So there you have it. 20 things I know about diabetes. I have to say that this has been a surprising and gratifying process. My goal was to mark the milestone of 20 years, to notice it and commemorate it in some concrete way. Finding the right words, or the right circumstances to share hasn't always been easy, but over time I've found (and am still finding) a voice around what this process has been for me. This wasn't an exercise in the definitive truths about diabetes for the world. It was at it's essence, a chance for me to say what I know about diabetes so far, to myself but also to an "audience". The fact that others could read what I thought and agree or disagree was a factor that really changed the weight of the exercise for me. But as I did the project I realized too that not only had I earned my own particular point of view about diabetes over the last 20 years, my voice was just that, one singular voice about one life with diabetes. Important and not so, all at the same time.
I learned a lot by doing this project. What surprised me most was how many positive things I know because of diabetes. I vowed that I would not edit what came to mind in the process, so if the things I know from diabetes were dark or sad, so be it. And of course, there are those entries and they are critical. I would be lying if I didn't say how much diabetes tires me out, makes me sad, forces me to choose things I would rather not do. But then there was the realization that with diabetes I had also learned to ask for help from others, that lightening up really helps and that one small thing, a kindness, an advance in technology, the discovery of the OC, can make all the difference. I'm not saying that diabetes is ok or that I'm better off because of it. Rather, though I knew before that there were gifts that came with the struggle, in doing this exercise they became much clearer and more weighty. And that really helps to balance out the obvious and known weight of the hard things. (#17: diabetes is a study in balance)
One of the results of looking at the disease as I did for this exercise, is again seeing the very real impact it has had on my life. Yesterday, I woke up kind of sad thinking about having diabetes for so long. What would my life had been like without diabetes, I wondered? What could I have done with all the energy and focus directed at something other than blood sugars or shots or A1C's or carb counting or pumps or worrying or explaining or being pissed off or tired or frustrated? At first I thought, "I could have been so much more". And then, after a bit of time for self pity, I thought, "or not". Because I just can't know what my life would have been without diabetes. I can't know that I'd be different or better off and one of the upsides of this exercise, is that I can see more clearly now, some of what I actually am because of this disease. (#20: aim for grace)
On one of the nights I was working on an entry, my husband after looking over my shoulder briefly, said that each entry could be a story on it's own. Nice thought, but I have a full time job already. But in that spirit and as a way to start the NEXT 20 years, I do want to focus on one idea that I was pretty surprised by. #19: there is much to be grateful for. That most certainly wasn't my first thought when I started the list to do this project, but over the course of the postings, it kept bubbling up for me. Gratitude. Diabetes has taught me so much about gratitude. The importance of it, the healing qualities of it, the good that comes from it. Noticing all the gifts that people and animals and the world gives me, because of, and in spite of having diabetes, has become so critical to me in finding joy and happiness in life. This is one that came later in my time with the disease. I was devastated, overwhelmed, angry, sad and very afraid for a long time. And then over the years, as I came to accept the reality of my situation, I started to see all the things that people and the world offered me. And then I started to accept the gifts more readily, and diabetes became a little easier to handle still. So in light of this realization, I'm writing some thank you notes to my husband and mom and dear friends and wonderful doctor for all that they have done to make it better. I will also thank my animals who have, and continue to bring such joy and comfort to me. And I also want to thank all the people I have "met" from the OC, who in such a short period of time have made such a huge difference in my life. The words, the thoughts, the effort, the wisdom, the intelligence and courage, continues to inspire me every day.
So, that's what I know today about diabetes. Thanks for listening. We'll see what tomorrow brings.