Allison type 1 diabetic

“Hello there, my name is Allison, I am the owner and lead designer of a local flower shop, Flora & Fauna, and I am a type 1 diabetic.

My diagnosis story was thankfully, relatively uneventful. I was diagnosed at the age of 13, just after starting my eighth grade school year. I can remember the discomfort leading up to my diagnosis, yet not realizing that what I was experiencing was any different from the other teenagers around me. There are so many hormonal changes that occur throughout those pre-teenage years leading up to becoming a teenager, that I felt like what I was going through was “normal”. It also didn’t help that I had, what seemed like, reasonable explanations for all of the ways I was feeling which made me never question that I was sick.

Such as:

That is until one day after school I went to our family practitioner, I was experiencing the tell tale signs of a sinus infection and wanted to nip it in the bud. My doctor stepped out of the room for a moment, only to come back in to catch the tail end of a story I was recounting to my mom from that day at school. Some of my teachers were getting suspicious about my frequent requests to go to the bathroom during their classes. I told her that I was shying away from asking their permission and learned of other ways to alleviate the pressure on my bladder until I could use the bathroom between classes. My doctor walked in right about when I was explaining how I would pretend to need to blow my nose just so I could go get a tissue across the room to alleviate the pressure.

Needless to say, my doctor immediately began asking questions, diving deeper into approximately how long I had been experiencing the frequent urination and if there was anything else out of routine that I was experiencing. Ultimately, he ended up checking my blood glucose with a quick prick to the finger, which was at 480 mg/dL, and asked when and what was the last thing I’d eaten that day. Following up with a urine sample that proved to have high levels of ketones, he confirmed his diagnosis of type 1 diabetes. I started insulin that very evening.

Getting diagnosed with an incurable disease can be devastating – emotionally, physically, financially. It can be overwhelming, uncomfortable and challenging to navigate at times. There was a real adjustment period that I had to go through in order to come to terms with this new reality of mine. This new daily, hourly, ever constant attention that needed to be given to try and maintain the balance in my health, in my new way of my life.

Yet, as difficult as living with type 1 diabetes can be at times, I honestly know that it has helped to shape me as an individual and as a business owner, teaching me valuable lessons about resilience, independence, and compassion, to name a few.

Owning and operating a business can be so rewarding, so fulfilling and beautifully your own. However, it is almost guaranteed that you will have obstacles to overcome, challenges to navigate and difficult days – just like living with type 1 diabetes.

Those days when I’ve had a hard time maintaining balanced blood glucose levels even when I know that I’ve done everything in my power to insure they’re steady have taught me to be resilient. To keep my head up, adjust to the circumstances at hand and alter my course as necessary. This is essential as a business owner because not everything will go to plan or unfold the way you’ve diligently prepared for, yet you have to keep going, keep trying and have the resilience to figure it out and make it successful.

Taking control of my diabetes has taught me that the decisions I make for myself and my health today, will directly affect my tomorrow, which has taught me to be independent. I have to be diligent, self-reliable and an advocate of my own health. This is true as a business owner too, you have to believe in yourself, that you can achieve your business goals and take the steps today to get to where you want to be in the future, no matter how long the road.

I’ve realized through my own trying moments dealing with diabetes, that sometimes I operate from a place of fear, doubt or frustration, rather than how I would normally like to handle myself. In reflecting on moments like these, I’ve learned to be more compassionate towards others as you never know what’s going on beneath the surface. When operating a business you interact with many people. People from different parts of the world experiencing different walks of life, circumstances and backgrounds. Approaching situations from a place of compassion first, will allow you to better reach them and create a connection at the human level.

My business as a florist brings me such joy – getting to work with my hands, with nature. All whilst being rooted amongst the people in our community, supporting them through their various special life moments with flowers. I believe that living with diabetes has helped me to find the beauty in life’s simple pleasures and to never take for granted the little things in life. It’s about choosing to seek joy even through adversity and that sometimes a change in perspective can do you wonders.”

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