Let me start off by introducing myself. My name is Jayson Pillay. More affectionately known as Jay. I am 18 years old and have been diabetic for 7years. And what an awesome 7years it has been! I was diagnosed on 5 July 2004 (yes I do still remember the day…I even remember the last thing I ate before I went into I.C.U ;->) and it was absolutely horrible at first. I’m sure my fellow diabetics out there can understand what it was like.
The first night that I was there I had to stand butt naked in front of a really pretty nurse. I wouldn’t dare look at her. I spent the next two weeks in Intensive Care after that. Not because my heart stopped from embarrassment but because my sugar was so bloody high! They ‘dripped’ me full of something to help with my dehydration and I had this thing which bit into my thumb to measure my heart rate. I like to look at things from a positive perspective but it became more and more difficult with each contraption that was latched onto my 11 year old body. The ultimate bummer was when this really gentle looking lady came to me early…very, very, very early one morning and said that she had to take some blood. The word “blood” rolled off her tongue and I was instantly terrified. She saw my reaction and gave me a sympathetic smile. Ha! Sympathy! Whatever.
She harpooned me for the next half hour. Oh my soul. That sucked BIG TIME!
After a week or so, after my sugar levels began to stabilize, a diabetes educator was sent to me to tell me about diabetes. Diabetes? At the time I couldn’t even pronounce the word diabetes. I remember being told that diabetes wasn’t curable and that it would never go away. Never! I would have to start eating different foods and changing my lifestyle. The educator told me about my pancreas and insulin and hormones. Where were all these crazy words coming from? I thought she was speaking a completely different language. She smiled at me and told me that the pancreas was situated in the stomach. In the stomach? Then surely all I had to do was take an Eno and whatever this pancreas thing was doing would be sorted out. It was only later on that I realized the pancreas was a whole different part of my body.
I was then moved to the paediatric ward. I spent the next two days in a bed smaller than my oversized 11 year old body could fit onto. My feet literally dangled off the edge of this minute little bed. This was turning into more and more of a nightmare each day. I was finally discharged from hospital after spending two days in that tiny bed. I couldn’t remember what you would call it if you are given permission to leave hospital, so when I got back to school I told all my friends that I was ‘expelled’ from hospital. Hardcore!
I got home and had to take my first insulin injection ever. I was so scared. I kept running through the process that the doctor showed me before I was ‘expelled’ from hospital. Make a sausage with your stomach, put the needle in gently and push the thing at the back of the injection slowly. An entire hour later I managed to give myself my first ever insulin injection. And it didn’t hurt at all. Not one tiny bit. I felt this overwhelming feeling of satisfaction and independence afterwards.
My holiday was over and I had to go back to school. I had to tell all my friends and teachers that I was now officially a diabetic. People felt sorry for me and every time I took an injection at school my friends thought I was a druggie. I just laughed at them and smiled. I still use that laugh and smile tactic to this very day. If I’m testing my sugar at a restaurant and someone looks at me with an awkward eye I just laugh and smile. And the reaction is always the same. They give me a confused smile and quickly look away. I find it very amusing.
The Centre for Diabetes and Endocrinology has to be the most awesome place in the world for a newly diagnosed diabetic. I have met life changing people and the coolest doctor and diabetic educator in the world at the CDE. David Segal and Hester Davel. These two angels have made living with diabetes worthwhile. I am so thankful for having them in my life and for the positivity and support that they have given me with managing my diabetes. Words could not describe how much I honour, respect and love them for what they have done for me. A true blessing is what they are. Much love to you guys!
High school came along and I had to do the diabetes education thing all over again. But after I got that out of the way I was your average high school kid, getting into trouble and doing all the crazy stuff one does in high school. And like all good high school stories there was a girl involved.
I met this special girl in my first year of high school. At first I was scared that she was going to think I’m weird because I was a diabetic. But my charm and debonair style took control and I put my diabetes aside for once. I finally scraped together the courage to ask her if she wanted to be my valentine. She said yes, obviously, and we became the best of friends. After a while I decided to tell her about my diabetes. I showed her my tester and injections and explained diabetes to her better than I had ever explained it to anyone ever before. She accepted it completely and we continued with our friendship the same as before. I went to another school and had to leave her behind for a while. But luckily I went back to my old school at the beginning of Grade 11 and we started dating. I asked her recently how she feels about having a diabetic boyfriend and she told me that it felt perfectly normal. The only thing that bothers her is when my sugar is low or high. Then she stresses like crazy. But because she knows about my diabetes, I’m comfortable with talking about it and doing all the normal things that a diabetic does, around her. The best thing I have done for my relationship is just being open about diabetes. And so far it is working out just fine.
I attended my first diabetes camp in the summer after I was diagnosed. I was the shy guy who didn’t talk to anyone. But because I saw other young people who went through the same thing that I was going through and who could empathize with me, I felt a sense of belonging. I’ve attended many diabetic camps after that and eventually I was approached to become a diabetes youth leader, so that I could help other young diabetics. I grasped the opportunity with both hands. I can proudly say that I have been honoured to meet some of the most amazing, awesome kids in the world since I became a youth leader. I have experienced so many wonderful moments on the diabetes youth camps over the past four years -the memories will stay with me forever! I have gained so many brothers and sisters over the years that I have a whole diabetic family aside from my family at home.
I believe that I have been blessed with diabetes. It has made my life an incredible journey thus far and continues to present me with more and more learning and growth opportunities every day. I have embraced being a diabetic. I couldn’t have asked for anything more special in the universe. Of course it can be a pain in the bum at times but if you roll with the punches and try to make the best of it, it becomes easier and easier to deal with everyday. If there is one thing I want to be remembered as, it would be as the guy that took diabetes and turned it into the most fun, exciting, greatest experience ever.
Peace and Love