Dear Diabetes

WRITTEN BY: Hannah Vester

Dear Diabetes,

We haven’t been friends for long — if you can even call it a friendship. It’s been 5 years, 41 days, and 23 hours since we met. Sometimes I hate you, well, most of the time I hate you, and sometimes I’m not sure where I would be without you.
I know you don’t hear that from a lot of people, but there’s a first time for everything, right? I wanted to thank you for all the lessons you’ve taught me about my body and that good health is a gift not to be taken for granted (along with the ability to eat a pizza and not regret it 2 hours later when I’m 250 mg/dL). Thank you for teaching me patience, because I’m sure I’ll be explaining that I can eat and drink whatever I want, for the rest of my life, and that I did not become friends with you because I drank too much juice when I was little (shout out to Juicy Juice for saving my life … multiple times). Thank you for teaching me that giving up is not an option either.
I know it seems strange, but without you, I wouldn’t have half the mental and emotional strength that I have today. We’ve had some bad days (I mean really bad), but I guess those were your way of testing me. Testing me to make sure I really understood your lessons. To make sure I wouldn’t crack under pressure. To make sure I never gave up.
I’ll never know why you chose me as a friend — I didn’t think I needed another one. After all, the first 10 years of my swimming career were great without you. Did you think you were missing out on something? Did you want this for the bathing suit? It would have been nice to finish out my last six years of swimming without you, but I forgive you. You helped me teach a lot of people a lesson in perspective. Without doing the shots of insulin and finger pricks in front of them, and playing “guess my blood sugar,” how would they know that their practices could be 100 times harder if they had you as a friend? Anyway, thank you for helping me teach young kids that we can do whatever anyone else does; it just requires a bit of extra work. Thank you for showing me that when life knocks you down, the only option is to stand up and swing back — harder.

Hannah Vester

Hannah is 21-year-old senior at the College of William and Mary and a new member of the “Swam Team” (the "team" for college seniors who have officially swam their last race). She was diagnosed on January 22, 2011 and to date has raised more than $73,000 dollars for diabetes research and advocacy.