By: Meagan Esler
I recently noticed these faint little crinkle lines at the outer corners of my eyes when I smile. They aren’t deep yet, but they’re ever so slightly starting to emerge. The funny thing is that I don’t hate them. In fact, I’m kind of proud of them. They are proof that I laugh a lot. I realize that a lot of women are trying to get rid of these little signs of aging, though I think there are a lot of good things that come with age. I believe some of the best things about a person, is the life experiences they’ve had and the lessons that come along with them. I’m turning 38 this month. My diabetes is turning 20. Here are some things about my diabetes that have really gotten better with age.
I’m no longer pretending. It’s so easy to try to pretend there is nothing different about you. As an eighteen year old upon diagnosis, I wanted nothing more than to fit in. I pretended to be the same as my non-diabetic friends and family, even to the point of not testing my blood sugars and it was dangerous. I know I’m lucky that I found acceptance for my diabetes. I may not like having diabetes, but it is my life and I know it is just another part of me.
I’m not ashamed anymore. I’m extremely outspoken about my diabetes. I tell my friends, co-workers, and family without hesitation. I’m actually confident to tell people that I have it. More often than not, someone they love has it too. They don’t always understand diabetes, but I remind myself that I knew nothing about diabetes until I joined “the club”. I also had many misconceptions and needed educating. Speaking out is our opportunity to dispel the myths.
I found a huge support system of other people that are like me. I discovered deep connections and a sort of family bond with others living with diabetes. We talk about everything, not just diabetes. In fact one close friend online that also lives with diabetes was the person I turned to for support when my youngest son began acting rebellious. The support and encouragement from this group goes far beyond diabetes issues. It’s comforting to know you have an instant family of people that understand what health difficulties and fears you face in addition to the issues in everyday life.
I know a lot more about handling my diabetes during extreme times. This past Christmas I was stricken with the stomach flu. I was able to test my blood sugar and adjust my insulin during the awful symptoms and come out victorious by that evening. I was alive. I wasn’t 100% by any means, but I was alive and my blood sugars were closer to the normal range. In my early years with diabetes, I didn’t know what sick day dosage to give myself when it came to insulin and I sure didn’t know how to get my blood sugars to safely come back into range when dealing with a violent illness. After years of trial and error, I enjoy being on this side of the learning curve.
Little by little, I’m working on accepting myself more with each year, crinkle lines and all. As for my diabetes, let’s just say cheers to twenty years.