So July 8th will be my five year diaversary - hard to believe it's been that long! But in a way it hasn't. As some of you know I was misdiagnosed type 2. I knew I had Diabetes by my symptoms and asked for a blood test. It was only a month until I was due to retire and move to Guatemala. I was told I had Type 2 Diabetes and put on several oral meds. I had a single visit with a dietician/cde and I said, "I eat very healthy; I haven't had sugar in 13 years and I'm a vegetarian." She agreed that I probably didn't need to change anything. She was wrong of course; as a vegetarian I ate lots of rice, pasta, potatoes and bread. But I took my meds, ate whatever I wanted, tested a couple times a day and my numbers were good.In general, I was very little affected by my Diabetes. My life was rich and full with my Central American adventure and Diabetes had little impact on me.
Fast forward 15 months and suddenly the stable numbers started going up. My doctor switched my meds around and the numbers still kept going up. I started to realize I needed insulin but didn't know why as I had read that Type 2's could go a decade or longer before needing insulin. I started researching and ended up on TuD. All my research led me to recognize that I was Type 1 (LADA). I had one visit to an endo in Guatemala who had never heard of LADA but confirmed my list of five things that told me I was Type 1.
Once I got clear on my real diagnosis and began my insulin journey everything changed for me. I wasn't upset by being Type 1, I was relieved because it made sense and I could now treat my "real" condition. I learned about carbs and started changing my diet. With no medical guidance to speak of I immersed myself in learning how to manage my type 1 myself. I found this wonderful community and I felt a sense of pride.
When I worked in the AIDS epidemic in the 80s I learned the phrase "People with AIDS" (PWA's); today we use the phrase "People with Diabetes - PWD's". I have always agreed with the idea that saying I'm a person with diabetes (or a person with type 1) is better than saying "I'm a diabetic" because it is not all of who I am. But...there is also that sense of pride. Pride isn't exactly the right word. In Mental Health we talk about a client who has "bought in": they are accepting of their diagnosis and involved in their own treatment..and, therefore they are empowered. There are plenty of diabetics who are not "bought in" - they either ignore their D or do what the doctor says without questioning much. When I thought I was Type 2 I wasn't "bought in". Please understand I'm not making a Type 2/Type 1 breakdown. I think there are people of both types who are bought in and empowered, and people of both types who are not. That's just how it played out for me.
So when I started to think about my upcoming Diaversary I realized it feels more like I began my current journey with D when I started on Insulin and when I determined my correct diagnosis (between February and April 2009 - nearly two years later!). But which date I celebrate my Diaversary isn't that important to me and the first date is as good as any. What is important is the whole idea of identity and being bought in and empowered. So that's the question I have for all of you. Do you feel you are bought in to your D identity? Did that happen right away or was it a process?