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Life Lessons from a Diabetic
One night a man had a dream. He dreamed that he was walking along the beach with the LORD. Across the sky flashed scenes from his life. For each scene, the man noticed two sets of footprints in the sand: one belonging to him, the other to the LORD. When the last scene of his life passed before him, the man looked back at the footprints in the sand. He noticed that many times along the path of his life there was only one set of footprints. He also noticed that it happened at the very lowest and saddest times in his life. This disturbed him, and he asked the LORD about it. LORD, you said that if I followed you, you'd walk with me all the way. But I have noticed that during the most troublesome times in my life, there is only one set of footprints. I don't understand why you would leave me when I needed you most. "My precious, precious child," the LORD replied, " I love you and I would never leave you. During your times of trial and suffering, when you only saw one set of footprints, it was then that I carried you."
The above parable was written by an unknown author. That story was printed on the back of a book mark I received for Christmas two years ago. It is special to me because I received it at a time when I was going through a stage of denial of  living with juvenile diabetes.
I was diagnosed with Type I diabetes in 1990. That was nearly 8 years ago, but every day I am constantly aware of the new challenges my disease brings. Diabetes is a metabolic disease which affects the levels of sugar in an individual's bloodstream. In order to control the disease a diabetic must test the average milligrams/deciliter of sugar in the blood daily, inject insulin before every meal, and maintain a regular exercise regimen.

In November of 1996, my doctor approached me about switching to one of the new designer insulin programs that had come out. Instead of injecting twice a day, as I was used to, this new program would have me injecting every time I decided to eat. After the switch in November, I  had trouble adjusting my body to this new therapy. In the first few months of the program,  it took me awhile to catch on to the right methods of increasing and decreasing the dosage because I was  treating this new regimen like my old one.  I began to discover that this new program gave me so much more freedom of what and when I could eat. Previously I had had to follow a scheduled diet with a set amount of food, and my eating habits were so precise that it was really hard for me to ever miss a meal or a snack. At the same time as I was dealing with this drastic switch in my insulin regimen, my world was becoming much more chaotic than it ever had been before. I was learning the freedom of having a driver's license, the stress of teenage relationships, and the abandon of a 12:00 o'clock curfew.
These factors led to an overwhelming period in my life. The time was characterized by over-indulgence, massive doses of insulin, fear of public injection, and a dependance upon insulin and blood monitoring which I had never felt before. The outcome of this new lifestyle was one that I was not happy with. Physically and mentally my body began to show signs of my irresponsibility. I gained nearly twenty pounds and my self-esteem had taken a plunge. Never before, and never again, has my disease taken such control over my life.
I have since learned that with freedom comes responsibility. I am becoming an adult now and can no longer hide under the shadow of my parents' protective wing. I have been able to appreciate life more fully because of the phase I went through of denying my disease and my body the  proper care they deserved. I have learned to value moderation and control. I know now that the cliche' "Too much of a good thing" is a lesson that should be taken to heart. In high school, many of my peers have decided to experiment with drinking and other uncontrolled substances. Many have proven that they cannot handle the responsibility it takes to be able to drink, and they end up losing control of themselves and their actions. I  want to be the one in control of my body. My experience has taught me to appreciate the fact that sometimes you must display a higher level of maturity and self-respect rather than giving in to temptation. 
Once again, I am running cross-country, and have found that running is the greatest key in controlling my blood sugars. My running is one of the most important and therapeutic aspects of my life. Previously, I ran in order to win races, but now I am just happy that I am fit enough to run. Before my experience I was afraid of the affects running would have on my blood sugar.  Now, I have come to fully appreciate the people, health benefits, and atmosphere that are indicative of being a runner.  
By facing my adversity, I have learned what it means to have faith and perseverance. To have faith when things seem hopeless is often times the difference of surviving the challenges set before you or of giving up. I have learned perseverance from my experience and have tried to do my best in all aspects of life whether it is from school, sports, or relationships.  I am very proud of the seventh grade confirmation class I taught. I   tried to have a positive impact on their lives and their faith.
I stated earlier that I was afraid of injecting myself in public. I have overcome that fear and have learned an important lesson That lesson is "Above all things, be true to yourself".  As long as I am happy with my character and my integrity the rest of the problems I face in life will be a piece of cake. I have learned to be independent, and to trust my own judgement. It is not necessary for me to go along with "the group" just for the sake of belonging because I am independent enough to determine what is best for me.
Dealing with diabetes is an adversity I will have the rest of my life. It isn't always easy, but it has made me who I am today. I have become a person with strong convictions and opinions, and I'm happy with that. My disease has been a major factor in my life, but it has also taught me perserverance, self-reliance, and the value of a positive attitude. My father told me that to reach the top of the mountain you first have to cross the valleys along the way. No matter what valleys I face in my lifetime I know I have been provided with a good pair of boots for my hike to the top of the mountain.

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