Don’t Let Type 1 Diabetes Stop You From Perusing Your Dreams

By Joleigh Burgett

My name is Joleigh and I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes on September 14, 2015. Being diagnosed with this disease was without a doubt the hardest thing I have ever gone through. I never knew I was capable of handling something as serious as type 1 diabetes.

When I was in the hospital my doctors told me my life would never be the same, they told me that I was going to have to get over my fear of needles and take multiple shots a day.  The doctors also told me if I would have been minutes, even seconds later later to the hospital I would have been in a coma.

One of the hardest parts about being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes was I had to let go of a life that I knew for 17 years and say hello to a new one that I never asked for and it was definitely one I did not I want. Diabetes has a mind of its own and it is so unpredictable no matter how hard I try. I am constantly fighting myself, whether to eat and take a shot, or not eat and not have to worry about how my body is going to react. Being stressed out as a diabetic has brought a whole new level to stress because my blood sugar reacts in such a negative way. When I wake up in the middle of the night from a low blood sugar I can’t fall back asleep due to the fear of not never waking back up.

Although my family may say I have owned this disease from the beginning, it took me a long time to be comfortable in my own body again. I was embarrassed and scared that someone was going to ask me about my pump or cgm. I thought it was embarrassing to have to have something to live that most other people didn’t have to have.  I felt like I had to wear a mask and pretend that I was okay when on the inside I felt so alone and scared. My family has been my biggest support system from the beginning. They helped me realize that I didn’t have to face type 1 diabetes alone. They have always reminded me how strong I am when all I want to do is give up. They remind me that I am so much more that type 1 diabetes because yes type 1 diabetes is part of me but it is such a small part.

This disease has made me fight everyday, and has challenged me in every way possible, but I know for a fact that I would not be the person I am today, without it. Because of type 1 diabetes I learned the value of life, and the beauty of having a second chance at it. Type 1 diabetes has taught me to appreciate the blessings that are so often taken for granted.

I can proudly say that type 1 diabetes has never held me back from pursuing my dreams, if anything it has pushed me to do more. Four years ago I would have never pictured spending my summers working at diabetes camps, but it has been the biggest reward to inspire kids to never let diabetes hold them back. I get the privilege of watching these kids overcome their fears and encourage each other to try something new. I would not change it for anything. These camps have brought me to some of my best friends that I would not have ever met without this disease.

I am going to school to one day be a pediatric nurse and work with kids that have type 1 diabetes. While pursuing my dream I am working as a 911 Dispatcher. Having type 1 diabetes has never gotten in the way of who and what I want to be. Being diagnosed with this disease has pushed me to prove to people that you can do anything and everything with type 1 diabetes.

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