Decades ago, my body did whatever it did to reroute the purpose of my pancreas, and left me with a diagnosis of type 1 diabetes at the age of seven.
As a result, I can’t make insulin.
Diabetes was presented as a series of “You can’ts” to me, back in 1986. You can’t eat that, you can’t do that, you can’t try that, you can’t be that. It was an unsettling feeling, being a child and living by a series of perceived restrictions. But not knowing any differently, I spent way too much time thinking that there were things I just could not do instead of recognizing and celebrating how capable my body remained.
It wasn’t that I didn’t make insulin.
It’s that I had to coax out the instinct to live beyond diabetes.
I had to relearn how to trust myself, which was a weird paradigm shift because I was used to not trusting my body. (When your immune system unexpectedly turns on you, you might develop a trust issue or two.) It’s a learning curve, even to this day. I trust my body to run for miles and hold my daughter in one arm, grocery bags in the other, but there are hiccups thrown out by diabetes here and there. Like last night, when my low alarm went off for an hour and a half because my blood sugar was cemented in the 50’s for that long and I had to put reason and restraint into practice by treating the low cautiously instead of devouring the contents of the fridge with reckless abandon. I had to trust the food and trust myself to bring my blood sugar up enough but not too much, aiming for that balance without caving to frustration.
I don’t know how to achieve balance, but I do know how to remain in pursuit of it. I’m still learning. I’m always learning. Diabetes is not a hole in me or the whole of me. It’s a thing that requires thinging, and I’ll thing the hell out of it until my last breath.
But not at the cost of giving in to it.
I need to remember that I can do this. I can conquer this. I can design this and devour this and delight in this.
I can. I fucking can.
* * *
This is part of Diabetes Blog Week, where blog prompts help generate a series of posts by folks in the Diabetes Online Community. Here’s today’s prompt: “In the UK, there was a diabetes blog theme of “I can…” that participants found wonderfully empowering. So lets kick things off this year by looking at the positive side of our lives with diabetes. What have you or your loved one accomplished, despite having diabetes, that you weren’t sure you could? Or what have you done that you’ve been particularly proud of? Or what good thing has diabetes brought into your life? (Thank you to the anonymous person who submitted this topic suggestion.)”