The Year I Was Diagnosed…and Empowered!

WRITTEN BY: Brittany Compston

Every year seems to have a big event that sticks out: In 2012 I graduated from College! In 2013 I married my high school sweetheart! In 2014 I…bought a house? Had a baby? Nope. The life-changing event of 2014 was being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.

In case you don’t know, T1D is an autoimmune disease in which the insulin producing beta cells are destroyed. Only 5% – 10% of diabetics have type 1. It cannot be prevented and it cannot be cured.

A few months after my wedding I knew something was off. I have always been thin, but suddenly everyone was telling me that I was even thinner than normal. People asked if I had been eating and my response was, “Yes! Anything and everything!” And that was the truth. My appetite had suddenly gone crazy. I was constantly hungry. I could eat and eat and I never felt full. Oddly, I wasn’t gaining weight, but losing weight I didn’t have to lose. On top of this I was thirsty ALL the time. No matter what, my body always needed more.

One day I noticed that teaching my kindergarten students seemed more tiring than usual. Carrying groceries up the stairs to our door felt like a chore. My legs ached. It was wintertime so for a while I brushed it off as not having enough vitamin D. I’ve also always been a runner. My last straw was going for a run and, not even a minute in, having to stop. I knew something wasn’t right. I called my doctor and scheduled an appointment.

On February 17, 2014 I was told I had diabetes. The doctor came in with a needle and a vial of insulin and asked how I felt about giving myself shots—as if I had a choice! Life with T1D was crazy at first. Knowing that I needed insulin to live for the rest of my life was a hard pill to swallow. I knew things would never be the same. But soon I found an awesome endocrinologist who made things seem more manageable. Soon I felt confident that I could figure this craziness out.

I’m thankful to say I am 100% healthy. My body just doesn’t produce insulin. So it’s up to me (with the help of my insulin pump) to manage my blood sugar as best I can to keep myself healthy!

Having T1D affects everything I do. From my workouts to my workday. I have to make sure I’m prepared for whatever the day might bring. I have to make time for interruptions such as checking my blood sugar, bringing down a high, eating, or fixing a failed pump. Being a kindergarten teacher, I have lots of little eyes on me while doing these things every day.

No person with T1D likes the extra baggage of the disease on top of the stress of work and life in general. However, knowing I can manage it—on top of everything else—has proven to be completely empowering to me.

T1D hasn’t and will not stop me from trying new things. It hasn’t stopped me from loving my life. Which is something I hope all people with T1D—young and old—will follow!

Brittany Compston

Brittany is a 25 year old Kindergarten teacher from Ashland, Kentucky and was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes in 2014. She has a bachelors degree in Elementary Education from the University of Kentucky (Go Cats!) and is married to her husband Travis, who she has been with since they were 17. They has a dog, Lola, who is their fur baby who still doesn't know she's actually a dog. Brittany loves baking, summer evenings, all things yellow, football, and running. She loves a challenge and trying new things, and this year she started a new hobby of running Spartan races and thinks it's now safe to say she is addicted! Brittany's favorite quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson reads: "What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us." She feels like she started living like this after she was diagnosed with T1D. Brittany takes it as life is going to throw many wonderful and crazy things our way, but the only thing that matters is how strong a fight we have inside to put up against it!