Hello! My name is Brittanny Perrigue and I am a Type One Diabetic. My diagnosis is fairly new, and I am by no means an expert on all thing’s diabetes. Let’s not sugar coat this: I am a twenty-six-year-old attorney who is just trying to figure out how to adult, advocate for my clients, keep myself alive, keep my dog alive, and still have a life outside of my job!
Dania, who was one of my fellow classmates in law school and the host of Difficult Names Blog, reached out to me and asked if I would share my story with you all. I love this blog and read it when I need a break from work or life. Dania does amazing work here and has created a blog that encourages much needed positivity on social media, so I was absolutely thrilled when she asked me to share a little bit of my life with you all.
When I was on summer break between my 2L and 3L year of law school, I went on a trip to Thailand just a few weeks before the semester began. I traveled alone and met a group in Bangkok who I traveled across the country with. This was single-handedly one of the best trips I had ever taken. I held a python in a coconut farm and rode and bathed an elephant at an elephant sanctuary in the jungle. I drank fresh pineapple juice and alternated pad thai and fried rice every single meal while I was there. I even ate a fried cricket as a dare from my father. What I didn’t know at the time was that my body was slowly giving up on me.
After coming back from Thailand, I jumped right back into work and planned on spending the rest of my summer interning in a local district court. A few days into my internship I was sitting in the jury box observing a contested hearing when I noticed my right leg was completely numb. Nervous, I slowly stood up and tried to make my way back to chambers. I ended up falling and going to the emergency room. After the doctor and nurses tested me for every exotic disease under the sun, I was informed that I was diabetic. I was shocked. I was informed that my blood sugar levels were so high I could have a stroke. I was 23 years old at the time and because I didn’t have insurance, I was released from the hospital without really any other information. My mother managed to get me into an endocrinologist who initially diagnosed me as a type 2 diabetic. Further tests would reveal I was actually type 1.
Looking back now, I can see all the symptoms I was having clearly indicate that I was sick, but the scariest part is the same symptoms are that of an exhausted law student. I was tired, cranky, had terrible mood swings, blurry vision, stomach pains (I thought it was acid re flux from anxiety), and I had lost over 70 pounds without even trying. A lot of my symptoms also mimicked symptoms of stress.
I just celebrated my three-year anniversary since being diagnosed. In these three years I graduated from law school, passed the Texas Bar Exam, started my career as a Staff Attorney who helps survivors of disasters in their legal recovery at the third largest legal aid in the country, and I recently got engaged! I started dating my fiancé just weeks before I was hospitalized. Upon my diagnosis, I gave him an out. I reminded him that our relationship was new and if he didn’t want to deal with daily struggles of my diabetes, he could take the out. Clearly, he didn’t, and I am so grateful!
I have an amazing support system of friends, family, and coworkers. My fiancé has saved my life so many times from low blood sugars. He doesn’t wear a cape, but he does usually have some sort of candy or juice box, and that’s what really counts. I recently started using an insulin pump and her name is Ruth! She is the silent dissenter because she vibrates every time I have a high or low blood sugar. Downside, she photo-bombs most of my photos. Finally, I have a job that is extremely accommodating. Whether I am running late because my insulin pump tube got caught in the door (yes, this happens more than I care to admit) or I am hangry in my office and our paralegal brings me a snack, my work family supports me by allowing me to continue fighting for my clients both inside the courtroom and out.
I want to end this post with this: Persons with diabetes are fighters. Every single day we fight our bodies, we fight stigma, we fight affordability of medical costs, and some of us even fight for justice in the courtroom. Type one diabetes and type two diabetes are not the same. I did not do anything to my body that caused my diabetes, but it has made me a stronger person. It has also made me bionic. Be kind to one another, and to my fellow diabetics don’t forget you’re a #diabadass.
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