A Community of T1D Veterans

This Veterans Day I would like to highlight something a little different on Sugarcoated – the concept of diabetes veterans.

I was diagnosed late in life at 22 (well for Type 1s, that is). I had missed out on growing up with the disease, among the support of family, friends, and fellow juvenile diabetics. Yes, I say “missed” because ever since I was diagnosed, I’ve felt largely excluded from the Type 1 community. Maybe it’s why I’ve never involved myself with organizations like the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) until now.

Because you see, I had a different experience than most Type 1s I meet. They were diagnosed at six or 13 and remember attending diabetes camp and having their moms pack them juice boxes for even the shortest trips. I’m not saying their diagnosis wasn’t daunting or depressing because after all, it’s still an incurable chronic disease. But in growing up with it, they developed a stronger support system. Through camps and fundraising events, they met other diabetics like them. They became friends; they shared stories; they didn’t feel alone. Continue reading

Thanks for the job. By the way, I have diabetes.

I never say in job interviews or on my first day that I’m diabetic. Legally I cannot be fired or reprimanded for my medical condition, but I make a conscious choice to pretend it doesn’t exist, like I’m “normal.”

Of course people warn me that I should tell at least someone I work with about my disease. Even though I manage it well, anything can happen and someone should know what to do in that situation.

Eventually, I do. I make a friend or someone asks about my pump or my glucometer, and then that follows with 10 million more questions about diabetes: what’s the difference between type 1 and type 2, can I eat sugar, do I have to take injections, does it hurt, etc., etc.

I’m happy to answer these questions. When I was diagnosed at age 22, I didn’t know what diabetes was much less how it would change my life. Why would I? I studied psychology in college. I was more familiar with the symptoms and repercussions of bipolar disorder than what a normal blood sugar range was. So I’m always happy to share my first hand experience with others. Well, almost always.

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