I love to run. Not a day goes by when I don't think about how lucky I am that I can run. I am not the fastest runner or the strongest, but I am incredibly grateful that I can do something that brings me such joy.
In the past, I would have been discouraged to run because I have diabetes. When I was first diagnosed 23 years ago, the doctors and nurses told my parents that they should be careful about how much exercise I got. I'm glad my parents didn't listen much to them and let me do what I wanted to do. After all, the doctors told my type 1 diabetic grandma (for over 74 years!) that she should never have kids. My parents always instilled in me that I can do whatever I want, no matter what anyone says, starting when I was young.
Because of that, I never perceived myself as being all that different from everyone else playing sports. When I think back on my childhood, rarely do I remember testing my blood sugar at games or during practices or having to sit out because I was low. Back then, I didn't wear an insulin pump so no one could tell I had diabetes. I looked like any other athlete playing the sport - soccer, softball, basketball, volleyball, track - whatever sport it was. The only difference was that I carried Gatorade with me whoever I went and played sports - to both practices and games.
Through the years, I have had a few people and doctors tell me I shouldn't or can't do things, or will not be able to do them. Whenever anyone tells me I can't do something, that motivates me 1,000 times more to succeed. "You won't run Boston" is what a doctor told me this summer. "You should not exercise that much because you have diabetes" is something I heard from another doctor. "Runners never qualify for Boston after only running 1 marathon" another runner said to me last year in the spring. "You'll need surgery on your foot because your arch is too high and will be painful by the time you are 20" another doctor said. To all of them, I said no, that will not happen. I will qualify for Boston on my second marathon. I will run Boston in the spring. I won't have surgery. I'll exercise however much I desire.
Diabetes doesn't stop me from what I want to do. Sure, it might be inconvenient and be problematic at times, such as when I "ran" the ChiTown half marathon in the spring (I walked 3-4 miles of it because I had a low blood sugar during the race). When I go to track and complete workouts with my running club, or do any other runs with the club, I'm the only diabetic. Do I think I have a disadvantage when we line up and start running? No, not at all. As a matter of fact, I'm the first girl to finish most weeks. When I line up for a race, I don't know if there are other diabetics, but I assume not many, if there are any at all. Do I think I should start in the back because I have a health condition? No.
Diabetes doesn't stop me or prevent me from doing what I want. It motivates me to be better than the rest, knowing that a small part of me is incomplete. I am the living proof that anyone can succeed if they truly want and desire to do so.