Like most things in this world, people with type 1 diabetes come in all shapes and sizes and with a unique story. Since we didn’t exactly plan on having diabetes, it’s hard to give a bulk characteristic or defining quality to our tribe. Many of us were “someone” before we were “someone with diabetes”, and it’s safe to say that that coping with that is one of the biggest emotional challenges that comes with this lovely disease.
At times, it’s really tough to not think, “but what if I had not been the kid on road trips that had to pee every 10 minutes? Or the one that ate a piece of pizza than was sick and exhausted? And how about the fact that I needed every water of molecule from Lake Michigan to quench my thirst every minute on the minute? That was fun…”
I work in social media, so naturally, #TBT (throwback Thursday) is a big part of, well… my Thursdays. Every week, I find myself searching frantically through my personal photos for some historic gold to post on the Interwebz that will make people “lol” and reminisce. It’s a great tradition and Internet fad that shows no sign of dying out. But this particular Thursday it got me thinking…
As a diabetic, it’s easy to get scary-down about the, “woulda shoulda coulda” scenarios that run through our minds when we look back in time. For example, the day I got diagnosed, I was at lacrosse practice on a beautiful spring day without a care in the world. Absolutely not one thing was wrong on the surface. I was completely and utterly blindsided with news that would impact and scare me for the rest of my life. The damage the diagnosis did not only took away a significant amount of my freedom as a “normal” 16-year-old, it cultivated an underlying mentality of fear. And, it destroyed my trust in the universe. It made me realize that bad things happen to good people. It also made me put my fists up like a boxer just waiting for another blow to come my way. If this had never happened to me, where would I be? Where would I have gone to college? Would I be running my own business? A much more colorful world traveler? Single? Married? Richer? Poorer? Would I have actually followed- through with my wish to play lacrosse in college? It’s easy to think I missed out, or chickened out with regard to certain elements of my life. But, that’s a tremendously shitty way to look at things. What about all of the good things I’ve become because I’m a diabetic? I am far more compassionate, self-aware, introspective (hello, this blog…), my health is a priority, and I am much more appreciative of little, happy moments. Not to mention, many of my friendships are as strong as they are because of diabetes. I am able to share my story with others that have experienced similar challenges, and that brings us significantly closer.
My life is absolutely perfect the way it is. Pitching myself down a dangerous slide of “it would be so much better if Derek never came in to my life”, is neither productive, nor fair. DEREK IS THE MAN. I am an insanely lucky person who has had a rich and joyful life up to this point. I have had amazing experiences, I have supportive friends, an empowering boyfriend, unconditionally loving parents, a brother who teaches me how to fight, and so much more. I live in the busiest, most fascinating city in the US and arguably the world. I have nothing to complain about. I also don’t know what I would change at this point, if I could. Sure, I’d go back to that sunny day and come home from lacrosse practice, eat dinner with my parents, and carry on with my bad self. But it’s unfair to look back and think that being diagnosed with diabetes ruined my life. Nothing, by any stretch of the imagination, is ruined.
Looking backward is so important for reflection and understanding. It also helps us understand patterns, and remember lessons we may have forgotten. Also, memories are kind of awesome. But there is a fine line we have to keep in mind. Being malicious about a past you can no longer control, doesn’t help us embrace ourselves as we are right this gee dang second. It’s best to just call things what they are, find something to smile about, and carry on.