Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Guest Post - Diabetes is No Picnic

Yet again, I've come up on a major writer's block. And yet again my friend Sherry has sent over a guest post. Sherry, you are not only one of the sweetest, most sincere people I know, you're also a lifesaver when it comes to my blog. :)

Sherry's other posts can be found on the Your Voice page. Want to submit a post as well? Click HERE for instructions.

It was like any other summer day in the park. Except it was hot! We questioned our sanity at coming out on a day like that but we were already sweaty, so why not just stay a while?

There were 7 of us. Young, healthy looking, active---amid the blankets and picnic lunches and toys that one would play with in a park. We don't know each other well, or hang out together; all we have in common is this group--yet we share the deepest of bonds.

After some general tomfoolery and gadding about, we all sat down to eat together. Nothing unusual about 7 friends sitting about on blankets, opening lunches and gabbing about life in general. We looked just like the rest of the folks in the park that day. Except for one thing.

As lunch began, we all pulled out blood sugar meters, test strips, insulin pumps and syringes. Several minutes of poking, testing, bolusing, counting carbs, injecting, etc. followed. After all the medical hoopla, lunch went on as normal for anyone else. We even went through the list of new restaurants in town, deciding together which ones were the best!

This was one of those 'wow' moments that sneak up and shock me so much. You see, all 7 of us had juvenile diabetes. Four of us were diagnosed as children, two as adults and our 23 year old newcomer was only diagnosed a few months ago. This was our monthly get together--a tradition for the last couple of years since we found each other on the internet and discovered that we lived close enough for some face to face fellowship. Our leader and founder had lived with the disease since childhood was lonesome for the support and fellowship she had had as a child with diabetes. Since she had grown up, there wasn't the fellowship anymore. Adults with type 1? That sounds like a paradox. It was..... only several decades ago. Type 1 diabetes was rapidly fatal in our grandmother's day and age, but it isn't anymore!

Anyhow, since it was way too hot to play, we spent our meeting lying about on blankets and chatting. JDRF has a new publication for adults with type 1 which discusses situations unique to us. We shared with each other how diabetes affected our relationships with friends, our jobs, our marriages and our general lives. We spent time ranting about how type 1 is totally butchered by the media, making our lives much more difficult. We shared about how dating is affected- how one girl had had a date read her medic alert bracelet right on her arm on the first date!- and how the guy never came back again. We praised our boyfriends, husbands, mothers and fathers for sticking with us through all the highs and lows and juice stained clothing. Some of us wondered if we would ever be able to have children, or fly an airplane, or make it through grad school alive. One of us worried out loud about getting a severe cut on her leg and not even feeling it when it happened. Another of us was frustrated at the huge medical bill acquired for dehydration due to an innocent little stomach bug. One of our youngest members had just been diagnosed with bleeding in the eye. We wondered about our bodies being ravaged in places we couldn't even see. We talked about losing our eyesight, amputating our limbs and worried that we would someday very soon not be able to get the insulin we need to survive because of the new healthcare reforms. Would the politicians decide we weren't worth the cost of the supplies we need to live? We talked about the fact that none of us would survive this disease.....that in one way or another, this disease would be the major cause of our death. There we were, 7 people not even middle aged, sitting in the park on a sunny Sunday afternoon, having a conversation like that.

As the conversation died down, one by one we fell silent. Unusual for this chattery group. We just looked at each other, out of things to say. We all looked up when we became aware of childish sounding music wafting on the breeze from an ice cream truck. How ironic, I thought. After the conversation we had just had, why should we have to listen to an ice cream truck? None of us could even eat the stupid stuff without major hassles.

We decided that, although diabetes is no picnic in the park, we were just going to lift our heads high and live life to the fullest. We weren't going to miss a single thing we wanted to do!! We weren't going to let this disease steal our lives. We were going to live out the motto of our leader: helping others to live to their healthiest potential. So bring on the ice cream truck....we can handle it! We may even eat some of it! Ha

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