The last time I wrote in this blog about an anniversary, it was to commemorate eight years with diabetes. But today I’m writing about a happier milestone: this weekend is my one-year anniversary with my husband. We’re about to head out of town for the weekend, but had a couple things I wanted to write about first.
When I was diagnosed with diabetes at 22 years old, I was shocked by the news and scared about complications — but I also was plagued by worries about what effect diabetes was going to have on my everyday life. For some reason, I kept focusing on my wedding day (probably because at that point, it was quite hypothetical). How was I going to carry around a glucometer while in a wedding dress? I wondered. And, more importantly, how would I eat my own wedding cake? For some reason, it was these little things — the ways that diabetes was going to creep into even life’s happiest days — that made me feel the worst.
Fast forward to last year, when I had an overwhelmingly joyful wedding day — complete with diabetes. Dealing with DM turned out not to be that bad: I wore my pump in my underwear, and had my maid of honor carry my glucometer in her purse. And when it came time for dessert — which ended up being individual fruit tarts made by a friend — I ate one, gave myself a bolus, and headed straight back out to the dance floor. Granted, between the stress and the emotions and the apple tart, my blood sugar that evening was around 330. But I decided, for that one night, to cast away my normal obsession with blood sugar readings and just allow myself to enjoy the moment. I gave myself insulin; my blood sugar came down. That day was one of the happiest in my life.
I’m bringing up that story mostly as a reminder — that even though diabetes itself will never give you a break, sometimes you have to take a break from diabetes. I don’t mean tossing away your insulin or ignoring your blood sugar — but rather, not allowing diabetes to dominate your most important moments. For some people, the opposite might be true — you may need to make an effort to get under better control, so that you can enjoy more of life without complications. But for me, it meant allowing myself not to be perfect for a day.
Wedding day or not, I think it’s always good idea to always be aware of what influence diabetes is having on how you live. I was reminded of this last weekend, when one of the other people in my dance group told me that she was impressed that I didn’t let diabetes stop me from doing things — like dancing in an adult hip hop group, for example. I appreciated the comment, but it struck me as odd to think that someone would let diabetes stop them from participating in something so obviously fun. Similarly, this weekend my husband and I are going to Yosemite to take two days of climbing lessons. Sure, diabetes makes packing a pain — I have extra test strips, needles, batteries, reservoirs, insertion sets, a CGM sensor, Symlin, insulin, glucagon, pen tips, Gu packets and alcohol wipes with me (and I wonder why my bag is bigger than my husband’s). But even though it sucks to have to carry so much extra gear, I’m willing to do it — the most important thing is not to let diabetes stop me from living.
I adopted that mindset early, when, three months after I was diagnosed, I joined 29 other non-diabetic people and rode a bicycle across the United States. There were moments on that trip where diabetes made me break down in tears. (So did the Rockies.) But was it worth it? Definitely. It also inspired me to encourage everyone — people with Type 1 and parents of kids with Type 1 alike — to not let this disease get in your way. Take proactive steps — whether it’s bringing extra test strips or getting your child a continuous glucometer (Abbott’s model has alarm features that let you monitor your child’s blood sugar from the other room, and get an alarm if it goes too high or too low). But don’t let diabetes stop you. You’re the one who’s supposed to be controlling your diabetes, not the other way around.