By: Meagan Esler
As I celebrate my birthday this month, I also recognize the anniversary of my diabetes. If it were a person, it would be legally old enough to move out. Oh, how I wish it would! I was diagnosed at eighteen years old with type 1 diabetes, so this makes eighteen long years that the two of us have been living together. I have so many mixed emotions about it. On one hand, I feel stronger and more certain of my decisions with diabetes than ever before. On the other hand, I feel pretty depressed that it’s been so long and that, no matter how I try to push away the thought, complications could be looming around the bend.
I rarely thought about a full life with diabetes during the first few years following my diagnosis. Denial was a beautiful place to bury my head, and bury it I did. But I finally realized that diabetes was here for the long haul and began trying to come to terms with it. It’s funny, but it helped my spirit so much just to acknowledge that.
Without my friends in the diabetes online community, I’d probably go hide in my closet and cry. I couldn’t bear to face another day alone with diabetes. My first sixteen years were so lonely, and they were unbelievably depressing. Thankfully, I’m a pretty happy person, so I was able to exist without actually falling into a deep depression, but who knows how long that would have remained the case? Diabetes can really wear on you and break you down. Now when I go through something diabetes-related, people who truly care and understand send advice, encouragement, and even prayers. That support is more precious than anything when it comes to staying happy with diabetes.
I’m not ashamed of getting older. I’m proud to be turning 36 on June 13, and I’m thrilled to celebrate another year that I’m still here. Honestly, it’s not been easy. Eighteen years of four to six (sometimes even more) shots a day and countless blood sugar checks tally up to a lot! I’ve earned each and every year, and each year gets me closer to a 50-year Joslin medal for my life with diabetes. That will be a diabetes accomplishment better than any I can think of.
Unless a cure is found, my diabetes will never go away. I’m forever making peace with that. Kicking diabetes out of my life would be like a dream come true. Since that’s just not possible, I’ll be celebrating both my birth and my triumphs over diabetes this month. Many hard and painful lessons have been learned along the way, but I’m still here and I’m still kicking. This month, I realize how thankful I am to be here and just how thankful I am for each and every one of you. As I blow out the candles on my birthday cake this year, I’ll bet you can guess exactly what I’m wishing for.