At 14 years old Miss Black USA 2007 Kalilah Allen-Harris was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes and will always remember February 10, 1999 as the day her life changed.
In our busy world, living our hectic lives, it’s common to rush through the day without caring for our health and bodies as we should.
We wake-up late after going to sleep late, drive too fast to work, rush through office or school responsibilities, eat lunch while surfing emails, drive too fast back home too late in the late, eat unhealthy, processed meals, watch too many television shows, spend little time with family, and once again, fall asleep later then planned.
However, today is different. Not only is today Friday, the day so many people are glad to say, “Tomorrow I don’t have to go to work,” but even more importantly, World Diabetes Day.
Ironically, I’ve recently been monitoring my own blood glucose levels. Already considering the less than one minute test an inconvenience to my day, I have new respect for people living with diabetes.
Kalilah is just one of millions living with diabetes. However, unlike my once-a-day blood sugar test, this young woman will monitor her levels and eat a balanced diet everyday for the rest of her life.
Though she recognizes the challenges of the initial changes she faced with the disease, she has learned even more from the experience.
As she said in an email, “It’s helped me to mature and learn a lot about myself. And it taught me organization and the importance of time management and being responsible.”
Type 1 diabetes, most often appearing in childhood, occurs when “the pancreas produces little or no insulin, a hormone needed to convert sugar (glucose) into energy,” says the Mayo Clinic.
“A chronic, progressive disease,” Dr. Barbara Anderson, a member of the DAWN (Diabetes, Attitudes, Wishes, and Needs) Youth advisory board, says that unlike pneumonia or influenza, “[diabetes] is a lot of work and it’s hard because you can never take a vacation day. You can never say, this weekend I’m going to keep my diabetes at home.”