â€œI feel like my entire life has been shaken up. Itâ€™s amazing how much can happen in such a short time. A life can be change forever with one simple word. I have diabetes.â€
That was what I wrote in my journal about a week after my diagnosis in 2006. What is interesting is that I journaled almost every day but it took close to a week before I could even mention my new diagnosis in my journal. I have multiple entries after my diagnosis before I wrote this. I was in so much shock that first week that I couldnâ€™t even say the word â€œdiabetesâ€ and I was still pretending life was normal.
It is true that my entire life was changed by that one little word. At the time all I could see was the bad. All I could feel was anger and sadness and denial. I didnâ€™t want this change. I resented the change. And it just felt so unfair! I knew that life wasnâ€™t fair but at the time this just seemed like too much.
Although itâ€™s true that my life changed that day, what I couldnâ€™t see then was the hidden blessings with my diabetes. At the time all I could see is all the things I needed to give up, soda and fast food, my coming home from a long day at work and eating a pint of ice cream, my ability to just jump in the car and go somewhere without needing to plan, I felt like I was losing all the things I loved. That on top of the fact that I hated needles and blood and couldnâ€™t stand the thought that this was now going to be the rest of my life.
I really struggled my first years. I had a doctor that was always upset at me that I didnâ€™t manage my diabetes better. I really wanted to but I struggled with all the changes. I also couldnâ€™t see anything but the rest of my life having to do everything I didnâ€™t want to and no longer having the freedoms I had before. I also struggled because I was misdiagnosed as Type 2 and as I reached out to other Type 2s, they didnâ€™t seem to relate with the blood sugar (BG) management struggles I had.
Finally I found an endocrinologist who not only empathized with how hard it was but was able to find the right insulin ratios for me. He also encouraged me not to try to change all my bad habits at once but tackle one at a time. With his encouragement and expertise finally helping, I was able to get my BGs under control. As I tasted small victories in my management, I wanted more. Slowly I began to see that yes, this was likely my life forever going forward (unless we get a cure ?) but I could do it!
Over my 14 years living with this disease, I can look back and see all the blessings. I had a very poor diet and diabetes forced me to deal with it years before I likely would have. I was able to get needed structure and planning into my life that I otherwise likely wouldnâ€™t have. And in the last few years, Iâ€™ve really been blessed to get involved with the social media Type 1 community and not only get a lot of support from others but have been able to help those who are struggling. Iâ€™ve been able to take my experience and help others that are where I was in the beginning.
Yes this disease is life changing in a million different ways. But what I couldnâ€™t see in the beginning is that many of the changes are good. Many of them ended up being blessings. So while Iâ€™m not sure I can say Iâ€™m thankful that I have diabetes, I am thankful for all the blessings itâ€™s brought to my life. And more than anything Iâ€™m thankful to live in a time where we have insulin and technology that no longer makes diabetes a death sentence and has made the disease much easier to manage than 100 years ago.
No matter if you have diabetes or some other struggle in your life, always remember to look for the silver linings. Iâ€™m completely convinced that no matter how hard the struggle, there will always be blessings too. Iâ€™m very thankful that my journey as a Type 1 diabetic has taught me to look for the blessings in all my trials.