What's Up Wednesday -- Kelsey

#WhatsUpWednesday is our chance to hear from the teens who are involved with the Speak Now for Kids community. This week’s post will focus on Kelsey, who represented Dayton Children’s Hospital at the 2015 Speak Now for Kids Family Advocacy Day.

So, Kelsey…what’s up?

Why do I advocate?

I advocate for kids and children hospitals because I believe that children like me need children’s hospitals. We aren’t just little adults and shouldn’t be treated that way. We need medical care that is different and can provide all of the things that we require. Children’s hospitals also provide a unique atmosphere with bright colors, pet therapy and fun artwork that is perfect for sick kids who need the healing comfort of a hospital just for kids.

Kelsey.jpgA Person I find most inspirational.

I find my mom inspirational. She is strong and brave and never lets anything get her down.

What makes me unique?

Somedays, I have to admit, I like to think I am just a normal teenager who does normal teenage things like rebel against parents, hang out with friends, but then I realize that this normal teenager also has blood draws, doctors appointments, and medications. I think being unique for a kid in America can sometimes be a bad thing because there is always something for the bullies to use against you. However, if I wasn’t unique then I wouldn't be me and I wouldn't get some of the awesome opportunities I have gotten, because most teenagers I know haven't gotten to meet Congressmen from their state while in Washington D.C.

What jam gets me going when I’m down?

However corny this may sound Rachel Platten’s Fight Song can always help me feel better. Her song empowers people and kids like me to keep going even when we think we can’t, there’s always a light at the end of the tunnel even if we can’t see it.

What have I overcome?

The answer to this question can’t really be answered completely. Over the last 15 years of having type 1 diabetes there have been many ups and probably a lot more downs, especially when there were more autoimmune diagnoses that were being added. Being told that there is another thing wrong with you when you are already struggling with the first diagnosis is very hard. There were times when I really thought I couldn’t do it, I couldn’t take one more blood draw or one more pill, and I had to still try to be a normal kid. I have survived more than one pediatric intensive care unit stay, insulin pumps, critical lab values, and more doctors’ visits than I can count. I take 17 pills a day, plus my insulin, and I will probably never be what people think is a normal kid, but that is okay with me. I work and go to college and try to help others as much as I can.

What do I want the world to know about my condition?

I want the world to know that I can have a candy bar, I can eat a bowl of pasta, or anything I want. One thing that happens to me frequently is that people ask me if it is okay for me to eat whatever is on my plate. The answer is yes, I can have whatever I want. Also, I want the world to know that my disease doesn’t define me, it’s not all of who I am, yes I have diabetes, but I also have a love for music.

If I could change the world, I would…

The first answer is take away the diseases, pain and suffering. I don’t want diabetes and don’t want kids to have it or any other disease. I also know that in some ways it helped to make me who I am. I am not my disease, but I am a kid who knows what it is like to be different and keep going on the days when it would be easier to give up.

Who, or what, is my biggest supporter?

My mom. She has been there for every blood draw, every hospital visit, but also every band competition, and high school dance. She has always said that I could do anything I set my mind to. She is there for all the laughter and all the tears, no matter what it costs her. She once told me that one time after watched me in pain and screaming at her to stop what was happen that after the pain was all gone, that she went to the bathroom and cried because she just wished that she could take all of my pain away.

What does my children’s hospital mean to me?

Dayton Children’s means the world to me. After being treated there for the last fifteen years I can honestly say that it is a second home to me. No matter how bad your day has been they try to put a smile on your face and make it even just the smallest bit better. The staff treats you like you are their son or daughter, they put you first every time they walk into your room.

How do I plan to give back to the world?

I plan to give back by continuing to help kids like me through Dayton Children’s and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. I am studying sign language in school and want to teach kids with special needs. I want them to feel like they have a place that it is safe and they are accepted. I want to be able to help them communicate when they can’t hear or can’t talk… to be their voice like others have been for me.

What do I want to be when I grow up?

I plan to be a special needs teacher.

Missed Kelsey’s original post? Check it out here

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