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My Live-abetes Anniversary

May 15th is a date that is like a new starting point for me. I feel like I added a new persona to who I was at the age of 13. I grew up a bit more than my friends overnight. Even when I’m 93 years old and can’t remember someone’s name, I’m quite certain my memory of May 15th, 1988 will be there. Many people refer to this day, or the diagnosis day, as a Dia-versary. This year will mark 32 years with type 1 diabetes for me, but I don’t think of it only once a year, so I feel that term isn’t quite right.

Years ago, after my husband and I got married he told me he didn’t like the term “Diabetes” because the first part of the word was too close to the word die. When I told him the meaning of the Greek and Latin root words, being an English major himself, he said “Yeah, I get that. But given the fact that people with this condition strive to LIVE well, couldn’t we call it LIVE-abetes?”. Leave it to someone else to make you think differently about something you’ve had in your life for a long time. He is right of course, in my opinion. Despite the medical meaning behind the diagnostic term diabetes mellitus, there is so much more to life with the condition. There is so much I’ve learned about myself, and others as well as the human body and how to truly live well.

Thus, I choose to think about these 32 years with diabetes in a positive light. Quite honestly, I’ve had a pretty positive outlook on my life with diabetes all along. It thankfully started with educators I had at diagnosis, great family support and friends I’ve had along the way, as well as the career path I chose. I’ve been reading a book about one of my favorite people (Fred Rogers) recently and I also have a book of quotes from him as well. One that really resonates for me is “All life events are formative. All contribute to what we become, year by year, as we go on growing”. I know my diagnosis with type 1 diabetes so many years ago was a moment that moved me in a new direction and I am thankful in many ways for that despite the struggles that come with diabetes too.

I know there are many more things to note in this celebration, but a list of 32 reasons to keep striving for a healthy life, to reflect on what I’ve learned and reflect on what I’ve been fortunate to experience on my LIVE-abetes Anniversary is a good way to start.

  1. Understanding and awareness of my body in a more complete way than any biology class every taught.
  2. Awareness and early recognition when something in my body isn’t quite right – essentially a change in my blood glucose is a good indication of an illness or hormone shift.
  3. Career path defined by the time I entered college.
  4. Deeper and more complete understanding of food and impact on my body.
  5. Benefits of exercise including the long-reaching impact beyond diabetes management.
  6. Love of cooking.
  7. Love of experimenting.
  8. Appreciation for mistakes and what I learn on the other side of the mistake.
  9. Empathy for others and other conditions.
  10. Patience.
  11. Acceptance of myself and others.
  12. A deeper understanding of the Serenity Prayer.
  13. Desire to continue to learn and investigate.
  14. Improved math skills.
  15. Understanding of digestion and necessity of good fuel for the body.
  16. Appreciation for the intricate dance the body does seamlessly day in and day out without our intervention.
  17. I’ve learned to ask for help and how to evaluate the source.
  18. I’ve learned to accept failure but move forward with more knowledge for next time.     ** I actually love the quote from Eric Tozer “I never fail. I either win or I learn”.
  19. Embrace change.
  20. Learn to use new technology and understand what is right for me.
  21. Understand that there is no 100% perfect.
  22. Be prepared. Girl Scouts taught me this before I was diagnosed, but it has been a constant when living with diabetes.
  23. Balance is key.
  24. Remember who I am despite diabetes.
  25. Pregnancy with type 1 diabetes is hard but 100% doable and so worth it.
  26. Accept the responsibility to educate and clarify what diabetes is for people who don’t know.
  27. Be willing to support others.
  28. I am thankful, SO THANKFUL for all the friends with diabetes that have made this journey livable.
  29. A desire to stretch my athletic skills beyond what I would have done without diabetes.
  30. Thankful for all the people in the diabetes community who are working to improve management.
  31. Grateful to help extend what I’ve learned and applied to those I get to teach in the best job ever!
  32. My diabetes is MY DIABETES – I accept the challenge to keep Living well.

I hope to have more years with successful diabetes management and be able to see the day when technology provides us with less need to think about it and more time to really just live well.

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