I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes 21 years ago.
Less than 10% of the American population with diabetes has been diagnosed with Type 1.
The remaining 90% have Type 2.
It's interesting how much I've learned in the past year alone about Type 1. I knew that in Type 1, the pancreas doesn't produce insulin because its insulin-producing beta cells are attacked. I should've stopped to wonder: if there are beta cells, aren't there alpha cells too? But this thought never crossed my mind. As it turns out, there are alpha cells in the pancreas, and they are responsible for producing glucagon, the hormone that helps raise blood sugar when it gets too low. So, in a nutshell, alpha cells produce glucagon to raise blood sugar and beta cells produce insulin to lower blood sugar. Together, when in good working order, they keep blood sugars regulated in the normal range.
In a Type 1 Diabetic, however, the beta cells no longer function and blood sugar levels rise because there's no insulin being made to lower them. Alpha cells are left untouched and continue to produce glucagon, despite the lack of insulin to bring the blood sugar back down. This is why Type 1 Diabetics need to inject basal and bolus insulin 24/7/365. Glucagon produced by the alpha cells combined with carbs and fats and proteins and stress and hormones equals high blood sugars. Diabetics essentially have to become their own pancreas.
In my 21 years on this diabetes journey, I have learned more about my condition than I ever dreamed possible. I've gone from an angry, bitter little girl to a passionate, empowered young woman. Health was the last thing I thought I wanted to pursue. Now it's at the forefront of my endeavors. It's been a hard journey with ups and downs, successes and failures, hits and misses. It's a journey I'm immensely grateful to be on. It has shaped my views and beliefs, as well as my understanding of myself, my purpose, and the Lord. Above all, it has helped me grow into the woman I am today.
The future seemed pretty bleak, empty, and hopeless for years on end. When God in His loving-kindness and mercy reached out and turned me around, I saw the beauty in my broken body. What I once considered a curse I now see as a blessing. It is through our trials, our hardships, and our experiences that we are best able to reach others who are struggling just as we are. Empathy and compassion flow more freely through our veins. Hearts and lives are touched by people who take the time to stop, listen, and relate.
Broken bodies are not worthless. They are not useless. They are not ugly.
They are in fact the most valuable, useful, and beautiful vessels. They have toiled, struggled, and suffered. They have been put through the fire of testing and come out the other side stronger than before. Aren't those the kinds of stories we all root for: the overcoming underdog? The weak who rise to the occasion, despite all odds, and emerge victorious? Those are the feel-good stories we all love. We cheer for them, urge them on, and feel for them because, at the end of the day, we are all underdogs. We all have our own struggles to overcome. We all have beauty waiting for us on the other side.