This is my second time participating in Diabetes Blog Week and like last year, I am overwhelmed at the idea of publishing a blogpost every day for seven days. In the middle of 2014 Blog Week, I secretly swore that I would never participate again. But I managed to stick with it. By the end of the week I was exhilarated with the passion and talent of my fellow diabetes bloggers and was proud to have participated. So here we go for the Sixth Annual Diabetes Blog Week! As always, thanks to Karen Graffeo of Bitter~Sweet™ for being the brains behind this project and organizing it for the sixth year.
Today’s Topic: In the UK, there was a diabetes blog theme of “I can…” that participants found wonderfully empowering. So lets kick things off this year by looking at the positive side of our lives with diabetes. What have you or your loved one accomplished, despite having diabetes, that you weren’t sure you could? Or what have you done that you’ve been particularly proud of? Or what good thing has diabetes brought into your life? (Thank you to the anonymous person who submitted this topic suggestion.) To read all of the posts in this category, click here.
I was ignorant about diabetes when I was diagnosed as a young adult in 1976. It never dawned on me that it would change the direction of my life and no one told me that it might limit anything that I hoped to do. As I sit here 38 years later, I like to think that I have not been held back by diabetes although I know that many things have been more difficult because of the constant demands of Type 1.
I think the one thing that I do that others are often amazed by is hiking. I spend a third of the year in Arizona and when I am there, I hike once or twice every week. My Friday hikes are not for the faint of heart and I join a group of friends on excursions that average 10-12 miles. Most of the hikes are in mountainous areas and often we are in areas with very little traffic and no cell phone coverage. The scenery is fabulous. The fellowship of this tight-knit group of women is inspiring. Every week is a challenge and I begin each season of hiking with the fear that this is the year that it will be “too hard” for me.
I have mixed feelings about how my Type 1 diabetes is viewed in this group. On one hand, I feel safe with these women because two of them are nurses and one has a sister with Type 1. The others are strong, confident women who wouldn’t faint at the sight of a Glucagon needle. I have never once felt that anything about my health is a burden to the group. The thing that makes me uneasy is the universal conviction that I am the model of someone who has her diabetes totally “in control.” It’s the idea that I “do diabetes” better than other people and the belief that I am somehow different from other people with diabetes.
I work hard at caring for myself, but I am a long ways from being perfect. My days are filled with good decisions peppered with less than optimal choices. I believe that I am lucky to have no severe complications after so many years of diabetes and I definitely know others who have not been as lucky. I realize that I have been the beneficiary of good insurance and have always had access to the hardware, supplies, and medications that allow me to live an active life. So I am uncomfortable being labeled “the good diabetic.”
At the same time I need to remember to take pride in what I do. I can hike because I work hard to stay in shape. I can hike safely because I am neurotically organized and am prepared with adequate food, water, and back-up diabetes supplies. I can hike because I am willing to push my boundaries while keeping a realistic view of my capabilities. I can hike because diabetes has been kinder to me than to some others. I can hike because…well, I just can.
Take that, Diabetes!