Alyssa, you are awesome.
I feel the same exact way. I am applying to medical school and I'd like to share my "personal statement" with you. A personal statement is basically how you explain to medical schools "why you want to be a doctor".
Although some nights began with her screaming "You're trying to poison me", they would often end with "Matthew, you are the same angel I took care of when you were just a baby." I would tend to her with a glass of water and a sleeping pill used especially for those suffering from dementia. Sometimes she would take the little pill and go back to sleep, but other times she would become so confused that she would assume that I was trying to poison her. Before learning about the stages of Alzheimer's disease during my internship at Banner Alzheimer's Institute, it was difficult for me to avoid becoming emotionally hurt caring for my great-grandmother when she accused me of poisoning her. Fortunately when I would help her shower in the morning after some of those long nights of confusion, she would always look at me and know that I was the same baby that she once cared for so my mother could attend college. Helping my great-grandmother through some of the startling aspects of Alzheimer's disease was one of the first experiences I had that interested me in obtaining a career in the health care field.
Looking back on the year I cared for my great-grandmother, I realize that it is the single most valuable life experience I have had. At age eighteen I was just starting college; thus, my spare time was spent moaning about all of the homework I now had and causing mischief with my friends from high school. Although I entered my first year of college an immature teenager without a job or any direction, I departed as a dedicated student. If it weren't for the fortunate opportunity to care for my great-grandmother, I am certain that I would not be in the position that I am today preparing for medical school. Caring for her has influenced me to be kind to everyone I meet, cherish the good health that I have, and be optimistic in every situation I encounter. I would not have reacted in the positive way that I did on January 6th, 2006 if it weren't for the lessons I learned from my great-grandmother. It was on that day when they told me I had developed type 1 diabetes mellitus.
One of my closest childhood friends had type 1 diabetes mellitus since I had met him, and I had always assumed that he had needed injections since he was born. I remember thinking about how strange it was that he needed injections for a problem that he had with tolerating the consumption of sugar. I also remember thinking about how happy I was that I was not born with such a tragic disease. Being a child I wondered, "How could anyone bear to worry about their intake of sugar?" I allowed my misconceptions regarding the disease to pervade my understanding until that day in January, that day when my doctor told me that I needed to go to the hospital for the emergent treatment of diabetic ketoacidosis. At that moment I abandoned my ignorance regarding my best friend's disease state, as for a brief minute I felt like I was being punished for my complacency. From that day forward I decided that there was nothing that I wanted more than to understand, educate, and help treat those suffering from poor health status.
I have exemplified my dedication to this cause by becoming involved in some of the organizations that are dedicated to fighting the complications of diabetes and one day finding a cure for it. After spending a lot of time browsing through the web pages of the American Diabetes Association, I decided that I did not merely want to be a recipient of the weekly newsletters but also an active player in the ADA's cause. My first opportunity to achieve this was to volunteer at the Diabetes Expo. I corresponded with the activity coordinator and provided my entire day to help with check-in, applications for pre-diabetes risk tests, and many other tasks. Later that year I decided that I wanted to give more than just time to the cause and decided to lead a JDRF walk-for-the-cure team as the captain. Our team raised just enough money to be considered for the grand prize, which unfortunately we didn't win. I was most impressed that my friends and family showed the amount of support that they did; it helped me realize that they were rooting for my cause as much as I was striving to support the cause of the ADA.
Since I will complete my baccalaureate from Arizona State University in human nutrition in December of 2008, I am eager to utilize the practical applications of my knowledge. Some of the major opportunities I have sought out to demonstrate my desire to become a doctor are volunteerism at a nutritional rehabilitation clinic in Peru, employment as an emergency operator working with doctors at Banner Good Samaritan Medical Center, and internship at the Banner Alzheimer's Institute shadowing two neurologists. Working with these doctors I felt that perhaps the most fascinating aspect of the role of a physician is the hands-on nature of the job; the effects that a physician can have on each patient are often immediately apparent. I hope that one day I can not only help people like me experience a drastic improvement in health status, but also affect patients in the same positive and life-changing manner that I was affected.
I know a lot of it is about taking care of my great-grandmother, but I can say if I never was diagnosed with a chronic disease myself than I wouldn't have cared for her illness as much as I did.
So, I agree with you. I wish I didn't have to deal with the physical problems that diabetic patients have to, but if in choosing to never be diagnosed I was also stripped the immense emotional experience I have had then I would choose to have diabetes.
I agreed with every single thing you said ^^^!