It is the eighth annual Diabetes Blog Week, started by Karen from Bittersweet Diabetes I participated a while back now and given I am back on the D Blogging seat, thought I would hop on in and join. I am looking forward to reading and connecting with diabetes bloggers across the world this week.
The day one topic is about expecting the unexpected and the prompt is:
Diabetes can sometimes seem to play by a rulebook that makes no sense, tossing out unexpected challenges at random. What are your best tips for being prepared when the unexpected happens? Or, take this topic another way and tell us about some good things diabetes has brought into your, or your loved one’s, life that you never could have expected?
One thing I have most definitely learned in my life as a person living with type 1 diabetes since 1979, is that you can always expect the unexpected. I do expect to see that line written across many of the blog posts I read today, many fingers, bruised and hardened by multiple stab wounds, typing out the words that describe the one thing you can most definitely count on when you live with diabetes, that being to expect the unexpected.
Travelling back to my diagnosis of type 1 diabetes in 1979, it seems that throwing the unexpected curveball was always the strength of diabetes. Clambering into my life, the same way I clambered up and down across the sleeping bodies of my parents to head to the toilet for the 5th time each night, while we traversed Australia on a summer holiday. Melting away the weight on my body until I was as light as my 5 year old children, the same way I melt into a warm bath each night, and to a 12 year old girl who had always been a “bit on the chubby side”, almost as soothing as that bath, to see that thinner body emerging, not knowing the reason behind it was far more unexpected than I could ever imagine…..
The change from before diagnosis and after diagnosis seems sudden, like the shock of a great thriller, when someone has just committed a terrible crime and there is no going back – like a click of a shutter. And in that moment, you are set on an unexpected path that you can never return from. Everything moves so fast, there is chaos and confusion and no way of knowing what to expect. And then, eventually it all becomes more familiar, and you come to expect certain rhythms, certain daily tasks, the things you must now do to survive. You get on with life.
I remember being told to expect all the terrible things….to lose my eyes, my kidneys, my legs…to never have healthy children and that if I even dared to try, those precious babies would be born deformed, or even worse, dead…..I was told to expect to die myself 15 years sooner than I might have….had diabetes not become part of my life. I was told to expect that I could not run barefoot on the soft sand, or the warm grass of our huge country backyard, filled with the call to children to run free; that I would never eat certain foods ever again; that my life would be forever difficult, challenged, changed; but that it would be ok because a cure would be here in the next 20 years…and that was the best I could expect.
Yet, things did not go as expected.
After a while I decided to eat whatever the hell I wanted, to take the insulin I decided to take, or not take….and to test my blood sugar if and when I felt like it, which was not often in those teen years. I decided that if I could expect to have all those terrible things happen, then I might as well go out hard. I expected to be shunned by my peers and especially by boys, and so I kept it mostly to myself. I expected to have the most terrible awful life ever…but the funny thing is, that never happened. The most unexpected thing happened instead – I grew a remarkable life. Not one filled with simply joy, oh no. There has been plenty of sadness, and anxiety, struggles, depression even. There have been hard times, and tough times. There are things that were not expected that happened to my body, such as autonomic neuropathy, gastroparesis and strange musculoskeletal things. Yet the things I expected, did not happen, well at least not yet.
The most remarkably unexpected thing ever is the living proof of the unexpected – my 3 sons. Despite expecting tragedy, I defied this and went on to have 4 pregnancies and 3 beautiful sons, now aged 23, 18 and 8 years old. They are the living proof of the certainty of expecting the unexpected when it comes to diabetes, and the absolute surety that you must never expect the worst. In life with diabetes, just as in life without it, always always expect the best, and then there is much more chance that you will make this happen, despite diabetes.
Expect the unexpected always. Sometimes that may be something hard, but other times, it may just be the moment when you sink your feet into the warm sand and run free into the ocean, on feet that are fully feeling, with eyes that open wide to all in front of you, and see all of the possibilities.
Find all the participants of diabetes blog week here