There’s a common term in the diabetes world called a diaversary, or the day a person is diagnosed with diabetes. I celebrated my six-month diaversary on November 23, which seemingly uncoincidentally fell one day before Thanksgiving this year.
On my day of diagnosis in May, I knew little about diabetes, or why my otherwise healthy, active, 32-year-old self developed it. Since then, I’ve spent every day learning about and living with the disease firsthand. And this November, the month of Thanksgiving, National Diabetes Awareness Month, and my 6-month diaversary, I’m thankful for the insulin injections that are saving my life and those around me providing support, guidance and a willingness to jab an emergency syringe of glucose into my ass if I pass out.
Type 1 (T1) diabetes is a dichotomy of a disease, as it can either kill us, or make us healthier than ever before. At least, that’s how I look at it. Even for the five percent of diabetics, like me, living with the incurable autoimmune Type 1, the disease is manageable. We just have to know how to manage it and be willing to develop a new relationship with our bodies and days.
It can be tiring, turbulent and frustrating. There’s no room for laziness, as management requires structure, diligence and high levels of daily monitoring and support. Every day is a science experiment with consistently changing variables of stress, sleep, food, illness, hormonal changes and exercise. But, leaving myself open to this new relationship has taught me a great deal about myself and a new world around me.
So, this November, I’m thankful for…
…conceding to the fact that I haven’t felt okay. This was hard for an independent, strong-willed person like me, but my defeated body left little room for further negotiation. I will carry this lesson with me.
…finding the voice to be my own advocate. This has also been hard, as diabetes is often invisible to those around me. I’m better at caring for others, and I’m learning to better care for myself.
…my sister and her boyfriend, who rushed my convulsing, sugar-starved body to an IV within 20 minutes of my accidentally injecting too much insulin last month. A special thanks to my sister for keeping me alert by making fun of all other ER patients while my blood sugar levels and heart rate stabilized for seven hours overnight.
…the old high school friend who I reconnected with after discovering we’re both Type 1s. You have become a mentor and godsend. I will forever be grateful for the night you helped save my life after my major insulin injection error.
…Type 1 support groups on Facebook. Crazy as it sounds, they’ve taught me a lot.
…my background in social work, journalism and advocacy. This will allow me to do something very cool to help other diabetics someday.
…my friends for letting me shoot insulin in their kitchens, and listening through both my silence and venting. I mostly appreciate your indiscreet attempts to hide beer and brownies from me at social gatherings, so I don’t salivate like a dog. These are true signs of friendship and I love you for that.
…my new relationship with food. I have always loved shoving you in my face. But, now I’m learning the science of what makes you who you are. I still have very little patience for cooking you, but it’s something I’m working on in this relationship.
…my recently retired parents who are learning how to care for their newly disabled adult daughter. This has left me feeling both guilty and humbled. And, most of all, thankful.
…my dog and cat snuggling by me on days of exhaustion and incoherence. Also for my dog refusing to take her morning walk on the day my unstable sugar levels dropped me down a flight of stairs. The loyalty has been comforting.
…those fucking needles I stab into my side and fingers 10-15 times daily. I hate you and am also grateful for your help delivering insulin and checking my blood sugar, both which literally save my life every few hours.
…having taken temporary leave from work, regardless of the risks and barriers, to simply be. Many don’t have this opportunity until retirement – or choose not to take it. I’m grateful for this time to reflect on my successes, struggles, fulfillments and gaps while still single and, God willing, relatively early in my career.
…you other Type 1s out there. Meeting you is like meeting a fellow Bonnie. For those who don’t know what this means, it’s basically love at first sight.
…that diabetes gave me a reason to stop pushing myself unnecessarily.
…the floor of my childhood bedroom, where I’m typing this post. It has welcomed me back with warmth and safety, with a peaceful view of the sun-kissed clouds as dusk falls.
…diabetes itself. No one likes you, but you and I are learning to get along. You’ve taught me some pretty important things about myself so far. Just remember, on those days that you try to be an asshole, I will fight you with my needles. And I will win.
Live by ladybugs