This holiday season will be much different for me.
This year my health spiraled out of control, and along with multiple other life-changing diagnoses, I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.
I now poke my little fingers 10+ times a day, wear a device that constantly monitors my blood glucose and alerts me of highs and lows, and with every meal and snack I’m forced to inject a specific amount of insulin into my body. I now have excellent control over my diabetes and I have gotten my A1C down to 5.2. Those of you who know T1D know a number this low is almost unheard of. This holiday season will be much different for me, but here are a few things you can do to make it seem more normal.
1. Don’t ask me if I can eat that because what ever “that” is, I can eat it (unless it’s poison of course). My pancreas is broken, but I do the work for it and I do a pretty good job at it.
2. Don’t structure holiday meals and plans around my diabetes. I don’t want to feel like a burden or ruin anyone’s favorite pie because you decide I need sugar-free.
3. Don’t treat me like I am sick; I’m not. Don’t ask me constantly how I’m feeling or if I need help. I know you do this because you’re concerned, but I’m trying my hardest to enjoy the holidays and feel as normal as possible.
4. Talk to me about something besides diabetes. I appreciate your concern, but every finger poke reminds me of my new reality, and I like to be reminded there’s still more to my life than this nasty disease. Ask me about college, work and life in general.
5. Lastly, please don’t make assumptions. T1D is an autoimmune disease; I did nothing to cause it, and I can do nothing to cure it. T1D is probably new to you, and I can assure you that though it is new to me, I’ve listened to my doctors and done my research. Before you assume things about my disease, ask questions.
Whether you’re family or friends coming to visit for the holidays or if we encounter each other doing last-minute holiday shopping, remember I am not diabetes; I just live life with diabetes. I’m diabetic, but I’m also a 20-year-old college student who loves and enjoys life. My diabetes diagnosis is as new to me as it is to you, and I know you have many, many questions and concerns when we visit, but this holiday season I want to experience the joy, fun and love of the season we’ve always had and will always have, despite diabetes.