This year my diaversary is a biggie. I was 11 years old when I was diagnosed. That was 33 years ago. So I have lived with diabetes for 3/4s of my life. That feels like a very very long time.
I’ve been struggling with a major case of writer’s block for about a week . . . . not just when trying to write about my diaversary but while trying to write about anything at all. And I realize I’ve been struggling with the thoughts and emotions surrounding this diaversary for at least a month now. Because honestly, when I think about having survived diabetes for 3/4s of my life, one phrase keeps echoing through my head . . . .
I shouldn’t be here.
I shouldn’t be here. I guess that must sound pretty morbid. But I can vividly remember laying awake many a night during my late teens counting up how many years I had left to my life. Ten . . . maybe fifteen . . . . but surely the last few would be filled with all of those terrible complications that had been drilled into my head over the years. I had watched my aunt become sicker and sicker and eventually die from diabetes complications, and I thought it was a preview of my own unavoidable fate. I’d be lucky to make it into my 30s. I’d never see my 40s.
But here I am. Forty-four years old and complication free. Every time I think about being complication free a weird wave of guilt washes over me. It comes from knowing that for so many years I ignored my diabetes management almost entirely and knowing that many who worked much harder and have lived with diabetes for a much shorter time have developed the complications I’ve somehow managed to avoid. Why them and why not me? Genetics, environment, or just dumb luck? Who knows.
Thirty-three years. 3/4s of my life. All with Type 1 diabetes. I’m very grateful for the life I have. I’m thankful to be here and to be healthy. I’m lucky to be able to have hope that I may still have another 30 or 40 years to my life-span. I’m proud to try to be a strong patient voice and to show that diabetes doesn’t have to stop you. But honestly, lately I’ve been feeling so tired of walking the diabetes road for more than three decades. I’ve been angry at the time and energy and emotions it demands. I’ve been fed up with diabetes. I know this will pass. I know I’ll get back to a better place emotionally. I suppose after 33 years, maybe it’s okay to rage just a bit? Because after all, I shouldn’t be here. But when all is said and done, I’m so glad that I am.