Growing up different in Australia – Caitlin’s story 8 September 2021 For a six year old I had been to the hospital a few times, most of them I didn’t really understand why apart from the fact my throat hurt or I had a bad tummy ache This was different. I wasn’t sure why we suddenly drove to the hospital and why we did not leave in a few hours, it took almost a week for us to go home. It doesn’t sound like much but it felt like forever at such a young age.For the past couple months I had been feeling sick. I was drinking excessive amounts of water, I was always hot and I felt like I was going to vomit a lot of the time. After a while of brushing it off as “It’s summer, everyone drinks a lot and it’s always hot,” we went to the GP. The doctors talked to my parents while my brother and I played with the various toys in the office before we were told to wait outside, I was confused but just did what I was told. After a few minutes we went back in and the first thing I saw was my mum crying. They tried to explain to me what happened, but it was just words to me.Then next thing I knew I was hiding under the covers of the hospital bed in a desperate attempt to avoid any more needles, it was no use. My mother tried her best to comfort me, but it is hard to justify a reason why a six year old should have more than one needle a day for the rest of their life. I don’t think I got a good sleep that night, despite how tired I was from what I thought at the time was the worst day possible.One of the things that kept me the most happy was getting to fill out the meal card everyday on my own and then also being able to ask my mum for food from the cafe. I have always been a picky eater and hospital food is probably as bland as it gets (with an airplane being the only exception), so I was pretty happy with my meal choices. Although every meal came with more pain, no matter how much I thought I didn’t check that box on the morning meal card.Throughout the time I spent there I had a lot of family come in, my favourite was when my dad came in with a present for me. The My Little Pony castle, it wasn’t huge but it made my day. Whenever my family came I forgot about the past few days, like when my cousin came and we walked down the ward to the giant chipmunk statue and when my brother finally agreed to play monopoly with me. Even with all the love and support from my family, I missed my friends, I loved going to school and it was the longest I had ever been away. I spent a while wondering if they missed me or if they would even know I wasn’t there. I was reassured when my brother came to see me and said that they were asking him where I was.Finally the day came, I was free. It felt like such a momentous day in my life, but there wasn’t much else to compare it to. I thought that it was all finally over and life would go back to normal, no more needles and definitely no more hospitals. Oh how I was wrong.Even at school the pain continued and everything had changed. I had to go to sickbay before snack and lunch so I could have my injection and every camp or outing my mum or dad had to come with me. I wished that nothing had happened and while I felt special when people volunteered to come to sickbay with me, I always wondered if it was just so they could leave class early.As I grew, dealing with these issues got easier because I was able to do everything myself. Although people still had concerns for me and kept asking questions. “What are you doing?” “Maybe i should check with your parents.” ”Are you sure you can eat that?” The list goes on and on, and while I know people are only concerned about me, the constant monitoring gets draining. Things only got worse when I had sleepovers at other people’s houses where if something went wrong I would have to go home or the parents were skeptical about letting me do things. One of the hardest parts was going on year 4 camp, I was ten and pretty confident in what to do but my mother still had to come with me. At first I thought it would be fine, she would be just like the other parent chaperones, but the school requested that I share a cabin with her instead of my friends. Then they announced we couldn’t go in other cabins and I was left alone during freetime.Despite all that i have said, dealing with this has made me a stronger and more responsible person. My family commends me for coping for almost ten years, but they are a big reason I have been able to do this. Through all the annoying questions and appointments, they have supported me in every way. I can confidently say that having Type 1 DIabetes, while making my life slightly harder, it hasn’t gotten in the way too much and has given me new and unique opportunities.