Thank you for all the support and kind words !!!
I wanted to share a little about what’s brought me here today, diabetes-related and not. When I went into medical school, I thought I was going to go into internal medicine to become an endocrinologist. I really wanted to be able to connect with my patients and help them with their health and do everything I could to give them all the tools they need for a great quality of life. I thought I would HATE surgery. So, when organizing my schedule of rotations, I put surgery first so that I could get it out of the way and learn how to speak medicine and work in the hospital. Turns out - I LOVED being in the OR, working with my hands, being on a team, practicing surgical skills, and studying anatomy. But I still felt a kind of disconnect with how we were really touching our patients’ lives while on the general surgery service (appendicitis - ok take the appendix out, but it just wasn’t my jam as far as patient interactions and satisfaction I was looking for). I had the lucky opportunity to be in the plastic surgery OR for a day or two while on my general surgery rotation. In the first surgery, we were taking a suspicious lesion (possibly cancerous, possibly benign) off a patient’s face, in their eyebrow. The attending surgeon turns to me (lowly med student) and asks how I think our repair of his surgical dissection will impact his life - think if botched and his eyebrow grew in jagged how that would affect job opportunities, making first impressions, finding a partner, etc. Though a pretty simple surgical case, it was extremely gratifying to see our results at the end of the case and know how that would impact that patient as they left the hospital. Plastic surgery operates head to toe (children born with skull deformities/craniofacial differences, reconstructing breasts for breast cancer survivors, covering wounds with skin grafts, replanting fingers that have been cut off like @needlesandmath 's father), though all of these share the common goal of maintaining or improving quality of life.
But you may say - can a type 1 diabetic really perform surgery, and make it through the training??? Yes - the training is totally grueling (on your feet all day, 14+ hour surgeries, frequently 80 hr work weeks and sometimes 100+). I shared similar doubts, very real doubts, where I wondered if I would be potentially putting patients in harm’s way if I were to pursue surgery (ask @Eric ). On my interviews for plastic surgery residency, I was frequently asked “what has been a life-altering moment?” For me, it was one of my last days on my general surgery rotation when an attending surgeon (in his 50s or 60s) pulled me aside and revealed that he too has T1D, diagnosed as a child, and that he pursued his dream of becoming a surgeon. He underwent residency when the work hours didn’t have restrictions, with much more grueling of a work environment, and without any of our new diabetes technology. Only a few of his coworkers now even know about his diabetes. To me, this opened SO many doors - if he could do it, so could I - his patients were well cared for, and I feel lucky to have access to dexcom and tandem which can take over when I’m in a long surgery. I spent 5 months on plastic surgery subinternships and never had to leave the OR due to blood sugar issues. I mean I ran a dang marathon (thank you Eric as always)!! So - my viewpoint has shifted over the years from MUD (mostly unlimited from diabetes) to a true FUD (fully unlimited from diabetes). And that viewpoint would not have shifted without this community, a great running coach, that surgeon who shared with me, my family/friends, and making the jump to believe in myself to do the dang thing.
You may be wondering - did I just get accepted into this ultracompetitive field thanks to my diabetes? Partly yes and partly no. I did not include my diagnosis anywhere on my application for fear that it would be perceived as a weakness or any hindrance to my abilities. Only in my interviews with programs that I felt strongly about did I disclose, with the goals of showing my strengths and that this is NOT a hindrance (ie they gave me an interview seeing I could do plastic surgery (and run a marathon!) without realizing a had a potential obstacle). My co-residents, attendings, and program faculty will kind of become my new family as plastic surgery is a very small field and I will be there for 6 years, working shoulder to shoulder with this group, so I felt it was important that they see the real me, the strong me, if I was seriously considering their program. I will say - diabetes has helped me get to this point because it instilled in me a drive and perseverance I don’t think I would have without having diabetes; we can all relate to the moments you just do not want to deal with testing blood sugar or changing a site or thinking about how much to bolus, and it does NOT go away. But I’m stronger for carrying this baggage, and I’m thankful for that. I’m thankful I can relate to my patients on a deep level. I’m thankful to have found my passion and to be able to pursue it.
So - cheers if you made it through all of that! I hope I can pass along to future kiddos with aspirations that they can really do what they want. I hope to be able to show that you can make it, even if you don’t always feel like you belong. Thank you FUD and thank you @Eric specifically for all of the support and faith even when I didn’t have it!