As I walked through the main entrance and towards the room where I would be speaking I got hit with that famous "What If" What if I was taking care of myself and not lying to everyone around me about my diabetes? Where would I be? What would my high school days have been like? I don't know the answers and I can't go back and change what has happened so as soon as I had those thoughts they were gone just as quickly. I had a much more important task at hand, making hundreds of high school teenagers care about diabetes and what I was saying for one hour. It would probably be easier to swim to London, I have a small history of speaking so I headed in to the room with a lot of nerves and a little confidence. Just be myself and tell my story.
It is no secret that I'm a big kid and that I have never stopped smiling since I got my life back almost seven years ago. I figured that if I was to get through to the students that I needed to be a kid and not a teacher. I figured it works while coaching so it has to work while speaking to them. I had fun and tried my best to keep everyone involved, I had the definition of diabetes up on the powerpoint and told everyone that they needed to write it down because they would be tested on what I was talking about. As they began to reach for their notebooks I started laughing and said "You won't need your notebooks, I just wanted to see how many people I could piss off... My story is all truth and if I do my job you will know more about diabetes than you could from any book that has definitions" With that I had them, I would rattle off terms like temp basal, A1C, and Keytones while giving real examples and I like to believe that they got it. I shared my story, all of the bad and all of the good that the past seven years has brought. My second to last slide read "Why should you care?" Odds are only a handful of people in that will room will ever live with diabetes, yes they may know someone living with diabetes and they have a small idea of what the disease is about and how an insulin pump works but my selling point was that my story is about life. In high school people are trying to do nothing but fit in with the people that they believe are cool, the people with the best clothes, phones or cars. Wanting to be cool is what made me hate diabetes, I wanted to fit in and it almost cost me my life. I would go on to tell them that whatever they were passionate is what is cool. It's ok to have a passion for something that not everyone likes or understands. I have a disease a lot of people don't understand and I love a sport that is not even on the radar for top ten sports in the United States and for six years I have been doing amazing things with both. With that my speech was over, I received a decent ovation and the questions would start. I received a lot of questions that covered every aspect of my story but as they left if the students stopped and wanted to talk or say "Thank You" than I know I got through to them.
I'm happy to report that a good number of students walked by saying thank you and a handful took the time to talk to me personally. Tomorrow I get to do it all over again and I can't wait, I can only hope to reach the students tomorrow like I reached the students today!!