii. You know, you can’t let this stop you. She’s done so many marathons and half marathons, just don’t let this stop you it’s not going to stop you from doing anything as long as you control it.””
Before the end of our discussion she left me with her simple but pure thoughts on it. “Diabetes can really stink, but it can make you or break you, and if you let it make you then you’re going to be a much better person for it. And if you can do that and be a better person you can inspire others to do better in their lives. Just remember to follow your dreams, because just because you’re diabetic or just because you have health issues does not mean that you cannot do anything. I mean, I know that things are going to be harder for me, specifically because I have health problems but that’s not going to stop me from trying.”