High school is a time in most people’s lives that is not fondly remembered.
I am not most people.
Generally speaking, I really liked high school. Sure, I overloaded my schedule with too many A.P. classes and extracurriculars, but I was a young overachiever in those days (now I’m just a slightly older overachiever).
Academics-wise, I enjoyed taking a variety of classes, from A.P. Psychology and Statistics to Anatomy/Physiology and Cold War Era Film (we got to watch a bunch of awesome movies in that class, everything from Them! to Dr. Strangelove). And I was lucky enough to have teachers over the years that I got along with well – I even keep in touch with some of them to this day.
I had a blast playing field hockey from 8th grade through senior year. I had very minor roles that I nevertheless fully embraced in a handful of plays. And though it was a headache at times, I was happy to be an editor of my senior yearbook.
And it might or might not be surprising to you to discover that I was one of those nerds who actually liked staying after school. My two best friends and I spent many extra hours staying in school later to better prepare ourselves for our upcoming exams, and we had an absolute ball snacking on Sociables crackers and gossiping with a select few of our teachers.
I wasn’t a total angel, though – a Friday habit that my best friend and I developed on senior year was to leave our allotted 30-minute lunch break 10 minutes early so we could sneak out down the street to buy large iced coffees to get us through the final class of the day. I know what you’re thinking: SUCH REBELS!!!
So it goes without saying at this point that I have lovely memories from the high school days. But you know what sticks out to me more than anything about those times?
I can’t remember a single instance in high school where my diabetes got in the way.
Diabetes didn’t, and couldn’t, stop me from doing anything in high school. I just…handled it. I participated in sports teams, clubs, and classes without it ever truly interfering in a way that sticks with me to this day.
Sure, I went everywhere with all of my supplies at all times. And yes, I injected my lunchtime insulin right in the middle of the cafeteria (and I was so damn discreet about it, AND my diabetes was common knowledge, that not one student ever commented on it…at least, not to my face). Diabetes was just a part of me, but it didn’t define me. Honestly, it was often easier to balance my blood sugars and boluses than it was to handle my heavy homework load!
I wonder whether my experience would have been different had I decided to go on a Dexcom and a pump in high school, rather than wait until early adulthood. Would the devices have made it easier to balance homework with extracurricular activities, hangouts with friends, and my weekend shifts at the movie theater? Maybe, but I don’t see the point in speculating on it now. All I know is that I did things the way that worked for me back then, and I was more than fine as a result. In fact, it’s one of the few times in my life that diabetes feels like a distant memory – it didn’t occupy as much of my brain space as it does now; rather, it was just something that was always in the background, not quite my first priority because I was too busy living the life of a normal American teenager.