By Reece Ohmer, high school sophomore living with T1D since 2009

With Valentine’s Day quickly approaching, I thought I’d share my opinion about the holiday of love.

I have been living with T1D since I was eight years old, and I can’t remember a time when I didn’t have to constantly check my blood sugar levels, monitor my food intake, and set the correct dosage of insulin.

With that being said, I vividly remember every Valentine’s Day as a child. I grew up in a household that believed in the saying ‘kid first, diabetes second’ and this has truly become the mantra of my life.

Valentine’s Day was no exception. I was able to enjoy all the festivities and parties (as well as yummy treats) that any other kid living without T1D was able to partake in. I do remember my mom and Miss Dawn, my school aide, buzzing around but only to make sure that I was treated equally in every regard. The kid that got the chocolate lollipop coated in extra sugar balls? Yes, there was one for me too.

The funny thing about parties in elementary school is that they all revolved around food, specifically pizza. I remember having to pay extra attention to my BGs on these days, but even still, I enjoyed that gross, greasy cheese pizza with all the other kids. It may not have been good but I did it anyway- mostly because I could.

During the party, you were also allowed to pass out Valentine’s to the class, just as long as every child received one. Most of these Valentine’s consisted of an attached candy or food item. To be different, I always passed out cool, non-food Valentine’s to the class. I remember getting all this candy and not eating any of it. Not because I couldn’t eat it, but just the fact that I had the sweets in my possession was enough to make me smile. Ironically, the kids that received my Valentine’s felt special to get something that wasn’t super generic. One year, I passed out miniature bottles of bubbles. In minutes, the room looked magical with little tiny bubbles floating around the classroom. I felt like a rock star.

Looking back at my elementary days, as I am now in high school, I realized that I don’t remember the specific food or the candy that was given during the parties, I only remember the fun activities the class did together or the new adventure that my classmates explored.

It’s a bit ironic that our school created a holiday that revolved around eating, when in reality the only thing I remember from Valentine’s Day as a kid is the crafts we made and the party the class had. For me, Valentine’s Day was about playing games and being with the people you really cared about. I’m certain that I will carry that feeling of love and friendship throughout life.