(Written by Kristine Blanchard – Illinois)
My name is Kristine Blanchard and I am a Type 1 Diabetic.
I was diagnosed in April, 1970 when I was 13 years old. This April will be my 40 year anniversary. Well, I CAN celebrate, that after all the ups and downs about living with this disease…I am happy to say I am healthier now than I was 15 years ago and I have hope for a healthy future!
About 6 months before my diagnosis, my parents told me that I could have a horse. Horses were all I ever thought about and I asked my parents for one every day of my life. I’m not sure when I got this obsession, probably when I saw my Dad riding a horse when I was 3. Anyway, my parents couldn’t take the promise back, just because I became a Type 1 Diabetic. It never even crossed my mind that I couldn’t have a horse. I ended up with a 2 year old Appaloosa gelding that was “green broke”…good thing my Mom didn’t know what that meant…she just thought Rum was a pony, not a soon-to-be big horse! After all the attention I gave Rum, he ended up being a very gentle horse that I could let my nieces and nephews ride, and my Mom trusted that I was safe riding him.
Timing has been on my side during my life. Women’s High School sports was first starting and when I was growing up, I used to pretend I was a horse…and just run everywhere…so, I ended up on the first Waconia, MN, High School Track Team… and even Lettered! My Dad happened to be Waconia’s Recreational Director and he did pop in to see practice a few times. I was blessed to have very loving and supportive parents.
Both my horse and track came within the first 2 years after being diagnosed. I was happy and definitely healthier than I was the year before. I have come to learn that “how I feel” is very important. When I was first diagnosed, I was only taking one shot a day (remember this was in 1970). When I started taking another shot at night, I noticed that I felt better, so I kept up with it. Now, if I don’t feel well, I check my BG first. I learned early on as a girl to be sure I managed my diabetes. Today, my insulin pump makes things easier for me.
The Negative Influences:
In my teens, I wanted to become a Stewardess and travel, but I was lead to believe that all the day and evening work hours would be too hard on me. So, I never pursued it. A little later, I was told I could never live by myself – always being told I had to have someone to take care of me. I even had a Doctor tell me (actually yell) that if I did not keep good blood sugars, I would be dead from a heart attack in 10 years. That was 30 years ago and it was very discouraging at the time. For a long time in my life, I didn’t think past these negatives – and mentally set aside all I had already accomplished and continuing to recognize how I woudln’t allow diabetes to hold me back.
I never planned on having a baby and I knew my Mom didn’t want me to, but ‘accidents happen’ and became pregnant at age 22. I had a difficult pregnancy and when my kidneys were about to fail, I was induced 7 weeks early. My baby had to spend the next month in an incubator. Because of the way I had watched my health since my teen years, I was on high quality prenatals througout my pregnancy and as soon as my son was born, my kidneys went back to normal. My mother, who was an LPN, and I had noticed during the pregnancy that my fingernails and hair were growing better – it’s how we learned of the power of quality vitamins. When my baby turned one year old, the movie “Steel Magnolias” came out and as many people know, it did not have a happy ending for the diabetic mother. When my son was 6, I was not feeling well. I kept remembering this movie. I really wanted to be a young and healthy Mom for my child. I am fortunate that one month later, my sister-in-law, Annette, reminded me how my vitamin regimin helped me during my pregnancy and how they were helping her at that time.
My Life Today:
I’m now in my early 50’s and I just bought another riding horse. Yea! I also manage my home-based network marketing business. You guessed it – it involves quality vitamins. I represent a company called Usana Health Sciences and have a website devoted to living a healthy life with diabetes – the site is: theorganicdiabetic.net.
Being a Type 1 Diabetic has taught me a valuable lesson: You have to take care of yourself first before you can take care of anyone else. Today, I am asked to help out with many things and I am happy to give back as much as I can. Most people know I have this disease, but it rarely crosses their mind because I am rarely sick. I feel good and have the energy to get things done. My life’s journey may be a bit different from others, but my message to any youngster (and their parents) is to “know how you feel, manage your diabetes, and follow your passions.”
I want to thank Juvenile Diabetes No Limits for starting this great site!