Friday, July 29, 2005

Guest Essay~Jillian Lafferty!

Jillian Lafferty is a remarkable young woman who has been living with diabetes for five years. Today, she will make the following speech at the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation Walk for the Cure kickoff in her local city. I asked Jillian's mother if I could share this wonderful piece of writing with my readers, and Jillian agreed. Thank you, Jillian, for sharing this incredibly moving essay.

When I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at the age of 10, the nurses in the hospital were surprised by me. They weren't surprised at my skinny, 56 pound body, or at the way I could drink a dozen cups of Crystal Light so quickly. They were surprised that I could inject myself so easily, right from the beginning, with just one hand. This was no big deal to me. I had watched my father do it for years. While I always knew my father had diabetes, I never fully understood it because my father didn't take very good care of himself. He didn't check his blood sugar, and sometimes he even skipped taking his insulin. Before I was diagnosed, I never even gave it a thought.

When most children are diagnosed with Type 1, they don't know much of anything about it. I happened to know a lot, and all of it was bad. I knew about taking your insulin, and low blood sugars that left you dripping in sweat and not knowing what happened or where you were. Sadly, those are just the little things. I also knew about kidney failure, amputations, retinopathy and death. I knew my father for 12 years. He wasn't healthy for any of them. Not one.

I treat my diabetes differently than my father. I check my blood sugar 8-10 times a day. I used an insulin pump for 4 years. Recently, I've switched to Lantus and Novolog, known as multiple daily injections. Sometimes I take 7 shots a day. I pay very close attention to my diabetes, because I know all too well the consequences of ignoring the beast. And sometimes, despite all my hard work, my blood sugar is still high. I get scared, discouraged and frustrated. But I won't give in to it. I need to keep on top of it every day, so that when we find the cure, I'm alive to receive it.

Diabetes is a scary disease. It is much scarier when your own father is put in an early grave by it. I don't want to be like my father. I want to live longer than 39 years. Sadly, there are many kids that are just like my father. We need to find a cure - for the kids who will never take very good care of themselves, for the kids who will otherwise never know a life without diabetes, and for all of us who do every thing we need to in order to stay alive every day.

Thank you.

Thank YOU, Jillian, for the inspiration and for allowing me to share this story with my readers. Now is the time to sign up for the walk, or simply to donate to the JDRF, and I encourage you to do so by clicking the following Link.