"From the Fight" -- Matt's Story -- 6 min read
Hey everyone, my name is Matt and I have type 1 Diabetes; however, it didn’t always used to be that way. Growing up I was very active, ate very healthy, and did all the right things to avoid diseases like this. Sure, I had ice cream or pizza every once in awhile, but I stuck to relatively healthy diets because I was surrounded by a very health-conscious family. But here’s the kicker- Type 1 Diabetes is an autoimmune disease that has nothing to do with how healthy you are. It doesn’t care if you have been doing all of the right things, and more importantly, it doesn’t care how much it will destroy your life.
It was the fall of 2009 and I was having the best time of my life. I was enjoying the social life in college, I had earned a spot on the varsity rowing team at San Diego State University, and I had joined a Christian Fraternity. But everything was about to come crashing down, literally. In December, I crashed my car and totaled it due to a mechanical error. Then I later found out someone in our family had passed away. The next week I had to take my childhood dog in to be put to sleep. These events caused me to perform poorly on my final exams, and finally- on Christmas Eve I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. What a crazy month it was.
At the hospital I was told that I would never be able to eat any kind of sugar again. I was told of all of the dangers and complications that lay ahead for me with my new, lifelong disease: Organ failure, E.D., amputations, blindness, loss of brain function, and even sudden death were all variables in my life now. I fell into a temporary depression because of the drastic turn my life had just taken. Frustration and failure lay ahead, but over time I had to learn from my mistakes and figure out how to live as close to a normal life as I could with this life-altering disease. I could no longer go on spontaneous trips for days into the mountains without a full plan (T1D ruins spontaneity) or eat a monstrous pile of food without calculating the exact amount of insulin that I would need to compensate. I would have to always have emergency sugar on hand to avoid the possible hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) which could lead to coma and then death. It isn’t all bad though, that’s for certain. Had I been born and diagnosed a mere century ago, there would be no such thing as insulin and I would have died within a year. Because of insulin I get to treat my disease and live a semi-normal life. Yes, I have to do a bit more planning than the average person. Yes I have to memorize all of the macronutrients of any foods I want to eat. But I get to LIVE. That is when I made the change in my life, the choice to make it all count for something. I had, in effect, been given a second chance. I have been traveling the world since then, living in different places. I had a desire inside to prove the world wrong; to show everyone that this disease did not make me weaker, but rather that I chose to thrive in spite of my difficulties and do more than was expected of me. Yes, there are hard times. Honestly, a few where I wanted to give up. But I had a strong support system with my family and more recently, my wife. Family support is more important than most people realise. In fact, go tell someone you love how much you appreciate all they’ve done for you, big or small. Go ahead, I’ll wait.
Now with Type 1 Diabetes, comes insulin injections. A lot of injections. I have to inject everytime I eat food, as well as a few times to correct hyperglycemia (high blood sugar). Then there’s also the injection at night-- can’t forget that one. With these shots I was giving myself daily, I began to be embarrassed. In the beginning I used to go into the bathroom before meals to administer my shots because I didn’t want people to know that I had a disease. I felt that it made me weaker than them. It took many years to build my confidence, but now I am at a place in life where I can not only inject in front of people at the dinner table, but I feel comfortable injecting insulin at the gym to correct my high blood sugar or have a snack (even though I get a lot of weird looks from people thinking it may be steroids..). I have learned to be comfortable in my own skin, and that is a lesson that I think everyone can learn. Trust me, you will be happier in life if you aren’t disappointed in who you are or what you look like. Love yourself.
Diabetes is a scary thing, but through staying the course and being consistent, I have learned to not only survive, but to thrive as well. Never let your weaknesses define you. Instead, learn to adapt to your current situation and be the very best version of you that you can become. Never stop trying, never give up. There is a lot of darkness in this world, but it is our job to be the light. Spread positivity and love one another. Keep Up The Fight.
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