To be honest, I was planning on skipping this topic of Diabetes Blog Week.
Not because I don’t think it’s important, it most definitely is… but because it is really fucking vulnerable. And I spend so much mental energy trying to focus on what doesn’t bring me down, I spend so much time trying not to put into words the emotional exhaustion of type 1 diabetes, instead trying to focus on all the things I can still do, all of my beautifully functioning organs, that I have to coax the following words out of my mind and into these sentences. They’re not comfortable. They are not easy.
What brings me down is the ever-dwindling countdown in my head that will mark my first whole decade with type 1 diabetes. As much as I try not to hear it, the words of my first endo echo in my mind every so often “You’ll start seeing complications around the 10 year mark.” In the past, this ’10 year mark’ made me feel safe. As a teenager (having diabetes for only several years) when I had a high a1c, I would reassure myself in the only way I knew how: promise myself to start “doing better” and reassure myself that “I still had time.” I was still 5, 6, 7 years away from that dreaded 10 year mark.
10 years seems so far away, doesn’t it? So safe. 4380 days hold so much potential. Of course, I thought, I would have it all figured out by then. Just as soon as I started “doing better.” Starting, you know, tomorrow.
Well, it’s been almost 9 years now. No complications, but with the highest a1c I’ve ever had. I must say, that brings me down. I no longer feel the safety net that my younger self felt (which of course was an illusion anyways, there is no ‘free pass’ on any year with diabetes, they all count). I feel more vulnerable to the disease every day. I am more aware now than I ever have been of its effects on my whole being. I feel more responsibility, more guilt, and more uncertainty every day. That weighs me down.
Of course, complications and the 10 year mark aren’t that black and white; I’m sure I won’t wake up on August 21, 2015 and feel a sudden, aching toll that the past decade of a dead pancreas has taken on my 24-year-old body. And hopefully, I won’t have complications for many, many years to follow. (I mean, ideally, I would never have any. But the older I become, the more doubtful I become. Also, that brings me down.) But the realization that this taunting 10 year mark- that once seemed infinitely far off in the distance- is now little over a year away… brings me down. It also wakes me up.
I think what’s next for me will be harder than anything I’ve ever experienced with this disease. That is, removing an unhealthy veil from my eyes and bravely acknowledging that there are no practice runs, no free days. I can’t keep telling myself that I will get everything under control when ‘things calm down’ in other parts of my life. 1) Things will never calm down and 2) Having other things ‘under control’ doesn’t amount to much if I’m not well enough to enjoy them.
In this endeavor, I will need support more than I ever have before. I feel a growing need to connect, to understand, to relate to the DOC, because as I feel my illusional safety net disintegrate, I feel the need to build a new one. A stronger one, a real one. A healthy one.
Admittedly, becoming more aware, more accountable and responsible and knowledgable on complications of diabetes and how to prevent them, really wilts my spirit sometimes. I can’t always be as carefree as my youthful heart desires. I kind of hated writing/admitting a lot of this post, but at the end of it, I’m not sad or angry or even frustrated. I’m hopeful, and I’m thankful, and I’m determined to choose health.
And, as with joy, I’m determined to keep choosing it.