CWD: Inspired by Jay Hewitt - Again!
Jay Hewitt is one of those diabetes role models that makes sense to me. He's smart, tuned in, and realistic about his health, and he doesn't pretend to be perfect. (You guys know how I feel about the notion of diabetes perfection - doesn't exist.) Jay and I spent some time chatting on Friday afternoon and we talked about the concept of survival with diabetes.
"I try and live my life as a non-diabetic. I'm not going to live in denial [about diabetes]. I live in determination." Jay told me about being diagnosed at the age of 24 while in law school (he's lived with type 1 diabetes for 18 years) and he's convinced that the stress of law school and life at the time is what triggered his diabetes diagnosis.
"Me, too! I had a virus on my birthday that my doctors are convinced triggered my diabetes." I said. I told him that many of us with type 1 can remember some kind of catalyst event before the "you have diabetes" moment. (Stress seems to play a significant role in our collective medical histories.)
We talked about the impact of being public about our diabetes management has on our drive to be healthy. I admitted a few of my own fears to Jay.
"I'm healthy now, with no visible diabetes complications, but I worry about what will happen, and how people will perceive me, if things change in the future. How does that motivate you?"
"It makes me work even harder. I take that 'I'll show you' mentality when it comes to diabetes management. Knowing that people are watching helps me to push," he offered candidly. "It's not about guilt [when it comes to complications], but revenge."
We talked about the impact of being diagnosed as a child and as an adult, how most of the parents at CWD were caring for their child's diabetes directly while his own parents had more of a distance between themselves and the disease. Since Jay is a motivational speaker and speaks to groups both dealing to diabetes and otherwise, I asked him what message he wants to impress upon his audiences.
"What is the takeaway you want for parents?"
"I want parents to have the confidence that that their child can be anything they want to be, and the comfort that they can sleep at night."
And for the kids?
"I want them to see anything they want to be and think, 'I can be that.'"
As I sat across from Jay, straddling that line between being a "kid" and that desire to be a parent myself, I saw a guy who lives an incredible life, despite and even with diabetes. He's healthy, determined to succeed, happily married, and the proud parent of a little girl.
And I thought to myself, "I can be that."
(Unnecessary sidenote: Last year, I wrote about Jay Hewitt's speech at CWD, and in my blog post, I mentioned that he was handsome.
Of course, someone that knew Jay found my post and forwarded it to him.
And, of course, he read it.
And, of course again, I was mortified and went to edit the article but the damage was already done, so I was forced to leave it as is and suffer the embarrassment.
So this year, when he came to find me and he said, "Hi! Nice to see you again. I loved your post from last year," I turned all kinds of colors and tried to pretend I had grown up a smidge since then.)