So to the heart of all things “diabetes”–thinking about the all-important question so many of us fantasize–dream–cry–pray–hope–wish–bargain–share–plead–question about:
IF YOU COULD GIVE IT ALL BACK, WOULD YOU?
Here are my thoughts, excerpted from the preface of my memoir-in-progress on growing up with diabetes:
Someone once asked me an intriguing question when I’d been diabetic just over half my life. “If you could give it all back, would you?” But in the moments that followed, as I grappled to understand who I had become after all those years of trying to live with the disease, an incredulous thought swept through me. How can it be possible that I can’t separate the person I’ve become as a result of living with diabetes, from the person I might have been without its grip on my life? And I realized that my life had been indelibly and irrevocably changed by the process.
I recall sharing this crazy heart-stopping thought with my husband. He looked me squarely in the eye, somehow already knowing the answer. Yet he still asked, “So what did you say?” Being obstinate, I just wasn’t so easily inclined to give in at the time. I fidgeted, looked away and finally mumbled a reluctant response with a heavy sigh, “Well, I’m not sure. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I don’t think I should give it up.” To be honest, this was a terrifying thought. What I really wanted, of course, was to eradicate, strangle and burn away all evidence of the inroads this disease had made into my life, mind and heart. But that moment offered me an epiphany. Another unimaginable gift, as I realized that I couldn’t give up the experience, because having diabetes had shaped me into the person I’d become, triumphant warts and all.
When the work of suppressing my diabetes began to take too much energy for me to want to stay in such a dark place, I finally grasped that despite my many tribulations, much of the ultimate impact had been surprisingly positive. It started with accepting a simple truth: while my own journey has not been an easy one, it has definitely been profound. Finding ways to emerge from obstacles in my path has made me stronger both in character and spirit. It has pushed me to be decidedly more determined, and helped shape a sense of empathy and willingness to give to others. The day I acknowledged a grudging acceptance of the disease to my husband was most definitely a day that it all began to make sense. The knowledge that someone I deeply cared for and trusted was willingly there beside me in partnership and solidarity was enough to sustain me and help me believe in the power of the journey.