I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in 1974 at the age of three. Okay, yeah, living with diabetes is tough. You may already realize that. But this blog isn’t meant to focus on being a victim or how hard or challenging this diabetic life has been.
This blog is about taking those challenges and using them for everything they’re worth – figuring out how to live the most fulfilling and satisfying life possible. A diabetic life is a quest, a journey, filled with questions and realizations. Yes, we're all faced with challenges, and you may find that some of those diabetic challenges, questions, and realizations apply to you too.
The first really big question I remember asking myself is: Why me? I was actually advised not to ask myself that question when I was diagnosed with diabetic retinopathy when I turned 19 years old. Let me just be blunt: This meant that I had a 50-50 chance of going blind. When sitting on my bed feeling really pathetic and crying endlessly, I was advised not to wallow in self-pity. You see ‘Why me?’ can be considered a wallowing in self-pity kind of question. But it kind of depends on the tone in which you are asking.
Oh, don’t get me wrong, I was not all enlightened at the age of 19. Oh no, it took 20 years to reach a place of relative peace living with this disease. At the time (and for many years after), I totally beat myself up for drinking alcohol at late night parties, but more so, I beat myself up for eating all of those cookies, candy bars, and tubs of whipped cream. All of those filled with unhealthy ingredients. I would sneak bites of cake when no one was watching, and stop at convenience stores and down Rollos before anyone came looking for me. What a rebel!
But seriously, after the you-may-be-going-blind diagnosis, I strongly felt that the answer to ‘Why me?’ was that I was a bad diabetic. I didn't take care of myself. That sure is a lot for a person to take on at such a young age! So, I ate a Snickers bar and a tub of Cool Whip, does that mean that I’m meant for a lifetime of blindness? That didn’t feel so good.
So I got angry: I didn’t choose to have diabetes! I didn’t bring this on myself! I didn’t know that if I ate all that sugar that I might go blind!
And so I did the only thing I knew to do. I prayed. I asked that I not go blind. I made a deal. I asked that if I continue seeing, that I, in return, would do what I can to make the world a better place, be a more giving and peaceful person. My prayers were heard, or perhaps science is just that fantastic, or both. Either way, it worked, and I received an answer.
Why me? Because it woke me up. I began to live consciously. I began to learn how to thrive with diabetes. And I can see.