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I Am Fine.

Bridging the gap between fine and better."You have diabetes?  You seem fine."

"I am fine."

On an average day, diabetes falls under the "annoying but tolerable" category.  I test my blood sugar, wear any combination of continuous glucose monitoring device/insulin pump technology, do the insulin-to-carb math, eat decently, exercise as often and as hard as I can ... blah, blah, blaaaaaaaaah.  For the most part, I don't see extreme hypoglycemia or excessive highs, and even though I see bits and pieces of diabetes in so many of my daily moments, it's not something that keeps me from pursuing the better parts of the day.

But on some days, diabetes falls into the "eff the effing islet you refused to ride in on" category.  Those are the days when my infusion set cannula kinks up underneath my skin and sends my blood sugar cruising into the 400's.  Or the days when a blood sugar of 38 mg/dL serves as a sweaty and panicked wake-up call at two in the morning.  Or I let my brain wander around the fact that I've had this disease far longer than I'll ever have anything else, and I fear the impact of these fluctuating blood sugars on my quality of life, and longevity, going forward.

It's this weird dance, the one between feeling like diabetes profoundly affects my day-to-day health, both emotionally and physically, and the feeling that diabetes is just a blip on my daily radar. 

"You seem fine."

I am fine.  I think?  I have a chronic illness - a disease - that compromises the function of my pancreas to the point where I need synthetic insulin daily, and even with dedicated management, I may see serious and debilitating complications in my lifetime.  That's part of the dance - feeling and seeming fine and actually being fine, even though my body is dealing with something serious every moment of every day. 

Is it an invitation for a pity party?  Nope.  But it's a reminder that even though I feel fine, and I mostly am "fine," there's a part of me that permanently needs tending to, and ignoring it only leads to tougher roads.  The lows, the highs feel like they're ships passing by, but what they may be leaving in their wake scares me.  I don't live with any difficult diabetes complications at the moment (aside from closely-monitored and currently non-progressive retinopathy), and my A1C is at a comfortable constant, so diabetes does feel quiet and well-behaved at the moment, even after twenty-six years. But I know what it can do, and has done, and what it's capable of.

"I am fine." 

It doesn't mean I want people to ignore the severity and pervasiveness of this disease.  I don't want people who might be thinking about donating their time, energies, and finances to type 1 research, funding, and advocacy to be deterred by the fact that sometimes we look fine.  What those outside of this condition need to understand is that this perception of "fine" is all relative.  One day you can be fine, and the next, things can be deeply and profoundly changed. 

For November, the focus of the nation (and some parts of the world) will be pointed to diabetes.  Diabetes will be in headlines, and on television shows, and health and mainstream media websites alike will turn their attention on the disease so many of us live with and care for every day.  It's in those moments when we need to show the world that even though we seem fine, we still need better treatments and a cure for this mess.  Advocacy is important, and we can make a difference in diabetes in our lifetimes.  Fine is status quo.  Fine is living with insulin therapy. Fine is tolerating stereotypes instead of changing them.  Fine is waiting patiently for things to change.

But we can do better

Comments

I could swear you were wearing war paint, because you make me want to charge into battle!

Powerful post, my friend.

"One day you can be fine, and the next, things can be deeply and profoundly changed."

Even more, one minute you can feel fine and the next second can be life or death when those really bad lows hit.

Excellent post Kerri! :)

You have such a way with words, Kerri. This could be a template for a fundraising letter! :)

Outstanding post my friend! You're speaking straight from your heart.... And ours!
Xoxo
Kelly K

Ok. Don't fire me for this. I love this post. By my initial reaction was "hmm, I've had my grown up teeth longer than diabetes, so I hope I keep those longer than I keep diabetes".

Kerri -

As always, awesome post!! And most definitely "fine" is for all of us a relative term. Thanks for the pick me up this morning!

Great post, Kerri. Thank you.

I vote for you to appear on " The Ellen DeGeneres show" or "The View" to get a spot as our cheerleader next month


Incredibly powerful post, Kerri. Love your writing style on this, scattering the "I am fine" line throughout to drive home the point. There is a fine line between "fine" and not, and November is a challenge in trying to strike the best balance as so many eyes focus on diabetes. Here's to sending the message that we can do better. Thanks for this.

I was going to ask if I could use this as my fundraising letter and I already see that someone else thought the same thing. My wife and I are running the Philadelphia Half marathon raising money for JDRF in honor of our son Hunter who has had Type 1 now for nearly 5 years.

Excellent post. Empowering!

Great post Kerri and you're right "fine" is very relative to our current situation.

Usually such comments get glossed over but every once in a while I'll ask "Fine, of course I'm fine... how should I seem?"

Tends to provoke an "uh... err.." response...

Kerri, I love this post. I've used the "I'm fine" response alot lately and this really struck a cord.

We definitely need to do better.

Thanks for sharing. This helps me to understand a bit more what one of my family members is going through.

"The lows, the highs feel like they're ships passing by, but what they may be leaving in their wake scares me."

Yep. Me too.

this post totally humbles me the way a diabetes experience this morning made me take the day off work.
Thanks for writing what I always have trouble saying.

You have opened up so many opportunites for me to express my feelings about diabetes. Thank you, for that.

AMEN! 40years and counting every minute :)

I'm with Kendra (Oct. 23, 2012 at 7:48 p.m.) I, too, have had Type I diabetes for 40 years. Yes, I'm "fine," most of the time, too. It's the times when I am NOT fine, due to the whims of this stupid diabetes, that make me want a cure A.S.A.P. Thanks for having voiced this for us, Kerri!

Ah, 'fine.' Define. My girl seems so 'fine' that teachers forget she has a disease. Yet she is tethered to a new pump (OmniPod) and cries like hell when we peel it off. There's nothing fine about T1D. I was floored at a recent T1D family camp when a researcher said the artificial pancreas is a cure. Not in my book. Not for my girl. Not fine. Thank you as always for your posts.

Brilliant post Kerri, really inspired and you captured my feelings (and I am sure the DOC) perfectly!
Very powerfully written :)

Hmm, excellent post, sums up how I feel a lot of the time about this background chiseling condition. Had a smooth ride for the last few years but of late the hba1 is on the march and controlling those BG's is an arse - wouldn't care if I was doing something different which I'm not. I need an islet/pancreas shaped punchbag at the moment..

Thanks for the statements, I will be Fine whilst waiting impatiently for the world to find the cure or a better fix for this.

As they say round here - Ta chuck :)

Thanks for this post! "I'm fine" has been my catch phrase for years now...

Kerri,
It's like you were writing "me". T1D for 23 years this November, which makes Nov even harder for me.
I also vote for you to appear on " The Ellen DeGeneres show" or "The View" to get a spot as our cheerleader next month!
THANK YOU for this post!

Kerri, I met a musician this weekend. He was asking about caring for Rocco. I was nervous around him so i got babbly. Every time he would ask a question I would answer with the truth that, of course, sounds dreadful for most people who don't know about diabetes. So then, I kept following up the obligatory "no, really, it's fine, we're fine!" Then, I said "it's really fine. It's fun!" He stopped and stared and said "it's fun taking care of your diabetic child?" I said "weeeelllll, we have fun together..." We all laughed! Your post is really well written! ;0)

Kerri,

I absolutely love this post. This is something that I say every day. Not just in the diabetes world, but in life in general. Sure, I am fine with how I am now, but if I don't get better today, then tomorrow, I won't be fine, I will be behind those that got better the day before.

We CAN do better!
My little 4 year old granddaughter is Type 1 - diagnosed at just 2 1/2 yrs old - ironically on Nov 1 2010. I pray every day for a cure! God Bless you!

You are an amazing writer....You def hit the nail on the head....Thank you

What a great article, sums up being diabetic.

If I write "BAMF," will you take that as the sheer and total adoration and compliment that I mean? You. Are. Awesome.

You have such a way of saying exactly how it is, and mirror how I feel. Love this article!

I read this post everyday. Most of the time I read it in the middle of the night when I can't sleep because I am trying to make sense of my world. My two year old was diagnosed with T1D a month ago and we are on the roller coaster of our new reality. Thank you for the support.

I really, really appreciate this post! Are you OK if we use it to help with fundraising for the JDRF Walk?

I have been glued to my PC screen for an hour reading about your life! I am also a T1D, age 50. Diagnosed at 12. I have had retinopathy, kidney transplant and premature pregnancy. Am writing a book because I could not find a book that described the whole weird experience of a low blood sugar.
Thank you and take care of yourself!

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