You Don’t Know What Is Possible Until You Try

Growing up, my Mema would always tell me that I should publish a book when I was older. I was very fortunate when my parents divorced because I would spend a lot of time at my grandparent’s house, and every night Mema would read me story after story until my eyelids felt heavy and my busy mind was feeling at peace. Mema would also tell me stories that she would come up with herself, as well as stories about where our ancestors came from. I soaked up every story like a sponge, and I am convinced that Mema’s gift for storytelling was passed down to me. 

I have always been quite imaginative. When I was young I was obsessed with American Girl dolls and Barbies, and the elaborate backgrounds that I would give each doll would often leave the adults in my life in awe. Someone, although I can’t remember who at this exact moment, recently told me that they would listen in on my play sessions because they were fascinated with the stories that I would put my dolls through. I could come up with stories in an instant, and they would be full of depth. My favorite time of year was when we could participate in Young Authors, which was where we were given a blank book that we could write down stories in as well as illustrate them ourselves. That made me feel so alive. Coming up with a pretend world with pretend people and bringing it all to life brought me so much joy and elation, and it also made me feel really proud of myself.

As I became older I learned of different ways to write down stories. One of my fondest memories was in third grade when we started to learn how to write an essay, and I remember writing a nonfiction essay about my aunt’s wedding. Apparently, I did well because my teacher read it aloud for all of my classmates to hear, and you could imagine how elated I was during that moment. My teacher loved what I had to say so much that she wanted everyone else to hear it, and that is one of the greatest feelings in the world. Although I am typically a humble human being, I do love when others enjoy my pieces. I always have loved it, and I always will love it. When someone loves and enjoys one of my pieces, it is one of the biggest compliments that you could ever give me. It brings more value to my life than platinum. 

As I got older, I never strayed away from writing. I would always type out little stories here and there, I would make an attempt at poetry every now and again, or I would just journal. In high school, I participated in journalism for three years, and although it was different than what I was used to it gave me life during a time where I felt like I wasn’t living at all. It gave me purpose, it taught me about deadlines, and it still gave me that feeling of happiness whenever I would see one of my articles in the school paper. It was magic for me. It was an outlet, and it showed me what gave me passion. Journalism was the best part of high school for me, and I will always be grateful for that. 

Once I graduated high school I went on to college, where I changed my major more times than I can count. At first, I wanted to go into journalism, but I was told it was a dying career and that I should avoid doing that at all costs. Then I wanted to go into education, but after speaking with a middle school teacher during my observational hours, she told me to run for the hills. I realized that education wasn’t for me, so I moved on to the next thing. My parents really wanted me to have a career in something that would pay well, but more importantly, would provide excellent health care. Being a type one diabetic is not cheap, and I need the best insurance plan in order to afford my doctor’s visits and medications. So for years I took classes and went into programs for different healthcare fields, and I was unhappy with every single one. It got to the point where I was spending all of this money on school and books and I finally just stopped going to school. I didn’t want to continue with school until I figured out what it was that I wanted to do for the rest of my life. In the back of my mind, I always think about going into a field that will pay me well and offer good benefits, but at the end of the day, nothing was going to give me that happiness that I desired. That is until I realized that there was something that I could do that I could love and be proud of. 

I love writing. I always have loved it, and I always will. I love having thoughts and writing them down, and reading it back feeling totally captivated. I revel at that moment when my family and friends read my pieces and enjoy them. Every time I press publish on my blog, that spark that keeps me alive gets a little bit bigger. I love creating and sharing, and I love connecting with others when I write something that they might relate to. What I am doing now is what I should have been doing all along, and although I can’t get the time back that I wasted trying to figure out what I should do I can embrace the fact that I have finally figured it out and I am doing it now.

You see, a big life lesson that I have learned is that you can hear and accept what people have to say to you when you are given advice, but you are the only one who knows what is truly best for you. Had I stuck on the path that I had originally taken, I would have not wasted all of that time in between. I always had that gut feeling that I would find my way back to storytelling, and it brings me so much happiness that I have found my way back to my passion. To me, hating my job and my life is too steep of a price to pay for having loads of money in my bank account. I am not oblivious to the fact that money is essential to living, but if you are willing to work at it, then following your dream can be possible. You don’t know what is possible until you try. This whole story leads down to one thing: Follow your instinct. Follow your passion. Follow whatever keeps giving your spark life.

Please Don’t Ask Me When I am Going To Have Kids

One of life’s biggest questions is “what are we doing here?” Some people think that they are here to help others, while others think that they are placed on this earth to follow through on a prestigious career path. Others might think that they are here just because their parents decided to fornicate one night and then BOOM. The evolution of cells that would eventually multiply and turn into you commenced. Correct me if I am wrong, but at some point in our mundane lives, we have questioned what we are meant to be doing. What is this big job that we were assigned to when we were given passage to life? You see, I indeed have asked that question myself, but I have known that answer for as long as I can remember. I was put on this earth to be a mom. 

I don’t know how to describe this feeling that I have had for all of these years. It has just been an overwhelming feeling of maternal love that flushes through my body and soul. I remember being incredibly young and playing with baby dolls just pretending to be their mom. I know a lot of young children do that, but I would get really into it. I would love those babies like they were really there. It might have been odd, but back then it gave me a taste of happiness. I was eleven when my youngest brother was born, and I cried the moment I saw him and held him in my arms. He was one of the greatest gifts that I have ever been given, and my love for him is strong. I used to love holding him, singing to him, taking care of him. And while at times he would drive me absolutely mad with his incessant and inconvenient crying, I still loved and continue to love him so incredibly much. I used to take him for walks around the block and imagine what it was going to feel like to be doing this with my own baby, and the thought would bring a smile to my face. 

When I was thirteen or fourteen I started losing a lot of my hair. I would be taking a shower and I would watch as clumps would wash down the drain. I thought it was odd, but at the same time I had really thick hair so I didn’t think too much of it. Then my periods started becoming incredibly painful. I remember crying in hysterics because I was paralyzed from the pain. It felt like someone took a metal rod and stuck it in a fire and then shoved it inside of me. The pain always traveled to my back, and the only thing that would give me temporary relief was the bathtub. My periods starting becoming irregular, and I just knew this was not a good sign. 

Every three to four months I have to go to an Endocrinologist for my type one diabetes, and at the beginning of each appointment they always ask me about my periods. So I informed the nurse about the irregularity of my periods and how incredibly debilitating they have been, and she informed the nurse practitioner of that information. When my NP came in to see me we dived into everything that was going on, including losing my hair. After talking for a bit she informed me that she thought that I had PCOS, and to go see a gynecologist to get an official diagnosis. So off I went to the gynecologist, and a couple of weeks later I got the call confirming the diagnosis. After the doctor told me that I had PCOS, my first question was “Will I be able to have children?” To which they said something along the lines of “The likelihood of you being able to conceive naturally with having PCOS, as well as type one diabetes, is unlikely. With medical assistance, you still might not be able to conceive, and if you did it would be considered high risk.”

That crushed me. I wasn’t even sixteen at that time, and finding out that I was most likely infertile stole every ounce of hope from me. The one thing that I have wanted, that one dream that I had held on to for years was ripped from me. I understood that they said that there was a chance that I could become pregnant naturally, but to a young girl, all I heard was that it was unlikely. I was immediately placed on birth control to help balance out my hormones, and I just continued living my life. It felt like such a slap in the face at the time having to go on birth control. Obviously, I wouldn’t want to be responsible for another life at such a young age, but the idea of my body not wanting to give me the one thing I had always wanted and then being placed on a pill that would also prevent it just felt cruel. But that one phone call, that one diagnosis, and every gynecologist appointment haunted me. 

I had, and continue to have, these reoccurring dreams of me being pregnant, or having children, or me being in labor. The older I became, the more these dreams would play out. In my dreams, I am happy. I am embracing my pregnant belly. I am holding, sniffing, and staring in awe at my baby. I excitedly scream “my water broke!” to my husband. It is such an incredible feeling, and then I wake up and realize it wasn’t real and I just break. Every single time. My heart is just broken. I hate my mind for putting me through that torture. 

Now that I am twenty-six and married, starting a family is at the forefront of our minds. I am prepared to start taking the medications to help me conceive, and if need be, I am willing to try IVF. But IVF doesn’t guarantee a child, so fostering and adoption might be my answer. At the end day, I really don’t care if the baby is related to me biologically. My dream and my desire to be a mother could still be a reality to a child who I didn’t grow inside of me, and I know that I will love any child with every ounce of my being. I want to help shape and mold another person into a wonderful human being, I want to help them explore and find their individuality, and I want to help figure out what their dream is so I can help them achieve it. I want to show them what it feels like to be loved and I want them to see how special they are and how much value they bring to this world. I know that one day I will be a mom regardless of how that child falls into my arms, and I have never been more ready for anything in my entire life.

There is one point that I want to make clear in this piece. The fact of the matter is, yes I am getting older and I am at the age where I could start having babies. But unfortunately, my reality is that it is going to be extremely difficult to conceive on my own. Like I stated before, I might not even conceive with medical assistance. For someone who wants children as badly as I do, imagine how it must feel when people ask me “when are you and Stephen going to start having babies?” In all fairness, it is not like I wear a badge that says “I have fertility issues,” but I also don’t think it is acceptable to ask me when we plan on expanding our family. If I had it my way, I would have two kids by now. Just because I am a woman and am happily married doesn’t give anyone the right to ask me something as personal as when I am having children. What if I didn’t want kids? What if I just had an abortion? What if Stephen was infertile? You never know what a person or a couple is going through, and having them feel the need to explain their situation is so damaging and hurtful. 

I want nothing more than to be a mom. I truly feel like that is why I am on this earth. The reality is I don’t know when or how that is going to happen, but I hold on to the hope that one day my dream will become true. But in the meantime, please don’t ask me when I am going to have kids.

Diabetes-Part Two

Being a new diabetic is challenging for all parties involved. I was nine when I was diagnosed with type one diabetes, so my parents were responsible for making sure that I was getting the correct dosages of insulin, making sure that my blood sugar was staying in the correct range, and just making sure that this life-altering change would find balance in our lives the easiest way possible. For the first year after my diagnosis, learning that balance between food, exercise, and every day life was not an easy feat. We caught on pretty quickly that even if I gave myself a shot for foods like pizza and pasta that my blood sugar would still spike. We learned that if I was going to engage in a lot of physical activity to factor that into how much insulin I was going to administer to myself, and we also learned that even doctors sometimes don’t really know what they are doing.

I just remember my first endocrinologist being nice and patient, but little did we know he didn’t really have any experience with juvenile diabetics. My a1c (average blood sugar level for the past three months) stayed in the eights for a while, and at one point it even went a little over nine. Then, about a year after I was diagnosed, I became sick. I just remember feeling extremely nauseous and out of it, and that was when I was sent to the hospital and admitted to the ICU for DKA. DKA occurs when ones blood sugar stays high for too long, causing ketones to be present in blood. I don’t really remember that much about that incident, but I do know that I went into DKA because my insulin to carb ratios were way off, and everything had to be adjusted. After spending a week in the hospital, we found a new doctor, and things started to look better.

When you are growing up as a type one diabetic, things become way more complicated. Sleepovers become hectic because you need to make sure that you have all of your supplies and that your blood sugar stays leveled, you’re in and out of the nurses office all day at school, and you are poked with needles all of the time. It is just not a typical way for a kid to grow up. But in a weird way, even though I hated doing all of those things, I used to like being diabetic when I was younger. I think it was because of the added attention that I received, it made me feel different but in a good way. If you were to ask me now if I like being diabetic it would be a different story, but back then I liked it.

A really interesting part of my diabetes journey is that I am not the only one in my immediate family to have it. Every so often my mom, step-dad, and brother would test their blood sugar just to see if they were still healthy. Then one night we tested my brothers blood, and unfortunately his sugar was high. My mom took him straight to the hospital where he was officially diagnosed with type one diabetes, and that was when things became strange. You see, my brother and I are the only ones on  both sides of our family to have diabetes, and apparently that is very rare. When we were younger, we both did have staph infections, and our doctors best guess is that the infection went after the weakest organ, which happened to be our pancreases. No one will ever really know for sure if that is the true cause of our diabetes, but based on our history that is the closest scenario that they could come to an explanation.

There is a difference between being a child with type one diabetes and being an adult with type one diabetes. When I was younger, I knew that my medicine and supplies were expensive, but you really don’t understand until you are paying for everything on your own. The cost of living with diabetes is exorbitant, and every year the cost to be able to be alive just keeps going up. The first of January is my least favorite day of the year, because that is when my deductible resets and for a couple of months money is tight. I’m going to break down a small list of expenses so you can get a better understanding of the cost.

  1. Insulin (Humalog) – $278 every seven to ten days
  2. Insulin pump supplies – $500 – $800 every three months
  3. Endocrinologist appointments – $60 every three months
  4. Blood work – $450 every three to six months
  5. Test strips – $100 every month

How is this acceptable? I have been on diabetes forums where I have read about people who are having to choose between buying groceries and insulin. Or paying bills or buying insulin. I remember there was one woman who didn’t have a penny to her name and said that she was on her deathbed because she couldn’t afford to pay for her insulin or care. Is this the world that we live in now? Where the corporations who manufacture and sell these life saving medications are more interested in making a considerable profit rather than allowing people to live? It absolutely disgusts me, and the people who run those companies may have deeper pockets, but the price that they had to pay for those pockets came at the cost of strangers blood.

Adjusting from being a child living with type one diabetes to being an adult can an easier transition if you do it correctly. When I was about sixteen I started taking myself to my own appointments. When I was eighteen I started calling in and picking up my own insulin, and when I was twenty I started paying for my own care. You don’t realize how much work it takes to be in charge of your own well-being, but if you can have a smooth transition it makes all of the difference.

When it comes to diabetes, everyone is on their own path and journey. I have talked to so many different diabetics and we all have swapped our stories. I have spoken with people whose a1c has never been below ten, I have spoken with people who decided they hated their insulin pump and switched back to manual injections, and I have spoken with people  who only see their endocrinologist one time a year. Everyone is different with how they manage their diabetes, and it is always so fascinating to be able to talk to a fellow diabetic and know that you’re not alone.

Diabetes is a journey that can be excruciating in every way possible. You can become resentful of the body that has betrayed you, and it can lead you into a negative mindset that could affect your health. Most diabetics that I have spoken with, including myself, have gone through that phase. The most important thing is to have a support system and to have an excellent endocrinologist, because those two factors will make all the difference.

For now, type one diabetes has not found a cure. But it is also not a death sentence. Acclimating to this life is challenging at first, but within time, it will become your new norm.

Diabetes- Part One

556 is the magical number that forever changed my life the moment I heard it. Fourth grade was definately a hectic year with several changes. My mom married my step dad, we moved to a new home, I started a new school, my dad started dating someone new, and I was also diagnosed with type one diabetes.
I still remember the day of my diagnosis like it was yesterday. For a couple of months prior to my official diagnosis I was experiencing sypmtoms that I didn’t know were actually sypmtoms at all. I felt exhausted at all times, I experienced extreme thirst, and due to my frequent intake of water I was going to the bathroom constantly. I had also lost eight pounds in one week. It became so bad that I remember carrying around a huge jug of water with me and drinking it as I was peeing. It was a terrible feeling. After a while my mom became worried and set up an appointment with my pediatrician.
When we went to his office and I told him what was happening, he instantly had a worried look on his face and said “Oh, that really does not sound good.” My doctor is the kind of doctor that was always smiling and telling jokes, so the fact that his smile was absent really frightened me. A nurse came in with a meter and poked my finger to test my blood sugar, and it was so high that the meter could not read it. That was when my doctor told my mom that he believed that I was diabetic. I just remember my mom crying hystarically and I just felt so confused. Now, just as a sidenote, I have this weird habit where if I am in an uncomfortable situation I laugh. Hard. So when I saw my mom crying I just fell apart in laughter. We were then told that we had to go to the hospital immediately, and that was when I was rushed to the nearest hospital.
While in the ER, they were able to determine what my blood sugar was, which was 556. It was official. I was a type one diabetic. I was then hooked up to an IV, and they admitted me and transferred me to a room. My mom had contacted my dad while we were on our way to the hospital, but for reasons that escape me he was unable to come right away. However, a couple of hours later when he did come, he had a worried look on his face. My dad came over to me immediately and hugged me and told me that he loved me, and I instantly felt relieved that he was there. (I am a daddy’s girl.)
I remember speaking to a couple of different doctors and not really understanding what was happening to me. The same day that I was admitted, a nutrionist came in to discuss how my diet was going to have to change. Sugar was definately out of the diet plan, and my carbohydrate intake was minimal. Mind you I am also a vegetarian, so getting enough protein and actually feeling full was quite a challenge. The nutrionist did make me try turkey while I was in the hospital, but I ate one bite and said that I was not going to eat meat. I spent countless hours practicing how to give myself shots, how to check my own blood sugar with my own meter, and speaking with doctors. After a couple of days in the hosiptal, I no longer wanted to see another doctor for the rest of my life, but then one doctor came to visit me that made me feel so special. My pediatrician came to my room unexpectedley to make sure I was doing alright. He gave me a huge hug, and he also gave me a new teddy bear. It was so sweet. When he found out that my blood sugar was starting to come down he even started smiling again. I was diagnosed with diabetes twelves years ago, but the fact that my doctor came to the hospital to check up on me still makes me want to cry. It was just so sweet and kind of him.
I still had a few days in the hospital ahead of me, and during those days it was still constant learning and adjusting, but on the ninth day of being in the hospital I was finally discharged. Being a new diabetic in the hospital is one thing, but when you are out and back in reality without doctors and nurses taking care of you that’s when it gets tricky.

I will continue with my story another time. Stay tuned!