Too Healthy To Get Diabetes?
In a previous post I shared that I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at 18 years of age – right at the transition between high school and college. It was a scary time for a number of reasons, and getting this disease in the midst of it all did not quite help matters.
Without going into my entire diagnosis story again, I still want to point out the question that bugged me the most back then, and in a way I still wonder about now. “Why me?,” I asked the doctors. I was becoming an adult, I exercised on a somewhat regular basis, I did not smoke, drink, or do drugs of any sort. I did not have any other sicknesses or illnesses, and while I was far from an “athlete,” I felt good; I felt in shape.
So why did I get type 1 diabetes? How could I have prevented it? What were the reasons?
Of course, no one knew back then, and no one really knows now. We still have much to learn about how type 1 develops, how to prevent it, and most importantly, how to cure it. But the fact that no one had the answers did not comfort me much. I simply needed to know why. How could this happen – was I not too healthy to get diabetes?
One thing that we do know about this disease is that it knows no borders. It can strike anyone, at pretty much any age. I was by far not the only 18-year-old to get type 1 diabetes, and there are adults older than me who developed it later in life, and many children who have had it from an extremely young age. I was actually quite shocked when I first heard of kids with diabetes. I could not imagine how they, or their parents, could handle such a demanding disease. Caring for someone with type 1 is a 24/7 job, especially if they are not yet ready to take on some of the responsibility.
Learning to accept the hand that you have been dealt in life is part of growing up and becoming an adult, or so I have been told. I will always wonder why, but at the JDCA I have learned to harness this questioning and convert it into positive energy– energy that focuses on the organizations that have been established to help answer this question, and to find a cure for diabetes, hopefully one day soon. Curing a chronic disease is not an easy task, but I truly believe that as we keep growing as a community and becoming more united, our combined positive energy can only advance us toward the cause.
Although I never really got the chance to participate in diabetes camps and did not make too many connections with other diabetics in the first few years after being diagnosed, I have found that a lot of people have the same questions and the same motivation to change things since I got involved in the Diabetes Online Community (DOC). Especially when dealing with a disease that has so many aspects and affects your life on a daily, hourly basis, it is very helpful to know that you are not alone and that others like you are going through the same thing.
At the end of the day, it is rather silly to believe you are too healthy for any disease. Many other conditions in the medical field, besides diabetes, remain a mystery. Plenty of people have thought themselves to be in perfect shape, yet suffered illnesses or injuries and other mishaps that make them view the world from a whole new perspective.
In a way, I suppose this is what has happened to me. The older you get, the more you realize how uncertain life is and how many challenges lurk around the corner, which is true even if we are talking strictly about diabetes. I have had the condition for 6 years now, but I am still always learning new information from reading and listening to people’s stories. I am constantly discovering things that I may very well need to apply to my own life sometime soon.
I can say that I am handling my diabetes condition quite well right now, and have not had any serious or alarming accidents. I hesitate to say that I “am perfectly fine,” as that will only invite trouble. I am more cautious now, and know to expect the unexpected. No one is immune to dangerous diseases, and no one with diabetes is immune to the risk of developing complications in the future. It is a life full of questions marks.
We cannot answer all the questions, and we cannot guarantee a given outcome. What we can do, what is in our hands, and what we can fight for is where we direct our efforts and how loud we make our voices to raise awareness for diabetes and a cure.