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When All My Health Problems Are Blamed On My Diabetes

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It started with my type 1 diabetes (T1D) diagnosis at age 7. Even during the months of appointments trying to figure out what was wrong… The healthcare professionals went for the easy answer.

My parents were overreacting.

Even when we came back after someone told us it’s probably diabetes, they tried to send us home.

After I was diagnosed with T1D, that became the new easy way out. The easy answer. The only answer.

I acknowledge it. I acknowledge that yes, sometimes T1D is the answer. Even if it is, does that mean we stop there and take the easy way out?

I sprained my ankle when I was 9. As the doctor was looking at my ankle, she stated, “You sprained your ankle because you must have had a low blood sugar.” No. I’m just clumsy. My dad picked me up right after that, and we walked out to never see her again.

I was forgetful and scattered for most of my life. I displayed all of the symptoms of ADHD, but I didn’t get an official diagnosis until I was 22 when I had had enough. Up until then, I was told it was due to high blood sugars.

I was anxious and stressed all of the time, but apparently this was only because of diabetes. Just like with ADHD, I didn’t get an official diagnosis of anxiety and OCD until I was 22. My anxiety was just because I had diabetes. There was little acknowledgement until I found the right doctor that my OCD and anxiety manifest themselves via my diabetes.

Yes, sometimes my diabetes is tied to my mental health, but it isn’t the only answer.

My first period was debilitatingly painful, and the first doctor blamed my diabetes. Many doctors blamed the diabetes and didn’t want me on birth control. Apparently, that was the only thing it could be. I should just deal with it. Then, we had to use the chaos my period created for my diabetes to finally get on birth control.

Since it was “just the diabetes,” I wasn’t diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome and endometriosis until I was 23.

After living with a chronic illness for almost 17 years, I’ve learned when to leave a health care provider if it isn’t the right fit. My first sign is if they won’t drop that the only answer is diabetes. Maybe it is part of it or all of it, but I don’t want to miss other possibilities because it’s the easy way out. It’s already happened too many times before.

I’ve also learned to stick up for myself and to listen to my body.

There’s more to me and my health than this chronic illness.

If I strive for my illness not to be a cop out in my life, why does it seem to become so in health care?

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Originally published: January 4, 2017
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