Sunday marked the fifteenth anniversary of my Type 1 diabetes diagnosis. Fifteen years ago, I was a skinny, scared, sick teenager whose life just got turned upside down. That seems like forever ago.
This year I felt rather indifferent to the milestone. The 27th of July felt like just another day that I got to enjoy my family, my health, and my life. Diabetes is always there, but because it's well controlled the disease factors insignificantly into my daily happiness.
When I think of having diabetes for fifteen years, I put that accumulative time into a particular context, namely, how my health will impact my ability to have children. With one happy, healthy child already, I view my next diabetic pregnancy optimistically. God willing, we plan to have another baby in less than two years from now, which would mean I'll be 30 years old and have lived with Type 1 for nearly seventeen years. I'll feel blessed to have had my children before any diabetes complications set in.
Looking back on the fifteen years that have passed since my diagnosis encourages me to also look forward to the next fifteen years. Sienna will be a teenager! Our next baby will likely be entering those dreaded teenage years too. Dennis and I will be preparing to celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary. I'll have passed the 20 and 25 year marks and be closing in on 30 years of living well with diabetes.
What if diabetes has been cured by then? That would be a wonderful prayer answered for millions of people. But, I'm not counting on it.
I've never given a cure for diabetes much thought. Since I was diagnosed, my mindset has been, "I'll have this disease for the rest of my life." Although I'm typically a very positive person, this is one area where I've reserved my hope and expectations. Perhaps it's a defense mechanism of sorts. After all, I can't be disappointed when a cure is delayed if I didn't expect one in the first place. Doctors and researchers have been promising a cure for diabetes in "just five more years" for at least the past 25 years. That's a long delay for those of us living with this disease daily.
However, perhaps I don't spend too much time worrying about a cure because, ultimately, diabetes hasn't kept me from realizing any of my hopes and dreams during the past fifteen years. Diabetes accompanied me through a fun high school career. It came with me when I moved to college and lived in the dorms for four exciting, interesting, and liberating years. When I graduated college and moved to San Diego, diabetes tagged along. As I fell in love with Dennis, he learned about my diabetes as he got to know me. Our wedding, honeymoon, setting up our first apartment, and all of the other wonderful moments of our early married life included frequent blood glucose tests, low blood sugars to treat, and insulin boluses. But, none of it took away from the joy we felt or the fun we had.
Diabetes didn't keep me from going back to school for my Masters. In fact, I believe the dedication and organization required in my diabetes management helped me have the skills to complete the program and write a thesis while working at a full time job. That ingrained proficiency to be organized and committed to my health were critically important in managing a diabetic pregnancy. Although it was a lot of work, I feel that having diabetes helped me to achieve a very healthy pregnancy. Diabetes, one again, didn't hinder the achievement of my dreams.
It would be amazing to experience a cure and leave all of the maintenance of diabetes behind me. However, as long as I control my blood sugars efficiently so that I may concentrate on the passions and joys in my life, I'll live with the blood tests, insulin pumps, doctor's visits, and food restrictions.
So, I've had diabetes for fifteen years... bring on the next fifteen!
Published On: August 26, 2008