This photo is of me in December 1991, a few months before my Type 1 diabetes diagnosis. Learning to live with daily injections, finger pricks, carb counting, and high and low blood sugars was a traumatic time for me and my family. Those of us living with or supporting someone with the dreaded D can also attest to the fact that diabetes is a continuous struggle to live with because it never goes away. However, I’m proud to be able to say that today marks the day that I have lived, and thrived, with diabetes for 22 years!
For many of us who live with diabetes, marking the day we got diagnosed is a way to turn something pretty terrible into something positive and celebratory. It can serve as a great way to look back on how far we have come since diagnosis and to say "Take that, diabetes!". I personally wear my 22 years as a sort of badge of honor because, let's face it, life with diabetes can be annoying, frustrating, and exhausting!
On a day like today, though (more than ever), I try not to forget about others who are not as blessed as I have been. I live in a place where access to insulin, diabetes supplies, health clinics, and diabetes education is, for the most part, accessible and very affordable. Sadly, many people living with diabetes simply do not have those things. There are countless children who, just like me, were diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes around my age but their family could not afford to pay for their insulin without going hungry. Or perhaps a clinic that provided insulin was too far from where they lived. It is horrible to imagine, but in these cases, those children did not only lose the opportunity to reach their potential and thrive with diabetes, but they did not survive.
So, what does all of this mean? It means that those of us who HAVE thrived need to be aware of the fact that sometimes we might take our lives with diabetes for granted. It's easy to do this because, as I said, living with it is hard enough. But just think about what it would be like to be in the midst of a war, a natural disaster, or just stuck without your insulin. What if you had your insulin, but you never learned the ins and outs of diabetes and how to treat it? These things aren't fun to think about, but many face these obstacles and the good news is, we have the power to do things to remove them.
My 22 years with diabetes have taught me that determination, persistence, and lots and lots of hard work CAN make a difference. I am so grateful for the people in my life who support me, and I am thrilled and excited for each new person who comes on board to share the love of T1International and the other organizations and people supporting change for good.
I'm celebrating my Diaversary (or Diabirthday - whichever you prefer) by doing my best to honor everyone living with diabetes around the world. I am remembering those who didn't get the opportunity to thrive, and fighting fiercely for the others who should (and CAN) survive and thrive. To mark this day in the best way I know how - aside from eating a special celebratory treat - I'm asking for donations of $22 (£13) to T1International.