I just started reading the book, the five gifts of illness, thanks to amy's recent review at dlife, and already it's reminded me why I like well written, thoughtful analysis and focused consideration on a subject. The author, jill sklar, articulates a really interesting idea that I've never seen framed up so clearly. She points out that living with chronic illness is a relatively new experience, when looking at the history of humankind. Thanks to medical advances and technological breakthroughs, people with diseases like diabetes are able to live long lives now, where before they would be diagnosed and die soon thereafter. This was an ah ha moment for me. I got to thinking about the state of chronic illness, or living life with disease, and realized that if viewed as a relatively recent phenomenon, then it follows that culture has not necessarily had a ton of time to understand or even at times recognize it. There aren't many customs or milestones or ways to handle it because life with chronic illness as a state of being, just hasn't been around for that long, historically speaking. And in the absense of dying, the living part is all that people see. Of course, we all love the living part, no question there! But it seems too that culture often only sees the living part, and then stops seeing when you get to the with a disease part. Another ah ha moment for me! This could be one of the reasons why I feel so invisible with diabetes. The state of living with disease is not collectively, culturally or consciously understood or recognized. It's a state of being that does not register. Neither fish nor fowl. Neither here nor there. When I read this idea, a piece of the puzzle fell into place and I understood something that I'd felt for a long time from a new vantage point. And though that doesn't necessarily change the world I live in, it does help me understand it a little better. And a little more understanding always seems to help.