April 1st, 2004 was a day which will both haunt me and inspire me for the rest of my life. On that day I was admitted to CHEO as a newly diagnosed Type 1 Diabetic. Many people who suffer from a chronic illness will describe their diagnosis story as a time of fear, loss of self, and hopelessness. I describe mine as a time of change, new beginnings, and growth. A dark time brightened by the smiling doctors, caring nurses, and compassionate staff of CHEO.
As years passed, I would wonder why I had to face this illness. The insulin injections would sting, my glucose would just not be level, I wouldn't be able to eat that Beaver Tail due to high blood sugars, I would get asked why I have little holes in my fingers and a funny machine on my side.
It wasn't until recently that I truly came to appreciate the care I received at CHEO. In the past, each of my prior appointments would go according to plan. My A1C would check in great, my readings looked good and this left me feeling like I had a handle on this whole Diabetes thing. This appointment started like any other: check height, weight, and blood pressure, then A1C, finally ending with a talk with my doctor. As I entered the final stage of the oh-so-familiar routine, things took a nose dive. My A1C was much higher than normal, which could mean (if the trend persisted) many complications later in life. I was devastated and feeling alone, like no one could ever understand what I was going through. The person who would speak the words of greatest comfort to me would be my endocrinologist, Dr. Margret Lawson. “I know this can be scary, hard, and at times frustrating,” said Dr. Lawson. “You are brave for facing this - but also remember you're not in this alone.” And that couldn't have been truer. I had almost taken the blessing of CHEO for granted, not realizing its true power and kindheartedness until the end. Not only was my loving family at my side, but a team of outstanding nurses and doctors willing to assist me on this long and winding journey.
I recently had my final endocrinology appointment in clinic C10. Like each and every appointment which I attended for the past 12 years, I was greeted with a smile and taken through the process with care. My final moment in the clinic summarized my entire CHEO experience. Just before leaving, Dr. Lawson and I sat and discussed what’s to come and if I had any concerns about the transition to adult care. She gave me the paperwork, resting assured I knew all the skills and procedures to take care of myself. Before walking out, I gave her a hug thanking her for all the things, big and small, she did for me. In response, I received a thank you and yet another kind smile -- one that will warm my heart for years to come.