Ginger Vieira was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when she was 13, celiac disease a year later, and fibromyalgia in 2014. Ginger provides great insights into life with multiple chronic illnesses, including how to make the most of your life despite your health setbacks.
I was 13 years old when I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. I remember sitting in my hospital bed for three or four days after my diagnosis to help my body recover from the severely high blood sugar levels and get everything stabilized before heading home. As soon as my parents and the nurses were all out of the doctor's office, I cried my eyes out.
"Why me? This isn't fair! Why me?"
That's all I could think. How horribly unfair. How scary. What will my future be like now? My life will never be the same. This isn't fair.
And then I realized something. As I sat there feeling sorry for myself, I thought about my friends. Despite being only 13 years old, I had friends who lived with hemophilia, who had passed away because of leukemia, or who had lost their mother to brain cancer. I had friends who were struggling with severe depression. I had friends whose parents were alcoholics and may never been seen again. I had friends who'd been sexually assaulted as children, friends with muscular dystrophy, friends with damage to their brains from brain tumors, and friends with physical deformities that they will live with for the rest of their lives.
My friends all had their own story. None of them were free from some kind of physical or emotional struggle. None of them had it easy.
No one is spared
That's when I realized that everyone in life has challenges. Everyone. Now, diabetes had become one of my challenges. And then sure enough, a year later I was presented with another challenge when diagnosed with celiac disease.
Does that mean that I think life hands us one or two challenges, and that's our share? Absolutely not. Instead, I realized that we are constantly facing challenges. Every single one of us. Constantly. Some are huge. Some are small. Some challenges that feel overwhelming to us may seem easier to others, and vice versa.
When I left that hospital, I chose to accept that. I understood that I am no different from others who are facing life's challenges, and I need not hold onto pity for myself. Because of that choice, I'm able to keep that perspective during every encounter that feels overwhelming.
Attitude is everything
My next problem, whatever it may be, is just a challenge. I can deny it's there, stop and pity myself, wallow in sadness, or run away. Or, I can face it, one step at a time. Whether it's diabetes or a challenge at work or an obstacle with my family—whatever it may be, we all come across those challenges. I choose to face mine, including diabetes, with positivity and determination.
What will you choose?
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