No one chooses to have diabetes. Being told you have it is a BIG deal. Forever is a long time and there is lots to take in and learn. It seems as if nothing will ever be the same again, and the fact is, it won’t. Getting diabetes is good reason to feel a bit hard done by and angry for a time. But while life with diabetes may not be first choice; it needn’t be second rate.
I have had diabetes for 47 years and was a child when I was diagnosed. It was tough as the advent of diabetes was effectively the end of my childhood. And while there have been plenty of bad times it hasn’t been all like that; it has taught me things that I think have made my life better.
You may well ask how this could be. True – when I was diagnosed the outlook was not great for a long and healthy, happy life. But I am pleased to say I am still here and in the years since have done and achieved a great deal. Diabetes has been a part of all of it.
Sure I was angry and frustrated about the restrictions diabetes imposed on my life but it taught me discipline and the precious lesson of how important it is to live each day as though it might be your last. I have got so much more out of life than had I been left to coast on through it.
When I realised that no amount of resentment would change the fact I have diabetes forever, was when I also realised that (as far as I know) you only get one shot at life and so I determined it was up to me as to how good a spin I would get. I made the choice there and then to get on with living preferring to slide into last base rather than limp.
How I have chosen to do this is by deciding diabetes would live with me and not the other way round. This certainly has not meant I have ignored it – indeed quite the opposite as I have sought to be as well informed as possible in order to manage it the best way to allow for my full-on life. I know it is not possible to be perfect all the time and so accept and forgive myself the times when I am less than perfect!
I have shared this journey with my wonderful and understanding husband; we have two sons and one fabulous grandson. I have had a busy and demanding career the latter stages of which required regular overseas travel. We have travelled for leisure and done and seen amazing things. I have taken opportunities to achieve things that others might only think about like starting a successful and well known national magazine that is still going. I wasn’t a journalist, designer or editor but I knew what it needed to be like and so did it. For me this is living each day like it is your last – the chance might not come around again. Living with diabetes gave me this.
Diabetes is a demanding master. I give it enormous time in little bits frequently throughout the day, every day, and often at night. I test my blood and adjust my insulin. I wear an insulin pump and try to think like a pancreas in order to make it work like one. I strive to achieve a good HBA1c that I have agreed, in consultation with my doctor, is right for me and my lifestyle. Of one thing I am certain – knowledge gives me the power to manage this master!
Talking of doctors – I have a true partner in mine who is perfect for me. Partnership is really important in this relationship – each of us has a part to play and a responsibility to deliver on. I swear he and I will grow old together as mellow old mates. I find it a challenge to work with a health care professional who cannot work with me like this and have changed doctors or providers before now if they are unable to. I have made the effort to learn as much as I can about living with diabetes plus I live with it for the 8760 hours in every year; the least they can do is respect my knowledge of myself with it.
I would not be telling the full story if I did not admit the longevity of my diabetes is indicating a few problems for me. I had diabetes 14 years before self-blood glucose monitoring became available and control was inevitably pretty hit and miss for that time. Pregnancy in an era when far less was known about managing diabetic pregnancy was also pretty disastrous. But the great thing is I am watched and monitored constantly meaning any problem spotted is dealt with and managed quickly.
Life continues to be rich and full but I am certain it would not have been if I had not chosen to use the energy from the resentment I carried about having diabetes to instead convert it to the energy used to effectively manage my life so I am able to live it to its fullest and stay well.
I wish everyone had the opportunity to learn as early as I did about the preciousness and the thrill of a life lived to the max.
Diabetes New Zealand