Today marks the 21st anniversary of my diagnosis with diabetes.
21 years is a long time. I've been thinking a lot lately about a couple of things, and I want to tackle a few of them here.
This is all I've ever known.
I was diagnosed a month after I turned 4. My family doctor tested a urine sample with dip-strips and it came up somewhere around 14 (252 mg/dl), so he instructed my parents to bring me right away to the local children's hospital. Apparently it took 6 doctors to either hold me down or calm me down in order to give me my first injection.
I don't remember any of this. Life with diabetes is all I remember. This brings me to my second point, which is:
Life will probably always be this way.
I know it's likely that there will be advancements in my lifetime. There are several very promising Artificial Pancreas projects that are progressing through different phases of clinical trials, and it's likely that over the next decade at least one of them will make it through and be available for consumers.
Even more promising, there are researchers doing fantastic work in trying to cure -- not just treat, but cure -- this beast of a disease. They're figuring out how to create new insulin-producing cells, how to sheild these cells from immune system attacks, how to provide them with oxygen and blood, and where to put them in the body. There's a lot of work that needs to be done, but there are people devoted to this, and I do believe it will happen someday.
Will it happen soon? Or soon enough? I don't think so. I believe it's going to be a very long time before any functional cure becomes available. Of course I'd love to be wrong here!
Complications don't get better.
This is my experience. Others may have much more uplifting and inspiring stories about reversing the effects that decades of diabetes has on their bodies, and kudos to those people. This is my story. My experience is that things have a tendency to get worse. I think it's important to recognize that, if only to have it serve as a reminder of why I try so hard to "manage" my diabetes, as much as it can be managed.
There will always be misinformed people out there.
There will always be the distant relative or friend of the family who catches you off-guard with their "Oh, let's just serve this, but none for you right? You can't eat that". That person who makes it clear that they disapprove, even after you've explained that you can eat anything you want, as long as you've given insulin to cover it.
I have not yet found a polite way to express to these people that their words and actions are not only rude, but extremely hurtful. I still struggle to express how deeply it cuts when people who don't know a damn thing about diabetes management imply that if I just ate they way they suggest, things would be better. Hinting that the challenges I face with my diabetes are ones that I bring upon myself because I "eat sugars" is a horrible thing do do to anyone.
Hopefully I'll figure that out someday. Hopefully someday I'l figure out how to elegantly put a stop to those comments. For now I usually manage to blurt out the bare minimum of an explanation about carbohydrates and insulin, while completely avoiding the CAN YOU NOT, PLEASE elephant in the room
I don't want to live with this forever.
I really and truly do not want 10, 20, or 50 more years with this. I can handle today, though. Tomorrow too. I can probably even manage the rest of this week.
Just in case I can handle a bit more, I also like to plan for a few months in advance. Stuff like ordering supplies or making appointments for my endo/CDE/optometrist/neurologist/psychologist/gynecologist/dentist (I think that's it, although I'm probably missing at least 1...). I can't wrap my head around doing this forever, so I try to break it down into smaller and more manageable pieces.
So... onward, I guess. For 21 more years, maybe? Or at least the rest of the week.