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Three Gifts of Diabetes

April 8, 2011

I’m coming up to a year since my pancreas decided to take an early retirement without consulting with me first (it’s okay Pancreas, I forgive you). In a little over a month, I’ll be celebrating my one-year diaversary with a giant benefit concert and party at a local cafe. More on that to come.

For now, I will share my ongoing thoughts and reflections on what this almost-year has brought me. Yesterday, as I walked downtown through sunny Mile End streets on my way to a rehearsal, I took some time to think about how diabetes has changed me. These days I feel grounded, peaceful, and adult in a way that’s rather new to me, and I dare say, I owe a lot of this growth to this peculiar and inevitable life event called Diabetes.

Here goes. Three Gifts Diabetes Has Given Me:

Purpose. An old roommate of mine, a Muslim girl, explained to me once how much focus her month-long Ramadan fast gave her. “It disciplines me, makes me focus,” she said of the daily food-abstinence. That act of mindfulness and purpose made her more productive in her work, her words, her life.

Diabetes is my (well, one of my) act of intentionality. It requires constant, vigilant awareness. It makes me present, as well as purposeful. I have a very clear goal now. It is to live.

This mindfulness has cut a lot of wishy-washy behaviour from my life. It’s made certain decisions a lot easier to make. I thank you, Diabetes, for giving me purpose. 

Compassion. I don’t quite know why, but somehow my diabetes has deeply fed a sense of social justice and compassion for my fellow humans.

I think it’s because I realize, truly, how lucky I am. I have a disease that, despite being challenging, at-times-draining, incurable and dangerous, is manageable. I live in a country where health-care is free, in a province that offers a public drug plan. I have healthy eating habits, a love of running, and supportive family and friends. Above all, I AM SO LUCKY that I was diagnosed as an adult, and was spared the sobering childhood of so many diabetic children I learn about.

Since diabetes, gratitude pervades my overall outlook on life. Somewhere, somehow, that has led to a genuine desire to help others. Be it through the volunteer work I’ve been doing, donating what I can each month, or even just a deepened interest in how public policy is made, the penny has dropped. It’s not all about Sarah Pearson anymore.

I’ll be starting a new career-page in the fall – I’ll be pursuing a Master’s in Music Therapy, a discipline I have long been flirting with. My decision to finally do this has resulted from a shift in perspective. I know longer ask “what profession will best fulfill me?” I ask: “what profession will best serve others?”

If I am moving away from the “I”-centric phase of my twenties, I am grateful for it and excited for what’s to come. I thank you, Diabetes, for giving me a sense of compassion.

Adulthood.  They say that the moment your child first child is born is when you truly become an adult. In one fell-swoop, your priorities take a 180.

I hope one day to become a parent, but feel like I’ve already experienced a similar 180-moment. Almost a year ago, I was suddenly handed an infant, for whom I’d be responsible for the rest of my life. This baby is my health.

Like having a child, diabetes has changed everything in my life, in ways that are hard to describe, and in ways that are neither positive nor negative. Diabetes just is. And in instantly making room for this new screaming infant of blood-sugar-management, I have somehow become an adult. I thank you, Diabetes, for giving me my adulthood.

And that’s that.

Happy Friday, dear blogosphere.


(ps. Ddid I mention I hit 16K yesterday on my half-marathon training? I’m almost there. I am humbled at what the body can achieve, and inspired by what the mind can overcome.)

One Comment leave one →
  1. your admirer permalink
    May 11, 2011 6:18 am

    loved this one.

    hugs from Nam!

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