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Bennett Stephens - Springfield High School
WUIS/Illinois Issues

Many teenagers strive to be normal.  The question is what does it mean to live a normal life?  Is it being on a sports team? Doing well in your classes? Having a big group of friends?  Whether it is any of these, as long as you are happy and enjoy yourself, I consider it a normal life.  Life has a tendency of making this goal difficult; for me life threw Type 1 Diabetes my way.  Every individual deals with problems differently, but I believe they can be dealt with accordingly to lead a normal life.

On my grandfather’s 70th birthday, February 17, 2004, my parents were given the fateful news.  Their son had Type 1 Diabetes, a disease that has no cure, requires multiple doses of insulin a daily, and rigorous blood sugar monitoring.  To anyone first being introduced to it this seems like a daunting disease.  I was the first Type 1 Diabetic in my family, which is a rare phenomenon because it is thought to be a genetic disorder. I had just broken my collarbone 6 weeks earlier and had been given a clean bill of health on January 24, so my whole family was shocked.  How did things so suddenly take a turn for the worst?  We are still unable to answer this question today.  

Of the thousands of diseases in the world, I am thankful I only have diabetes.

Type 1 Diabetes is a mysterious disease.  The best way to describe diabetes is as unpredictable.  It can be controlled to an extent, but roars its ugly head at random and usually inopportune times.  Occasions when this happens the most is after a long, stressful day including either swim or baseball practice, then a few hours of homework.  All I want to do is go to bed, yet when I test my blood sugar it’s only 56 (below 70 is considered low blood sugar, and I must be above 100 before I can go to bed).  Hoping to raise my blood sugar quickly so I can get some much-needed rest, I down a glass of orange juice and a small candy bar.  After waiting 15 minutes I test again to find I am only 72.  I repeat the same procedure as before, desperately hoping for lucky 100.  Some nights this will go on for hours, all the while I am forcing myself to stay awake to test one more time.  

Events like this occur at home and are not seen by most people, so many do not fully understand the difficulties of a Type 1 Diabetic.  This however does not give me the right to complain.  In order to live a normal life, diabetes must be treated as just a simple problem that can be overcome.  There are two ways with which to handle it.  First, you must have tight control as a Type 1 Diabetic.  This limits the number of highs and lows, meaning less nights up and less time missing important events.  

For the past seven years I have been able to prevent diabetes from affecting my everyday life through tight control.  In many cases, teenage Type 1 Diabetics struggle to control their diabetes.  Hormones and being a teenager usually cause this problem.  Some teenage diabetics attempt to lead a normal life by simply forgetting they have diabetes, not testing or taking insulin.  In 8th grade I was one of those teenagers.  Long story short, I had two severe low blood sugars and was hospitalized once with DKA (extremely high blood sugar) all within a month and a half.  Luckily for me, with the help of my parents, I righted the ship and have only had one problem since then.  Other than that one rough month and a half, I have had almost perfect control since the first week I was diagnosed.  Not only has this helped me lead a normal life, but also has helped my general health. 

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Of the thousands of diseases in the world, I am thankful I only have diabetes.  The other way to handle diabetes is by realizing no matter how bad diabetes may seem at times, there is always someone who is suffering more from something much worse than I have. In reality diabetes is a tough disease that can be managed if you are up for the challenge.  Through this determination to conquer diabetes a normal life can be attained.  For this reason I believe it is possible to lead a normal life without letting diabetes slow you down.

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