Not my identity
Written by: Rylee Hauger, lives with type 1 diabetes
I wake up to my alarm going off. I roll over and check my phone, “12:00 am blood sugar test,” I sigh and grab my test kit. Just another day in the life. After pricking my finger, I watch the blood fill the test strip, awaiting the infamous countdown that appears on the screen. I feel fine, I don’t feel high nor low; I say a silent prayer that my blood sugar will read in range. “5.6” reads the tiny screen, “Thank goodness.” I whisper to myself before pulling the blankets back over me and falling back asleep. My blood sugar is fine, I’ll test again in the morning before school.
I wake up again, this time not to my alarm. My bed sheets are soaked in sweat, my hands are shaking, and I feel a familiar pit in my stomach. I know what is coming as I get out of bed to grab my test kit for the second time tonight. “2.9” reads the stupid screen. I want to throw it against the wall. How am I low? I was fine 3 hours ago when I last tested. I grab a snack and treat my low. I wait fifteen minutes before testing again, “3.1” the meter tells me. I roll my eyes and go grab another snack before returning to my room to complete it and wait this hypoglycemic out. I just want to go to bed. It is now just about four in the morning and my blood sugar has finally risen enough that I feel fine to go back to bed.
I get out of bed after pressing snooze twice. It is now quarter to eight and I need to get ready for school. Once I am up and out of bed something doesn’t feel right. I run to my messy bathroom and empty last night’s dinner into the toilet. I know what this means. After getting myself cleaned up I walk out of the washroom and back into my bedroom where I test my blood sugar. “19.1” I slam the meter onto the floor. I feel like crying. After I give myself a few units of insulin I return to my morning routine then head out the door. Considering this morning’s events and the fact that I shouldn’t have been driving with blood sugar like that, I’m surprised that I made it to school in a timely manner. I grab my books and head to my first class feeling like today is going to suck. “You look like hell,” laughs my best friend Tessa.
“Don’t even start.” I warn her, meaning it. “What’s wrong Remy?” she asks sincerely. “I was low all night then woke up crazy high this morning.” “You poor thing, anything I can do?” Tessa is the most caring person I have ever met; I wish I could be more like her. “Oh, just trade me pancreas’ please?”. “You know I would if I could Rem.” I know she means this.
I barely make it out of my first class without falling asleep. It isn’t overly boring, I am just so exhausted from last night. I get through the rest of my school day, just one more class, and I am on my way home. I make it home around noon. My blood sugar is fine, so I make and eat lunch. I have volleyball practice tonight at 7pm so I have a few hours to relax before I must leave.
Once I arrive at practice, I put my shoes and knee pads on, then test my blood sugar one last time before I start. “12.9” my device tells me. “Okay that’s not bad, I am a little high, but I’ll be sure to give myself a little extra insulin and just work extra hard.” I quietly tell myself.
Practice starts and goes by smoothly; my coach tells us to go grab some water, so I take that as a chance to test my blood sugar again. “2.7”. Today has been a rollercoaster. I had been doing so well lately too and it is so defeating to have a day like this when you think things have been going well. “Hey Coach, I’m a little low I need to sit out for a few minutes.” I tell him.
“Yeah, whatever, okay sit down.” He dismisses me rudely.
I react to his comment by doing as I am told. Crap, they are about to do “ten up” as my coach likes to call it, the most physically draining drill you could imagine. I know what this looks like, “I cannot believe that Remy gets to sit out for this just because she has diabetes,” I hear Emily whisper. “I know,” starts Sasha with an eye roll, “so convenient, hey? We start conditioning and she is suddenly low? Sounds like a load to me, I’m sure she is just faking.” Ouch, that one hurt. I miss the whole drill but can finish the last forty minutes of practice.
On my drive home from practice I cannot help but start to tear up. Today has got to be one for the books. As if I didn’t have a horrible enough time last night, the day didn’t get any better and the comments from my peers are as worse as ever. As I pull up onto my driveway, I slam my hands on my steering wheel, setting off the horn and possibly waking up my neighbours. I couldn’t care less,I have had a horrible day and just want to give up. “Why me?” I yell looking up at the sky through my sunroof as if I’m asking God. I pull myself together, walk up the steps to my front door, and as I enter the house I am faced by my mother. Her features soften as she can tell I’ve been crying, “What’s going on? How was practice?”.
“How was practice?” I scoff. “Practice was a walk in the park compared to the day I’ve had.”
I recount the day I’ve had and tell her truthfully about every detail,
“Why didn't you tell me any of this earlier Rem? I would've done anything I could've to help,” she asks me. “I just didn’t want you to have to worry about your silly diabetic daughter being dramatic,” I say with a strained voice. “Rem,” she starts quietly “You’re not my diabetic daughter.” she tells me using air quotations over the nickname. “What do you mean? Yes, I am,” I challenge.
“You don't get it do you?” she asks, and I shake my head. “You have diabetes, you aren’t diabetes.” she tells me.
“You're not my diabetic daughter” she tells me. “You are my strong, and brave and passionate daughter, diabetes is a part of your story Rem, it isn’t your identity.” she says calmly.
“What I am trying to say is that your story is not your identity. Your story is what adds to your identity, it helps build it. For you Rem, your story is that you’re currently a teenage girl with type 1 diabetes. But that's not who you are. You are strong, funny, clever, and beautiful,” she responds.
“I guess, but it is just so hard to go through this. When I am not thinking about all of the high school stress I am going through I am thinking about the fact that I am always going to be the odd man out because of this disease,” I cry. “It’s hard to go out and have a normal teenage life when I always have needles and an apple juice in my back pocket. I wasn’t allowed to have sleepovers with my friends until I was 12 and knew how to administer shots myself, I can’t go out and party with my friends because what if something happens and nobody knows how to handle it? I have an increased chance of going blind or having depression. Hell Mom, I know I am going to die before all of my friends.”
“I know that it is hard, and I cannot begin to imagine what that feels like. But everybody goes through something in their life. This is just what you have to face. I know it’s hard and can be unbearable, but I also know that you are so strong. Take things one day at a time, celebrate the good days and don’t hang your head on the bad ones. You can let this get to you, or you can battle through this and live your life. I cannot make you do anything, but just listen to me when I tell you that there is more to you than this disease,” she tells me with tears in her eyes.
I go to bed that night, feeling better. I need to change my attitude - I know that the bad days suck, but I need to move one day at a time. I fall asleep that night with my head high. I know that I will be okay.
I wake up to my alarm ringing, “12:00 am blood sugar test.” I roll my eyes, “Here we go again.” I chuckle lightly to myself.