I was at TCOYD in Des Moines Iowa over the weekend. Bea drove us from Illinois to Iowa in George the Beetle. We listened to The Beetles and the songs are still stuck in my head. I got a chance to meet several people living with diabetes. It was fun. Sitting together at a long restaurant table, seeing everyone else test their blood sugar, use pens or pumps to dose insulin, made me feel less alone. It was like summer camp for grown-ups.
While I was laughing and listening I realized so many people grew up living with diabetes. They found out when they were five, six, eight. l found out I had diabetes at 42. While we were counting carbs and figuring out insulin doses, I realized our initial experiences with diabetes couldn't have been more different.
I wondered what it would be like to grow up with diabetes. The idea that they "didn't know any different," doesn't ring true to me. Kids know more than they let on. Growing up with diabetes in the way must have been challenging.
It made me think of trees that grow through fences.
The fence couldn't stop the tree from growing. Diabetes didn't stop my friends from growing up, either. They grew up around diabetes. They grew up with all the needle sticks and glucose tests. Highs and lows knocked them down, but they got back up and kept going. They share a familiarity with diabetes that I will never have. I didn't grow up with diabetes. I spent the first 42 years of my life without it.
Diabetes arrived in my life like this:
Like a sudden storm, diabetes knocked me over and shocked me down to the core. I don't have strong roots that nurtured me as a child with diabetes. I don't have my parents to shield me from the uglier realities and worries about complications. I have to learn to live after a storm and reinvent how I go about doing this. It is a tough task.
During dinner I realized how differently the same I am from my friends. Adjusting pump settings, trying to determine how many carbs are in the Cajun food and laughing, I can do with everyone. Adapting to a new life with diabetes? That is a different task. Thanks to the DOC, I don't have to face it alone.