I'm thankful for my diabetes, and I want it to be cured.*
On June 7, I will be biking 60 miles as a “Red Rider” (a cyclist with diabetes) in the Tour de Cure - Kentucky. Yes, I’ll be turning down the basal rate on my insulin pod, checking my blood-glucose levels regularly, and taking plenty of glucose and other carbohydrates with me. This gives me a distinct disadvantage, as I’ll weigh 25 pounds more with all my paraphernalia. I am pretty experienced riding a bike with diabetes, but this is the first time I’ll be involved in a diabetes event. I’m not sure why I waited so long.
I have had Type 1 diabetes for more than 43 years–diagnosed in 1971. I’ve seen diabetes care progress greatly over the years, but it’s just that, care for diabetes so that I can stay relatively healthy and live longer. But there is still no cure.
When I was first diagnosed, I used a test tube to test my urine several times a day. I felt like an 11-year-old chemist, dropping the tablet into the test tube and watching it fizz and change colors. This was fun for about a week; then it became a cumbersome process, and a very inaccurate way of determining my blood-glucose level. (Basically, testing your urine tells you what your blood-glucose level was a couple hours ago.) Today I can test my blood in 3 seconds and I know it’s accurate, which means I can control my diabetes better.
When I was diagnosed at age 11, Doctor Stagaman told my mom I probably wouldn’t live past 40 and definitely not past 50. He also told her there was a good chance I wouldn’t be able to have children. I don’t know what it is about me, but I really, really enjoy proving doctors wrong!
So why am I thankful for diabetes? For one thing, I am very conscientious about my health, diet, and exercise. I want to see my four children–yes four children, doc!–get married and have kids of their own. I want to keep living a healthy life for as long as I can. So my diabetes has been a gift to me.
I’ll share a bit about my mom in a future post, but I’ll just say here that Mom provided me with the right perspective on living with diabetes. She never let me feel sorry for myself or make excuses. Truthfully, I can’t remember ever even thinking that way. Mom constantly encouraged me and allowed me to live a “normal” life.
Yes, a cure for diabetes would totally change my future and the future of my friends with diabetes. I don’t really want this disease. The complications are affecting me. Today, I have some retinopathy in my eyes and a bit of nerve damage, but I can live with these things. However, I’m seeing people I know dealing with complications such as blindness, amputations, kidney disease, and even death.
That’s why I’m doing everything I can, short of sin, to raise money to beat diabetes. Please give me some grace if you get tired of me asking for support on my ride in the Tour de Cure. This is something I’m passionate about!
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* Over the next month or so, I’ll be writing about living with Type 1 diabetes. This falls under the category of “and whatever” in my blog description. For those of you who read this blog for my posts on Christian small groups, discipleship, and leadership, I believe there is a strong connection in all these things. Keep reading to see what I mean!