The following is a sample from a book I wrote about my life and struggles with diabetes.
My life and my blood sugars improved thanks to the pump. It completely changed my diet and my ability to eat pretty much whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. That’s a freedom you don’t know you have until you lose it.
The pump is what enabled me to play football--athletes have played football even at the professional level without pumps, but not everyone can build their lifestyle around football the way someone like Jay Leewhenburg did.
I read Jay’s story in his book Yes I Can! Yes You Can!: Tackle Diabetes and Win! I learned a lot from him and I found his story inspiring. The son of an NFL athlete, Jay was able to build a lifestyle that combined rigorous training with a strict eating and dosing schedule. He worked very hard and stayed extraordinarily disciplined in order to stay healthy enough to play football professionally.
I don’t think it’s fair to look at his success and expect that anyone and everyone can do it. Yes Jay worked hard and deserves recognition and admiration. But he was surrounded by a supportive family, and he had regular access to medicine and diabetes education. I had those advantages too, so I don’t have excuses as to why I didn’t manage my diabetes as well as he did both as an athlete and in life. I chose a different path.
But I’ve worked with many children and grown up with friends who simply never had those advantages, and I’ve seen the difference it makes. While Jay is playing football in his 20s, I know people in their 20s who are underweight, constantly feeling sick, and close to having their limbs amputated. Growing up with them, I can’t say it’s a lack of character but a lack of resources and support that made a difference. After all, I had all the advantages and still barely manage it as well as I do.
Most of my friends who are struggling more than I do either lost insurance, can’t afford an insulin pump, or they were taken off the pump by doctors who said they couldn’t handle the responsibility. We have all rationed insulin. We have all offered to send each other supplies in times of need. And we have all had issues with doctors, insurance companies, pharmacies, and coming to terms with diabetes socially.
I don’t know if Jay enjoyed a social life like I did or if his family expected him to focus on education to the same degree mine did, but thanks to the pump, I was able to have a chance at a normal life. I grew up in a different time, where yes everyone gets a participation trophy but what an accomplishment it is to be able to participate in 8 classes of high school, a varsity football team, plus homework plus extracurriculars plus the internet’s data overwhelm plus plus plus plus plus.
I don’t know how I would have done it without a pump. And like the study mentions, it didn’t come without a social and psychological cost.
The pump also is what really makes diabetes a “hidden disability.” Most people don’t notice that I wear a pump because I keep it in my pocket, and I tuck the tube inside my belt so it won’t get pulled. Diabetes seldom comes up until the pump comes out, and many people forget that I have diabetes because I don’t let it stop me from playing sports, drinking, performing, and chasing my dreams.
But it used to be much more visible. And the overwhelm of questions, misunderstandings, and feelings of alienation that I experienced as a child and well into the present have influenced me to withdraw into a darkness that I still struggle with to this day.
I hope you've enjoyed this sample. Feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org to read more or ask me any questions. I am actively looking for agents/publishers for the manuscript.