Meg Penske - Me & My Life With Diabetes
On April 2, 2012, when I was eight years old, I was diagnosed with Type One Diabetes. My mom picked me up early from school and told me we had to go to Stony Brook University hospital. I didn't know why, but I heard the serious tone in her voice so I didn't fight it. She explained that my doctor had found high levels of sugar in a test she had completed on me and that she was concerned for my health. When we got to the Pediatric Emergency Room, my mom told the woman at the desk that a doctor from the Pediatric Endocrinology Unit was awaiting our arrival. We sat in the waiting room for what seemed like forever. Then, they called my name. I went into a small room and sat in a chair. The nurse told me I was going to feel a pinch on my finger. “3...2...1…” she counted. I jumped, surprised by the pain. She had pricked my finger in order to get a blood sample. At the time, I didn't even know what a blood sample was. Little did I know I would be pricking my finger to draw blood at least 6 times every day for the rest of my life.
The night was very long. I was brought into another room and was placed in a bed. A male nurse came in and told me he was going to put an IV into my arm. He enthusiastically proclaimed, “This is going to help you grow!” I laughed as he stuck the needle in my arm. After a while, all the medical staff left the room. My mom was on her phone letting people know where she was if they needed her and my dad was texting my best friend's dad. I was watching Disney Channel on the hospital TV that was extremely small. A man walked in a few minutes later. He shook my parents hands and my own. He told us his name was Dr. Wilson, then tried explaining what he thought was wrong with me. He said words that my eight year old brain didn't understand. I realized he kept repeating “type one diabetes”. I didn’t know what that was exactly, but I knew it probably wasn’t good if I was in the hospital.
The doctor left and my dad called my best friend, Charlotte. My mom sat with me for a while just holding my hand telling me that we would get through it all together. When my dad walked back in, my mom asked him to call my grandparents to let them know I indeed had type one diabetes. A little while later, a lady walked in. She was an educator and brought a stuffed animal bear with her to comfort me. His name was Rufus. I thought he was funny looking because he had different patches all around his fur in different colors. The woman explained to me that Rufus was a bear that had diabetes too. The patches on his fur were spots that represented where I could get injections of insulin or prick myself to check my blood sugar. I loved Rufus because he made me feel like I wasn't alone on this rollercoaster and that I wasn't the only one with diabetes.
Over the years, I have had at least three doctors. I now go to Columbia Presbyterian Hospital in New York City where I see my endocrinologist, Dr. Leibel. The Naomi-Berrie Diabetes Center is considered one of the best in the area. It is only for diabetics and I feel as if they really understand what I go through every day. My doctor, who is really part of a team, is such a sweet lady with a kind heart. She looks at what I could improve on as a diabetic and what I have done well on. Although when I see her I miss a day of school, due to the long trip, I love going to Naomi-Berrie. It helps me to know that there are so many people just like me and that there are so many doctors who want to fight for a cure too.
After having T1D for eight years now, I have become more comfortable with this disease. I have realized that there are so many other people going through what I go through everyday. I cannot remember my life without diabetes but I know that this is what makes me unique and I am proud to share my story.
Featured graphic by Meg Penske