December 30th, 2011 was the 30th anniversary of my diabetes diagnosis.
Thirty years is a long time.
On December 30th, 1981, I was 3 years old. As you can imagine, a lot has happened since then – with diabetes care in general, but also in my own life with diabetes. Here’s just a taste:
- Blood glucose meters got a LOT smaller – and a lot faster. I’m pretty sure my first meter took a full 2 minutes to give me a reading and was the size of about 6 of my current meters laid side-to-side.
- I went from one shot of mixed insulin per day to multiple daily injections with both short (Toronto/Regular) and long (NPH, Lente, Ultralente) acting insulins to pumping with much faster-acting insulins (NovoRapid, Apidra).
- I started using a technology that I once could only have dreamed of – a Continuous Glucose Monitoring System (CGMS). I continue to dream of a day when this technology will function with more accuracy and consistency.
- I stopped being afraid of blood tests, then stopped being afraid of injections, then stopped being afraid of infusion site insertions – but I’m still afraid of CGMS insertions.
- I’ve developed callouses on my fingertips, and scar tissue in various parts of my body thanks to thousands upon thousands of needles piercing my skin.
- I went from eating limited carbs that were measured precisely for me, to eating whatever I wanted using the “balancing act” method with multiple daily injections and the pump, back to limiting carbs that are precisely measured by me. Funny how this one’s come full circle.
- The girl who was embarrassed every day at 10:15 a.m. when her watch alarm went off and her grade 3 class tried to pretend not to notice her pull out her morning snack became the girl who writes on a public blog about her experiences with diabetes and who has trouble shutting up about it when asked a question.
- I’ve struggled with the social aspects of diabetes: kids who taunted me with candy I couldn’t eat, how to handle Halloween and birthday parties, testing in public, learning to manage the effects of alcohol, etc.
- I’ve been hospitalized with DKA – once.
- I’ve never lost consciousness or been unable to be in control of myself due to diabetes.
- I’ve struggled with anxiety. A lot.
- I’ve worked So Damn Hard to figure out how to make this disease my bitch instead of the other way around. I’m close, but it’s a never-ending challenge.
- I’ve logged hundreds (or more) of days of bloodsugar readings, insulin doses, and carb amounts. I’ve searched for trends until my eyes hurt. I’ve developed a serious dislike of this process.
- I got married – to a man who wants to help me succeed at this. I also learned that my success, my diabetes care, and ultimately my quality (and length) of life extend beyond myself to the people who love me.
- I’ve brought my A1C down to levels I never would have believed I could.
- My belief that diabetes complications would never happen to me has been shattered, thanks to retinopathy.
- In spite of working So Damn Hard, I’ve still experienced blame from others, including medical professionals, for not getting it right. I’ve also had my retinopathy blamed on my past of “too much cheating” by people who obviously don’t know what they’re talking about.
- I’ve met some great people, both in person (Hi Mimi! Hi Krista!) and online (Hi Mike! Hi Aaron!) who I wouln’t have met if not for diabetes. (Please don’t be offended if I omitted your name – there are just too many of you!)
- I’ve had a child – a perfect little girl who has no lasting effects of being created in the womb of an imperfect woman with diabetes.
- I’ve learned to deal with retinal haemorrhages – and the ongoing possibility of more. I no longer lift anything very heavy, put my head lower than my heart during yoga, or blow up balloons.
- I’ve started to think a lot more about the genetics behind diabetes, and to hope I never have to learn how to manage diabetes in a child.
- I’ve made the somewhat terrifying decision (with my husband and my doctors) to have another child and am over halfway through my second (and last) pregnancy.
- I’ve spent 30 years working my ass off and doing the best that I could (can) with what I had (have) and knew (know).
Thirty years is a long time.
Here’s hoping that the next 30 years include some pretty amazing leaps in technology, in knowledge and in the strength of all of us to apply both.
And maybe even a cure….?