The Bright Side of Having a Disability

I believe that every challenging experience is an opportunity to learn and grow. Since my Type 1 diabetes diagnosis last year, I learned a lot about diabetes and medical technology. Through my experience, I also gained important knowledge that is valuable in other areas of my life.

I learned to ask for help.

Camp Emerald Catalina Island Wonderful People, Valuable Conversations
Making friends at a Type 1 Diabetes adult camp

I am the type who likes to ball up in a corner and be left alone when I don’t feel well. It took me a while, but I began reaching out to other Type 1 diabetics who understand what I am going through. The support I received was incredibly valuable.

I also embraced my family’s kind support, and I understand how critical it was in my recovery. I will no longer be afraid to ask for help when I need it.

I learned to be my own medical advisor.

There is a plethora of misinformation in the medical industry. Unlike most doctors, I have a deep interest in my particular health issues.

I learned the importance of keeping myself educated through communities, books, seminars, etc. I feel better equipped to optimize my health so I can live a long, full life.

I overcame a major fear!

Diabetes insulin shots
My first month of taking insulin – I used syringes that gave me bruises and made me cry for hours every day.

I previously had a life-long HUGE fear of needles. I have extremely small veins, and I have had many traumatic experiences where nurses fail to draw my blood from anywhere on my body, especially my arms. (The first time I was in the emergency room with diabetic Ketoacidosis last year, the doctor had to perform an emergency surgery to install a central line down my neck to draw blood.) I have avoided needles whenever possible in my life.

After being told I need to inject insulin multiple times every day from now on, I would often stare at the syringe crying for hours before finally injecting myself. That lasted for months, but every week, then every day, I became emotionally stronger and more able to handle it. I finally overcame my fear… and then learned that I didn’t need injections anymore! (See Becoming a T1D Cyborg.)

I gained compassion.

Goodbye sleepI gained compassion for others who are living with a disability. Only now am In getting a glimpse of the challenges that come with a disability. People who are disabled frequently must request and deal with special accommodations and exceptions. Common activities are now often hassles. At work, I have have to take extra time off, leave meetings early, and skip group outings due to my disability; I would certainly rather feel well enough to participate. It’s a crappy feeling to suddenly not be able to work. Then there is additional stress because losing my job could mean losing access to the medicine that keeps me alive.

I gained compassion for those living with an invisible disability. Type 1 Diabetes is a really tough disease to manage; you constantly have to monitor and adjust your medical needs. Several hours of every day go into keeping ourselves alive. And usually no one even knows. I am greatly inspired by those who have had successful careers and healthy lives while managing a disease like this.

I gained compassion for those living with a disease that cannot be cured. Type 1 Diabetes is an auto-immune disease that currently has no cure. People often confuse it with Type 2 and offer me herbs and special diets. Instead, I am likely in for a lifetime of doctors, medicine, and medical equipment. It takes a strong mindset to have a positive outlook through it all.


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