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Happy Birthday, Six Until Me!

I existed for seven years before diabetes came into my life. I don’t remember much before I was diagnosed – all of my memories have been touched in some way by this disease. I went to every birthday party as a kid with my trusted stuffed animal and my black zipper case blood testing kit by my side. I remember every day in elementary school starting with my mother waking me up and testing my bloodsugar. I remember injections in the kitchen before we had summer dinners on the back deck.

It’s not sad that things are this way. It’s just how life is.

What is sad is that for a period of time during college and just afterwards, I felt like I was the only diabetic for miles. I knew there were others out there, thanks to Clara Barton Camp, but I was ten plus years away from camp and hadn’t talked with another diabetic in as long as I could remember.

In my apartment on a sunny May afternoon, I sat at my desk next to the bedroom window. Switched on the computer. Googled “diabetes.”

The page filled with a litany of links, urging me to take fastidious care of my feet, be sure to schedule annual eye exams, and discussing the benefits of testing my bloodsugar at least four times per day. Organizations like the American Diabetes Association and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation cropped up, along with countless medical and research articles.

I have had diabetes for most of my life. I knew the essentials and then some. It wasn’t that this information was useless to me, but it was mostly clinical and statistical and besides, who were these people writing this stuff?

Where are the people with diabetes? The ones who have it? The ones who wake up every morning and deal with the daily maintenance? The ones who have glove compartments filled with Smarties candies and caches of used test strips in the corner of every room? The ones who don’t view juice as nutritional sustenance but instead a live saving medical treatment? The ones who know what it’s like to feel overwhelmed with the daily tasks?

Elated at a bloodsugar of 112 md/gl after eating Chinese food?
Ecstatic at an A1c drop of 1 percent?

These people were writing blogs. And there were a handful of d-bloggers when I first started searching. Tek. Violet. Kathleen. Amy. Scott. I’m sure there were a few others, but these were the first that I found. Reading their experiences and feeling an instant sense of comfort and community with these wonderful people, I knew I wanted to do what they were doing. I wanted to blog, too.

A year ago today, I started “Six Until Me.” One fledgling post, perfectly blended with the hope that someone would find me and the fear that someone would find me. One post that ushered me into the blogging community. One post that confirmed for me, almost instantly, that I wasn’t alone.

In self-celebration of my one year anniversary, I’m switching over to my own dot com. Six Until Me.Comwill be the link for this blog going forward. The blogspot address will remain active for the archives. If you have my site linked from your own, I would appreciate it if you would update your links!

Thank you. To each reader. To each commenter. To each quiet lurker. To each fellow d-blogger. To each person who has changed me. To each person who has emailed me and made me smile. Thank you to my wonderful family. And my boyfriend, who inspires me.

Thanks to each and every one of you.

Now when I Google “diabetes blogs,” there are so many voices out there to be heard.

We most certainly are not alone.

Define? Or explain.

“Diabetes doesn’t define you, it just helps explain you.”

It struck me that he was right.

Darrell and I don’t talk about diabetes very much. I don’t remember ever talking about it when we were kids. We played with Legos and built army forts for the hamsters to live in. There weren’t any big diabetes discussions and, quite frankly, we never really talked about it until I started the blog.

But during a discussion we had today, it came up.

“Diabetes doesn’t define you, it just helps explain you.”

Diabetes didn’t make me smart, but being regimented and dedicated to achieving results on a medical level may have made me work harder in school. Diabetes didn’t make me determined, but it may have contributed to my constant drive towards my ever-changing definition of success.

Such perspective is gained from a chronic condition, regardless of its complications. It doesn’t define me, but the strongest parts of my personality may have been gently shaped by the perspective gained from having it.

Diabetes didn’t make me love with such ease, but having tasted my own mortality makes every hug, every laugh, every kiss that much more needed and appreciated.

I hope so fiercely for a cure. I hope for a cure every time I see a press release about new research breakthroughs. I hope every time I test my bloodsugar that the numbers will always be in range. I hope every time I go to Joslin. I hope every day.

“Diabetes doesn’t define you, it just helps explain you.”

I didn’t ask what he meant because I already knew. Diabetes isn’t Me. It doesn’t own me or define me or ruin me. He and I both know that.

When I wake up every morning and test my bloodsugar, when I prime the pump, when I calculate the carbohydrates in a meal, I know it doesn’t define me. But when I am feeling anxious or scared about my medical future or just simply overwhelmed, I know it doesn’t define me.

It just helps explain me.

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