A few months ago I retweeted a quote from Elizabeth Gilbert that went something like “things I wish I knew at 25…”
My five year anniversary with diabetes is coming up in a few days, something I was reminded of this morning during a visit with my new primary care physician.
“You said you were diagnosed at 22?” she asked in a bubbly voice, an endearing tone like that of a child’s rather than a bratty teen.
“Yep, April of 2009.” I said with a smile, swinging my legs against the edge of the exam bed. Why should that make me proud?
And that got me thinking about what I would tell my 22-year-old self now. What words of wisdom could I share with a young woman, driven by education and a career yet hungry for young love and adventure?
Things I wish I’d known:
- I wish when I was severely depressed in college that I knew in a few years I would be diagnosed with an incurable chronic condition so I could take advantage of the freedom I didn’t know I had.
- I wish I’d never stepped on the scale at 13 that told me I was fat and instead embrace a healthy lifestyle with a body not yet stressed by an autoimmune disease.
- I wish I had paid more attention to the Affordable Care Act when it was first implemented so that I could have hopped on my parent’s insurance policy sooner rather than be faced with insurmountable medical debt while in graduate school.
- I wish I had taken that trip to Ireland freshman year of college and studied writing and literature – the career path I ended up taking anyway, although not for another four years.
- I wish I had acquired an insulin pump sooner so that I wouldn’t have endured two seizures resulting in hospitalization, concussion repercussions, and more medical debt.
But if I had known those things, would I still be the same person today? Would I be as strong, as confident, and as vulnerable?
My new primary care physician asked what were my symptoms (they all do, for some reason, even though it’s textbook).
Oh you know: extreme thirst, frequently going to the bathroom, hungry all the time and craving high-carb and high-sugar items (things I never ate) like candy and pasta, and still losing 10 pounds even though I wasn’t exercising and sleeping all the time. Then there’s the month-long cold that wouldn’t go away even with antibiotics and the severe yeast infection with rashes that spread up my lower back.
“I’m surprised you didn’t go into a coma,” she said.
“Yeah, they were too. My blood sugar had been 500-600 for at least three months before they caught it. But I was in college – I attributed all my symptoms to stress,” I said, shrugging my shoulders.
Things I wish I’d known…