Written by: Sam St. John
The day was March 28, the year was 2014. Up until that specific date, my life had taken a little bit of a turn. I was heading into a stressful time during my sophomore year at Bridgewater College, with final exams coming up and big projects that were making my head explode. Something else was adding to the stress as well, for on March 28, 2014, I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes, at the ripe old age of nineteen.
For several months prior to this moment in my life, I had noticed a drastic amount of weight loss, as well as experienced severe thirst and other side effects associated with this disease. I headed home to my family doctor, knowing that I would find out something one way or another. Diabetes, Types 1 and 2, run in my family, so though it was an extreme shock to learn of the diagnosis, my parents and I were all expecting to hear those fateful words.
The day I was diagnosed, I was given a hard and fast crash course in insulin shots, blood glucose monitors, replacing needles, the functions of a pancreas, and numerous other medical jargon that I more than likely didn’t comprehend, due in part to the shock I was still under. Did I mention the fact that I had the biggest interviews of my life coming up the following week?
I was traveling back and forth between school and home, which was two hours south, juggling classwork with weekly visits to my doctor and endocrinologist, fearing that I would fall behind in my exam studying. I am a communications major and one of my final projects involved conducting interviews with Don Reid and Jimmy Fortune, members of country music and Grammy winning group, The Statler Brothers. Both men had agreed to have individual phone interviews with me, on their terms and conditions.
After reading up on the group’s history, (though I was already a lifelong fan), and writing out interview questions that were revealing, yet not cliché, I felt as prepared as I could be to begin my interviews. I was nervous for several reasons. The first being the obvious, I had never talked with someone that had been a professional musician for 40 years, the second being my health, and whether or not I would let the drama of the previous weeks get in the way of my focus and drive, in order to conduct as professional an interview as I could.
Both interviews went over smoothly, and I ended up talking with Don and Jimmy longer than was originally planned. It was after this realization that I understood I could continue living my life as I wanted to live it. I pressed forward in my projects and exams, and ended up with better grades than I was expecting, especially after my fear of having to drop a class or two in order to maintain a solid GPA.
Since my diagnosis, I have traveled to London and Berlin with many friends, including Mr. Andrew Buss, and have cruised the Caribbean with another friend from school. My life is a little different than most of my friends, and I have had to learn to grow up really fast in order to comprehend all of the dangers and challenges that follow Type 1 Diabetes. I have spoken about my struggles in Bridgewater’s chapel service and during a sermon I gave at my church in Roanoke, Virginia. I hope that through my medical diagnosis, I may somehow change someone’s view on the disease, and prove to them that it is manageable, and that life will continue to move foreword