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My Reality with T1D

By Taylor Meredith '22

Whitworth's Educational Support Services helps students with disabilities overcome academic or other barriers. Learn more in this video.

I was 11 when I first grasped what Type 1 diabetes is. Distilled down, T1D is an autoimmune disease that occurs when the body turns on itself, destroying the beta cells in the pancreas that produce insulin. Since my diagnosis, I've given myself countless insulin injections and finger pricks and counted every carbohydrate I've eaten.

For a long time, I struggled with whether I should get academic accommodations at Whitworth because of my T1D. Accommodations seemed weak to me. The first time I visited the Educational Support Services Office, I felt like I was fundamentally deficient. I've since realized that I couldn't be more wrong (though I still have to remind myself that sometimes). Even though a formal letter of accommodations goes to each of my professors at the beginning of the term, I still tell them the basics, including that I'll be using my phone to check my blood sugar (I'm not surfing Instagram – honest!). When I first talked to my professors about T1D, I was incredibly nervous, and the discomfort of many of them was apparent, too. Being different can make people surprisingly uncomfortable around you.


But I remember stepping out of class one day because my blood sugar was really low, and when I returned my professor said it was good I'd come back before he'd had to send someone out to find me. His simple acknowledgment normalized my reality with T1D. What's most common, and most awkward, is when people pretend they don't notice my continuous glucose alarms or that I'm nearly incoherent from low blood sugar.

For the first several years after my diagnosis, I tried to hide my T1D; I went into the bathroom to test and to take injections. When I got my G6 continuous glucose monitor, I wore long-sleeved shirts to cover it. Over time, I decided that T1D is something I'm going to have until I die, so it's silly to try to hide it. My diabetic alert dog, Liam, who alerts me to out-of-range or rapidly changing blood sugars, also helps me advocate. (Amazingly, he's more accurate than any technology.)

Since I stopped hiding my T1D, hundreds of people, diabetics and nondiabetics alike, have commented on my devices and on Liam, and many of the interactions are positive. It's always wonderful when someone comes up to me at Whitworth and says, "I have the G6 too!" and points to the monitor under their shirt sleeve. That moment of relating to another student or faculty member is priceless, and it's one reason why I now love proudly showing off my gadgets.

Meredith's story appears in the fall 2019 issue of Whitworth Today magazine.


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