My name is Jeremy Weisbach, I am 28 years old and I have type 1 diabetes. I am the founder of Jimmy Insulin, a 1 on 1 diabetes support non-profit organization. Today, I proudly say that I am a diabetic. However, I didn’t feel this way my whole life and I’d like to explain why…
It was summer time in 1990. I was 9 years old and trying to be normal and fit in, like all kids hope to do. I was playing in a neighborhood baseball league and attending Banner day camp. All of a sudden, I started getting headaches. They became increasingly more frequent. My parents and I started noticing peculiar symptoms. I was drinking and urinating excessively. I was sleeping in and waking up in the afternoon. I was having severe mood swings. Something was going on…
Monday, July 30, 1990, I was at Banner Day camp. My brother and sister were going to camp there as well. My brother threw up and the nurses called my mom to get him. My mom came and picked up my brother, Jonathan, my sister, Marni, and I, and took us all to the doctor. At the doctor’s office, they took a urine sample from me. On the way out of the office, I went to grab a sucker like I always did when I visited the doctor. Right before I got my hand on the sucker, a nurse put her hand right over the bowl and said I couldn’t have one. She was stern and unmoving. At that moment, I was in shock. I was dumfounded that this lady not let me have a sucker…she’s not my parent. I got very confused…
Then my world changed forever. My mother seemed very upset. We were going home, but I was going to have to go to the hospital. I remember packing a suitcase with my mom and then going to Lutheran General Hospital. They ran some tests. The doctor came in and officially diagnosed me with diabetes. What’s diabetes??? I asked. Then the questions poured out. What does it mean? Why did I get it? What will I have to do with it??? I was completely lost…and so was my mom.
The doctors told me that diabetes meant I had to follow a meal plan, take medication, and exercise regularly. I was only 9 and felt like my life was ruined. That night I asked my mom why this happened to me and we both cried…
My mom never left the hospital. It seemed like I was at Lutheran General forever. Friends and family came to visit daily. I had great support. I spent about a week there before getting released. The day after I got released, my mom let me return to camp. Now, I had to carry a fanny pack with me. Inside the fanny pack was my glucometer, a juice box, peanut butter crackers, and insulin. I hated wearing it. It made me feel different. Upon my return to camp, one of my best friends came up to my mom and said she had nothing to worry about and that he would take care of me. That was the first time my mom felt relief since the diagnosis. Today, that friend is a doctor.
Growing up with diabetes was tough. I ignored and neglected the diabetes. I didn’t accept the fact that I had diabetes. I felt very depressed and isolated from the world. I didn’t feel that I should have it. Why me?? None of my friends or family had diabetes. I fought it. I refused to acknowledge it or the lifestyle changes I would have to make. I had continued support from my family, friends, and doctors but I wouldn’t accept their support. I felt they didn’t know what I was going through. My endocrinologist didn’t have diabetes, either. How could they give me advice when they didn’t know firsthand what I was going through: no one understood me. No one could help me find my way through the nightmare of Juvenile Diabetes. I survived despite myself.
Through the years of neglect, I had several close calls. I was kicked out of overnight camp at the age of 12 because of lack of control. I was forced to leave just four days before the end. I missed all the parties and special good-byes. It was traumatic. I had a diabetic seizure when I was 14. My mother saved my life by coming into my room and calling 911. On New Years Eve 2000, I partied too much. I got home shortly after midnight, threw up constantly from drinking too much and my blood sugar went dangerously low. I was rushed to the emergency room. In January 2001, I was staying with my grandmother in Oak Park. I had a diabetic seizure and woke up in the hospital. My grandmother saved my life. In college, my roommates would have to monitor my blood sugars because I would get so drunk I didn’t know what was going on. I thank G-d my best friend was sober 24/7 because he saved my life on multiple occasions.
I have had many close calls. It wasn’t until after college that I came to the realization that I was risking damage to myself that I might not be able to undo. After several interventions, a good family friend of mine, Dr. Stewart Segal, got through to me. He said I had to start taking my life seriously or lose it. I had to take care of myself and properly manage my diabetes. I was getting on the right path. I quit drinking and finally accepted the disease and learned how to manage it to keep it in control. I have not had an emergency room visit or seizure since graduating college. I feel very happy and grateful to be alive today. I thank all my friends, family, doctors, and close ones throughout the years. Without them, I wouldn’t be here today to tell my story.
Recently I realized what was missing during my early years as a diabetic. I never had a buddy to talk to who was going through the same thing I was going through-someone I could ask questions of and seek answers from. Most importantly, I needed someone who had diabetes that I could trust and that I could relate to. My family, my friends, and my doctors, were great, but none of them had diabetes. The direct connection was missing.
In 2008, inspired by Imerman Angels and encouraged by Jonny Imerman, “Jimmy Insulin” was born. No longer would a diabetic have to feel the isolation of growing up with the disease alone! Jimmy Insulin believes one on one support is essential for the physical, mental, social, and emotional well being of diabetics. Jimmy Insulin will mentor the new diabetic into his or her new world. Jimmy Insulin will provide this free service to diabetics and their close ones. Diabetics can now find a better way to transition and live in their new world by linking to those diabetics who survived it. Jimmy Insulin exists to guide diabetics and their close ones through this journey.
If you or anyone you know or meet has been touched by diabetes, please refer them to Jimmy Insulin. We would love to get them connected!
Jeremy Weisbach, 312-515-3353, firstname.lastname@example.org