Tomorrow is my 24th anniversary with type 1 diabetes.
There's a lot I can say about the diabetes community, and how far things have come in the last twenty four years. How what was once a disease that left me feeling alone and obscure now comes with a welcome bag and a community of people who can lift your chin when it sinks to your chest. I thought about how many people I knew with diabetes on the day of my diagnosis (one) and how many I know today (far more than I can count).
I am grateful for all of these things.
Some years I want to celebrate another year marked with diabetes. Sometimes I feel defiant, like I just poked diabetes in the chest and told it what's what. Some years I want to keep to myself, feeling a little jumbled at the thought of so many years with this disease. And some years I'm a combination of all sorts of feelings, just wanting my husband to give me a hug and have a bite of Fudgy the Whale with me.
Last night, I felt different. This year's anniversary feels different. Maybe because there's been so much change in the last year. Maybe because this day could come and go unnoticed, because an anniversary with diabetes doesn't change the diagnosis. Doesn't make my health any better or worse. It's just another box I can check, another year that I can say, "Yes. I've been at this a long time." Maybe it's because I will wake up tomorrow and it will still be here, despite these promised cures. Maybe because I've moved into a brand new place but still have boxes marked "diabetes supplies." As I unpacked, I reached the bottom of a bin of clothes and found a used test strip and I couldn't even tell what kind of meter it went it, it was so old, and that made me so sad for some reason.
I tried on a few dresses in preparation for our trip to the Toronto Film Festival and felt upset that my post-pregnancy body still felt so unfamiliar, and that the pump seemed the size of a coffeemaker as I tried to hide it in my fancy garb. Frustration mounted, and I felt like I was swallowing a scream. I needed a hug.
I went into my daughter's room, where she was asleep in her crib. Her arms above her head, in her 'sleep victory' position. Her breathing was even and steady, and she wrinkled her nose and rubbed her fist against her cheek as the floors yawned in response to my footsteps.
Diabetes doesn't define me, but my daughter does.
I scooped her up without thinking and held her close. She cuddled close to me, resting her head against my neck and I stood there and felt ridiculous because I just wanted to cry, I was so proud of her. And so in love with her. And I realized that what had changed was everything.
Twenty four years with type 1 diabetes is a good chunk of time, but I'm not done yet. It will be with me when we celebrate Chris's film next week, when we walk with our friends and family for a cure at the end of October, and when we have breakfast together tomorrow morning.
Diabetes is always there. But it's not me. It will never, ever be the core of me. Not if I have it for a 100 years.