Monday, August 22, 2011

A Letter to Diabetes

Mary Lyn Schuh has been living with type 1 diabetes since age three. She has made it her mission – and her profession – to help find better treatments and ultimately a cure for type 1. Mary Lyn has gone from organizing her first fundraiser for JDRF when she was 9 years old (a “Quarter Fair” in her back yard with games that each cost 25 cents) to working as the Executive Director for the Middle Tennessee Chapter of JDRF. She and her husband, Jamie, have been married for nearly 8 years and live in a suburb of Nashville .

In an effort to put an interesting spin on the fundraising letter she send out to her family and friends for her JDRF Walk team this year, Mary Lyn decided that after 25 years, it was time she gave Diabetes a piece of her mind…

Dear Diabetes,

I hate you.

You came into my life – completely uninvited and unexpected – when I was just three years old. You forced me to grow up too fast. And you’ve been hanging around ever since then, trying your best to mess stuff up.

You stink at doing what you’re told, Diabetes. No matter how hard I try to control you, you’re always irritatingly unpredictable. No matter how hard I try to push you into the background, you manage to show up and make yourself the center of attention. You can see a memorable moment coming from a mile a way and you try to make it all about you instead. You’re so selfish.

You have a real knack for embarrassing me too, Diabetes. You make my Continuous Glucose Monitor (CGM) beep and light up while I’m enjoying a movie in a dark theatre, making me look like I don’t know how to turn off my cell phone. You make me stop to eat Starbursts in the middle of my Spinning class while getting strange looks from the sweaty cyclists around me. And sometimes you make me into someone who is short-tempered and mean. You make me say things I don’t mean to the people I love. You make me look like a real jerk, Diabetes.

You know what else? You have a stupid name. When I tell people about you, they get confused. They never seem to understand that you’re the “type 1” kind, so they say stupid things like, “well, couldn’t you just eat less sugar?” They think I did something to deserve you, but you and I both know the truth. When you teamed up with my immune system to attack my pancreas, there was no stopping you. Things get dangerous when the two of you get together and I always worry that you’re secretly planning another attack.

And you’re always interrupting me. Do you know how annoying that is? You rarely let me sleep through the night. What’s worse, you rarely let Jamie sleep through the night – that’s just mean. I can never head into a meeting at work without tending to you first. You know how much I enjoy cooking and eating, so you try to mess that up too. Counting the number of carbohydrates in a great meal can really make me lose my appetite. And heaven forbid should I indulge in something like pizza or frozen yogurt, you always make me pay for that later, chasing down high blood sugars all through the night. You can be downright spiteful, Diabetes.

You’d think that 6-10 shots a day and countless finger sticks would be enough to keep you happy, Diabetes, but no, you’re much too sadistic, aren’t you? You weigh me down with so much stuff everywhere I go. I can’t even take a walk around the block without my CGM, insulin pen, and Starbursts – you’re so needy.

Sometimes, Diabetes, you really scare me. I can usually keep you from wreaking too much havoc in my life, but every now and again you really make a run at me. Next thing I know, I’m covered in a cold sweat, desperately downing juice, cursing you with each gulp. Being so close to the edge of consciousness, I am terrified that I could just slip away and not wake up. And I know how you work, Diabetes. You are always trying to cause problems with my eyes, my kidneys, my heart – you just won’t stop, will you? This is when I hate you the most, when I think about you stealing my eyesight or stealing years off of my life. You are despicable and you make me feel helpless.

But you should be the one who is scared, Diabetes. That’s right, you heard me! JDRF is leading the way in creating an artificial pancreas, a type 1 diabetes vaccine, and ultimately, a cure. They are funding a lot of really smart people all over the world and working hard to put an end to you once and for all. Plus, I have a whole bunch of people who care about me – in fact, I’ve copied them on this letter – and they are going to make donations to JDRF and help put an end to you as quickly as possible. There are a lot of us, Diabetes, and we’re full of hope and we’re coming for you!

One day I’ll tell my grandkids about you, Diabetes, and about how you used to be a big part of my life. And those happy and healthy kids will give me a funny look and start to giggle. When I ask them what’s so funny they tell me that talking about diabetes really makes me sound old because nobody has that anymore. But they ask me to tell them about you anyway, Diabetes, even though they’ve heard the story before, because they just love the part about the amazing party we threw when I was cured.


Mary Lyn


Vivian said...

Love it and love her! At the walk kickoff she was dressed as Glucose Girl and way too cute with the pigtails. lol Great letter.

Kerri. said...

Great post, Mary Lyn, and thanks for putting this series together, Cara! xo

Anonymous said...

This is awesome! I completely agree with that entire letter. Great letter to diabetes.

Unknown said...

Cara....this series is really awesome.

Great post, Mary Lyn!

Elena said...

Oh, my word!! Thank you for this!!! I posted the link on my FB.

I too have had type 1 diabetes for 25 years and can so relate to much of Mary Lyn's letter.

Thank you, Cara and Mary Lyn. Keep fighting the good fight!!!

Sewconsult said...

"elena's" mom here. Thank you for this post. It's also not easy being the mom (or dad) of a child who had diabetes. It's hard to let them leave the house without asking, "do you have your finger stick stuff, your insulin, enough syringes or is your pump turned back on?". Having the doctor's number on speed dial is a given. Praying for a cure.
Beckie in Brentwood, TN

Cara said...

Elana & Elana's mom, if you don't blog about diabetes, feel free to write something & submit it for the project. I'd love to hear your story. Also, my mom posted fruit the project last week. You might be interested in reading that one.

George said...

So awesome! I love this!

Anonymous said...

This is fantastic, Mary Lyn--I am reposting it, and sending it to James as well. Thank you!-Liz

shannon said...

awesome letter! applause!!

violet said...

Hi :) I love this post so much. Just wanted you to know I made a blog on your letter and made a link to you as an author. if you find any problem in this just say so :)