15 Things I’ve Learned After 15 Years of Diabetes

Today is my 15 year anniversary of having type 1 diabetes! Time flies when ur counting carbs. I’ve pricked my finger over 43,800 times, given an insulin shot over 32,850 times and spent 7,814 hours recovering from a low blood sugar.

15 years is a LONG time. My diabetes can get its learner’s permit now. My diabetes is a sophomore in high school. I have had diabetes for 60% of my life, longer than I haven’t had diabetes. I don’t remember a time where I didn’t think about what I was eating, and how much insulin to take in order to keep my sugars in check. My knowledge of all things diabetes has grown and grown over the years. Now that I am at my 15-year marker, I wanted to share 15 things I’ve learned over the past 15 years. (I’d like to think that I’ve learned more than 15 things but you get the point)

Here they are:

  1. Lots of people (even very famous people) still think that all forms of diabetes come from eating too much sugar and honey that just isn’t the case. It’s 2018!!! Google it. (or read about it here)
  2. Most restaurants won’t charge you for the glass of orange juice I ask for frantically if my blood sugar is low. (free stuff!)
  3. I will always get stopped at airport security for something, no matter how well I pack medication and snacks (juice boxes are not allowed through security and I am forced to say goodbye to one or two of them every time)
  4. Some days I just won’t feel my very best and won’t be able to control my sugars to my liking, and that is OKAY. Some days suck, that’s what makes the good ones even better!
  5. If you dip your finger in orange juice, then test your blood sugar using that finger, the orange juice will mix with your blood making it look like your sugar is super high and you can stay home from school (don’t try this at home kids, and if you do, don’t tell your parents who taught you).
  6. There will never be a time in your life that someone doesn’t look at a dessert and say “can you even eat that?” to you.
  7. Wear comfy shoes. It’s just worth it in more ways than one.
  8. Everyone will have a different opinion about how you take care of yourself. Don’t let criticism from others (especially from loved ones) affect the way you care for yourself, especially if they don’t deal with the disease themselves on a daily basis and if you know that you take care of yourself to the best of your ability. It’s kinda like mom-shaming but the baby is diabetes.
  9. Wearing your diabetes on your sleeve (literally with a CGM or pump) is a sign of strength and not weakness. Diabetes doesn’t make you weird or different. It makes you stronger.
  10. There are two types of low blood sugars: the ones you can treat like a functioning member of society with approximately 15 grams of carbohydrates and the patience to watch it rise to a normal level, or the ones that happen in the dead of night that turn us into a full snack goblin that thinks it’s morally right to put chocolate syrup on a pepperoni pizza from 2 weeks ago and then finish it off with 8 Capri Suns.
  11. Stabbing a syringe into an orange is not comparable to stabbing a syringe into my leg. (For those non-diabetics out there: when you are diagnosed with diabetes, you practice injections on an orange. Also, another side note: imagine how many oranges go uneaten every year because they are now full of fake insulin)
  12. Don’t drink your carbohydrates for an easy way to cut down on your daily carb intake. More info on that here. Or if you want to low carb coffee options, I talk about my favorite iced options here and my favorite fall drinks here.
  13. Finding another diabetic in the wild (when you run into a stranger who also has type 1 diabetes) is like when a dog sees another dog on the street, you just get really excited quickly and then probably keep going in the opposite direction.
  14. Keeping a support system of other diabetics who will be there for you no matter what (even through my “I don’t want to be associated with my diabetes” phase) is important for my own personal sanity. Sometimes it just feels good to connect with people who get it.

And finally,

15. Taking care of yourself is cool. Enjoy your life, drink the beer, have the cake, but count your carbs and take your insulin. I know it’s exhausting. I know it sucks. It’s a 24 hour a day, 7 days a week kinda disease, but life will be much more enjoyable and a lot more fun if we are good to ourselves and take care of our bodies for the long term.

To 15 more years! (and hopefully more after that) ~

– Ariana

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