Diabetes Anniversary: Remembering Personal Adversity

Kelsey Bonilla Health Guide

    Today is the 16th anniversary of my diabetes diagnosis.  Although each July 27 marks another year that I've lived with diabetes, what does it mean to acknowledge a "diabetes anniversary"? 


    Anniversaries are commonly acknowledged as significant dates among people with type 1 diabetes, I'm not sure if this practice is typical of other chronic conditions.  I think part of the reason that diabetics acknowledge their diagnosis anniversary is that type 1 diabetes comes on all of a sudden and therefore the diagnosis is usually quite a shock.  One day you're healthy and the next you have diabetes.

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    The anniversary date is like the birthday for your diabetes. 


    Each year when I get a new calendar, I mark "My Diabetes Anniversary" just as I do the birthdates of my loved ones.  My mom and husband wish me a "happy anniversary" and the date feels significant each time I write or see it.  Sometimes it feels like I'm celebrating the birth of my diabetes.


    When another year passes, it increases the number of years I've lived with this disease. People will ask, "How long have you had diabetes?" and my answer is now "Sixteen years."  It's like citing my age or the age of my child.  My diabetes is growing up, getting older.


    Personifying diabetes seems odd, but then again, it is something we live with daily and discuss as if it has agency of its own.   Diabetics will say, "My diabetes is really out of control today."  We speak in terms of struggling with diabetes; of managing or controlling the disease.  


    For diabetics, there's a constant struggle between the individual's efforts and the consequences of their dysfunctional islet cells.  Why then, would we celebrate the birth of our nemesis? 


    Perhaps, acknowledging the anniversary of my diabetes is important because it marks the time I've lived successfully with this adversary.  It's funny; anniversaries typically mark marriages or unions; which actually describes the relationship between me and my diabetes.  We're joined together until a cure comes along to joyously sever our union.


    So, what does it mean to celebrate an anniversary of being diagnosed with diabetes? 


    I believe it's important to mark the time my life has been impacted by this disease.  Annually, the anniversary gives me an opportunity to reflect on how far I've come in learning to manage my diabetes. 


    Today I celebrate that diabetes is a part of my life, rather than something that ruined or destroyed my life.


Published On: July 27, 2009