My story is a bit unique in that I am a veteran as well as a rookie when it comes to chronic disease. My name is Morgan and I’m twenty-three years old. I am a nurse by trade, but it is also something I’m passionate about. I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when I was two years old. I don’t remember anything about my diagnosis, only what my mom tells me. I had been sick for a little while. The doctors said it was a virus. To be fair, they were probably right – that may be how it started. When my health only worsened, I left for the hospital. My mom tells me I was so sick and dehydrated that during the ambulance ride there, the paramedics had to place an IV in my foot. In my mom’s words, I was so weak, my cries sounded like a cat meowing. Once in the ER, my mom asked the doctor if I was going to be okay. His only reply was, “Ma’am, we’re doing everything we can.” I spent about a week in the pediatric ICU as the doctors tried to stabilize my blood sugars.
Yet, here I am, alive and well, by the grace of God. To be honest, growing up with diabetes has been a huge blessing in my life. I don’t know anything different. My heart aches for those who have been diagnosed later in life, after they know how it feels to be a normal kid. I have been on an insulin pump since eighth grade, and to this day, I am passionate about sharing my experience and knowledge with people who are curious about my journey with diabetes. However, I’ve had plenty of experience with sleepless nights of low blood sugars and the exhaustion that comes from a never-ending barrage of blood sugar irregularities. It hasn’t been easy, but it has been a blessing. It has taught me how to persevere, shown me the strength I have, and it has forced me to take responsibility for my own actions. I had been faring quite well up until I graduated college. I didn’t know my health would strike again at a most inconvenient time.
It didn’t happen until last year. I graduated college with a nursing degree and I was excited and ready to join the medical field. I was ready to make a difference. However, approximately a week before graduation, I fell ill. I was nauseous, had a killer headache, and I felt exhausted. Then the balance problems started. I would randomly fall over in the middle of walking. I would consciously try to walk straight through a doorway and hit the wall instead. My feet would not do what I wanted them to do. It got to the point where I couldn’t stand up straight in the shower without involuntarily falling over. Naturally, having a nursing education, I knew something was very wrong, and it had nothing to do with my blood sugars. I called my mom one day and said, “It’s so weird, this is how I would imagine symptoms of MS feeling.” Lo and behold, a couple days after graduation, I was diagnosed with MS. My whole world fell apart. Before I knew it, my life was a flurry of MRIs, lumbar punctures, days in the hospital, and endless doctors. Additionally, the IV steroids I received in the hospital to fix my gait did not benefit my blood sugars; they were off the wall. Regardless, the days kept coming and I struggled to keep myself afloat.
My health has caused me an abundance of suffering; I won’t deny it. It has not been an easy road. Every day I wake up knowing the challenges I face. My faith in Jesus Christ has been the cornerstone of my survival. Every day I go to work I thank God that I am able to walk down the hallway to take care of my patients. Every time I wake up with a low blood sugar in the middle of the night, when I easily could’ve slept through it, I know God is watching over me. I have family and friends who have been there while I cried. I am so thankful for them. True, the stressful and negative emotions I feel about my diseases I often endure in silence. It’s easy to feel alone in it all. But I also want to share my experiences. I want to share my journey in hopes that I can encourage others out there that may be going through similar situations. You are not alone. People who suffer from chronic diseases must be brave to get through life in a productive way. My comfort comes from my faith and knowing that God will use my experiences for good. My spirit has suffered from the weight of battling my body every single day. But my strength comes from God. My diabetes and my MS do not define me. I will not suffer in silence.