Lily's Essay - Different
Editors note: Lily wrote this essay for a Literary Styles assignment on why you are different (from everyone else). After she wrote it she asked if we'd like to read it before she handed it in. Interestingly enough, she has never expressed any of these sentiments to either Mimi or I.

Lily is 15 and a sophomore at Gunn High School in Palo Alto, CA.

   Literary Styles Lily Robinton Period E. 1/15/99   
Lily's picture "Pleeeease mom? Can't I just stay one more? C'mon, just one more!" That used to be my voice begging my mom to let me stay over another night or another hour with my friends. I used to hide when it was time for me to leave my friends and go home to what I considered to be utmost boredom. I was a normal ten year old social butterfly. I had never felt strange or excluded, and as far as I was concerned, I fit right in. That was before I got sick, and was diagnosed as a Type1 diabetic exactly one week after my eleventh birthday. I didn't know what being diabetic was all about, but I knew enough from my fourth grade health class to know that I wouldn't be able to eat candy or sweets like everyone else, and I would have to get a lot of shots. During my next few days in the hospital I learned that unlike everyone else, I no longer had a functioning pancreas to make insulin needed to turn the food I ate into energy. Instead I would have to take three shots a day of insulin to keep my body running. While I was in the hospital my soccer team made me a get well soon card, I appreciated it a lot, but I thought it to be slightly ironic since I couldn't ever "get well" from diabetes, I would literally be stuck with it forever. It didn't seem fair, why did I get it? Nobody else at my whole school had been diabetic. How did it end up that I was singled out to be the one? I felt like a puzzle piece that's been thrown in the wrong puzzle box and won't fit with the other pieces no matter which way it's turned.

Most of my close friends didn't treat me differently afterwards. I only lost one friend as a result of my diagnoses. Even though many people acted like I was the same, the difference was as evident as if someone had branded my forehead with a huge DIABETIC stamp. I put up the best shield I could that I was still the same old Lily, but the effort exhausted me and as soon as I had to perform a "diabetic task" such as taking a blood sample from my finger, my shield would crumble and I would burst into tears at the unfairness of what I alone had to do, that none of my other friends had to deal with. Holding up the pretense around my friends that I was okay, was so tiring that I began to prefer the safe company of my family. To make matters worse, I was about to start sixth grade at a completely new school where I would be expected to meet many new friends. I fervently hoped that I would have some of my old classmates in my new class so I wouldn't have to face any new people. On the first day of school, I discovered to my dismay that I had none of my old friends in my class. Maybe the old Lily would have been fine in this situation and stepped out to see what fun new acquaintance I could make, but I had buried that person inside me and my weariness of being "okay" with sticking and poking myself all the time, and leaving the classroom every day to eat my scheduled snacks made me want to curl into a ball and hide in a cave by myself. While I was busy trying to avoid people, my old friends were busy making new friends in their new classes, and slowly but surely, the distance between me and them widened.

I made it a ritual every night to look up into the sky and find the brightest star I could, and wish with all my heart that there would be some miracle, some cure that would make me just like everyone else again. I don't know how far I would have pulled back into myself if I hadn't gotten an insulin pump a few months later. I guess I better explain a little. An insulin pump is a box containing a syringe filled with insulin. A tube attaches to the syringe and runs down to a needle that is inserted in my skin and stays there for three to four days until it needs to be changed. When I need insulin, I can push some buttons on my pump and it will give me that amount through the needle. This meant I wouldn't ever need to stop what I was doing to take an injection, or eat an unwanted snack, or have people make something "special" when I came over to eat dinner. I could eat sugar, and as much (within reason) as I wanted, all because an insulin pump is much more effective than injections and is more like an actual pancreas. I was more like a normal kid. I was still different, but not with a capital D. Diabetes no longer felt like a death sentence, but was instead something that I had control over, and it made it a lot easier to accept.

As soon as I began to accept my differentness my personality began to blossom again. I became more social and outgoing, like I was before I was diagnosed. I stopped wishing every night to be just like everyone else, and I even found some positive light to my situation. I realized that being diabetic didn't make me worse than everyone else, and it didn't mean my life would be less fun and exciting. The change in my attitude was noticeable, and in many instances, instead of being pitied, I was given respect for dealing with my diabetes. I was no longer self conscious about being diabetic, and as a result people around me became more comfortable with it's existence as well. They knew that since I wasn't embarrassed about it, that they didn't need to be embarrassed to ask questions. Most importantly, by accepting my diabetes, I realized I didn't need to be like everyone else to be happy.

Lily Robinton

If you have a child with diabetes and would like to talk to other parents about the Insulin Pump, please contact or visit the Insulin-Pumpers website.