What You Learn in a Decade (or More) With Diabetes

Checks, boluses, carb counting… If you’ve ever thought, “My kid deserves a medal for all this work,” you might be right! Each year, the Lilly Diabetes Journey AwardsSM program recognizes individuals who have successfully managed their diabetes for 10, 25, 50, or 75 years with a special medal to commemorate their hard work and achievement. What can you and your child learn from those who have lived well with type 1 diabetes for a decade—or even three-quarters of a century ? Here are some inspiring words from recent Journey Award recipients.

You’re Capable of More Than You Think

Evan Shea

“When I found out that I was a recipient of a Journey Award, I was actually a bit embarrassed at first, because I didn’t feel like I had done anything to deserve an ‘award.’ But after giving it some thought, I realized how proud I was to be recognized for managing my diabetes pretty well for the vast majority of my life. For those just starting out on this journey, what I’ve learned is that you can survive and get used to anything. It might be hard to believe that you could ever give yourself injections multiple times a day—but when you have to, it’s amazing what you can manage. I’ve also learned to embrace the latest diabetes-related technology. Insulin pumps and now continuous glucose monitors have made my life immeasurably easier and better. Having T1D is a bit more work sometimes, but it has not prevented me from doing anything.”

— Evan Shea, Lebanon Township, N.J., 10-year Journey Award recipient

You’re Not Alone

Daniele Hargenrader

“Receiving this award means a lot to me, because it means that the constant, often invisible efforts that living with diabetes requires deserve to be recognized and appreciated. As someone who is blessed to have the pleasure of working with many parents of children with T1D, I would love to pass on to parents that your children will have the ability to live happy, healthy lives, chase their dreams, and live out their passions. It’s not your fault that your child has diabetes, you didn’t do anything wrong, and you’re not alone! People with diabetes are some of the strongest, kindest, most generous and empathetic people you will ever have the pleasure of knowing; trust me, I know a lot of them! Many of my best friends are people I’ve met through the diabetes online community, and for that I am eternally grateful.”

—Daniele Hargenrader (a.k.a. the Diabetes Dominator), Philadelphia, 25-year Journey Award recipient

Your Efforts Have Not Gone Unnoticed

Mel Bornstein

“I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes 58 years ago at age 13. When I look back now, I am amazed and grateful at how much effort my parents, my mother in particular, expended to keep me healthy. Receiving a Journey Award medal from Lilly Diabetes is especially meaningful, because it is validation for all the courage that’s needed to accept the reality of living with diabetes. It’s a daily battle for the person diagnosed with type 1 and every member of his or her family. There have been so many advances and breakthroughs in diabetes management over the course of my lifetime, and I always wonder what will happen next. But what I do know for sure, and hope that children diagnosed with diabetes today can know, is that even when there are hardships, life with diabetes can be a great journey—and a healthy one!”

—Mel Bornstein (pictured with Buddy the Wonder Dog), Bend, Ore., 50-year Journey Award recipient

You’re Doing Just Fine

Barbara Wagler

“It brought tears to my eyes to receive my Journey Award, and it was the thrill of my life to see all the people who came to the ceremony. I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 1936 when I was 12 years old. Things have changed a lot since then with diabetes management—especially the technology—but what I’ve always done is try to follow the rules and do my best. For your own child with diabetes, I would recommend teaching your child how to cook and prepare meals. This is an important part of learning independence. Something else that I think parents and children should know is not to worry about doing everything right all the time. When you go to bed and you lay there and you think, ‘Well, what did I do wrong today?’ I like to think, ‘Well, you did something right, because you’re still here.’ ”

—Barbara Wagler, Peru, Ind., 75-year Journey Award recipient

 

Disclaimer: The experiences and suggestions recounted in these articles are not intended as medical advice, and they are not necessarily the “typical” experiences of families with a child who has type 1 diabetes. These situations are unique to the families depicted. Families should check with their healthcare professionals regarding the treatment of type 1 diabetes and the frequency of blood glucose monitoring.

 

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