Long-time JDRF supporters the Selig family recently held a morning tea fundraiser for JDRF, raising over $2000. Alex, who has type 1 diabetes, spoke at the event. We loved his witty and self-deprecating style of writing, so with his permission we’re sharing his speech with you!
Hi, my name is Alex. I’m a Scorpio, I like tiramisu, and aggressive rap music. I think a lot about why lawyers are so vain, and why law students are even worse (note – I’m a law student!). I’ve also been told that I should remain optimistic about my chances of rugby superstardom because feeble wusses are exactly what rugby selectors are looking for. I also have type 1 diabetes.
Alex and mum Katrina with JDRF staff
However, I was not born with type 1 diabetes. What, you say, isn’t it hereditary? Was that two minute diabetes awareness segment on Fox News misleading? Let me tell you my story. I promise the story isn’t too sweet or sour, but just right to keep your blood sugar stable.
On the 1st of November 2010, I woke up blind. For context, I had seen my GP regularly for 6 months, complaining of thirst, weight loss, sleeplessness, pain behind my eyes, and tiredness. He put it down to the stress of the HSC and prescribed glucosade to boost my energy levels. After vomiting the night before my HSC English Advanced exam, I knew something was wrong. I persevered however, in that stoic Selig way.
Waking up blind is exactly the rollercoaster ride of fun it sounds like – all enveloping darkness that stretches on forever. I stumbled my way downstairs to find Mum on the phone. I revealed that I was not feeling my best and that my eyes had decided to clock out. We went to the GP only to be told to go to hospital after he awkwardly said ‘Maybe you should go see a doctor…. I meant to say visit a hospital’. In that moment however, the GP forgetting that he was in fact a doctor was the least of our problems.
At the hospital, I was visited by the emergency nurse. I was asked if I was diabetic. I said no. I was then asked if I knew I was a diabetic.
Now here we are, four and half years later. Diabetes requires constant vigilance and care. I had to suddenly become a master mathematician, dietitian, social worker, and personal trainer to get a handle on my diabetes. I test my blood sugar multiple times a day. I have at least 4 injections of insulin a day. I have to watch what I eat and how much I exert myself. This isn’t even getting into what happens when mistakes happen. Or the potential consequences of what poor control might bring.
Yes diabetes is scary. But diabetes has also given me things. I now understand a whole community much better. I now understand people a whole lot better. Diabetes forces me to eat well, exercise, and think about how I treat my body for the future. That being said, I do have those days where I get scared and sad. Those days are overwhelming and feel like they go on forever. But they do eventually pass.
Ultimately, this might just be my story, but it could be anyone’s. I could be your partner, child, friend, or even you. I don’t mean to alarm you. I am here to warn you and support your understanding of an increasingly prevalent disease. I just merely want you to know that even though I look normal and healthy, I am representative of a whole community of individuals who struggle every day to balance their lives against the demands of diabetes.
But I’m lucky. Not all these people have the support I have, the love I have. I wouldn’t be as well adjusted with my diabetes if it weren’t for my wonderful family, but I have to really acknowledge Mum. Her constant encouraging empathy, tenacious spirit, readiness to help and willingness to attend medical appointments has been invaluable in these last four years.
Please don’t look at me now and just see someone with type 1 diabetes. I am a Scorpio and a pathetic hip hop fan. I am so much more than someone with type 1 diabetes. We are more than our disease.
JDRF thanks Alex and Katrina for sharing their story, and for their fundraising efforts! Join them in creating your own fundraiser – whether it be a morning tea, a trivia night, or a backyard BBQ!