Diabetes Self-Management Blog

Hello, Diabetes Self-Management community! This is my first blog post for DSM, and I am absolutely ecstatic to be writing for them. Aside from my love of writing and general obsession with blogs, I love talking about diabetes. Strange perhaps, but it’s true.

A little bit about myself though. My name is Maryam, and I am currently a freshman in college. I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes eight years ago at the age of 10, and since my diagnosis, diabetes has turned into one of the greatest blessings in my life. Seven months after my diagnosis in December of 2003, my family attended the Children With Diabetes Friends For Life Conference, and we haven’t looked back since.

It would be a lie to say that diabetes is easy or fun, but through the relationships that I’ve developed and the experiences I’ve had, it has become just another part of my daily life. Though it takes an enormous amount of attention and careful management, under no circumstance does it run my life. Through having diabetes I have had some extraordinary experiences, and I wouldn’t trade that for the world.

There have been a lot of recent changes in my life, and I feel that it’s only appropriate to start my first blog entry talking about my experience as someone with diabetes on a college campus. Going into college, I thought I was prepared for absolutely anything and everything that could possibly come my way regarding diabetes. I knew exactly how I was going to explain everything to my roommates, I had my phone preset to go off at 3 AM every night so I could monitor (and then text my mom, who would without a doubt be awake worrying about my sugars), I had an entire suitcase filled with supplies and extra snacks; the works.

What I wasn’t prepared for, however, was the emotional toll that it would have on me. Having been diagnosed in my first year of middle school, I essentially grew up surrounded by people who knew I had diabetes. People I wasn’t even friends with knew I had diabetes because of a massive team I had gotten together for the annual JDRF Walk to Cure Diabetes, two years in a row. (We were called the “Murmabots” and had a very popular t-shirt design). If they didn’t know it through the walks, they knew it because my senior grad project was on Type 1 and how it affected family dynamics. And if not through the project, they knew it from seeing me check my blood glucose in the restroom, from hearing me talk about all of my best friends with diabetes, or from seeing pictures on Facebook of all the places I went to that related to diabetes.

Until I got to college, I didn’t truly realize how important diabetes, or rather, the experiences that I had had as result of the diabetes, had been in my life. Coming in to college, I found it difficult to talk about my diabetes because I felt that my friends simply didn’t get it. For me, it’s not just merely explaining the physical aspects of it; that I have no qualms about. I have no problem checking in front of anyone, whipping out my pump for a bolus, etc. What I found difficult explaining was how diabetes has had such a major role in shaping my life, and why it is such an important part of who I am.

For someone who loves words, I truly found myself at a loss. How does one summarize eight of the most beautiful, wonderful, difficult, confusing, exhilarating years filled with so many memories, friends, and experiences? As a very social person, opening up to people and making new friends isn’t a daunting prospect for me. However, trying to express the personal diabetes part of myself was, and still is. I think it’s because it’s beyond just personal. It’s something that involves me, my family, my friends, and the entire community of people with Type 1 around the world who have this “thing” in common.

What I’ve learned in my eight years since diagnosis, however, is that the connections we all make with each other as people with diabetes are much deeper than the simple fact that our pancreases don’t work. It’s that first moment you meet someone else with diabetes and you see them wearing their pump without a shred of self-consciousness. It’s the first time you meet someone who can understand the insatiable hunger of a low and how miraculously everything in sight looks particularly delicious. It’s being able to call the friend who completely understands everything you are going through when all you can muster up is “diabetes sucks.” It’s being able to lean on someone’s shoulder during this long and tumultuous journey, knowing that somehow everything is going to be just fine.

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Comments
  1. Maryam,
    You are SUCH an inspiration and I am so thrilled to see you grow and mature over the past few years. Congratulations on your new writing pursuit:) I look forward to reading more from your blog and your continuous journey with Diabetes. Love you!!

    Posted by Sarah Melendez |
  2. So glad you are writing this :) It’s great for people who don’t have diabetes to really understand aspects about having Type 1 that are emotional rather than physical.

    Posted by Hend |
  3. Wow i love it and truly understand what you are going through as you know i have started uni (college) as well this year its defiantly all worth it in the end this is now my new regular read xxxx

    Posted by chloe |
  4. So proud of you, and your ability to eloquently share the good and the bad of diabetes, with such honesty and authenticity!
    Love you, Mom.

    Posted by Intissar Ben Halim |
  5. Hi MaryAnn, As Hunter looks forward to his first year at college I am sure we will be chatting with you ALOT at this years CWD….

    Posted by Robyn Morgen |
  6. Maryam,
    So very proud of you! You have always had a way with words. You are such an incredible person. Thank you for sharing your world with us. From the moment we met you and your family until today you are always helping through your words. Love ya!

    Posted by Brandy Schmidt |
  7. Sarah: Thank you so much! Been thinking about you and Brady a ton lately! Can’t wait to see you guys at the Philly conference! We definitely will have to catch up. :)

    Hend: I’m so glad you liked it and would love to hear more from your perspective as I usually only get feedback from people either with diabetes or with a family member who has it! Please share it as well! :)

    Chloe: I’m so glad you enjoyed reading it, girl! You’re so awesome. Really miss my Europe CWD fam. <3

    Mama: As always, you’re the best. Couldn’t have done anyyyyyyyy of this without you.

    Robyn: Yes! Please feel free to ask me absolutely anything! Also if you would like me to blog about something specific regarding diabetes on campus I’m all ears! :)

    Brandy: Miss you and the family so so much. Thank you for always being there with a kind word. It makes my days so much brighter whenever I hear from you. Much love to you all!

    Posted by Maryam |
  8. Most people don’t realize how growing and taking the next step, while hard for everybody, is so much harder for people with diabetes. You sound like somebody who has learned to adapt to changes and bumps on the road. You turned what appears to be a disadvantage into an advantage. I look forward to hearing about your journey through colleges and your special challenges. My patients can benefit from your description of your journey. We at Diabetic Survival Kit wish you the best.

    Posted by Diabetic Survival Kit |
  9. What a great way to start your blog! As always, you’re awesome, and inspiring, and a great role model.

    Posted by Debbie at IDS |
  10. Sniff, sniff, honk! Our little Maryam is so growed-up. Where does the time go?

    Posted by Gary, CDE |
  11. http://www.surveymonkey.com/s.aspx?sm=p5rXLSA_2b35zbk8dqM5QqPQ_3d_3d

    Hi, I am a Type 1 diabetic and was diagnosed at 9 months old and am doing some research on hypoglycemia and would like to see if anyone would be willing to take this survey above so i can gater some information about my report.

    I would really appreciate it,

    Chris

    Posted by Chris Alfano |
  12. Hi Maryam I’m so glad you shared that with us. It encourages me to send out blogs about me and my life with Diabetes. Yes I have Diabetes too! I was 8 years old when I was diagnosed and now I’m 14. I’m so blessed not to have had any visits to the ER. Thank you so much for having this blog.

    Posted by Jamara |
  13. So excited for you as you have started college. I was diagnosed in 1956 at the age of 6. When I started college in 1968, I was so fortunate to have my best friend (we had been best friends since 1953) as a suite mate. She would check on me every time I got up during the night and would listen every morning to be sure that I got up and was getting ready for breakfast and classes. It was a blessing for me to have her available because while we were growing up, she had witnessed many hypoglycemic episodes and knew exactly what to do. I graduated with a degree in zoology in 1972 and obtained a degree in medical technology in 1973.
    Enjoy your college years. You have so many more advantages for managing your diabetes now–pumps, meters, etc. Good luck.
    Connie

    Posted by Connie Stuart |
  14. Excellent start to your blog. You write very well and will be looking forward to you sharing your journey.

    Posted by Angelo |
  15. Hi Maryam,

    My 18 month old grandson was just diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes a month ago. I am still adjusting to this and find myself depressed and crying every day. I try to assist my daughter in every way I can. I am already worrying about his teenage years and worry about when he will go away to college. I know how dangerous those years can be. I hope that a cure will be found and this will never be an issue. It is wonderful to see someone who has done so well and it gives me hope. I look forward to your blog for tips and inspiration.

    Posted by Catherine |
  16. Hi, Catherine!

    I’m so sorry to hear how difficult this has been for you. If there’s one thing I can say, just know that it GETS BETTER! I guarantee you will adjust and will find that it becomes “normal” after some time. Diabetes is never perfect, but know that it absolutely becomes just another thing on the list. It will not consume your days and thoughts as it does now. I guarantee it! If you have a specific thing you’d like me to write about, please let me know! I am always open to new ideas! :)

    Posted by Maryam |
  17. Hi Maryam,

    Thank you for the kind words. I believe you - that it will get better. I think that right now everyone is trying to be strong for each other, but breaking down privately. I have really enjoyed all of your entries so far, and have something that I can use from each one. It would be helpful if you could expand a little on the idea of a mentor: the best age to introduce a mentor, etc. Also, if there is anything you write about your earlier years, even though that is not the focus of your blog, it would be helpful. I appreciate the time you take to write your blog, especially with your very busy schedule.

    Posted by Catherine |
  18. Hello Maryam!
    My dd is starting College this Fall, and also taking her dxd of 8+ years like you! What an interesting perspective you have added, reminding all that the experiences of your past make up who are are and will yet become! She like you will experience a similiar feeling perhaps, being away from the home and community that have looked out for her! We hope she enters into a new “home” and makes just as many if not more friends and supporters! Good luck to you! Keep us posted! Keep sharing your perspective!

    Posted by linda |

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