Today is Thanksgiving, the day where people everywhere are eating turkey, stuffing, yams and pumpkin pie until they find themselves in a food-induced coma.
Normally, I'd be right there with them. This year, however, I'll be carb counting, substituting mashed potatoes and sweet potatoes with veggies, passing on the stuffing and pies, testing my blood sugar levels and giving myself insulin before each meal.
This Thanksgiving, I am a diabetic. Exactly one month ago, I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes (previously known as juvenile diabetes). I—a healthy, active 25-year-old who never got more than one cold each year—now have a chronic disease that requires me to prick and poke myself with needles and see blood on a daily basis (did I mention I'm needle phobic?).
I'll be the first to tell you that this is not fun. But despite the difficult times ahead—frustrations with keeping blood sugar levels in check, passing on my favorite foods, feeling like a human pin cushion—I'm extremely thankful.
I'm thankful for all the advances in medicine. Years ago, the prognosis for someone with Type 1 wasn't all that great. Today, I'm confident I will lead a normal, healthy life.
I'm thankful for insulin pens that don't require me to deal with syringes, mini needles and lancets that reduce pain and scarring at injection/prick sites, and communication technology that allows me to interact with my doctors in a way where I get immediate responses to my questions.
The best medicine, however, can't be found in a pharmacy or doctor's office. My loved ones are my medicine of choice.
I'm thankful for my family, my boyfriend and my friends, who have all been there for me every step of the way—and they will continue to be there.
I'm thankful for my mom, who sits up with me at night as I drink some juice to raise my blood sugar after a hypoglycemic episode.
I'm thankful for my twin sister, who printed out nutritional information for Starbucks to ensure I can still enjoy our weekly coffee dates.
I'm thankful for my grandma, who periodically visits me at home while I work just to make sure I am feeling OK and doing well.
I'm thankful for my grandpa—in remission after brain cancer surgery—who thinks I'm the strong one for getting through this.
I'm thankful for my aunt, who bought what seemed like the entire sugar-free selection at Giant Eagle and showed up at my house to deliver it.
I'm thankful for my other aunt, who would text me at 5 a.m. when I was in the hospital because she knew I'd be awake and lonely at that hour in the morning.
I'm thankful for my boyfriend, who listens to me every day and keeps me moving when I have to burn off high blood sugar levels.
I'm thankful for my best friend in Hialeah, Fla., who checks up on me several times a day, asking how my levels are.
Their love and care makes me stronger and tougher. I appreciate them every single day, but this past month has really shown me how much of a bond we have—and I am extremely thankful for that support system.
So this Thanksgiving, instead of frowning as I pass on the usual goodies, I'll smile at the awesome company in my presence—my family.