It’s World Diabetes Day today. As I sat in “Sick Bay” in choir last night, not because I was contagious but because my blood glucose levels had spiked through the roof despite eating essentially carbohydrate-free for the day, I was thinking about how much I’ve lost because of diabetes, and how much I’ve gained.
I’ve lost time to feeling sick, shaky, sandpapered inside. Time to doctor’s appointments. Time to thinking and calculating and making dozens of tiny decisions every day.
I’ve gained three different selves: High blood sugar me, normal me, low blood sugar me. I’ve gained loved ones who can point out the difference between them nearly immediately. I’ve gained the worry that all of them are me, despite the radical changes blood sugar level can have on one’s personality; I don’t like that not all of them are pleasant.
I’ve lost sleep over feeling lousy or worrying that I might not wake up from a low.
I’ve gained a sincere appreciation of how wonderful it feels to have in-range blood sugars. Getting a ride home from choir last night, chatting up a storm and thinking how much better I felt with the absence of acid and sluggishness and pain, all I could think of was that some people, barring other illness, feel like that ALL THE TIME. THAT IS A GIFT. Please treasure it, if you’ve got it.
I’ve lost money to the insane expenses of treatments, medications, technologies. (I have not lost as much as many, thanks to luck, support, and country of birth.)
I’ve gained empathy for others with chronic illness, and the knowledge that chronic illness absolutely shapes your experience of life. People with chronic conditions aren’t exactly the same as people without who sometimes experience illness, much like people who grow up in and live in poverty aren’t merely temporarily-embarrassed millionaires.
I’ve lost some of my inhibitions about talking about my experience with disability, and certainly a number around advocacy and asking people for help, though I’m not completely there yet.
I’ve gained weight, because it’s very, very difficult to lose weight with T1 unless you’re losing it through high blood sugars.
I’ve lost the ability to do many normal things, like travel and exercise, without a lot of very careful planning.
Most importantly, I’ve gained a community, both of other people with diabetes from around the world, and the family and friends who are incredibly supportive and wonderful and kind. I thank you from the bottom of my heart.
It’s World Diabetes Day, and diabetes is my world every day, as it is for so many others. Can we do something about that, please? Can we focus on gains that will help people, and not monetary gains for pharmaceutical companies? Can we take a real look at loss, and what that means for an individual, a community, a nation, a planet?
Or can I just gain a few hugs?