What you don’t hear about teenagers living with diabetes

By J1 Reporter Libby Schimonitz

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Photo courtesy of Maddie Mullen

It can be strenuous and upsetting. It can be life threatening, and it never goes away.

 

Type 1 Diabetes is affected by every single bite you eat and every physical journey you embark on. Despite this, hundreds of thousands of young people live healthy lives while balancing constant insulin shots and countless finger pricks on a daily basis.

 

“It’s not what the commercials depict, you know? It’s not because we’re overweight or that we’re unhealthy,” Maddie Mullen ‘22, a Type 1 Diabetic of 10 years, explains. “It’s just an autoimmune disease, and there’s nothing we can do to change it.”

 

Mullen said she wouldn’t change things if given the option, “No, definitely not. I’ve met some of the coolest people. I wouldn’t want to change anything.” Through the different camps Mullen has attended, she has met hundreds of other diabetics who share something that she can relate to.

 

Mullen has been going to Camp Floyd Rogers, a camp in Gretna, Nebraska which was opened specifically for children with Type 1 Diabetes, annually for five years now, “Camp is one of the things I most look forward to, and it is one of my favorite parts of the whole ‘diabetes thing’,” she said. Though T1D brings several struggles to Mullen’s active freshman year, she is able to find the bright side of it.

 

“Being responsible for myself is definitely one of the hardest parts. Having to constantly check blood sugars and change pump sites. It’s a lot.” Not only is it a struggle to deal with herself, but the stress from Mullen’s parents weighs on her as well. Worrying about what her blood sugar is constantly, plus the added fear that she never knows what could happen at any given time.

 

In the world today, 1.25 million people are living with diabetes, leaving a large majority of the world’s population knowing little to nothing about the disease itself. Type 1 Diabetes is an autoimmune disease, and there’s no chance of getting rid of or outgrowing it, unless a cure is found.

 

Mullen views herself differently than others, she said, “It’s a different way of living, for sure. It requires a lot of ways of going about life.”

 

She has grown used to the fact that she has diabetes, and through a decade of living with it, she’s gotten used to the countless public finger pokes for blood sugar readings and pump site changes for insulin intake. Odd looks from strangers no longer take a toll on her, because Maddie has met some incredible people, who help her through the good and bad. “It forms a different kind of community. One that no one else can belong to.”

 

When diagnosed ten years ago, Maddie had no idea what was in store for her. But through the wonderful friends she’s made, the help of her parents, and most importantly, her responsibility to herself, she has navigated through the laborious disease with much success. Finger pokes and needle jabs aside, Type 1 Diabetes has simply become a way of life for freshman Maddie Mullen.

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