In the spirit of living well with chronic illness, I've been thinking about what that end state actually looks like. When I look at the diabetes made visible pool, I am so moved by the strangeness of all the stuff we use to manage this disease, juxtaposed with the regularness of our lives. Weird medical objects and then our other life stuff. As I think about living in between the definitions of health and illness, I'm struck with the need to make a picture of what healthy with diabetes looks like for myself. I'm a visual person after all, so I want an image of the goal. Healthy with diabetes.
Healthy first. But with diabetes too. For me, there has to be an acknowledgement and visibility of what it takes to do this disease well. To do it at all. My picture of healthy with diabetes needs to include the reality of my life with this disease. It's not devoid of the blood tests and a1c's and carb counting and pumps. It's not as if I could be healthy without all that stuff. No, for me the picture includes that stuff and honor's all the hard choices and vigilance and determination it takes to do this disease with eye's wide open.
Because I'm a designer, the world of objects matter for me. Things, objects tell stories to me. As I've begun to think about this idea, I've gravitated to that world of things, to help draw myself this picture I'm in search of. This funny cup and this wonderful handmade toy are a couple of examples of what come to mind for me when I think about what healthy with diabetes looks like. It's a first step, and maybe too obvious in it's expression, but regardless, these things speak to me now. They're pretty and funny and delightful because they embrace medicalness (symbolized by the red cross) AND good design (porcelain and gold gilt; whimsical fabric and button wheels). There's a confident, happy presence about these objects. And they're special because they embrace what at first feels oxymoronic. Pretty and medical? Playful and serious? They embody opposite states to make a new whole. Like I do. Healthy and chronically ill. Opposites that when seen together in one place, are compelling and surprising. New forms. Modern forms. Opposites made whole.
Hm. Now that's an idea that helps makes the picture a little clearer.
(PS. I unfortunately have lost the links to the above featured objects. A thousand apologies to the designers who made them.)