December 23, 1989. My life ended and began again on this day.
I was 5 years old. In kindergarten. 35 lbs. Happy, sick, scrawny little kid. Tummy aches every day. All sorts of cute.
Life changed. It didn't get better. It got a little pokier. A little more frightening. A lot more complicated. Shit happens and things change all the time. Most of the time, you hope you're out of elementary school.
I've been a type 1 diabetic for 21 years now. Long enough to vote, drink alcohol (and stop drinking alcohol), graduate college, and get a reduced rate on my car insurance. Not long enough to figure it all out, know what I'm doing, or understand a damn thing.
While it's easy to see all the things diabetes has done to make my life hell... It's easy to tick off all the times diabetes ruined my day, or week, or decade... It's a lot harder to recognize what diabetes has done for me. The good things. Though they are few, they do exist.
Because of my diabetes, I was introduced to the DOC. I made friends. Some of the most spectacular friends I have had the privilege of knowing. Kim, Pat, Brian, Greg, Scott & Scott, Bob, Kelly, Babs and so many more. Some of them I've been able to meet with in real life and make a true connection. Others, our support and caring for each other relies solely on the internet, but that doesn't make their awesomeness any less appreciated. Because of my relationship with the DOC, particularly those belonging to the Juvenation community, I have taken control of my diabetes and turned my life around for the better. Friends with diabetes have the power to permanently alter your world.
Diabetes has also led me, in a very roundabout way, to my career choice. It's funny how I actually wanted to be a diabetes educator straight out of high school, but (for whatever reason) chose not to pursue that path. After spending a few years slowly and very diligently destroying my life and spending the longest summer of my existence in intense outpatient therapy, I finally decided I had a goal to accomplish - one I had unintentionally set for myself a long time ago and finally needed to acknowledge.
I had allowed D to take me to a dark place. I let it win. One day, after sinking to the deepest depth of the darkest chasm, I realized I had no where to go but up. But on my way up, I can bring others with me. I tread a new path, but I don't have to let others follow me. I have a lot to offer - through my experiences and my knowledge, I could prevent others from wallowing as I did. Though I despise D, I have to acknowledge it has brought me to the beautiful place I find myself now.
One day you will wake up in your dream. Once I finally start my career, I will find myself there. (PS. I'm a Registered Dietitian looking for full-time work in the Des Moines area. Talk to me.)
I've never celebrated a dia-versary, nor do I plan on it. I always quietly remember the day my world was turned upside-down forever. The day it simultaneously ended and began.
"Your journey never ends. Life has a way of changing things in incredible ways." ~Alexander Volkov