Madeline Milzark is an 18-year-old girl from Missouri. To most of us, she looks like a beautiful and healthy teenage girl. But Madeline has had Type 1 Diabetes for almost 10 years now.
There are three main types of diabetes: type 1, type 2 and gestational. Both type 1 and type 2 are chronic conditions, but type 1 is usually diagnosed in children, while type 2 is often diagnosed later in life. Gestational diabetes occurs during pregnancy.
Last week, Madeline shared a snapchat photo on her Facebook with the caption: “#WhatDiabetesReallyLooksLike.” The message that she posted with it was real, and raw, and read-worthy. In it she writes:
Diabetes isn’t your piece of cake, or that super sized McDonald’s meal with extra fries, or anything you see coated with sugar. Diabetes is an 18 year old girl sitting on her bathroom floor shaking and not able to breathe because her blood sugar dropped and praying her grandmas phone is near her and she got the text message to bring some sugar since she’s too weak to yell and the whole room is spinning.
It’s a 9 year old boy who is trying to play outside with his friends and ends up being carted away in an ambulance because he went unconscious when he didn’t feel his sugar slipping.
It’s a 32 year old girl who FINALLY got the news that she’s pregnant and going to have the family she’s always wanted, but instead of celebrating like she should be she’s worried to death that her blood sugars won’t stay in range with all of the hormones and that it’s going to kill her baby before she gets to meet it… and maybe even her.
It’s a 3 year old who doesn’t understand why her mommy has to stab her with a syringe every single time she eats, but not her brother.
It’s a 4 year old girl that I read about recently who lost her life because a doctor misdiagnosed her diabetes as the flu and she ended up a victim of diabetic ketoacidoses, where your blood literally turns acidic from the lack of insulin in your body and attacks your organs.
Diabetes is your mother, your neighbor, your cousin. Diabetes isn’t the morbidly obese man you see on tv. It isn’t something people ask for or give themselves. It’s a disease that isn’t picky when it chooses who to attack, it doesn’t care if you’re 2 months old or if you’re 73. It doesn’t care if you eat Big Macs and McChickens every day of your life or if you’re a strict vegan who goes to the gym daily.
Diabetes is me. Diabetes is a whole ton of people who fight for their life every single day and go to bed not sure if they’re going to wake up the next morning. So before you tag your huge dessert #Diabetes, think about what #Diabetes really looks like.
Madeline wrote the post after her blood sugar crashed, and she collapsed while home alone. Her grandmother did indeed see the text and brought her sugar in time.
“I realized it was time to show people the reality instead of the perception that diabetes was simple, and just a disease where you avoided sugar.” Madeline explained, “The thing people think caused my disease, actually saved my life, and that’s what not many people realize.”
Madeline has to monitor her blood sugar by poking her finger up to 10 times every day. She takes insulin injections every time she eats, or when her blood sugar is too high. She used to have an insulin pump, but it broke and she hasn’t been able to afford a new one.
Her post has been shared more than 7,000 times, and with the Internet going crazy over her message, some people decided to set up a Go Fund Me for Madeline so that she can get the insulin pump she needs.
“I’m so grateful for everybody who has shared their story with me. I want to keep up the awareness and I’m asking people to use the hashtag #WhatDiabetesReallyLooksLike to share their stories on social media.”
Since initially sharing her post, Madeline added:
Thank you to everybody who has shared this so far! I am so overwhelmed by the positive response I’ve gotten and I love seeing everyone’s stories they send me. I made a Facebook page called Type One Madeline to post more awareness posts, please “like” it and share it to keep spreading the word! Much love to you all❤️❤️❤️??
Check out her Facebook page, and help Madeline continue to spread awareness about the reality of #WhatDiabetesReallyLooksLike.