25…. Not a big number, yet not a small number. It is a significant number for me this December as this is the year I celebrate 25 years with diabetes. I don’t actually know or remember the day I was diagnosed with diabetes. I know it was in December 1986, after my mother’s birthday on the 10th and before Christmas. I remember the way the hospital smelled, that I was put on the children’s ward even though at age 13 I felt I should be on the adult ward, and I remember the doctor telling my parents to go buy me a case of diet sodas from the gift shop as I needed to drink a ton of fluids for my blood sugar to come down. I remember the doctors talking to my parents as if I was not there, telling them I would not live to age 30 and I would never have children. I remember feeling very alone and very scared as visiting hours ended and I was left in a room by myself. I remember thinking that my life was over before it had a chance to begin.
When I look back at that scared 13 year old girl, I think about how I began my diabetic journey feeling like it didn’t matter what I did, no matter the good or bad choices, I was doomed. I look back over some of the choices I made or avoided and I wonder how it might have been different if I hadn’t been diagnosed with diabetes mellitus, AKA type 1 diabetes. I think about all the things I was afraid to try doing because I used diabetes as my excuse. Then I think about the fact that I would not be the awesome person I am today if I had not gotten that diagnosis so many years ago. I wouldn’t have been forced to be so tough and resilient.
Not many people know all the details of my journey with this chronic condition. Some of the details are ugly and some of them are magical. Although I can be cynical about many things, I am also a hopeful person who always can see the possibilities. I still hope for a cure someday. I still get excited when I see another diabetic following their dreams and they don’t let diabetes stop them. I still am here, chasing my own dreams, not letting diabetes define what I can’t do. I can do anything I want, I just have to plan and prep a bit more than a non diabetic. And I am a pretty good planner after 25 years of practice
So as we say goodbye to 2011, let’s all remember, it’s all about your attitude! I think I will go have a cupcake to celebrate all that is possible with diabetes in my life.
For all of those like me that are celebrating their 25 years of diabetes – Well done!