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1.) Diabetes is not easy.
I talk a big game. I make it seem like diabetes isn’t a big deal. I’m kind of a low-key, relatively laid back person when it comes to talking about diabetes. It’s there, something you just put up with, like waiting on a bad haircut to grow out. One more fact of life, because sometimes, that’s all it is. You are just focusing on living your life. You test, you bolus, you eat. Life goes on, ob la di ob la da. Yet there will always be late nights with bad blood sugars. There will be a day when your blood glucose drops a second time even though you chomped down seven glucose tabs. You might be judged by a doctor as soon as you walk in a room and say, “I’ve been diabetic for ___ years now, and no, my A1C is not perfect.” Sometimes, diabetes feels like something I can put in my pocket or hide in my purse. I’ll take it out and show it off if necessary. But I’m just going to come right out and say it here, maybe even wave it around in your face a bit: DIABETES IS HARD.
2.) Diabetes drains your energy…and your patience.
I was 9 or 10, and it seemed like the most simple thing in the world. Mom told me to take my offending soda to the counter and request that they replace it with diet, as that’s what I ordered. I marched up to the counter with my Happy Meal-sized cup and got the attention of the nearest employee. “Excuse me,” I said, “but I ordered a diet Coke, and this is definitely not diet.”
The woman behind the counter was confused and bewildered. Was a 9-year-old actually requesting a diet soda? How precocious! “Ummm…” the lady started, and I cringed. I quickly responded to her lack of concern with “I need diet soda because I have diabetes, could you please get me a new drink?” Suddenly she looked sympathetic and switched my soda immediately. It feels the same way today sometimes.
Whether someone is asking if I can eat that or trying to tell me that some new health issue of mine is OBVIOUSLY because I have diabetes, people make judgments and generalizations, and despite my best efforts to educate and end stereotypes, generalizations and misinformation are always going to be a part of life. Guess what? I’m not necessarily grumpy because I have diabetes—I’m grumpy because I’m tired of having to explain to you what that means all the time!
3.) It’s not something that can be outgrown…or cured…at least not yet.
You have diabetes. You will always have diabetes until someone cures it. It doesn’t matter what type you have, what age you are, or how much weight you lose. You will always have diabetes. Oh sure, you might be able to lose weight if you’re a Type 2 and have it sort of slip into a remission of sorts, but it’s not really gone. This is why we need to own our conditions rather than be ashamed of them. They’re not going anywhere.
4.) It can make you strong.
If you don’t have diabetes, or even if you do, you may want to vomit when considering poking yourself with a needle. Every day, I may cringe slightly, but I make myself bleed. Or I’m jabbing myself in the abdomen with an infusion set or a syringe. Sometimes multiple times a day, and I barely even bat an eye. It has given me the guts to speak up for myself at the doctor’s office. It has given me the gall to start this blog. Honestly, before I started blogging, I barely talked about diabetes or what it meant to me. I am with Amy, who says we may not want to be recognized for our bravery, but I think as diabetics, we want to be recognized for our strength in dealing with this every single day of our lives.
5.) It will break your heart.
I’m not saying it’s going to cause a lover to leave you, necessarily, but it can sink in and rip you apart. When it’s quiet, and you’re by yourself, you’ll think of diabetes, and how there is no end in sight. You’ll wonder about your random aches and pains. You’ll pray that you are healthy enough that you will live a long, complication-free life. You will break down at the dinner table in frustration. You will wonder why we are always supposed to just suck it up and live with it. Some people might think that diabetes is your fault. Some people will set you up to expect your body to just one day fail, despite your best efforts. Some of us may accept that awful fate until it becomes truth. Some of us will leave this earth far too young, before we even reach adulthood. It can chip at your sanity, your self-esteem, your happiness. It will scare you, yet I think the biggest heartbreak of living with diabetes is wondering, “What if I had been normal and healthy? Would it still be like this?”
6.) It DOESN’T stop me, and it shouldn’t stop anyone else.
Things I have done with diabetes: Learned to drive, went to 4 proms, graduated high school, went to college away from home, joined an improv comedy troupe, served as news director of my college radio station for two years, made a ton of friends, got engaged, appeared in two performances of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, graduated college, represented Delaware on two National Poetry Slam teams, edited (and still edit) a literary magazine, got married, worked multiple jobs, rented multiple apartments/houses, got drunk now and then, partied like a (indie) rock star, sang karaoke, kissed in the rain, fell for all kinds of men (even when they didn’t know), made a ton more friends. Most importantly, I have loved fearlessly and lived a life that truly makes me happy. You should too.
More D-Blog Day Goodies Here! Thanks, Gina, for organizing!