A Bittersweet Anniversary: 10 Years With Diabetes


February 17th, 2011 is my ten-year anniversary with diabetes. I still can’t believe it: an entire decade of finger sticks and insulin and carb counting. Ten years of constant awareness of my blood sugar, constant vigilance, constant control. If I stop to think about how much time and thought and effort I’ve put into managing diabetes since that horrible, snowy Saturday afternoon when I first saw my diagnosis spelled out on a glucometer’s screen, I almost can’t believe it. The realities of living with diabetes are enough to overwhelm.

I’ve tried to celebrate my diabetic anniversaries over the years, but I’ve never quite known how to do it. It’s not like diabetes is a beloved boyfriend I want to lavish with gifts. Frankly, I’d rather punch it in the face. Instead, I want to give myself a gift. But what? Since the thing I long for most with diabetes is a break — just one day of not worrying, not caring — my first instincts often have to do with food. I will have an ice cream cone and not feel bad about it, I’ll tell myself. I’ll hit the bread plate without cultivating regret.

But that never works. The truth is that I can’t take a break from diabetes — at least not in terms of food’s effects on my blood sugar — and so any attempt to buck against that just ends up making me feel worse than I did before. This year, I wanted to do something different.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot over the past few weeks and I came up with an idea that seems so simple, so obvious and so perfect that I can’t believe I didn’t come up with it before. Simply put, I spend every minute of every day caring for my diabetes. Why not spend my anniversary caring for myself? Or, more specifically, why not devote a day to rewarding myself for all the effort I’ve put in over the past ten years?

This doesn’t have to involve food. Instead, I want to spend the day indulging in experiences I don’t usually give myself. Like a massage. And some sort of overpriced — yet relaxing — pedicure. I usually feel bad spending money on such things, and it makes me really happy to think that on February 17th, I’m going to enjoy them, guilt-free, as a gift, to thank myself for living and managing this disease for a full ten years.

So that’s my plan. And it makes me curious: how do other people celebrate their diabetic anniversaries? Any traditions or ideas you’d like to share? As diabetics, we spend so much time being hard on ourselves, so much effort maintaining our self control, that I like the idea of using the anniversary of our diagnoses as a chance to offer ourselves thanks and credit. We deserve it.

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Congrats !! I was diagnosed when I was 7 on my best friend’s birthday in 1987.  I remember thinking “how can I miss her party?” Who knew? Anyways, I use to celebrate every July 24th by eating something ‘forbidden’ and always going overboard and feeling pretty sick in a few hours.  I always enjoyed myself during the foodfest but then thought that was pretty stupid afterwards. As a treat these days, I take time for myself.  I like the idea of massages and pedicures but if you’re trying to save money – turn off your phone and all your electronics… Read more »


My D-Day anniversary falls on November 1st, the day after Hallowe’en.  My tradition is that I head over to Wal-Mart because all of their Hallowe’en candy is on sale.  I stock up on mini chocolate bars, pack of sweedish berries and other treats.  All individually wrapped, all about 10-15 carbs per serving.  Perfect for those diabetic lows. 


My 3 yr old daughter’s T1 diagnosis one year anniversary is coming up on Feb. 23. My husband and I are trying to figure out how to “celebrate” and have not come up with any good ideas so far. At her age a one year anniversary is not a concrete concept, but it still seems like we should do something to recognize this big, new, exhausting, life long responsibility in her and our lives.

Bridget McNulty
Bridget McNulty

I love the idea of treating myself (any time!) but I usually forget my diabetic anniversary, which makes me kind of happy, actually. I am slowly learning to release the controlling side that feels as if it can actually make diabetes better: no matter how hard I try, there are forces beyond my control that will affect my blood sugar, so now I’m trying to just let go a little. That said, a decade of diabetes is definitely cause for celebration! Mani, pedi AND massage, in my opinion :)


I love your idea of doing something healthy. My 13 yr. anniversary will be 3/20/11. I think a massage is a great idea!


Go for it/them – pedicure and massage. Enjoy the day, and enjoy your life!


My teenage daughter has been celebrating her “diabetaversary” every year since DX at age 13. It falls a few weeks after her birthday.  Usually some kind of cake or treat is involved–to prove that she is allowed to have cake, etc.  She seems to embrace the D as a part of who she is.  I am less interested in celebrating, but I love to see her own the day.

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