In 2007, diabetes was the fifth leading cause of death to Americans. While more than 23 million people in the U.S. have this affliction, less than 18 million of them have been diagnosed.
On average, 1.6 million new cases of diabetes are diagnosed every year, quickly adding to the grand total and often taking those who are diagnosed by surprise.
When Madeline Epps was diagnosed in 2009 with Type 1 diabetes, she was only 13 years old. While Type 2 diabetes is more easily preventable, Type 1 is not preventable at all. It requires many life changes, including taking insulin on a regular basis, just to stay alive. Every day, those who have been diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes have to check their blood sugar multiple times to make sure that it is at a safe level.
“I check it when I wake up, when I eat, two hours later to make sure I took enough insulin. … I check it usually ten times a day.” Epps explains.
It’s clear that her life has had to change drastically since she was diagnosed.
“I never really got use to it,” she admits, and then adds, “Yet I can’t remember how I did things before I was diagnosed.”
Apart from changing daily routines, diabetes also has a large impact on what and how those with this condition can eat.
“I used to skip meals all the time,” Epps remembers. “I have changed from being a careless eater to watching what I eat and not skipping. Now I’m eating healthier and it helps. I actually feel better about myself.”
While Epps points out that diabetes is not all bad, she confesses that there are some things about it that she doesn’t like very much.
“I get stared at for doing shots,” she explains. The shots she mentions are injections of insulin necessary to help the sugar she eats make its way into her blood.
“People mistake a teenage diabetic for a teenage rebel doing [drugs] in bathrooms.”
Madeline Epps is just one of the millions diagnosed with diabetes, but her story can act as both a revealing account of what it’s like to live with this shockingly common ailment and an inspiration as she looks past the difficulties and instead thinks of the positive aspects it has brought.
“I’ve become more active and am surprisingly more fit and in shape than I’ve ever been in my life, even with a faulty pancreas,” she said.
Epps has a moving attitude of defiance as she lives out every day to its fullest, not letting her unfortunate diagnosis stop her from doing anything she wants to do.