My name is Matthew Jenkins. Born to Stanley and Lori Jenkins. Brother to Marques Jenkins. Husband to Jennifer Jenkins.
I was diagnosed with T1D in 1999 at the age of 12, after I started having breathing troubles while playing in a recreation soccer game. My father rushed me to the ER on the nearby air force base, where I spent several hours being poked and prodded to find out what was wrong with me. It was terrifying - I can only imagine what my parents felt seeing their child in distress without any indication of what was wrong.
Eventually, the doctors and nurses checked my blood sugar. It was 468. Don’t ask me how I remember…I just do. I was then emergency transported to the children’s hospital in Omaha, NE, where I spent several days learning how to live with T1D. Thank God I had a next door neighbor who had T1D and a friend who’s sister had the disease. So, we weren’t completely unfamiliar with the disease. This at least sustained my mother who never left my side in the hospital.
Shortly after my diagnosis, my family and I relocated to Petersburg, VA, as my father was an officer in the US Army. I still marvel at the man he is, not having had a father in his life. If I can be a fraction of the husband and father he is, I will be a success.
Relocating combined with my recent diagnosis changed me. Petersburg was unfamiliar and different and I didn’t know how to tell people I was different. It made me shy. It made me un-confident. I was able to make a few friends during my time there…but I was also bullied extensively. And the person I am today was shaped by those experiences.
I played football and basketball, but never truly felt accepted. And that feeling continued through my sophomore year of college. Eventually, as I aged and grew my confidence slowly improved and I vowed to myself to be a success. But I also had my fair share of failures.
However, the woman I fell in love with – Jennifer Jenkins, not only saved my life…she is the backbone of who I am today. I truly believe God handpicked her to be in my life.
In summary, life and T1D has not been easy. I’ve had my ups and downs. But I never gave up. I kept moving. Even if that meant crawling. I kept my faith in God and kept moving! As Tom Hanks said in the movie Cast Away, “ ...tomorrow the sun will rise. Who knows what the tide could bring?”
One of the reasons my wife I started Cleans For A Cure, is so children don’t feel the way I felt. They need a support system. That is why in 2016 we are launching a program to support T1D children who want to get involved in CrossFit. The aim of this program is to develop healthy habits in kids with T1D and provide them a support structure to make their Type 1 journey more manageable.