Growing up without a fear of needles
Real Stories Jack Verkuilen has been dealing with diabetes for almost his entire life. He spoke to us about his this has helped make him the positive and strong individual he is today.
The ease and simplicity of childhood is something that most children unknowingly love, but for some individuals like myself, there were added complications.
February 23, 2001 was the day that changed my entire life. I was three and half years old and didn’t understand at the time what was happening, but I knew that something in my life had changed. I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes and because I was too young to comprehend this, my parents displayed all of my emotions for me. They were shocked, scared, worried, and above all, uncertain of how this would affect my future. The best way my parents found to cope with this life altering change was by accepting it and becoming as knowledgeable as they could about Diabetes. They knew they’d have to care for me continuously until I could begin to care for myself, as I got older.
Growing up with Type 1 Diabetes as a young child was difficult at times. I understood that I had Diabetes, but I never really knew why I felt like I was the only one that had to live with this disease. I always had to test my blood sugar and receive a shot of insulin when I ate my meals. I never thought that I would get used to pricking my fingers or giving myself a shot, but over time it naturally became easier.
I made it a personal goal, that from a young age, I would never let Diabetes control my life and determine what I wanted to do.
There were certain instances in elementary school where I felt secluded or left out because I couldn’t eat some of the snacks that the whole class had been given. It doesn’t seem like a big issue at all, but as a 6 year old who just wanted to eat a cookie like the rest of his classmates, this was a traumatizing experience. There were many times in school throughout my childhood where my blood sugar would go low and I would have a friend walk me to the nurses’ office so I could drink some juice and feel great again. I visited the nurses’ office everyday before lunch to test my blood sugar. This was essentially my everyday routine in school.
I was a very active child who loved to play baseball. Sports were always something that kept me occupied as a kid, which was great because it allowed me to remain physically active and healthy. My Diabetes has always been under quality control so I never had to worry that I would experience any severe complications as long as I had correctly dosed my insulin and had a bag of snacks with me in case my blood sugar went low. I made it a personal goal, that from a young age, I would never let Diabetes control my life and determine what I wanted to do. I did this by becoming the most responsible Diabetic I could possibly be.
Type 1 Diabetes was a large part of my childhood because it helped influence everything I did, which in turn influenced who I have become as an individual. I firmly believe that Diabetes had a monumental impact on my childhood, which allowed me to learn many life skills and appreciate the level of responsibility that had been instilled in me since I was 3 and a half years old. There were many times as a kid when I asked myself why I had been diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes, but the simplest answer I had found was why not me? I’ve learned so much about myself as a Diabetic and am truly thankful that I was diagnosed because of the life long friends and experiences that have come from having a faulty pancreas.