Unicorn Hope

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I pricked my finger the other day, mindlessly, as I have done roughly 21,900 other times since I was 14, squeezed a drop of blood from my fingertip, and coaxed it onto the edge of a test strip, that golden siphon. 3, 2, 1. This routine, prick-squeeze-coax,so engrained I could do it with my eyes closed, and have.

Beep and result: 100. My blood sugar is 100 mg/dL.

Suddenly I’m awake, embodied. My blood sugar is perfection, that elusive ideal. 100. A+. I’ve worked very hard to not  equate my glucose levels to school grades—no passing, no failing. I believe this is vital, to keep walking through the highs and lows of our days. And yet, let’s just say hypothetically… if this werea grade, I would get all the points. Bright and shimmering star stickers running through my veins. Rainbow-skied chest expansion, this 100. To see it on the glucometer, however fleeting, is a note straight to the heart, saying:Hey, we’re okay. It provides the most brilliant deep breath. We are more than okay. We’re golden, we glow.

I love the diabetes online community (DOC), and participate actively with my blog and my blog’s Instagram account. Like most social media trends, I don’t know when or how this became “a thing,” but one of my favorite posts to see people share is a smiling picture of themselves holding their glucose meter or CGM, giving us a glimpse of this cause for celebration—that 100.  Unicorn that she is: mystical, fleeting, and pure.

This is what many of us in the DOC refer to a 100mg/dL reading as: a unicorn. I posted one of these unicorn selfies the other day, grinning and holding my glucose meter up to the camera to say YAY! and I was met with a dozen unicorn emojis from a dozen people with type 1 diabetes, who all know the planet-spanning significance of these seemingly small moments, deep in their bones. These numbers that, to most people, mean nothing. These numbers that most people’s bodies just balance themselves. But not ours, for we carry the unicorn-blood inside of us, always. We’re the humans waking up and going to graduate school, full-time jobs, doctor’s appointments, birthday parties, book clubs, conferences, and foreign countries, while also filling in for the life-or-death job of a particularly challenged pancreas. We are magic, and carry a quiet, shimmering strength. We are lucky to be alive—life itself perhaps being the ultimate unicorn. How improbable to be anything at all, and yet here we are, all language and limbs toting vials of insulin, finding words to reflect what we are living. Finding each other, too.

A 100—the unicorn—is a celebration of the goodness that we can always, always find woven through the difficulty. It can be more challenging to find this perspective alone; I, for one, often need those bright-lit reminders from other T1Ds. We seek each other’s community because we need the cathartic sharing of our individual and collective pain, but we also very much need the chorus of celebration, the sharing of unicorn hope, this reverberating whisper: There is brightness here, and beauty. Carry on.

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