“So, that’s my diagnosis story, and those are the tools I use to manage my diabetes.” A few weeks ago I found myself babbling about diabetes to a class of high school juniors enrolled in a special medical interventions honors course. “Any questions?”
Slowly, hands started to go in the air.
“How does having diabetes impact your work out routine?”
“What does it feel like when your blood sugar is high or low?”
“How do you move that thing [infusion site] around?”
“Can you wear that insulin pump while playing sports?”
“Is there anything you can’t eat?”
“Have you had any close calls when it comes to your blood sugar levels?”
These kids were smart. Their questions were well-informed and sincere. I soon realized that I had underestimated them, not really thinking about what type of kids would be enrolling in a medical interventions course.
We talked about the Pizza Effect, we talked about waking up in a hospital in Japan, we talked about how a CGM measures interstitial fluids and not actual blood glucose, we talked about wedding catering and carbohydrate counts, we talked about the term “bolus-worthy,” we talked about teflon cannulas and wire sensors and all the places you can hide an insulin pump. And when we talked about my symptoms of hypoglycemia, the teacher chimed in and told a story about how defiant I get when my blood glucose is low. She had every right – she’s experienced it several times. Why? Because she’s my mom. And she’s teaching a damn smart class.
“So, do you have any idea why this happened to you?” asked one boy toward the end of the class. “I mean, did you do something earlier that might have caused this, or did you just wake up and…”
“Yeah, I had no clue, no relatives with diabetes. I was diagnosed and… that was that. My life changed pretty quickly.”
“Whoa,” he said, “That’s like… like a wrecking ball in your life!”
I couldn’t argue with him.
We had talked for more than an hour and by the end of it, my faith in humanity was strengthened and my belief that there will someday be a cure was reaffirmed. Why? Because these kids are smart, they are doing their best to “get it,” and they are literally the future. That’s something to look forward to. Thanks to the students for the conversation and to my mom for making it happen.