If I could cure diabetes for myself, my mom, my aunt, and all other people living with it, I would in a heartbeat, no question.
Unfortunately, I don’t have that capability, so I can’t change the fact that diabetes exists. Another thing I can’t change is that I was only four years old when I was diagnosed with it.
But let’s talk in hypotheticals here for a moment: If I could change the age that I was diagnosed, would I? Why or why not?
The answer is a resounding no, and here’s why.
I grew up with my diabetes. I don’t remember life before it. I don’t recall a time in my life in which I was finger-prick free or able to eat whichever foods whenever I wanted.
That might sound sort of depressing, but for me, it’s better that way.
I never have to long for the “before times”. I never have to look back on a time in my life that was hard because diabetes rudely interrupted it, causing a swift, drastic change to my daily routine. By the time I was old enough to start really recalling specific events, I already had diabetes. As far as I’m concerned, it’s always just been a part of me.
Some might argue that it’s “better” (imagine that I’m air-quoting that because it’s never better to have diabetes) to be diagnosed with something as life-altering as diabetes in adulthood, or at least in the teenage years, because comprehension of what it is, exactly, is stronger. I’d imagine that the adaptation of new technologies is easier, too, seeing as teenagers/older individuals tend to pick up on these things faster than, say, a toddler that is needing to learn how to safely use an insulin pump.
But for me, it’s been good to learn about diabetes as I’ve matured. As a kid, I just knew it was the thing that prevented me from eating certain foods at certain times, and that I needed my parents’ help at mealtimes in order to calculate carb intake and bolus amounts. As a teen, I started to actually learn the science behind diabetes in various classes I took throughout high school, and expanded on that knowledge in college by taking a nutrition course that taught me all about the glycemic index and how that impacts blood sugar. And as an adult, I’ve been able to make informed choices regarding the use of insulin pumps, CGMs, and other matters of that nature that require some research and understanding.
And more important than anything else…being diagnosed with diabetes at 4 years old had zero impact on my quality of life. I had a wonderful childhood and all the credit goes to my parents, who made sure that I was raised knowing that diabetes couldn’t stop me from doing anything. I know they would’ve handled a potential diabetes diagnosis later on in my life with an equal amount of grace and strength, but the fact that I grew up with it meant that we all, as a family, grew up with it as a normal part of our lives.
So even though I’ll never be okay in the traditional sense of the word that I have diabetes, I am okay with getting diagnosed as a little kid.