What is it like to be diabetic?
My friend Stoner’s question about what diabetes is
really rang with me and I agree it is a very difficult one to answer. I did however have to explain this once before, and when you think about the circumstances, it is worth revisiting. But, my answer has changed over the years so here is how I answered it then and how I would answer the question now.
The circumstance was when I was 19 and I had proposed to my wife. It happened after I put a ring in layaway and my lovely wife had agreed (A verbal yes) that if we bought the ring we could someday get married. The reason I had to answer this question was because I wanted her to know. Sure she knew I was diabetic and sure we had been dating about 6 months and yes I so wanted to be married with Sheryl, but I thought in my mind, you know she needs to know what it is like to be diabetic. Or perhaps what is it like to be married to a diabetic.
I went to my place to think, the place I always thought about the answer to tough issues, looking at Ben the Bull (note: he is not really a bull but a Steer, I mean he is stuffed now but he was a Bull) and across the street from the stump to contemplate the answer. I decided on this general answer. Diabetes is like having a hammer hanging over your head. It is ready to smash you and someday it will. The hit is always different, sometimes small, sometimes big, sometimes it feels like a bug landing on your shoulder, and sometimes like a 3 ton pallet of bricks. When it strikes sometimes you stop and regroup, or you might not do nothing at all. Then someday it hits you once, twice, three times and when it happens you do not get back to where you started, ever. When that happens you go downhill and after that your life is never the same.
If that seems sort of bleak, it was and I meant it to be. You see the example in my life was not one to ignore and the time in my opinion was very short. I had to move life quick and I was not looking forward to many years on this earth. If Sheryl was to marry me she had to know the truth. I need not have worried really, Sheryl did not care about about diabetes, she was just optimistic and hopeful and really chalked diabetes up to something we would and she could, deal with. A couple of months later I gave Sheryl the engagement ring we picked out (in front of the Stump this time) and a few months later we were married and started our life together.
Of course today things have changed at least a bit. I never expected to make it to my 40th diabetes anniversary; I never could have expected to have two wonderful sons, be age 57, three grandchildren and a career finished. So things have changed. I can be more optimistic sure, but more important I now have forty years of living with Diabetes instead of two. So with age and my answer has changed.
Today I would say diabetes is a pest, it shows up when you least expect it and will not simply go away when you need it too. Take your worst inconvenience and multiply it by 10 and you get some idea of what diabetes is. It is out to harm you and you must never take your eye off it. It hangs on and will not go away and is never satisfied. There is no normal day when you are diabetic; in fact the only normal thing about diabetes is how abnormal it is. It harms you most when you take your eye off it and someday it will knock you down and it is unlikely that you will ever get back up. But it is not the worst thing that can happen. There are much worse things and much better. To me diabetes is life and yes I do seriously hate the disease, but not the life I have had with it.
So what is diabetes, it is a one heck of a bad ride but there are worse. I can and have lived with it. Sometimes I have done well with it, sometimes I have lived badly with it, but I am thrilled I have made it this far.
I wish I had been less worried about tomorrow and more about today. I certainly wish I would have seen more about the present tense while my sons were small. I can also say my attitude about diabetes changed a lot when I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA). When I was diagnosed with RA, I learned a big lesson, whatever I feared about diabetes, was way too much. RA put diabetes in perspective, and like diabetes, I know there are things worse than RA, I hope I never personally experience it. But who knows, another day another log on the fire.