Today is my diaversary. It has been 14 years since I began my journey as a diabetic. For the last few years I have celebrated my diaversary by drinking a real sugar Pepsi. Itâ€™s not much but something I look forward to each year.
When I was first diagnosed, I made a good effort to change my eating and exercise habits. That lasted about 3 months. I was still addicted to sugar and soda and was struggling with the foreverness of the disease. After 3 months, my willpower gave out. In that 3 months I hadnâ€™t stabilized well either (partially due to being misdiagnosed as type 2) and it felt like all my hard work was for naught. So I went back to my old habits and essentially ignored my diabetes. I took my meds sometimes, I took insulin sometimes and I ate better sometimes. But a lot of the time, I just didnâ€™t care.
After a few years, the effects of my out of control diabetes caught up to me. A doctor finally got my attention when he told me that if I didnâ€™t start taking care of myself, I would be dead or on dialysis in 5 years. I found an endocrinologist who was the first to get me stable. Rather than scolding me for my lack of compliance, he sympathized with how hard it was and helped me make small changes that added up over time. He didnâ€™t expect me to be perfect, just that I would try as hard as he was.
I still didnâ€™t do everything perfectly (because no one is perfect) but gradually better control happened. I gave up my food/sugar addictions one by one (instead of trying to change everything at the same time). But the thought of never having a soda again was hard (and I still gave into that temptation often) so I decided I would have one once a year. Instead of giving it up for good, I could make it another day/week/month. For a while I drank that once a year soda on my birthday. Then a few years ago I learned celebrating a â€œdiaversaryâ€ was a thing so I decided it was more fitting to move my once a year soda to that day.
Some people ask me why I would celebrate such an awful day that changed my life. I know other Type 1 diabetics who would rather do anything besides remember the day their life changed for the worse. Some, especially those diagnosed as kids, donâ€™t even know the exact day. Although I always remembered it was early August, I was only able to find the exact day by looking back at my journals. And once I found the day, I was determined to celebrate it.
To me, Iâ€™m not celebrating that I have Type 1 diabetes, Iâ€™m celebrating that Iâ€™ve survived another year with it. Iâ€™ve made it through another year of mostly good control and minimal diabetic complications. Iâ€™m celebrating my hard work that goes into living with this disease that is relentless and never ends. Iâ€™m celebrating life.
If I was asked my secret for surviving another year with the disease, I would say that outlook is SO important. Anyone who is always focusing on the difficulties and struggles will do nothing but resent the disease. But choosing to focus on the blessings (because there always are some even in trials) brings peace and yes even joy in the midst of the hard times. What lens you choose to look through makes a big difference. Itâ€™s not that I donâ€™t have hard frustrating times because I do, I just choose to remember that this too shall pass. As long as I continue to be faithful to do my best, it will get easier again. Itâ€™s never easy, but some times are easier than others.
So no matter how hard the disease is, no matter how much I struggle I will always choose to celebrate surviving another year. I will thank God that He granted me another year of life with a difficult disease. I will stop and remember the blessings. And I will drink a Pepsi.