Today we’re going to share our most memorable diabetes day. You can take this anywhere.... your or your loved one's diagnosis, a bad low, a bad high, a big success, any day that you’d like to share.
I have many memorable diabetes moments; so many that they almost blur together into a life. Most of them feature horrible highs or lows (for highs, see, for example, the Super Bowl party that ended with a crunch, here). When it comes to lows, there's the day an intensely low blood sugar coincided with my first migraine aura, and I thought I was having a stroke, because I couldn’t say the words that I was thinking (“peaches” became “pockets”). There was the one time in undergrad that I missed a test because I went low and fell asleep after treating, but it had a happy ending.
I wish I could remember more days where I was blissfully unaware of my diabetes because it didn’t act up in any way. Paradoxically, these “no-hitter” sorts of days aren’t memorable because I don’t have to think about diabetes screwing with my life, and that’s a good thing.
My diagnosis day was memorable: the return of an ominous phone call from the doctor’s office, the “you have diabetes, honey,” from my mom, the immediate transfer over to my best friend’s birthday party with barely any time to process; me, a twelve-year-old declining cake and ice cream because I thought I could never eat it again.
Diabetes provides me with many moments of anger. There was this one that occurred about an hour ago, before I wrote this. I’m going to have at least three or four surgeries this year, all for things that have nothing to do with diabetes (I’d never had surgery before I broke my elbow in March). I had an awesomely fast recovery from the first, so I could say, “screw you, diabetes, and your ‘slower recoveries’!” Today I consulted with the oral surgeon who will remove my wisdom teeth. I have accepted that they need to be removed, so I have no anger about that. The conversation I had with the nurse, however, made my blood boil:
Nurse: Are you a well-controlled diabetic?
Me: Yes. Nurse: So you never have blood sugar swings?
Me: (smiling) Actually, there's not a Type 1 diabetic alive who doesn't see BG fluctuations.
Nurse: So you're saying you're NOT well controlled.
Me: No, I'm just saying that every person with diabetes has ups and downs because it's a complicated -
Nurse: So you do not have control over your diabetes.
Me: *livid pause* I'M WELL-CONTROLLED.
Seething in indignation, this is Ilana Lucas, reporting from the front lines of the misinformation war.
Other memorable moments, however, are happier ones. These often involve the Diabetes Online Community and the effect it has had on my life. I will probably write about this in more detail tomorrow, but there was the moment that I finally truly felt understood by a wider community, the moment I started a Twitter account that dealt with diabetes to connect with others, the moment where I just started talking about diabetes in my “regular life” Twitter account because I’d come to the realization that I wasn’t “Ilana” and “Ilana’s Diabetes” – they were both part of me. There were the D-Meetups, the first time I truly went and met people from the Internet, that have afforded me meetings and/or friendships with amazing people like Jamie and Larry and Kelly and many others. There was the moment I decided to get a pump, and the moment my endo finally told me she was proud of me.
There were the moments where I achieved more than many might think possible, including my awards and degrees from two of the best universities on the planet, and my artistic and extracurricular pursuits. There was the moment when I stood in front of a class for the first time, knowing they were trusting me to be a professor and a role model, and all the highs and lows and surreptitious site changes in the classroom and the pump conspicuously buzzing in my underwear could not take that away from me.
There was the moment my partner, who has seen me through all the moments of sickness and health for the past almost nine years, told me he was ready for a lifetime of moments and asked me to marry him.
That means there’s a moment coming up next year that I desperately want to be memorable, but not because of diabetes: my wedding.
Diabetes has done so much to attempt to spoil my fun that I am terrified of what my wedding day will bring. So much planning and money and work, and the knowledge that it could still be a Bad Diabetes Moment sends chills down my spine. Yes, there are logistical details, too, like figuring out how to put a pump pocket in my dress, but the uncertainty that is there is the worst part. It’s like how some people worry about rain. Rain I can deal with; there’s an indoor ceremony space. There’s no way to run away from this.
A Sondheim lyric I am fond of quoting goes as follows: “Oh, if life were made of moments/Even now and then a bad one!/But if life were only moments/Then you’d never know you had one.” That lyric gives me hope. My wedding – whether my blood sugar is high or low – is one moment – one important moment, but still, just one moment –of a whole life; one with ups and downs, but overall one which I will be able to analyze outside of the moments, and one I intend to have well lived. I told the nurse that everyone with diabetes has ups and downs. That’s true of blood sugar, moments, and life in general. It’s true for everyone else, too.
So I’m looking forward to my wedding moment, but I’m also looking forward to the moments before and after. Because, if you zoom out a little, all those moments blur into a life.