Trial and Error - 17 Years of Living with Type 1 Diabetes
For all my life, all I have known is one thing: type 1 diabetes. As a child, as a teen, and even now as a young adult, diabetes has accompanied me through every season of my life from the day I was diagnosed at 15 months old. Growing up, I didn’t have a concept of what life was like without diabetes, it has always been a part of my daily routine. The nighttime lows, stubborn highs, and constant finger pokes have always been familiar to me and my family. Life for us has been a constant balance between managing my diabetes and allowing me to still enjoy the things that I love.
My parents taught me that T1D is a part of me but does not define who I am or what I can do. The challenges we faced while I was young taught me resiliency, and to push past the limits diabetes set for me. My parents wanted me to grow up with the same opportunities as the other children who were my age. They chose to take on the challenges that come with being an active person with diabetes, which they were warned about many times before. So, little Larissa was tearing up soccer fields, riding horses and doing everything else her little heart desired. This was just the beginning of my love for sports. In junior high and high school, I joined every sports team my rural Alberta school offered. I played basketball, volleyball, ran cross country, competed in track and field as well as horseback riding and showing cattle. Over the years, there were many moments when my diabetes would interfere with my active lifestyle. Sometimes I would be chugging juice box after juice box before games, while other times I would "rage bolus” because my blood sugar would refuse to come down. We have all been there, and know how mentally draining diabetes can be. However, we seem to find the strength to persevere. Every challenge I face with my diabetes reminds me of my resilience. Living with T1D has proven to me that I am able to overcome obstacles and achieve whatever I put my mind to.
It’s this mindset which drew me to I Challenge Diabetes (ICD). I first got involved with ICD in January of 2023 at the Panorama Leadership Retreat where I met so many amazing people with their own unique story. It was so validating to hear that other people experienced the same challenges that I did, and I learned a ton from so many of them. The leadership and empowerment that I Challenge Diabetes fosters within the diabetes community is invaluable and I am so grateful to be a part of it.
How I managed my diabetes over the years has evolved and improved for the better. For twelve years, I took multiple daily insulin injections, as it was the only option available to me and my family when I was first diagnosed. My life completely changed when I finally switched to the Omnipod® System, which was my first and only insulin pump for the last five years. After switching, I could finally go to my first sleepover at a friend’s house without my parents having to come to give me a needle. This gave me more confidence and independence. I also remember being so excited to get a churro with my sister the first time I went to Disneyland. At that time, I was only able to enjoy one bite because it was too hard for my parents to calculate the correct amount of insulin for it. Ten years later, when I returned to Disneyland with my basketball team, I was finally able to eat a whole churro by myself and not have to worry. The Omnipod has provided me with the freedom to do the things I love, and eat the things I love with less worry.
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Type 1 diabetes isn’t something you can ignore. It is always there, whether you like it or not, and is an intimate part of your story. It’s easy to resent this disease because of the constant pressure it puts on families and the person diagnosed with it. However, to me diabetes represents a level of vulnerability that I can share with others to create a sense of comfort. I choose to share that even after 17 years, there are still things that I forget to do. Perfection is not realistic. It doesn’t matter how much experience you have, there will be speed bumps, potholes, good days, bad days, and everything in between. So regardless of where you are in your diabetes journey, or your life, I am proud of all the things you have overcome to get here today :)