Today is World Diabetes Day.
I get the World (some days).
I get the Day (sometimes).
But I don’t get Diabetes, not really, especially my type of diabetes. It’s called Type 1. I don’t know where it came from (spoiler alert: there’s no family history). The post-diagnosis tests revealed no evidence of an autoimmune disorder (that’s when the body attacks itself with no real motive).
No, for some reason, at the age of 22 close to my college graduation date, I learned that my pancreas no longer worked the way that it should. And that I would have to inject myself with insulin (the hormone that helps us break down glucose for energy) for the rest of my life, and that I would have to monitor what foods I ate because certain foods could literally kill me.
For the rest of my life.
I hope that’s not the case. When I was diagnosed 8.5 years ago, I didn’t get my hopes up for a cure. Everyone assured me that I would not have to live the rest of my life with this disease. But this disease has been around for thousands of years (some theorize it used to be an evolutionary advantage). People are still dying with or because of this disease.
I feel weak. I feel like a burden to the world. When I read, or watch stories happening in dystopian or apocalyptic settings, I think, wow, with Type 1, I would be dead in a day. It’s taken me years to overcome this irrational fear. It’s taken therapy to alleviate these insecurities – this thought that I am somehow worth less because of the diabetes.
As my recent post revealed, diabetes certainly takes a toll on my everyday life. It’s not easy. Some days, it sucks all the energy I have. That’s why taking care of my mental health is just as important as my physical health. If I’m going to survive another 50 years with Type 1 diabetes, I need a healthy mind.
I’m not the same person I was 8.5 years ago.
I haven’t known many people with Type 1 diabetes. I’ve only met a few in my short life with diabetes. But those people give me hope. They have such drive and optimism for the future. And they prove that we can thrive even with Type 1 diabetes. Imagine what we could do without it? They remind me that I’m still worth it.
So, now, I do believe in a cure. I do believe I won’t have to live the rest of my life with Type 1 diabetes. I keep hoping and advocating. Type 1 diabetes has certainly changed me — I value food a little bit more; I value my life.
I am more than an incurable chronic condition. But a cure would certainly make that life a little easier. Here’s to World Diabetes Day, and all the hope that comes with it.
For more on life with Type 1 diabetes, check out some earlier posts: