This is the speech I came up with! let me know what ya'll think! :)
One word…. Diabetes
My name is Shelby Sharp; I am a seventeen year old that loves to dance and do regular teenage things just like everyone else, but one thing that makes me different than most others is that I have to live with Type 1 Diabetes every day for the rest of my life.
When you think of diabetes what comes to mind? Shots? Your grandma? No sugar? There are so many details that come to mind when one thinks about the disease we know as Type 1 Diabetes. I still have trouble keeping up.
I was diagnosed at six years old and have lived with it for a little over ten years. I truly do not have any memories growing up without diabetes, which is almost better in my opinion because I can’t really remember being “normal” and therefore miss that way of life.
On the fateful day of March 6, 1999 I was just another six year old attending a cheerleading camp when my mom got a phone call from my pediatrician. She had an idea for quite some time of what was happening to me, but hoped it wouldn’t come to what she thought. Unfortunately it had. My family and I went through a week in the hospital learning what is needed to live with diabetes and then sent home to live our lives as normally as possible. Over the years I lived like any other girl my age with the usual ups and downs of both life and diabetes.
A little over two years ago I went DKA, also known as Diabetic Keto-Acidosis; which is a diabetic coma due to overly high blood sugars and ketones resulting in sometimes organ failure. I almost didn’t walk out of that hospital alive those few days, but I was lucky enough to get through it. I would do absolutely anything to not have to experience that one night again. The year following my hospitalization for DKA was my worst one yet thus far with the disease. It caused me so many complications which I’m still not fully recovered from yet, but am slowly making progress.
My family looks at Diabetes as a game; you have to take it one day at a time, and be on top of your game if you want to be in control. I was always on top of my game until two years ago when everything started falling out from under me. Until I was diagnosed myself, I hadn't realized how important a cure was not only to me, but to everyone who has to live this kind of lifestyle.
When I envision a cure for my Diabetes I think of being up in heaven with God and living peacefully. It is so difficult to try and imagine my life without this shadow following me around constantly, but to have it cured from my life would be truly heaven on earth.
I sometimes take it for granted; whenever I go to a doctors appointment and see all those little kids and babies with their medical alert bracelets on and their parents making sure they are constantly okay with blood sugar checks and insulin dosages; I think of what's going on in their minds and it breaks my heart. I was too diagnosed at a young age, but it just brings that reality clearer in my mind when I think about what my family and all those other families out there have to go through just watching and helping us along each day.
I was recently introduced to a passage that completely sums up my feelings on Diabetes and everything that flashes through a Diabetic's mind as they get diagnosed, poke their finger to check and fix a blood sugar, take another shot, count another carbohydrate, and everything else that comes with the not so lovely word of "Diabetes". It comes from 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 and says, "Because of the extravagance of those revelations, and so I wouldn't get a big head, I was given the gift of a handicap to keep me in constant touch with my limitations. Satan's angel did his best to get me down; what he in fact did was push me to my knees. No danger then of walking around high and mighty! At first I didn’t think of it as a gift, and begged God to remove it. Three times I did that, and then He told me, My grace is enough; it's all you need. My strength comes into its own in your weakness. Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ's strength moving in my weakness. Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size - abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks, [Diabetes]. I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become."
On average, every diabetic checks his/her blood sugar five times a day, so every year a diabetic puts a new hole in their finger around 1,825 times; and that doesn’t even include shots. It doesn't matter if they are six or sixty, a good or bad person, nobody deserves to be put through that and it is our job to fight for a cure.
Is it fair for a six year old to have to give themselves shots? It was my reality as a little girl and has made me grow up so much faster than I should have had to. I was giving myself shots two weeks into my diagnosis, along with everything that comes with my disease.
I remember the first time my grandma had to give me a shot; I had to teach her. She was so nervous she was almost in tears. All I remember saying is “it’s okay Nana, just stick it in. It won’t hurt that much, just get it over with”. How would you feel if your little granddaughter had to teach you how to give her shots?
Some small overlooked facts that diabetics have to deal with on a day to day basis:
Insulin is not a cure, but without it I wouldn’t be here before you.
Diabetes makes everything affect my body so much worse and more often than someone living without the disease.
Diabetes is just as deadly and serious as cancer and every other disease that affects our society today.
I can’t put one thing into my mouth without having to think about blood sugar checks and insulin doses.
Without the help of my family, friends, and fellow diabetic friends I don’t know where I would be today. My mom and best friend help me deal with remembering all that I have to stay on top of and help me stay sane, because diabetes is as much an emotional disease as it is physical. No one will really understand what I go through unless they go it themselves. I have a few close diabetic friends that help by just being there to talk to about the frustrating things that happen to us.
The Diabetes walk on October 4, 2009 will be my ninth walk. It is the highlight of my year because I get to fight to cure my disease with hundreds of thousands of people that live just like I do. Some diabetics like to keep their disease to themselves, but I feel the more people that know and understand the better. I don’t want people to feel sorry for what I live with, I want their help! It takes more courage and strength to ask for help, than it does to do it alone.