Better Health: Smart Health Commentary Better Health (TM): smart health commentary

Article Comments

Type 1 Diabetes: An Invisible Illness

If you just snapped a quick picture, you wouldn’t see it.  Not unless you were looking for the small signs, like my insulin pump.  Or my spotted fingertips.

Type 1 diabetes isn’t something you can see on me.  It’s not an illness that, at this point in my life, comes with any constant external symptoms.  I am fortunate enough to not use a wheelchair or need vision assistance devices.  You can’t see my disease, even though it’s something I manage every day.

I seem “normal.”  (Stop laughing.  Let me use the word normal for the sake of this blog post, at the very least!)  I seem like your average 30 year old professional woman (again, stop laughing), recently married, inspired to achieve, and happy.

And I am happy.

But my good health is not without great effort.

Type 1 diabetes is a chronic illness, and one that has required daily maintenance and effort from me, and from my caregivers, for the last 23 years. Every morning starts with my meter.  Every meal I’ve eaten in the last two plus decades has been preceeded by a blood sugar check and an insulin dose.  And every night has my finger pricked by a lancet before my head hits the pillow.

This isn’t a pity party.  Not by a long shot.  My life is healthy and I have a very fulfiling existance, even if days are bookended by diabetes and even if I’m now wearing medical devices 24 hours a day, every single day.  And back when I was a fresh-faced litttle kiddo, people seemed to want to cure my disease because they didn’t like the idea of a small child dealing with this disease.

Kids are fun to cure.  They’re cute.  And their futures seem worth investing in.

What confuses me is how quickly people forget.  Type 1 diabetes became a part of my life a long time ago, and I don’t remember even a snippet of “the before.”  But even though I’ve lived very well with this disease and kept it from defining me in any way, it’s still here.  And it’s still something I deal with every day, regardless of how well or poorly controlled.  But just because I’m no longer a little kid with the bright, shining future, am I any less diabetic?  Any less deserving of that cure?  Just because you can’t see my disease, and because I seem to have it under physical and emotional control, does not mean it’s past the point of deserving a cure.

Here is a vlog post that I did back in February about vlogging during a low blood sugar and how “diabetes can look so normal yet feel so rotten.”   It’s a video that shows how invisible diabetes can be, but how visible it feels from the perspective of those who live with it:

Children with diabetes grow up to be adults with diabetes.  And all the while, we’re still ready for progress. And for hope.  And for a cure.

This week, September 14 – 20th, is Invisible Illness Awareness Week.  And today, I’m raising my voice for type 1 diabetes.

*This blog post was originally published at Six Until Me.*


You may also like these posts

Read comments »


Comments are closed.

Return to article »

Latest Interviews

IDEA Labs: Medical Students Take The Lead In Healthcare Innovation

It’s no secret that doctors are disappointed with the way that the U.S. healthcare system is evolving. Most feel helpless about improving their work conditions or solving technical problems in patient care. Fortunately one young medical student was undeterred by the mountain of disappointment carried by his senior clinician mentors…

Read more »

How To Be A Successful Patient: Young Doctors Offer Some Advice

I am proud to be a part of the American Resident Project an initiative that promotes the writing of medical students residents and new physicians as they explore ideas for transforming American health care delivery. I recently had the opportunity to interview three of the writing fellows about how to…

Read more »

See all interviews »

Latest Cartoon

See all cartoons »

Latest Book Reviews

Book Review: Is Empathy Learned By Faking It Till It’s Real?

I m often asked to do book reviews on my blog and I rarely agree to them. This is because it takes me a long time to read a book and then if I don t enjoy it I figure the author would rather me remain silent than publish my…

Read more »

The Spirit Of The Place: Samuel Shem’s New Book May Depress You

When I was in medical school I read Samuel Shem s House Of God as a right of passage. At the time I found it to be a cynical yet eerily accurate portrayal of the underbelly of academic medicine. I gained comfort from its gallows humor and it made me…

Read more »

Eat To Save Your Life: Another Half-True Diet Book

I am hesitant to review diet books because they are so often a tangled mess of fact and fiction. Teasing out their truth from falsehood is about as exhausting as delousing a long-haired elementary school student. However after being approached by the authors’ PR agency with the promise of a…

Read more »

See all book reviews »