I was 14 when Type 1 diabetes interrupted my life.
Like many other girls my age, I was fun-loving, active, and completely in love with the world. A total of three weeks out of school, an overnight in ICU with a record-breaking glucose level, a week in the hospital, and a crash course in diabetes education later, all normalcy was struck with the abruptness of a foghorn.
Life got more complicated, but I got more determined.
Areas I thought would hold certain limitations turned out to be just the same old things with more to think about. Meals and blood-sugar levels had to be recorded. Insulin was self-injected three times daily. Away softball games now required packing a bag of supplies and snacks. I was constantly, painstakingly aware of how my body was feeling.
But out of all the scary words I heard in those early days — “syringe,” “finger pricks,” “long-term complications,” “coma” — there was one I hated most.
I would be classified as “insulin-dependent” for the rest of my life.
When I allowed myself one good cry that first night, it was that one word that held a fist on my heart in the darkness below the glow of the monitors.
Surrender can be a slow and scary process.
I discovered back then that I was not inconvincible, and God — in His great love — has given me a physical reminder of my dependence on Him every single day. This awkward, cell-phone-resembling piece of battery-powered machinery that is attached to me through the skin on one end and sits bulkily in my pocket on the other: my insulin pump.
I can’t NOT see it or feel it.
It is always there as I navigate my days and type in various dosages, singing a strange electronic version of “Fur Elise” when the insulin level in the cartridge is low and forever causing trouble at airport security. (My husband has even mistaken it for the TV remote one night while asleep, although, thankfully, I was able to stop him before he tried tossing it, groggily, into a chair across the room.)
Each time I visit a group of kids I’ve come to know and love in Kenya, and one hears about my “condition,” the reaction is always the same:
“But you smile so much! How can you be so happy?”
In America, I can practically throw a stone from my home to the hospital. How blessed I am to have all I need to survive. But with this tangible device, God does not allow me to live in a state of disillusioned control; He has granted me a daily reminder that my life is not my own. What a sweet blessing.
I’m not so sure we are often very physically aware of our dependence on God.
I’m not so sure we want to be.
How many times am I that frightened fourteen-year-old in a sterile hospital room, clinging to my plan for my life while God is quietly, calmly asking me to trust Him with His?
But that’s the thing about life with God. As believers we must realize that our lives are not just interrupted by Jesus — made more complicated, perhaps, by a decision to believe and even more so by a commitment to follow — but that we are called to a higher purpose, blessed to be a blessing, through weaknesses that display His glory and strength. That life is a precious gift.
I’m so thankful that in God’s tenacious pursuit of our hearts, nothing is wasted.
Not even a “useless” pancreas.Leave a Comment
“I discovered back then that I was not inconvincible”
I have no idea what you mean here. Perhaps “invincible”? (If it’s just a typo…)
Haha! Yep, Cynthia, I did mean to write that I am not invincible… even to publishing typos. 😉
Marina Bromley says
So true! Yes, we are dependent on Him!
Thanks for sharing!
Thanks for reading, Marina!
You are one precious soul, Em! You are so trusting of God and his plan for you! I am so thankful to call you family! Thanks for sharing your story with the world and always being a light in the dark! Love you!
Court! What a blessing you are to me!!! Thanks for being the light and the encouragement YOU are in this world, just by being who you are. Love you, too, sweet girl!
Emily, you are remarkable, and I love you so much! I’ve always been so proud of how youve handled dealing with your diabetes.
Emily, you are remarkable, and I love you so much! I’ve always been so proud of how you’ve handled dealing with your diabetes.
Thanks, Mom. 😉
Lindsey H. says
I needed this more than you know today. I love your authenticity and willingness to be vulnerable. I’m learning more and more everyday that it’s our weaknesses and scars that are our biggest witness. 🙂
Isn’t it awesome? God is so good!! Thanks for reading and for sharing!
We have a little 1st grade girl at the school I work at who recently found out she has diabetes. I remarked to her the other day how she always smiles, even when she gets her shots. She said, “Oh, only happy people get diabetes”. I know this is beside your point here, but you seem to have it together and are happy. I thought you would get a kick out of the wise words of this 6 year old.
Lisa, that just made my DAY! Such a wise little girl! I pray that she continues to have that attitude for the rest of her life. It isn’t as much about our circumstances as what we do with them… What an encouragement this is to me. Thank you for sharing! 🙂
Thank you for sharing your heart and life experience! I love how you share that we are called to bless others through our gifts and weaknesses, whatever they may be, and how God uses our circumstances to pursue us and draw us closer to him. Your words mean more than you know!
Thank you, Valerie! That means a lot! God is so gracious… He really does use everything. 🙂
Aunt charlotte says
Emily, you have always amazed me with the self discipline you have shown over the years. As a young girl you just seemed to accept your condition, put on your big girl panties and went “right on” with your life. Your story has been and will continue to be an inspiration to me and many others.
Thank you! It’s such a blessing to have supportive family. You inspire me, too!!
Thanks for sharing! I was dx with type 1 at the age of 20. I love the analogy of dependence! I know God put several friends in my life with chronic pain before my diagnosis to help me with perspective. Diabetes is not for the most part painful (except site changes) and it is treatable. I still throw a pity party every once in awhile, usually when low, lol, but I know he uses it all for good!
So true!! Thank you, Nina, and I pray God continues to bless you with His perspective and presence. He is faithful! (And I know what you mean about those lovely lows — HA!)
I also was diagnosed at the age of 14 with Type 1 diabetes and been battling for quite a long time (will be 40 this year). Thank you for the unique perspective and realization that His plan is always the perfect plan. Sometimes it doesn’t appear perfect at all, but we have to trust in Him always! Thank you! ~lm
You’re right, Lori! I’m right there with you. Thank you!
Aunt Bubba says
You are an inspiration in many ways to all of us ! I remember each summer at the beach you would quickly pack your snack so you could head off with the other cousins. You were and are such a “trooper”. Love you so much.
Thank you! Again, so grateful for a supportive family. 🙂 It’s definitely not me, it’s all God’s work in each of us… Love you, too!!
I really appreciate your thoughts, Emily. I think a lot about a diabetes diagnosis this time of year. My son’s to be specific, 8 years ago next Friday. He was 18 months old and I was 6 months pregnant with baby #5.
His diagnosis was not as traumatic as yours sounds, his blood sugar was “only” 350 when he was tested at the pediatrician’s office after I noticed his increasing thirst and diaper wetting.
He spent two nights in the hospital and began taking four insulin injections per day.
I truly did not appreciate a nurses’s prophetic words that it would not be so bad because he wouldn’t remember life before diabetes. She was right, but I remember it and mourn for those simpler days.
I am a blessed mama and though I would drop diabetes in a heartbeat if I could, I have never felt angry at God, as I do know that he has a plan for my kind-hearted, beautiful-blue-eyed boy. He has diabetes, he is not a diabetic. We don’t let us define us, though it has definitely refined us.
Thank you again for sharing.
Elizabeth, thank you SO MUCH for sharing your story. The trials and patience and perseverance our loved ones go through in this is such a worthy reminder. It sounds like God has certainly shaped you through your son’s diabetes, and I so appreciate hearing from your perspective. I was diagnosed in February as well, so I, too, think of it often this time of year. How I love your statement that while it doesn’t define us, it does refine us… so true of any tribulations we face! Thank you again!
Beth Williams says
Wow@ Thanks for sharing your story!
Loved the analogy of dependece on insulin and dependence on God. God gave me two perforated tympanic membranes (busted eardrums). One was corrected by surgery and one did not ever heal. I, too, did not let it define me. Although I was quiet and shy I still lead a basically normal life.
Many years later I have turned my disability into an ability to bless many people at church. I do sign language to music. The people just love watching me do it & I know it blesses them and God. Just as I know you bless Him with your life!
That’s amazing, Beth! How encouraging! Thank you for sharing your story. What an awesome way to witness and be a light.
Diabetes Blog Week: Day 3, Memories | Pray, Love, Learn says
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