I swing alone. My feet now touch the ground. The figure eight chains are rusted. The black u-shaped seat is worn at the edges. I wonder for how long it will hold my weight. I am much bigger now, but I still love the feeling of when my feet leave the ground. For a fleeting moment, I wonder if they will ever return, and then gravity brings me back to reality. I swing alone. I do not belong here anymore, but I also do not want to leave.
The red and brown leaves fly across my shadow in the direction of the setting sun. I envy their journey, but I do not envy their withered state. They are at the end of their lives. I should be beginning mine, but ever since I turned twenty-two, I feel lost within this body. I feel like it’s slowly giving up on me. From a pancreas that doesn’t work to a series of infections to chronic pain to now an IT band that won’t let me run, I feel like it’s shutting down on me. It’s at the end of this journey, and although I know I have years left, I don’t know what quality that will be.
It will let me enjoy one last swing, but it will not let me enjoy the simple pleasures in life – the simple luxuries our physical beings allow. I cannot eat what I want; I cannot exercise how I want, and I cannot have a long-lasting sexual relationship. My mental state has never succumbed to my body – it’s only succumbed to itself, but how much more can my mind take? Can a mind be free with a useless body? Can a mind truly enjoy life with a body that’s slowly withering away?
These are supposed to be the best years of my life. I should feel triumphant for all that I’ve overcome, but I do not. Instead, I feel beaten. I once questioned life for the sake of its existence, but now that I’ve chosen to live, I question all that my body has done to me. All I have ever done is try to take care of it to the best of my ability, and it has failed me. It continues to fail me. I now have not just one chronic condition to manage, but many. By evolution’s standards, I should not be living through this. I should have been weeded out years ago.
But here I am – distraught, frustrated, angry, depressed … numb. I have been happy. I am able to be happy even with a diseased body. For all that diabetes has destroyed, it has not killed me. And I am not alone in this battle. But I also feel limited. What once seemed possible now seems daunting. Even traveling overseas scares me – not for the mystery of the unknown, but because I worry about how to take care of my disease among the unknown. My livelihood depends on my ability to manage this condition. Everything always depends on my ability to manage this condition.
And I am tired. I am so tired of trying to understand it. It never fails to surprise me. Like today when I went running with active insulin in my system, and even though all the science and experience in the world would tell me my blood sugar should have dropped from its 200 status – no, it rose to 234 and made running that much harder. In addition to dealing with an IT band that after four weeks of physical therapy still pains me 20 minutes into my run, I also had to deal with running with a high blood sugar. I felt like I was in one of those dreams where I am trying to run fast, but I can only manage slow motion.
Maybe my body is dying? Maybe my systems are slowly shutting down? Maybe I will have to deal with cancer or a malfunctioning heart in a few years? I’m honestly not surprised by anything anymore. But for now, I swing alone and hope that when my feet touch the ground, I will wake up with a new body and a new appreciation for the simple pleasures in life. I draw myself back and push my body into the air, the rustling leaves flying past my face, the brisk fall wind turning my cheeks red, and I wait, my legs suspended, weightless.