Ten years as a diabetic

Ten years as a diabetic

Remembering Memorial Day weekend, 2002

Memorial Day weekend memorializes, for me, something more than it does for the rest of the United States: Ten years ago, I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.  I'd seen the doctor the Wednesday before Memorial Day weekend, and the next evening, she called me to tell me to go to the emergency room right away.  I did, and ended up spending the next four nights in the hospital -- my entire holiday weekend.

Perhaps it's no surprise, then, that this weekend makes me think about diabetes, hospitals and a monumental life-changing event.

What's really amazing to me, when I think about it, is how much a part of my identity being diabetic has become.  I remember, when I was in the hospital, crying in the hospital bed and saying, "Why did this have to happen to me?"  I thought it was so unfair.  But now I simply cannot imagine my life without diabetes, cannot even remember what it was like before I had to check my blood sugar and take insulin and visit the doctor every three months.  If I think about it, though, that's not surprising, considering I've been diabetic for nearly a third of my life, and the majority of my adult life -- I had just turned 22 when I was diagnosed.

In some ways, diabetes has made my life harder.  Not so much with my health, as I feel like I have it under pretty good control, but with other things: health insurance, for example.  I don't worry about it anymore, since health care reform prohibited health insurance companies from turning people down or charging them more for pre-existing conditions, but I used to really worry about getting health insurance -- unless I was on a group plan through work or my husband's job, I couldn't just go out and buy health insurance like other people could.

But for the most part, I don't regret having diabetes.  Sure, I have to pay better attention to my health and be sure to take good care of myself, but hey, more people should do that, diabetic or not!  And after ten years, most of it is pretty automatic, anyway.

How long have you been diabetic?  How much a part of your life and your identity do you feel it has become?