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Reflections on my Diabetes on a Snowy Sunday Afternoon

December 12, 2010

My diabetes is settling in like an old friend, like something I live alongside with, rather than at the mercy of. Words of comfort I received from an experienced diabetic last summer: “there comes a time where you control your diabetes, rather than diabetes controlling you.” It’s been seven whole months almost since my diagnosis – a whole lifetime! Since my diagnosis I have seen the lilacs bloom and fade, I have seen spring explode into summer, I have watched the deep greens of the trees turn to red, then brown, then gray, and now white. Diabetes has been by my side through it all. It’s like an odd little guardian angel, always reminding me to drop inward and look after myself.

I feel less attached to the pity-party that is my diagnosis. Not that I ever felt I indulged in it – my healing process has been quite private, despite a fair bit of public blogging. In the end only I can manage my diabetes, and maintain peace in my heart about this unexpected new figure in my life. But yes, it is a secure presence in my life. Even my cat responds to the sound of the lancet snapping into my fingerpad – she scurries into my room every morning at the sound of it, knowing that I’ve just woken up and should therefore go fill up her food bowl. My dad still seems to get a little upset when he sees me test my glucose or draw a shot of insulin, but he’s kind of a worrier about everything. I just try to do those things out of his sight.

And so while diabetes has been my cross to bear these past seven months, I have never ceased being grateful for the generosity that is diabetes. For the ability to still live my life. To be able to run through crunching leaves, to snowshoe through heaps of white. To be able to eat the occasional bowl of ice cream and really enjoy it.

And we all have our journeys. I’ve been following the blog of my cousin’s friend Liza, who courageously decided to undergo a double mastectomy last month after almost every woman in her family had battled (and often lost) with breast cancer. In her year leading up to the surgery, she undertook to run two half-marathons. She succeeded, and her blog is inspirational. Please read it.

And then my old college friend, who I’ve reconnected with recently through her following this blog. She lost an older brother to cancer last January, and in the impossible grief of it all, she has started fundraising for a special cardiac research foundation. Her brother was an award-winning cardiac surgical resident, and the lives he could have saved with his own hands had he lived might still be saved through this inspiring and deeply moving fund.

So life is hard. (Would we really expect it to be any other way?) But it’s not the blows we get dealt but how we react to them that shapes our life experience. I think something about this diabetes thing has really taught me about the necessity of hardships. Moreover, it has truly made me realize that I am going to die one day. I am not exempt from mortality.

Realizing I won’t live forever is kind of an incredible gift. Not that I think about my ultimate demise all the time, but it does contour my choices a bit more distinctly than it did seven months ago. And living each day like it might be my last sure brings out the colours in each moment, and the lovely and the heartbreaking details in every little song, every little step, each little laugh or tear.

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