« Running with Diabetes. | Main | Guest Post: After an Open Letter the JDRF Opens Up – Part I »

24 Years.

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.

24 years with diabetes

Comments

One of my favorite posts!

Oh this actually made me tear up a little bit. I can't imagine 24 years with this stuff. You've been such an inspiration to all of us who felt just like you did 5 years ago. "Hello, where are all the other diabetics?" We all celebrate with you, Kerri. You've had a tremendous year with Chris, his film, and BSparl. I hope you guys can slow down (!) and enjoy some time together. =)

My husband has diabetes too. He was diagnosed three years ago. He still has a lot to learn when it comes to controlling his diet and sticking to his regular exercise, or even regular medication taking. I really don't know how I can make him understand that the long term effects are too difficult to handle. It must have been a challenging 24 years for you. But you are an inspiration. I wish you all the best.

Whew, you made me cry. Just the thought of having my own little baby soon to scoop up in my arms. Ah! Wonderful post Kerri! :) Happy Anniversary!

Thank you for this post. We're fast approaching the 2 year mark, and in some ways it's gone by fast. But sometimes I can hardly remember life without it. I know my daughter can't remember it.

Kerri, it's been a while since you made me cry.

This post is so, so good. You're one of the strongest people I "know" and that shows most when you write about things like this.

I know I've said it a hundred times, but you really are such an inspiration. Thank you for all that you do. I hope you feel full of pride at all you've accomplished in the years of your life....not just the years since your diagnosis.

This was beautiful. Have a great one Kerri.

Awesome! I'm coming up on 20, and trying to figure out how to "celebrate." I don't think I'll know until the day gets here.

Amazing post Kerri... xo

Just gorgeous, Kerri.

I love this part best:

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.

Bravo, friend. :) xo

Oh lovely Kerri! Tears here as well. Happy Diabetaversary (as my daughter calls it when she observes es it each year) to you. You inspire us!

perfectly put

You have inspired me in so many ways since I found your blog a couple years ago. Even when I have one of those "rough" days it seems you have a perfectly written post that lifts me back up and lets me know that it's ok to have emotions attached to this disease. Great post Kerri!

Thanks for a beautiful and inspiring post! I needed this one today! As the mom of a young girl with T1 you inspire me and hopefully from that I am able to inspire her! She'll be making her 5 year anniversary with T1 on Halloween this year. I'm so glad to know that as she gets older (she's only 7 years old now) she'll have a great D community and strong role models (like you) to help her through all her ups and downs!

I like this post very much. Enjoy your day tomorrow!

Thanks, Kerri. I've been having these moments (sans baby and post-preggers bod) and this post absolutely gave me the chills.

I wish you were celebrating the anniversary of a cure...but in looking back from the time you were diagnosed to now, you have ALWAYS handled the good, the bad and the ugly with class! As Grammie would say "you done good"! Love you. Mom

Congratulations!! I celebrated my 21st anniversary on July 4. I've always celebrated it (amusement parks, zoos, whale watches, water skiing and concerts) and I hope that you have a fantastic day too. What better present than to finally be able to share this special day with a new person!

Kerri,

Your celebration is in your arms as you picked her up and held her.

Your celebration is getting ready for an exciting event with your husband.

Your celebration is in having readers that appreaciate your blog.

I have dealt with D for almost 39 years. Celebrate everyday!

Congrats on 24 years Kerri. You are am amazing woman, mother and friend and I am proud to be in the DOC with you. You are an inspiration to me and my girl. Rock on sister.

The post by your mom made me cry. She is so right. You do so good Kerri. So good.

Kerri,

Congrats on 24 years! You and I sound so similar on many levels. I will be celebrating my 24th anniversary with Type 1 Diabetes this coming October 5, 2010. Wow. I now also have a boy, who I look at in his crib, he's 19 months old. Just thought I would tell you that I enjoyed today's blog, and yes, I have many of those labelled boxes too! I thought I was the ONLY one! :) Take care of yourself, and if you would ever like to chat - I live in Cambridge, Ontario. Just message me.

Cindy

What a great post Kerri! I hope my son who is now 3.5 will feel the same way as he grows up with D. He is and always will be so much more. Thank you for your wonderful blog!

I'm approaching 11 years with Diabetes next month, and that feels like a lot. It feels like a lot every year, but you know what? We all make it. And we'll keep on chucking. BTW, your daughter is beautiful.

Kerri, sorry I won't see you in Providence tomorrow. Have a blast. Happy #24, are you going to get the Joslin medal next year? Here's to the start of an excellent year for both of us.

Thank you for reminding me that I am more than diabetes. Sometimes I forget that.

I've never celebrated my D-Day. Through the DOC, and finally finding other people "like me" with diabetes, I can appreciate even more now what I have struggled with alone all these years. Diabetes will always be a part of me, but I will also be apart with diabetes, beating it back with a stick. I think you have to be a little bit stubborn and defiant to be able to appreciate the miracles and blessings.

Hi Kerri.
I have "stalked" your blog for about 6 months- it was the first AT1 blog I stumbled upon. You have inspired me so much- I got married 2 months ago and having a baby is in the 5 year plan :) Thank you for all you have shared- you have put my mind at ease so many times.
Congrats on another D-day :P
I just "celebrated" 18 yrs complications free :)

Beautiful post, Kerri.

I was sad but not actually *teary* until I saw the comment from your mom. Bravo for you, bravo for her, bravo for all of us for getting through all our days.

xoxo

Gee... Thanks, Kerri! I'm sitting at work trying to eat my orange, sobbing... Funny how some thoughts hit so much harder than others. Anyhow, I do thank you for this post, it really is beautiful. And love your Mom... guess she marks this day, too.

Even though you've been at this a long time... do you ever get the feeling when you see flat arrows between-the-lines and perfect numbers for several days in a row that maybe, just maybe, you don't have the disease anymore?

I do. (desperate hopes, I guess.)

But I'm only 16 years into this, not 24.

Today is our son's 1 yr anniversary. He is only 2.5 years old and D has already made his life bigger than my own on so many levels....good and bad. And as much as I hate D, it has made life seem much more sweet and precious. So today I celebrate the strength and courage of my son....not only in the past year but for every year to come and wish for him that his life is filled with people like you. Thanks for your post.....life is beautiful.

Kerri,

Good post. I am new to your blog. Just want to say Congrats to your success and your baby girl. I am 35 and has had diabetes since age 1 and have two boys. So, yes a lot of what you said on your post, I can relate to.

I love the "doesn't define me, but helps explain me" quote. Well put.

Hey Kerry, my name is Fabiana, i am diabetic for 18... your post is just awesome... great heart, huge sensibility... you made me cry LOL your message crossed the ocean and got here in Brazil :)

that was beautiful, Kerri.

Beautiful post.

You've been a blessing and inspiration to so many people....thank you.

As you embrace your new role as mother, I hope you find renewed strength and purpose that each day bring.

Raising a child with diabetes wasn't ever part of my plan.

But I wouldn't trade her for anything.

There was a day that I was a new mom....I could sit and watch her for hours. Listen to her breathing, adoring her pink little lips, wondering what she was dreaming....

And then she was dx with diabetes.

And nothing changed.

Yet everything changed.

God Bless.

Have a very happy day, everything that I want to write does not seem to be enough. So just be happy

HAPPY DIAVERSARY!

My 21st anniversary is tomorrow!!!

Your post made me cry.

So excited for you and all of your accomplishments!

Thanks for being an encouragement to me!!!

(((((HUGS)))))

The same day , I got 43 years of type 1. And sometimes I forget that day. It's very important for I to read your blogs, I really love all your family (yes, the cats too!)and your words! Happy Day! or better: happy days for 100 years!

A few weeks ago I had an endocrinologist appointment and we realized that I have had type 1 diabetes for 25 years as of August, 2010. I would like to share a little about my experience.

For the past 25 years diabetes has always been present in my life. I truly hate this disease with all of my heart, but like many others I have survived and done just fine. There have been occasional trips to the hospital and countless Dr's appointments, blood tests and everything else that goes along with it. When I was younger I liked getting out of school to have to go to the Dr, but I disliked having to go to the Dr.

For years I hid that I had diabetes, it lead to questions that I was afraid to answer or I couldn't answer. People would treat me differently if they knew I had diabetes. My family and close friends knew, but it wasn't a safe topic for me to talk about. I was always scared someone would find out my secret and it was one of my biggest. In college I told a few people that needed to know, but most I did not tell. I was better than the disease and I could defeat it, I did not need to tell anyone because there was nothing different about me.

After college I joined the Peace Corps and the medical tests were absurd. I had to take a test to prove I had diabetes, I thought the injections I take every day and the blood test I do were enough. One day I finally got the call that I was accepted and that I would be a "hard to place" volunteer. So, I waited and was eventually invited to Morocco. When I arrived in Philadelphia for my last night in the US I opened up for the first time and told everyone I was diabetic. A weight came off my chest and I was free. Many people had questions and I answered them to the best of my knowledge. I told everyone because I would be living in a foreign country with different medical care and I needed people to know in case I needed help.

In Morocco I was given Moroccan syringes which are much larger than American. In fact one Moroccan unit equals roughly 3.5 American units. I ended up taking too much insulin and I had some severe low blood sugars. Sadly I was medically separated, but I got the chance to experience Morocco and the Peace Corps.

The best thing that came out of the Peace Corps experience for me was not being afraid. I am no longer scared to share that I am a diabetic. In fact I think it is part of what makes me unique. Now I am using an insulin pump, attending a monthly support group for type one diabetics and trying to live a better life.

I was always afraid to be a burden, now I realize I was never a burden to anyone. My experiences with diabetes help me be more understanding of people who may also need a little help or need some accommodations.

25 years has left me frustrated, but at the same time it has left me a better person. Now I never let my diabetes be a burden, rather I look at it as another facet of my life. I am who I am due to many factors, my diabetes doesn't define me, but it is a part of who I am.

Diabetes anniversaries are so tough. On the one hand, it's a celebration of another year living successfully with this disease. But on the other hand, it's another year living with this stupid disease. But I'm clinking a glass to your 24 years, and the next 24 - and thanking you for being an awesome advocate and the voice of a community! And also for being a fabulous friend!

Very inspirational. Thank you Kerri and guest bloggers. Until you know someone who is diabetic or you are diagnosed people have no idea what it is like to have this disease I was diagnosed almost 5 years ago. I have Type 2. We all need to slow down and take care of ourselves.

Hi Kerry,

I enjoyed reading your blog. I've had T1 diabetes since age ten and am graduating from college this spring. I have always wanted to join the Peace Corps! Do you have any advice?

Best,
Elise

Post a comment

(All comments are moderated. Thanks for your patience!)