PROLOGUE: The following story began as an extra assignment given by me to Z for talking out of turn in class. When I finally got around to reading it, my jaw was on the floor, my eyes burned, and my face was mysteriously damp. “What’s going on here?” I asked myself. Since the strange symptoms I experienced that day, I’ve done some research—seeking an explanation for the attack—but to no avail. The strange affliction is still a mystery.
If—after reading the story—you are similarly stricken, drop a line in the comments section.
My name is Z. When I was two years old, I was diagnosed with Type One Diabetes. I don’t really remember anything before my diagnosis. Even in my earliest memories, I was diabetic, almost as if my life began at that point.
At first, I thought it was fun because I didn’t understand. I loved the attention. I went home from the hospital and reality slapped me in the face, even at the age of three. I eventually realized that this “game” I was playing was actually permanent. This was real life!
Diabetes makes you grow up really fast. I gave myself my first shot when I was seven. I tested my own blood sugar, wrote it down in my log book, did calculations for my insulin, and gave myself shots before the age of ten.
I became bitter and angry. I asked questions and wanted answers people couldn’t give me. Why me? Why did I have to be different?
By the time I was eleven, I was obviously different from other children. I was so little—weighing in at only 78 pounds. I was very smart and on top of all that, I was diabetic. I was more of an adult than other children because I had so many responsibilities.
In some ways, I never got to be a child. Other kids made fun of me. At my old school, being smart wasn’t cool. I sat at home and cried many nights. I couldn’t focus on my school work, I couldn’t stop eating what i wanted, and I couldn’t connect with kids my own age.
When you grow up fast, you don’t like to ask for help. You feel like you can handle all of your problems on your own. It’s so hard to learn or grow without help. I was destroying myself trying to get rid of my differences: the things that made me unique.
Slowly, as the years went by, the bitterness went away and I became happy. My happiness began when I realized that I couldn’t let this diabetes get me down.
Even in high school, I still felt that I was different. I think that I behave differently because I have already grown up. I became thankful that I hadn’t been like other children from my grade school who were not very good people. I began to realize that being different wasn’t a curse. It was a gift. I chose to make friends with my differences.
I realized something: life is rough, but you can always handle it. Asking “Why me?” doesn’t solve your problems. Besides, my differences are wonderful. I truly believe that I am the kind of person who can take something unfortunate and terrible and make it beautiful.
There is talk about cures for diabetes, but honestly, I can’t be cured. Physically, I probably could, however, after eighteen years of living with this, there will always be some part of me that is inherently “diabetastic,” and I’m more than okay with that.
I want to become an endocrinologist and specialize in diabetes care so I can show diabetic children that life with this disease isn’t terrible or impossible.
I want to use my story to show people that your differences aren’t a weed you need to kill.
They’ll flower into something amazing if you let them.
EPILOGUE: Well, I’m praying that scientists find a cure for Z.O. and the millions of others living with diabetes, despite Z’s skepticism. I’m certain that—should they fail—a young endocrinologist is waiting in the wings to step in and fulfill her fate.
Z.O. MY HERO HOW WONDERFUL YOU ARE,