This February marks my 19th year of being diagnosed with type 1. I’ve lived more of my life with diabetes than without. It comes with mixed emotions. I’m not a fan of this condition. It’s not fun. It’s constant work. I’m not one of those people with a crazy story. From the very start I was aware of the risk of complications, I was aware of what this disease could do to me. At age 14 I knew that, and it scared me. That fear kept me from “taking a vacation” from diabetes, I never neglected it, never tried to pretend I didn’t have it. So I’ve always had pretty good numbers, I almost always fall within the ADA A1c recommendations, but I’ve also always been very hard on myself. And depressed. And anxious. Everyone with a chronic condition should automatically be offered antidepressants. I’m learning to give myself grace and be ok with not having good numbers ALL the time. I’m learning not to ask those scary questions and think those scary thoughts of the future.
“Will I even be around to see my kids get married? What sort of havoc will this condition eventually wreak on my body? Will I have to be on dialysis? Will I lose my sight? How early am I going to die because of diabetes?”
These questions haunt me. They bring me down. I’ve heard people say if you take care of yourself its possible to live your whole life without major complications from diabetes. I’ve heard others say its impossible, there is no escape from complications. I like to hope for the former. I often look at my sleeping daughter, all curled up, butt up in the air, and I dream of her future, what she will become, what adventures she will experience…..and its always mixed with sadness because I wonder if I’ll get to be a part of it all. Will my husband become a widower and my daughter without her mama because I didn’t take good enough care of my diabetes. These are the thoughts I have to fight, almost on a daily basis.
I know I owe a lot to diabetes. Without diabetes, I don’t think I would eat as healthy as I do, I wouldn’t exercise as much as I do, I wouldn’t be as concerned about certain areas of my health. I wouldn’t have an appreciation for what people with chronic conditions go through, I wouldn’t have the type of patience I have, I don’t think I would have the same amount of passion to help others….diabetes has taught me a lot. It has given me a different perspective on life, it’s taught me to be an advocate and an educator. So in a way I’m thankful for diabetes. I wouldn’t be the person I am today without it.
And that ain’t too shabby.