The Harsh Reality of an Autoimmune Disease

By Sophie Sutherland

If you could only save one thing if your house caught fire, what would you save?

⁠⁠—  This famous question has been asked during cringy first dates, the PG versions of truth or dare, and those first few days of class where your teachers awkwardly try to get to know everyone. Although the circumstances under which the question is asked aren’t always optimal, it can lead to some spicy discussions and reflections. Before sharing the responses, I need to comment on the fact that in the anonymous survey to get your responses, we had to specify that your electronics would be safe.  Our world has undergone such drastic changes where technology have become our most valuable asset. We store photos on our phones, write our stories and important university assignments on our laptops, watch tv shows on them, possibly do our banking (or at least make a dent through online shopping), plan our lives with calendar apps, contact the people in our lives, etc. Therefore, obviously, everyone would save one of their electronics, and that doesn’t really make for an interesting article. So, with the exclusion of electronics, here were some of your answers

Now, my answer to this question is easy, and perhaps strange for a nineteen year old girl. I would save my stuffed animal; a polar bear called Polly. In case you’re wondering, yes Polly still sleeps in my bed with me, but come on, who wouldn’t want to cuddle a soft stuffed animal while trying to fall asleep? I would save Polly in a heartbeat, because aside from being adorable, she’s holds a very special meaning to me. Polly was a gift from my mother when I was having a hard time in middle school and started developing some unexplainable panic attack/tick thing – I’ll spare you the details. Coming back from a particularly bad day at school I found Polly sitting on my bed. I can still remembering crying from happiness. This was an unexpected and heartwarming gift that my mom gave right when I needed it the most. And, likely not so coincidentally, my problems nearly immediately went away after I got Polly. My point here is that some objects have such a strong emotional connection, that you can’t fathom ever losing them. So, if I’m ever in the unfortunate, and rather unlikely, situation of being able to save only one item, it would be Polly. But there’s something else I need to take into account: I’m a type 1 diabetic.

For those of you who don’t what type 1 diabetes is, it’s an autoimmune disease in which the body attacks the insulin-producing cells, meaning I regularly need to check my blood sugar, manually inject insulin and a whole list of other vital things. Maintaining a stable blood sugar is critical in remaining alive, because if it goes too high then I damage my organs, and even worse, when I go too low I could fall into a coma (and eventually…). So, this means I constantly need to check my blood sugar, which I do with something called my ‘tester’. And here is the problem, if in reality I could only save one thing, would it be my cherished stuffed animal or the device that basically helps me stay alive? I honestly don’t have an answer to this. On one hand, I can’t get a blood sugar tester just anywhere and I’d probably need a prescription for it. And, I check my blood sugar at least 8-10 times a day, so it’s not like I can wait to get it (which applies to insulin as well, but it’s more important for me to know my blood sugar in case it goes too low and I need sugar). But on the other hand, I would lose something priceless, something that can never be replaced. Which brings me to the point, what’s more important? Can we survive in a world without having certain objects or people that bring us joy and make us feel loved? I think the answer is no. But, we can’t live in a world without certain medical devices or medicine either (if we didn’t have any, you’d likely already be dead). So, what would you save in a fire, what is more important to you; emotional or life-saving objects?


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