There’s a lot more under my clothes than the average person. Provocative, I know. But it’s true.
Four years ago today I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. Unlike Type 2 diabetes, which can be controlled by diet, exercise and oral medication, I have to deal with finger pricks, low blood sugars, high blood sugars, and injecting insulin into my body all day everyday. No big deal really (honestly, it sucks).
Most people don’t realize that I’m somewhat of a bionic woman. I’m a machine! See, it didn’t take me long to get over the syringe method of injecting insulin (honestly, it really sucks). When fellow restaurant patrons gave me dirty glares for “shooting up” in the booth next to them, I knew I needed a more discreet alternative.
Enter the insulin pump. That’s the bigger pod on the right that lives somewhere on my belly 24/7 and gives me a constant stream of insulin automatically all day long and delivers my mealtime bolus whenever I eat. I have a little Palm Pilot/cell phone looking thing called a Personal Diabetes Manager (PDM) that goes with it. I’d rather be known for being rude “texting” during a meal than “shooting up” during a meal. Wearing a big old pod on my belly really is a pain the ass but it’s a waaaay better alternative to always shooting myself in the arm, leg, ab, butt, wherever.
The little buddy on the left is a Continuous Glucose Monitor (CGM). That also has a little Palm Pilot looking thing remotely attached to it and gives me a blood sugar reading every 5 minutes. It’s kinda neat to see what kind of foods shoot my blood sugar sky high and how long it takes for insulin to start working and lowering my blood sugar. It’s addicting to watch the trend go up and down. Between my iPhone, my CGM, and my PDM, my purse is always full of gadgets.
After 4 years, I’ve mastered the art of hiding my little buddies and wearing flowing clothing. I bet you never even knew I was bionic I’m super sneaky.
I’ve spent plenty of time grieving diabetes. My body essentially betrayed me and now I’m connected to this ball and chain all the time. I have no options to be without health insurance. I can’t just hop on a plane and backpack through Europe and blow all my savings. I can’t just take any job that I think would be fun if they don’t provide health benefits. I can’t just go to a coffee shop in the morning and have a scone and a cup of coffee while I do the Monday Crossword. I can’t seem to lose an ounce of body weight no matter how hard I try. There’s a lot I can’t do.
But there have been some redeeming moments with type 1 diabetes. I’ve meet some wonderful friends who feel my pain firsthand. I’ve been able to support some dear friends when their 5 year old son was diagnosed. I had a friend blessed me with a 3-year gym membership so I could take care of my body. My family gathered around me and has been nothing but 110% supportive and encouraging to me, even in the worst moments. I got a great job right out of college with the American Diabetes Association and had a spark ignite in my heart because of it.
One of my volunteers at the ADA told me about this amazing dinner she went to called Outstanding in the Field. You may have heard me talk about it. It’s basically a traveling foodie circus that sets up these huge family style dinners in the most gorgeous settings all over the US and Europe and hires local chefs, wineries, and farmers to make a farm-to-table meal that will change your life. My parents and I went to one of their dinners in Oregon last summer and decided that we will go every year. I met the founder of the dinners and we talked about the crazy idea of me joining their team for the 2012 season. “Yeah right!” I thought. “That’d be a dream but there’s no way I could ever do something like that because of this stupid disease I have that holds me back all the time because I need health insurance.” UGH! Dumb diabetes! YOU SUCK!
Well, I believe that God is a redeemer and can take whatever is broken and turn it into something wonderful. My parents came down for a visit a couple weekends ago and encouraged me to dream a little. I’m 27 and have absolutely no strings attached to anything–no mortgage, marriage, pets, kids, I don’t even have a lease on an apartment. I’m free as a bird and stirring for a once-in-a-lifetime adventure. I’m ready to go and my parents are helping me work out the health insurance piece. Whether I join the OITF team, or go WWOOFing around Europe, I’m not letting diabetes hold me back anymore. My little bionic buddies can come with me on an adventure, but they’re certainly not going to keep me from doing something soul-stirring.
Four years of being discouraged and held back is enough. Perhaps there will be some reprieve in this disease sometime in my life. Who knows. But happy dia-birthday to me on this leap year. We’ll see what the next 4 years brings.