Alyson Thelin

One of my earliest memories is of a day when I was three years old. I do not remember many of the details, but I have a lasting impression of a hospital room where there was a bed, as well as a crib with bars. I was asked to choose which I preferred, but could not make up my mind for a long time. Finally, I chose the bed. I think it was because I did not want to be restricted by the bars surrounding the crib.

It was in this bed that I learned that my daily routine had changed and ironically, I would be surrounded by some kind of bars for the rest of my life. It was discovered I had Type 1 diabetes. I would now have to take daily blood tests and insulin shots. However, from these earliest days, my family and I were determined that diabetes would not lock me up behind “bars.”

It may seem strange to say, but as I grew older I could see some positive things about having diabetes. It taught me that I need discipline, as well as courage, to overcome obstacles. It taught me that my friends would help me in a world at odds with diabetes. For example, birthday parties, sleepovers, school schedules – all of these things had to be carefully planned thus I frequently had to eat something to prevent a dangerously low blood sugar reaction. Sometimes this planning was difficult because most people were not used to eating at set intervals and therefore did not understand how important it was to my health. From this I learned that my friends were those people who had compassion for me and who were willing to help me do everything they could to keep my disease under control.

Diabetes is a chronic, complicated, and destructive disease. I may never outgrow it. My only hope is a cure. Luckily, more progress has been made with this disease in the last five years than in the previous one hundred. Hopefully, a cure is near and others will not have to deal with diabetes. It requires a total lifestyle change but overall, I think it has made me a stronger person. I have refused to let it take control of my life.

Alyson Thelin