Being diagnosed with diabetes as a child twists time, making me feel like I’m not terribly old but that my diabetes is ancient and withered. Looking back at an online journal that chronicles almost half my life with diabetes paints me as a digital dinosaur, one whose story and community has evolved in response to time, technology, and ability.
The sound of heavy footsteps, clomping through the thick jungle vines.
I swipe at the tree with my horns, grabbing it and effortlessly ripping it free from the ground. The tree whips towards a rock, roots still caked with dirt and bugs, narrowly missing the insulin pump tubing hanging from my scaly skin.
My email inbox dings to signal the arrival of a message from a reader, confessing to feeling crummy about the spell of diabetes burnout that they’re in, emotions in plain sight in Helvetica font.
RAAAAAAAAAAWWWR! I lay an egg (because that’s what dinosaurs do, damn it), and in that egg is the story of my experiences with diabetes burnout, covered in a hard shell but small and vulnerable inside.
I recently re-found a post I wrote four years ago, about what I wish I’d known about diabetes blogging, and it all rings true for me still. My appreciation for this community has grown to the point where the very idea of feeling isolated with diabetes has become a foreign concept. I felt isolated? I felt like the only person who didn’t make their own insulin? How can that be??
But I’ve been thinking about how my own story has changed over the years, how it has shifted. When I first started writing online, I had a lot to say because there were years worth of diabetes moments that had never been whispered before, never mind shared with my peers. I wasn’t married. I had a job I loathed. I was trying to understand what it was like to be an adult with a chronic illness without letting the health condition making my whole life feel diseased. Now my life is in a very different place, with my marriage and my two kids, with over 30 years of diabetes in my past and an unknown number of years with diabetes in my future.
My definition of “what I feel comfortable sharing” has changed a lot in the last decade. And I think it will continue to change. What I know to be consistent and true is that I am better off with access to peer support, and I’ll do whatever I can to be that support, in some small way, for other people with diabetes.
For now, I remain content to quietly clomp through the community forest, tossing a tree here and there, and laying eggs. Because that’s what dinosaurs do; they lay eggs in the form of stories, hoping they’ll hatch and become something bigger, something that survives, something that contributes to the community.
… this may have been an example of running a metaphor into the actual ground. But what the hell, I’m going with it.