At FFL, I Belonged
I always take a pause when someone asks for my “diabetes story.”
I wasn’t very aware of my diagnosis, I was so young. Though I do have some memories – a cold hospital room, the Disney Channel playing on the small television screen, and steel hospital bed with gates. I remember pretending I was a lion trapped in a cage. I felt that way for most of my childhood – diabetes was something I had to cage. I had to hide. In elementary school my insulin pump had to be hidden in my uniform. I remember my mother cutting and sewing in places to clip my pump to the inside of my jumper. If I went low during dance class, I had to sit away from all of the other dancers. They couldn’t sit with me while I checked and treated my blood sugars. Diabetes was always something to hide away. It wasn’t something to be proud of. Except for one week out of the summer – the Friends for Life Conference. There were insulin pumps everywhere. I had friends to sit with when I went low. I felt included. I belonged.
I am so grateful for the sense of empowerment that came from attending the Children With Diabetes conferences. I learned how to become a better advocate for myself. I learned how to welcome diabetes into my every day life. I started treating for lows, publicly, in the dance studio. I started to wear my insulin pump on the outside of my jumper. Diabetes will always be there. It will always be a part of me, and I needed to learn how to take control of my life. I took ownership of my situation. I took ownership of my diabetes. I let that little lion that was caged up in the cold hospital room free. I let her be the person she deserved to be, despite diabetes.
My “diabetes story” is always hard to share, because it was internalized for so many years. But I am so grateful to the diabetes community for helping me to free that lion. I am beyond grateful I have the opportunity now to help others gain that confidence, and take ownership of their diabetes. Diabetes can be hard, but we don’t have to do it alone.
Today I am a performer. I am an artistic producer. I am a dog mom. And, most importantly, I am a confident person living with Type One Diabetes.
I’m Hannah. I am a performing artist and artistic producer in Philadelphia, PA. I am a dog mom to Ruby, a craft enthusiast, and an over-consumer of iced coffee. I have been coming to the Friends for Life conferences for 20 years and have been working with the Teen Staff for about five years. I have been living with diabetes for 22 years.
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