A matter of self-pride
Something’s been happening lately. Something I can’t quite explain.
I’ve become proud to have diabetes.
And it’s not just because I left my endocrinologist’s office three Fridays ago with an A1C that was seven-tenths of a percent lower than it was the previous time
And it’s not just because I’m a beneficiary (in a sense) of the hundreds of thousands of people walking through cities and campuses across the United States, raising money and awareness.
And, believe it or not, it’s not even because I was given a Best of the ‘Betes Blog award last month. (Thanks to whoever nominated me, but seriously, people, you’ve got to give someone else a chance! I implore you: flood the BBB email and Twitter accounts with nominations; there are so many great d-blogs to choose from!)
Something about having diabetes is making me proud. It makes me want to shout from the rooftops that, despite my pancreas giving up on me thirty-one years ago, I’m still going strong. (No, I have no real plans to do that, but if any other tricenarians do, I just might join you). I’ve been through a lot in those years, and when life throws something at me these days, I shrug it off with a Hmmph, I can take it attitude.
It’s like I’m part of an exclusive club. A club that has our own secret lingo, where basal has nothing to do with herbs (and neither does “getting high”). A club that routinely licks blood from our own fingertips and gets inexplicable joy from the number 100 (or for folks outside of the U.S., 5). Our club considers flatlining a good thing, and appreciates the difficulty of achieving a no-hitter. We are privileged to know “how hard it is to…” or “how it feels when…”, which is something that simply cannot be explained to outsiders. I’ve never really been a part of anything exclusive. But with this, I am. That’s kinda cool. (Cue mental video: 1987. Me and a group of kids march across the lawn at Camp Nejeda, taunting the “regular people” with a spontaneous chant: “We’ve got diabetes, and we’re not sharing!”)
So lately, I’ve been “out there” a bit more. Wearing my hat and (now) my new blue bracelet most of the time. Sometimes wearing my pump or sensor where someone might see it. These days, diabetes isn’t just something I have, but it does define who I am. That’s because I’m letting it define me. Living with diabetes for this long has been a real accomplishment, and it makes me feel like a champion. True, I may be more the caliber of an Al Bundy-Polk High kind of champion than an Eli Manning-Super Bowl champion, but it’s good enough for me.
And no, I’m not perfect. Far from it, actually (I write this as I give a correction bolus). But if I look at everything I have done right, rather than the things I haven’t done right, the list is pretty damn impressive.
I don’t know how long this whole pride thing will last. I suppose someday I’ll tire of the optimism and the advocacy, and diabetes will once again become a pain-in-the-ass disease that I resent with every fiber of my being. I’ll do what I have to do to stay alive, but nothing more. Because, although I’m proud of how I live with it, diabetes itself is something I would gladly do without, hence the message on my hat and bracelet.
But for now, I’ve got it, and I’m making the best of it. I’m proud of who I am.