“I am not my diabetes”

I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes (Juvenile Diabetes) in 1973 when I was eight years old. Type 1 (juvenile) diabetes strikes children suddenly, makes them dependent on injected or pumped insulin for life, and carries the constant threat of devastating complications.

I was raised in a very small ranching/farming community in South Dakota. I was plagued by negative comments from the local doctors and nurses regarding my diabetes. The complications of diabetes were constantly brought to my attention throughout my adolescent life. I was told of blindness, amputations, kidney failure and eventually heart failure and death. Beginning at the age of eight I was certain all of these complications were around the corner. When I was nine or ten I often would close my eyes, fruitlessly trying to find my way through the house. I would soon concede and ponder what my world would be like without sight, legs or arms as I approached my demise.

My childhood consisted of setting goals to live. I hoped to live to 11. I then hoped to live to be 13, 16 and 18. I was not able to dream or make plans to get a college degree, get married or consider having a career and a family. Those dreams were insurmountable in my thought process.

I was positive for the most part and enjoyed my days living from day to day. I was terrified of the future.

Later in life I became more hopeful. The ability to check my own blood sugar and take insulin as needed gave me the control I wanted to better manage my diabetes. I do still worry and I do still set goals. I want to see my two, five and seven year old children graduate from high school, college and one day I hope to play with my grandchildren.

I realize none of us know what the future holds for us. I realize I need to live today for today and be the best father, husband, sibling and son I can be.