Reading this post by Kerri over @ SixUntilMe about the Joslin Medalists literally had me in tears this morning. I was barely able to get through it. Why? Because it made me happy! It is so reassuring to see people with T1 living long and healthy lives. I realize that these individuals may have some specific characteristics that have allowed them to live so long with T1, but it nonetheless gives me hope. Hope that maybe I have some of those traits, and hopeful that I too will live long enough to receive my 50 year medal.
For years I have listened to and heard about all the horrible things that would happen to me because I’m diabetic. I’ve listened to people talk about how my limbs would be cut off, how I would go blind, and how my head would fall off and go rolling down the street (ok, that’s an exaggeration, but you get the idea). Because of all the negativity around diabetes, I always just assumed that my life would not be a long one. But seeing this video, hearing these people talk about living with D and knowing that they lived in the D dark ages (back when you had to test your urine and walk 20 miles to get your pork insulin), has made me HAPPY!
It also made me reflect today on all the positive things D has given me. Yes, T1 D is a pain in the ■■■. It frequently robs me of my time, energy, positivity, money, feeling of general good health, brain power, sick days, ability to work, etc. But I cannot deny that it has given me quite a bit too. Here are just a few things D has given me.
- Appreciation of the little things. Seriously, each morning that I wake up and can see and feel my feet and get out of bed, I'm happy. Even if I wake up to a nasty low or a bad high, I'm thankful that I have the tools and knowledge and support to deal with it.
- Wicked math skills. When you've spent the better part of your life counting carbs, calculating insulin dosages, or figuring out a correction, your math skills get pretty darn good. I am very good at multiples of 8, 12, and 15 (my I:C ratios).
- Ability to navigate the health care system with resourcefulness. Seriously, this is a skill that should not be overlooked. Having D means you need insulin to survive, and sometimes getting that insulin and the necessary supplies, can be difficult. I have been without insurance and those times were really tough, but it made me resourceful. I learned how to find free programs so that I could get what I needed. I have also learned the ins and outs of fighting just about anything related to health insurance. DME denial? No problem, I know how to appeal! Coverage requirements confusing you? I can help. Several friends have come to me for health insurance advice over the years and during those times I've been grateful that my knowledge could help them. It's also empowering to look back at those tough times and know that I got through them. Successfully battling health insurance companies (or dealing with the lack of health insurance) has strangely been one of the most empowering things I've ever done.
- Understanding of my body. Having D means that you're so in tune to your body and for me this has translated into some pretty superior athletic abilities. I've always been physically active, and having D means that I have to pay extra close attention to my body if I want to do all these cool things. It also has helped me optimize my performance in ways that non-D folks can't really appreciate.
- Mad organizational skills. We all know that successfully managing D means that you have to be super-organized. You can't afford to get caught away from home without that extra infusion set or supply of test strips or (gasp!) insulin! I've always dealt with this by being SUPER organized. I have systems for everything and always have what I need. This has strangely translated over nicely into my work skills. Coworkers always tell me that they value me because I'm super organized and always on top of things. I don't think I would naturally be this way if it wasn't for D. It's really set me apart at work and I kind of have D to thank for that.
- A generally sunny disposition. Despite the groaning that I might do about D on this blog, I generally don't share these feelings with others. My demeanor is always fairly positive (unless I'm having a wicked low) and I think that's because I always know just how bad BAD can be. I've been to some pretty scary places because of D and this has always helped me appreciate that the things which stress other people out really aren't worth getting bent out of shape about. I can usually put things into perspective and remember that it could be a lot worse.
- My friends love their designated driver. Alcohol and D have never mixed well for me. I do drink some, but in very small amounts and generally only at home (where I feel comfortable treating a bad low that will almost always follow wine or beer). And this means that I'm almost always the DD. I don't mind this so much. It usually means that I have control of the evening out and my friends are always grateful.
So what are some positive things D has given you?