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Inspired Chaos is... living with a chronic illness.

Inspired Chaos is… living with a chronic illness.

I can remember every detail about that October day.

Sixth grade. The announcement over the intercom calling me to the office for my mom to pick me up.

The smell of the doctor’s office.

The finger prick – “my finger has a heartbeat.”

“That can’t be right.”

“The monitor won’t read her blood sugar. It’s too high.”

Whispers. Phone calls.

“How is she standing? Functioning?”

Driving to the hospital lab.

I started crying; I knew what it all meant.

“It’s just blood work. You’re crying like a toddler,” said the phlebotomist.

I wasn’t crying about the damn blood work.

“Her blood glucose is 782. We need to have her transported by ambulance to Ruby Memorial in Morgantown. This is a life-threatening emergency.”

She didn’t even tell me – she wasn’t talking to me.

My mother had been trying to get a diagnosis and she finally had the doctors confirm what was happening. They wouldn’t have even tested me for diabetes that day without her demanding it.

The rain beating against my mom’s car, the windshield wipers unable to keep up.

“We’re going home quickly to pack a bag and going to Morgantown. Do you understand what’s going on?”

If I did respond, I don’t remember what I said.

We drove slowly through Garrett County, through bands of hurricane rains.

The team was waiting for us when we got there.

They couldn’t find a vein.

I was afraid of needles before that day.

The doctor told me a knock-knock joke.

Nothing was funny.

I was a pre-teen who went from being care-free to counting carbs, calculating insulin ratios, pricking my finger, giving myself injections, learning to understand what certain symptoms meant…

Being told what could happen if I didn’t take care of myself… holding my own life in my sweaty-palmed hands. Dealing with the reality that I would most likely die before my parents.

I have checked my blood sugar over 24,000 times.

I have given myself more than 26,000 shots.

I’ve been hospitalized countless times and fought battles with insurance companies for medications to stay alive.

I’ve asked strangers for help during an emergency and been called a “druggie.”

Being a type 1 diabetic influences almost every decision I make in a day. It impacts relationships. There are days when I’m too sick to function.

I fight a battle against my body every day; one that doesn’t end, with zero breaks or an end date. I keep fighting when I’m tired and weak and when I’ve had enough. I fight for my health in more ways than most can understand… and will until there is a cure.

I sat in that hospital bed that October weekend, hearing crowds outside cheer for WVU as the football team played, I was quiet, angry.

“You’re allowed to be mad, Jen. I’m mad as hell. And you have a choice. You can complain about it... or you can do something about it.”

My mom taught me an invaluable lesson that day.

Within six months, we held my first fundraiser and educational event – “Dunkin’ Diabetes,” a three-on-three basketball tournament. By the time I was 15, we’d raised over $6,000 for juvenile diabetes research.

The day-to-day struggles are pure chaos… and they’ve inspired me.

Chronic illnesses change you. They make you more conscious on so many levels, more empathetic, more appreciative of the healthy days (years). You value regular and boring days and pray for it unceasingly. You grow. You evolve.

November is National Diabetes Month.

Here are some things you can do to help…

Do you know the symptoms of diabetes – especially Type 1 diabetes?

Are you making sure that your family’s blood sugars are being monitored?

If you have diabetic friends, treat them normally. Don’t question what they’re eating or if they need to pee more than most people. Respect their illness while behaving like you would with anyone else.

Do not say “diabeeetus.”

Understand that Type 1 diabetes isn’t caused by life choices or obesity. It cannot be cured with diet or exercise, and it can be life-threatening.

Be kind.

Inspired Chaos is… living with a chronic illness.

(This was the day I got my Dexcom GC Sensor - November 2019. It goes down as one of the best days of my whole life. ♥)


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