Happy New Year!
It’s a brand new year — a BRAND NEW DECADE — and I still have diabetes!!
And I’m fine with that. After 26 years, diabetes has become so much a part of my identify, I can’t imagine NOT having it.
Several years ago, a friend of mine asked me this:
“If you could get rid of your diabetes or your fish allergy, what would you choose?”
I pondered for a second, and said, “My fish allergy of course”. I have a potential anaphylactic reaction to eating fish, and so my restaurant experiences can be terrifying. Invitations to “The Seafood House” — uh, no thank you.
Once, we visited friends for dessert, and we had to leave after ten minutes. They’d grilled salmon and the smell alone was causing me to choke up, either from anxiety or an actual reaction. And I know others in our social circle have neglected to include us when they’re having a “fish fest”.
But back to that question from my friend. “Really? You wouldn’t want to get rid of your diabetes?”
“Of course,” I answered. “But here’s the thing. I can’t always control when and where I come into contact with fish. The person sitting at the lunch table next to me, might have brought a tuna fish sandwich. And, wherever I eat (unless it’s in the vegetarian places I favour), I’m always worried about cross contamination.”
I continued, “But my diabetes? That I can control.”
Or at least I thought I could. Once I’d switched over to a constant glucose monitor, I realized how often I was in fact out of range. Once I’d moved over to the pump, I knew how often I could correct those variances.
Now, I have SO MUCH INFORMATION that, as I’ve noted before and will continue to note again (I’m sure), I am so very aware of how my comment about controlling my diabetes was very naive on my part.
My response these days is to curse the technology:
“What the heck? I just went from 7.6 to 9.8 in the past ten minutes, post breakfast? It’s the exact same thing I eat every day!”
“I’m DROPPING???? A double arrow???? Now??????? In the middle of ____________?????” (insert extremely inconvenient situation).
But that’s life with diabetes. It’s not always perfect, it’s sometimes frustrating if not downright infuriating, and even with my cool dressed-up accessories, it’s not always pretty.
It’s also so much a part of me that I can’t let it go.
I remember when I left the hospital many years ago, after my week-long stay when I was first diagnosed. Once I learned how to test my blood sugar and inject insulin, I was on my way.
The toughest part was coming home and knowing that I hadn’t left my illness in my hospital room. Aren’t we supposed to be cured when we are discharged? Well, no. Not with a chronic condition, and that was the hardest part for me to accept. That this was permanent. My new reality.
We’re heading towards the 100th anniversary of the discovery of Insulin. Something that happened literally in my own backyard. My dad went to the same high school as Charles Best albeit many decades after him (Harbord Collegiate). I drive by it almost daily.
My doctor’s office is located a block away from a permanent display heralding the discovery of insulin. I’m a mere two hour drive from Sir Banting’s home in London, Ontario.
New research is happening daily. The other day, walking back from my doctor’s office, there were several posters highlighting future research dreams: “Eliminate Insulin Injections” obviously caught my eye.
I’m counting down the months until my brand of pump becomes “close looped” allowing my pump and Dexcom to be my very own artificial pancreas.
Will this decade bring a cure? I hope so.
But until then, I’ll keep my diabetes, thank you. I don’t have a choice, but I can choose to be as positive as possible. (And somedays, that feels kind of impossible. Hello, Human!)
(A fish allergy cure would also be very much appreciated in the coming years.)
(Please remember, I’m not a doctor or an educator. Just a person who has had type 1 diabetes for the past 26 years. Please follow me on instagram at @grownupdiabetes.)