When I was undiagnosed and sick, I was very angry with God. I didn’t understand why I was weak, fatigued, constantly thirsty and hungry, scarily thin, and mentally foggy. I prayed and prayed for an answer. I cried, I cursed, and I yelled. Nothing. For a year and a half. When I received my diagnosis in a local emergency room, I felt instant relief. Finally, I had an answer, a name, and some hope. But soon after, the anger reappeared, this time because God had failed to pass over me. I had done nothing to earn this fate. Why me?
My first year with diabetes was a roller coaster. For about six months, I experienced the honeymoon period, during which I didn’t need very much insulin to combat the food I consumed. Diabetes wasn’t so bad. When that period ended, however, I was struck with the reality of my disease. I was totally dependent upon insulin and my own abilities to test, count carbohydrates, and use my insulin pump. Even though I was surrounded by a loving family and supportive friends, I felt frightened and alone.
As my second and third year with diabetes passed, I grew more confident in my identity with diabetes, my diabetes control, and my approach to my health and life in general. I accepted my disease and decided to choose living over existing, doing instead of complaining. That determination and passion for living a life of both self-control and possibility stems from my faith.
Raised in a Christian home, I was brought up to believe that God is good, that He loves me, and that all blessings come from Him. There are no coincidences, just divine appointments orchestrated by God. Those things were easy to believe when my life was seemingly perfect. Before my diagnosis, I was plowing through graduate school on my way to a promising career and enjoying my newlywed life, including monogrammed towels and lazy Saturdays. I set goals, and I accomplished them. I went to church on Sundays, read my Bible for inspiration, and believed that the world was generally good.
When I learned that diabetes was my new destiny and that there was no cure, only a lifetime of management, I was devastated. Where was God now? What was I being punished for?
As I matured in my disease, however, I realized that first, God wasn’t punishing me. My disease has become a way to connect to other people with chronic diseases instead of living in my happy-go-lucky bubble. Many people are battling health problems, and I have been given an opportunity to educate, inspire, and encourage others. But this opportunity only came from joining the ranks.
Second, diabetes can be a blessing. Without it, my husband and I would probably not have chosen to build our family through adoption, and without adoption, we wouldn’t have our beautiful daughter. Her smile and her curiosity inspire me to manage my disease well so that I can be there for all her tomorrows and celebrate her life.
Third, diabetes teaches me something useful every day. Before my diagnosis, I thought I was living a healthy life. Now, with much more knowledge, I am motivated to continue learning what I can do to improve my health and the health of others. I’m also learning to be patient, flexible, and cautious. Diabetes never ceases to surprise me.
In essence, I learned that God is not my enemy, but my ally. I was wasting my time and emotional energy fighting a faith that could help me calm down and focus enough to tame my diabetes. I combat diabetes with everything modern medicine offers: an insulin pump, a continuous glucose monitor, a meter, a healthy diet, and plenty of exercise. However, I realize that diabetes isn’t just about one’s physical well-being. Diabetes is about living well from the inside out, and that means I cannot face this disease alone. I need God.
I believe that the lessons from my childhood were not in vain. They laid a foundation that has carried me through the darkest days of my life, even when doubts and anger overtook my mind. Though I will never understand why I have this disease, I know that a life of faith and the blessings that come from diabetes are gifts, and I thank God for that.