I read a post a little while ago from another fellow type 1 diabetic on accepting her “broken” body. I have to agree with her, our bodies are broken. Our immune system attacked and killed the beta cells in our pancreas that made insulin. Yes I said made because they are gone and have been for decades. We make no insulin on our own like type 2 diabetic so to live we must inject it everyday several times a day. To me although they are both considered diabetes type 1 an type 2 are separate diseases, different causes and different treatments.
Reading the post brought back memories of my life years ago when I was resolved to live with the knowledge that I was going to die much sooner than most if not all my friends. I would have to make sacrifices each day just to stay alive. The last few years of high school and the years shortly after I had given myself an expected life span of 40 years. Why you ask? I had been hearing for the last 10 to 20 years that I was more likely to have a heart attack, stroke, loose a kidney or an eye, loose a foot or leg, or one of many other possible bad things that are more likely for diabetics.
Well I am happy to report that my supposed end date was wrong. I have turned 49 so I’ve gone past my expiration date by 9 years already. I’ve had issues such as bad infections that apparently, according to my family doctor, was not expected to survive it was so bad. I also have had retinopathy in one eye but it is controlled and no further problems have been found. Just had them checked last week.
Now to the nitty gritty of why I’m writing this post. As much as diabetes has impacted my life, it has molded me into who I am today, a driven, resourceful, proud person. Some who know me might question that last description.
Proud? Yes, very proud. I don’t ask for help unless I’ve already proved I can’t do it alone. I don’t rely on others others to do things for me as I am completely capable of doing them myself. Maybe at times more headstrong than smart as I tend to push things to the limit to find where it is.
When I first became a diabetic, age 8 (1977), I had tried to hide it from others around me. I was different now. I had to pee in a cup to check for sugar in my urine. I had to get shots twice a day to stay alive. I had to get blood drawn once or twice a week to make sure the dosages were right. I had to watch what I ate at meals and in between. That was the worst as I had to get up in the middle of class to get a snack out of my launch box with everyone in the class watching. How was I supposed to hide that?
Diabetes is invisible. I don’t have a missing arm or massive scar on my face to mark me as a diabetic. Its why we all are expected to carry something like a med-alert bracelet/necklace. Even EMTs can not tell unless they are told. Makes it easy to hide.
I no longer hide the fact that I am a diabetic. I do not go around spouting out to everyone I pass about it but readily will anyone who asks or inform coworkers to make them aware. One of the reasons is the growth in diabetic awareness. Not to mention the fact back then there were estimated to be 6 million of us. There are now 22 million of us with only 10% of them are type 1 like me.
As much as it has changed my life and made it harder, diabetes has also made me who I am today. I am driven to manage more than defeat this problem. I watch what I eat and try to control my sugar level but also live like a normal person. I don’t avoid sugar. I also don’t hide from work. I’m not going to call myself a workaholic but it would be close. My job is a material handler at a factory. Yes I do drive a fork truck but most of what I do is by hand. I can honestly say that depending on the night I lift and move maybe 1 to 2 tons of steel. 2,000 to 4,000 pounds of steel. I use an air grinder to remove burs and slag off parts. Try it for at least 4 hours before you call it easy, you do flip the parts you are grinding and some of them weigh close to if not over 100 pounds. Its hard work and I love it. My problem at work it I do so many different jobs that I don’t know from one moment to the next what I will be doing. Friday I started out unlading a torch table then moved to grinding parts and then sat on a fork truck for 4 hours. Even then I couldn’t take it. I kept the radio with me but jumped off to finish grinding the parts I had started earlier. I also jumped back off at the end of the night to help load the plasma table to get it done faster. I’m such a pain in the buttocks.
I guess it has given me a chip on my shoulder. Because I have diabetes I feel the need to proof myself more than others. I need to prove I can work with the big dogs instead hide under the porch. I have never and will never use my diabetes as a crutch. I can do anything normal people can with some special conditions. Foremost among them is being able to eat when my sugar level drops too low.
I guess to wrap this up, I’m done hiding (have been for years). I don’t broadcast being a diabetic but I don’t hide in bathrooms to do my shots or check blood sugars anymore. You can’t stand the sight of blood or needles? I’m sorry, turn your head then. I’m not going to apologize for being a diabetic. I didn’t go looking for this and am sure as he11 (don’t want to sware here but………..) not going to feel less than human for having it. I guess my feeling anymore has gone to the point of if I have to live with this then you are just going to have to cope with the ways I have to use to deal with it. You don’t have to do anything other than leave me to deal with the shots, sugar tests, and food intake. Its all I ask of you