Today is World Diabetes Day. I’m not quite sure what that means and I wouldn’t have known it even existed if it weren’t for my Facebook group of friends with type 1. I’ve only ever met one of these “friends,” the older sister of a forever friend and one of only two people with diabetes that I knew when I was diagnosed nearly twenty-eight years ago. But I like some of them quite a lot, more because we share political views than because we share a disease.
My life as a diabetic has been an interesting one, mostly because I don’t think about it all that often. Not that I don’t think about the practical, every day aspects of diabetes, because I most certainly do. I think about them all day long and even sometimes in the middle of the night. I test my blood at least six times a day, make adjustments before and after every workout, mentally calculate the insulin to carb ratio of every single thing I put into my mouth. But I rarely think about the philosophical or psychological aspects of diabetes, the why-me or how-has-this-made-me-who-I-am aspects. It just is who I am, yet another descriptor in a long line that includes friend, mother, sister, daughter, teacher, writer, athlete, runner, political activist, fundraiser, blogger, traveler, reader, cook, field hockey lover, laundry-folder, and on and on. It is not the first thing, nor probably even the fifth thing, that people discover upon meeting me. I don’t intentionally hide it from anyone but there always end up being people who’ve known me for months or even years who will one day see my pump and say, “What is that thing?” completely unaware that I rely on this little marvel of technology for life-saving insulin every minute of every day.
I wonder sometimes about how Austin will define himself down the road. Will “cancer survivor” be top of the list or a mere after-thought? The sort of thing people learn only when they see him without his shirt for the first time or if they happen upon old childhood photos? I don’t think he’ll hide it, as self-consciousness has never entered this boy’s repertoire. But I could see him shrugging and smiling flirtaciously at the stares of friends (he’s gonna work that scar, I just know it): “Oh that? Yeah, I had cancer when I was little.” When I was little . . .
So, anyway, Happy World Diabetes Day to all.