Michaela Byrnes (nickname Kayla) is an adorable 21-year-old college student in Massachusetts who was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes five years ago. She found me online recently -- and through me, discovered the entire Diabetes OC. I'm very grateful to report that our just "being here" seems to have helped change at least this one life.
"My mom actually found this stuff, around Thanksgiving 2007," Kayla tells me. "At first I wasn't that interested, because many of the topics didn't really speak to me... the information was interesting, but I didn't find someone that had experiences like mine. Now, the more I look into it, the more I find things of value here, and I want to connect -- to talk about topics that seem 'taboo.'" What Kayla really wants to do is start her own blog for PWD college students walking in her shoes.
In her own words:
Here's what I'm wondering: Do any other diabetics feel like there are some questions that no matter how you phrase it cannot be asked or answered by a medical professional? Like, Excuse me Doctor, but, how exactly am I supposed to fit into those cute skinny jeans that everyone's wearing with this pump attached to my butt?
Rather, enough is enough, I get it...I'm supposed to watch what I eat, poke my finger and carry a juice box in my purse and after all that, somehow manage to still be the 21 year old girl who loves dressing up and going out with her friends?
For years, there was a part of me that felt I had to hide my "fun" side from my doctors, talking to my doctor was more stressful than talking to my parents when I stayed out past my curfew. Recently, I've been blessed with the most wonderful doctor, when he told me he had a daughter my age, I felt like I had won the Medical Professional Jackpot. Yet, it took me almost 6 months after my 21st birthday to admit that one of my greatest enjoyments in my young life is going out with my girlfriends and (Gasp!) gossiping over a cocktail or two. I'll never forget the day I decided that I was going to ask my doctor how to bolus when drinking beer. I was a nervous wreck all day; surely he would think differently of me as a patient, my palms were sweating as I interrupted him and blurted out "I drink beer." Surprising to me, he simply explained what precautions to take and didn't kick me out of his office for being what I considered a "bad" diabetic. Even now as I write this, I am worried that perhaps I am too self-critical or vice versa, that I'm the only diabetic in the world who loves a good beer now and again.
What I've realized through my discovery of the online community and through several other epiphanies' is that diabetes does not mean sacrificing "you," it's all about adapting to fit diabetes into your life. When my Mom found the blogging community, I began a fervent search to find the "answer" to questions that have bothered me for years. The diabetes part is manageable, it's figuring out how to maintain your "fabulosity" that I've found to be the tricky part. Fashion Designers don't cater to normal sized women much less the pump girls of the world. However, I've found that after years of hiding my body and my pump, it's not worth it. Diabetics should flaunt what their momma's gave them just as much as anyone else, after all, we do it all...We're smart, beautiful, fun, interesting women AND we have diabetes.
Let's focus on the positive; I don't want diabetes to define me but rather motivate me. What I'm trying to get at is my idea for my own blog, I want to create a space where I can talk about the topics that other diabetic women understand and have experienced. I personally don't have any friends with diabetes so anything I've learned has been from my own mistakes and discoveries about fashion, sex, going out, exercise, work, travel, boyfriends, etc. I've been thinking about this idea for some time and discovering DiabetesMine made me realize that I'm not alone, and what I'm hoping is that I can get some feedback on my ideas from some fellow fashionista diabetics. I believe there is a fun side to diabetes; it's just harder to find. Thanks Amy, for giving me this idea!
Thank you, Kayla, for just being so real. I can certainly relate to all your concerns -- even as an early-40s mom. I love a hot outfit and good drink, too. But I bet there are loads other teens and college students who can relate even more closely. If you're out there, Gals, step up and say hello to Kayla!