I'd Rather Have Diabetes
Now, nobody ever said diabetes was easy, but of all the issues people deal with in their lives-everything from abuse to alcoholism to leukemia --I'd gladly choose diabetes.
An article was recently published reporting that many diabetics would rather give up 8 to 10 years of their life than have to be diligent about their diabetes health care. And while I fully understand that diabetes can be exhausting considering it's really a 24/7 disease, when I think about some of the people I know and the challenges they face every day, diabetes doesn't seem so bad.
I grew up with a boy who had two or three brain surgeries as a child that left him with a permanently damaged hypothalamus. He takes pills (and pills and pills) every day so his body can regulate things as essential as body temperature and when he needs to urinate. He can't see out of one of his eyes and the other is simply tunnel vision -- he will never drive a car. Growth hormones were given to him via injection at puberty and his biggest challenge was a constant -- CONSTANT -- feeling of hunger.
He is unable to ever feel full no matter how much he eats which inevitably led him to be incredibly overweight. Food was locked in cubbies in elementary school. He was never allowed to have his own money because he'd spend it on large quantities of food. The cupboards in his own home were locked shut to keep him from eating everything. He is always hungry-and yet, he is one of the kindest people I've ever met.
Now, this case is obviously one rare example, but if I ever catch myself pitying my silly, useless pancreas, I think of him, who gets through every day with much larger burdens. I think of my friend who lost her mother to a brain tumor and my friend who struggles with severe depression and a bipolar mother. I think of my friend who has survived breast cancer but can't sleep at night because of her medications and has continual pain in her shoulder from surgery.
I'm not saying I don't have days where I fantasize about eating a meal without counting every freakin' gram of carbohydrate before it goes into my mouth -- I'm just saying, there could be so much worse.
When I was first diagnosed, I cried and cried and cried in my hospital bed... but after an hour of this "woe is me" nonsense, I started to think about my best friends. I thought about some of the incredibly difficult things they'd already experienced at the age of 13 -- a disappearing father with manic depression, clinical depression and sexual abuse -- and I realized that diabetes was just going to be one my life challenges and in comparison, it didn't seem like such a big deal. In the end, what is this disease really asking of me?
It's asking me to eat healthfully. To take many injections and to poke my fingers with a very small object several times a day. Is that really so bad? It doesn't always work perfectly, and I don't always follow the rules perfectly either, but I'd rather struggle with this disease than even dream about the challenges other people face every day. I vote we all quit wasting our energy on feeling sorry for ourselves, and focus instead on getting the most out of life with diabetes.