Coming to terms with my diabetes

Published 10:07 pm Wednesday, February 28, 2018

I was 19 years old when I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in 2010.

It was the end of my first semester at George Mason University. I should have been feeling fantastic. I got out of the semester with decent grades and friends that I still drive to Washington, D.C., to see every other weekend.

But I left that semester sick as a dog. I had lost so much weight that my cheeks were shriveled. My first Christmas break from school culminated in an emergency room visit and a stunned doctor that could smell that there was something wrong with me.

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That’s not a metaphor. The doctor said I literally smelled “sweet” before a nurse got my blood sugar reading: 967. I spent days in the hospital after nearly falling into a coma from diabetic ketoacidosis.

Cut to 2014, when I became a college graduate. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do first after I graduated. I was honestly still coming to terms with the fact that my diabetes was coming with me. For a time in college it just felt like another game of numbers, but when I got my diploma it really set in that my disease was permanent.

My older brother, Allen, had already been busy doing what he could to help. He started volunteering with the American Diabetes Association in Hampton Roads through his job and convinced me to be a volunteer myself.

My brother and I helped build and break down the Tour de Cure one year in the pouring rain while laughing our butts off. I got to know Deanie Eldridge, Robin Kantor and all the other phenomenal people helping diabetics like me.

They even asked me to get in front of crowds and share my story. My public speaking left a lot to be desired, but I’m still shocked at how therapeutic it was to put what happened to me into words. Talking to others that fight high and low readings daily reminded me I wasn’t alone.

The Hampton Roads Tour de Cure will be back for another year this April. This time it will be held at the Suffolk Executive Airport, and a 5K run will be available as well for the first time at Tour.

This is also my eighth year living with diabetes. I plan to celebrate that at the Tour with my camera and notepad ready to tell other people’s stories. These people ride for friends and family and the hope of one day having a cure for diabetes.

Here’s to another year with a big turnout.

The 2018 Hampton Roads Tour de Cure will take place on April 28. The route options are 10, 25, 65 or 100 miles.

There is a $25 registration fee and a $200 fundraising minimum. The registration fee will go up to $30 on April 1. The fundraising goal is $450,000.

Visit diabetes.org/hrtdc or call 424-6662 ext. 3269 for more information.