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Resilience is spelled T-1-D: How I stay strong and live well with Type 1 diabetes
Photo courtesy of Getty Images
Before insulin was discovered in 1921, the life expectancy for people with diabetes was short. Now, more children and adults are living longer lives thanks to the use of insulin, a life-saving and life-changing medication, that helps regulate blood sugar levels in children and adults living with Type 1 diabetes (T1D).
In honor of the 100th anniversary of the development of insulin, we want to take this opportunity to highlight the children, teens, young adults, parents and caregivers who live with T1D.
As grateful as we are for the numerous advancements in tools and medications for managing diabetes, we also know diabetes is not easy. There are many daily tasks to remember and complete, painful procedures, difficult conversations to have, and unexpected frustrations that arise when trying to take care of T1D and stay motivated to do it day after day. There are also innumerable examples of the amazing, resilient people who work hard to take care of themselves and their loved ones with T1D.
Below are words of encouragement and wisdom we learned from youth and parents about how they live well with T1D. Instead of letting their disease define who they are, they said once they learned to accept their illness, they realized they could still manage to live a happy and fulfilling life just like everyone else.
- “I’ve been dealing with this for 16 years. Overall, what I’ve noticed is that diabetes is something you have to deal with. Once you realize it’s never going to be perfect or go perfectly, you can accept it. When I remember that it’s never going to be exactly stable, and all I can do is keep working at it, it really helps.”
— 18-year-old girl, diagnosed with T1D at age 2
- “Honestly, you just have to come to terms with T1D being forever. There is no cure and there may not be one in our lifetime. At first I had a lot of anger and I asked, “Why did this happen to me?” But now I realize other people have medical problems too, and I happen to have a pancreas problem. You have to remember that you’re still a normal person. You just have to accommodate diabetes in your life.”
— 17-year-old girl, diagnosed with T1D at age 12
- “It’s OK to have T1D. It comes with pros and cons. A con may be having to check your blood sugars but pros are being able to go to summer camps and walks with others with T1D. If you have T1D, you don’t have to worry about fitting in, you're the same as others. You just have to provide insulin in a different way.” — 14-year-old boy, diagnosed with T1D at age 11
- “I try to remember it can always be worse. I’m happy I live with modern medicine, happy for insulin and technology that helps me take care of it. And at least there will be times when you’re supposed to eat candy.” — 17-year-old boy, diagnosed with T1D at age 9
- “You have to find support. Hearing from other T1D parents helps you feel less lonely, and helps you realize that you aren’t alone. When your child is diagnosed with T1D, your whole life changes, and in another way it doesn’t change at all, because managing T1D becomes such a part of your life that you can hardly remember what life was like before. Joining Facebook groups for T1D parents was one of the best things I ever did. When you’re having a hard time, like a day with tons of high blood sugars, you realize it’s not just you dealing with this. Plus, connecting with other parents helps you hear about new technology to make living with diabetes better, or talk about how to find the right doctor for your family who will help you and your children thrive.” — Mother of two children with T1D
- “Having a child with T1D seems tough. Though the struggle feels like it is just beginning, it will become a clearer path. It may be difficult to think that it will become ‘normal,’ but you do adjust. It is helpful to become involved in the Diabetes Community like JDRF which helps with increased education and connecting with other T1D families.” — Mother of 14-year-old boy with T1D
T1D is sometimes smooth, sometimes tough, and although it may be part of your life, it will never define who you are as a person. There is a whole community of people here in Houston and around the world with T1D, so remember you are not alone and you can live well with T1D!
To connect with others with T1D, please reference your local JDRF chapter. In addition to local, online, and family groups, there are also national organizations with opportunities to connect with others including: College Diabetes Network, Beyond Type 1, and Children with Diabetes (CWD).
Texas Children's Diabetes and Endocrine Care Center is a leader in the research and treatment of children with diabetes and endocrine disorders. Click here to learn more about our services.