Sunday, May 16, 2010

Dream a little dream

Day 7 - Dream a little dream - life after a cure. To wrap up Diabetes Blog Week, let’s pretend a cure has been found. We are all given a tiny little pill to swallow and *poof* our pancreases are back in working order. No side effects. No more insulin resistance. No more diabetes. Tell us what your life is now like. Or take us through your first day celebrating life without the Big D. Blog about how you imagine you would feel if you no longer were a Person With Diabetes.

When I was about 12 years old I was walking up my street.  I saw a bumper sticker on the back of a neighbor’s truck that had a profound impact on me.  I don’t remember exactly what it said but I remember the sentiment was that child abuse was to be abhored.  I hated so much of my life but something changed, like someone flipped a switch.  In that moment my jaw was set.  I made up my mind about the rest of my life.  The cycle would stop with me. 

I had dreams of what I would say to my father the day I turned 18.  Little did I know my life would change sooner than I planned when my mom left, taking her children with her.  I turned 15 a couple weeks later. 

There was a strange absence.  There was no party and true laughter returned much later, and sooner, than I imagined it would.  My new life and the welcome hole in it surprisingly took some getting used to.  People expected us to act a certain way because of the divorce.  Nearly everyone was surprised to hear why since we never talked about it.  The truth changed people’s perspective for better or worse and new expectations were often born. 

The idea of a miraculous cure for diabetes almost feels the same way to me.  Of course I want it but it would be strange.  It would take a lot of getting used to. 

Physical changes would be immediate.  All prescriptions related to diabetes would be unnecessary.  Insulin, test strips, zestril (an ace inhibitor that protects organs), lancets, pump supplies like infusion sets and reservoirs, adhesive tape to hold the infusion set in place as well as the CGM sensor.  Wow, I have prescriptions for a lot of things!  Chances are I forgot something too. 

More physical changes would include freedom from a pump, continuous glucose monitor sensor, testing blood sugar, counting carbs, any math at all with insulin, timing, eating, exercising, etc. 

There would be no more reason to have stashes of glucose tabs or food all over the house.  I may even say goodbye to my purse.  I am not a purse person and only bought one because it was easier to carry my meter and snacks in.  That thing holds my life in it when we go anywhere! 

I’m probably forgetting physical changes.  There would be no more marks on my fingers from testing my blood sugar, no more red splotches all over my abdomen from old infusion set sites.  No more dry skin, no more itching.  No more irritated sites underneath tape.  Is it possible I’m allergic to insulin?  My mom wonders that but I think I just am an extremely sensitive person when it comes to having a plastic cannula stuck in my stomach for a couple days at a time covered by tape.  No more bruises or physical marks of any kind left from diabetes. 

This CGM-003_thumb would never be worn again.  I guess I did have a picture to share yesterday!  I wear my continuous glucose monitor sensor on my arm because it was so uncomfortable on my stomach.  I barely feel it on my arms and it’s out of the way.  I do get really sick of all the gasping “What happened to your arm!!!!!” questions when I wear it though.  So a cure would mean never wearing it again.

Yes, those physical changes would be monumental and very welcome.  It would be so strange though.  It’s my routine to take care of the demands of diabetes.  I don’t see myself changing my eating habits.  I’m pretty sure I would do carb math in my head long after a cure.  I know a cure would not change my feelings about pizza or doughnuts!  Sorry to my husband and kids.  It’s a taste issue over insulin to carb math. 

A machine would no longer dictate hunger.  I was 10 years old when I was diagnosed, old enough to remember what it was like to not have diabetes but I was also young enough that I honestly don’t remember what hunger feels like.  My glucometer tells me whether or not I should have a snack. 

I could exercise whenever I wanted to without having to play the blood sugar numbers game first.  I could go to bed without wondering if I should eat first.  I could sleep through the night. 

So many immediate physical changes.  It’s hard enough to write all the minute details of diabetes to even imagine life without them. 

The emotional changes would be something else.  That part of a cure is what made me share a moment from my childhood.  I do everything in my power to be normal.  Yes, I’m diabetic and I work hard to manage it well but I don’t like to think about it.  I’m not the diabetic lady.  I’m me.  Diabetes will not keep me from being who I am. 

So the physical changes from a diabetes cure would be as public as those needs are now.  I imagine people focusing on that.  Oh, you’re cured now.  Now you don’t have to do . . . all the things I described.  But the emotional part.  The part I share fully with my husband and bits and pieces of with other people when I feel it’s appropriate, would be the part nobody would think of.  Like when the nightmarish pieces of my childhood ended.  Nobody thought about that part.  Everyone just thought the crappy part is over. 

And they were right but there’s more to it than that.  I’m 32 years old, haven’t spoken to my father at all in over 10 years, I know I’ve forgiven him but I’m still terrified to run into him somewhere, and I still think about it all.  I never imagined I would be an adult and still have to think about it but I do a lot.  I dread the day I have to tell my kids.  So far I’ve been able to dodge their questions. 

My diabetes is so intertwined in who I am I really think I would have another welcome hole in my life if I were cured.  Taking away such a source of emotional stress would take some time to get used to.  Even when something happens that is wrong and needs to stop, having it actually stop is disorienting to some degree.  Diabetes would be no different. 

Right now I imagine letting my 4 year old skip my CGM transmitter across the ocean but what would I really do if I were magically cured? 

I actually don’t mind being diabetic most of the time.  I cope by not thinking about it more than I need to.  I live my life and pursue my dreams.  It’s those unexpected moments when I cry about it, wishing it away in vain. 

I believe God made me this way for a reason.  I have no doubt that He knows exactly how I feel.  I know He is there cheering me on the same way He cheers on all of His children.  He didn’t send us here to fail.  He’s not laughing at our trials.  He gets emotional with us and like a good parent, He knows our trials will only make us stronger. 

I am who I am.  My life experiences enhance who I am, making me stronger than I ever would have been otherwise.  While a cure for diabetes would be welcome, to answer the question of what would I do and how would it change my life . . . I don’t know. 

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