Note: I’m participating in this year’s Diabetes Blog Week. Here is today’s theme – “In the UK, there was a diabetes blog theme of “I can…” that participants found wonderfully empowering. So let’s kick things off this year by looking at the positive side of our lives with diabetes. What have you or your loved one accomplished, despite having diabetes, that you weren’t sure you could? Or what have you done that you’ve been particularly proud of? Or what good thing has diabetes brought into your life? (Thank you to the anonymous person who submitted this topic suggestion.)”
In September 2007, I was officially diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. I was scared, confused, depressed and very angry. I asked my doctor two questions.
“Are you sure?” to which he said, “Yes”.
“Can I still run?” My doctor, who was a runner himself, responded without any hesitation, “Of course. What has diabetes got to do with running?” Then in a softer but emphatic voice, he ordered, “Don’t stop running.” My doctor’s words and demeanor assured me that I would be fine.
Despite the anxiety, confusion, depression and anger that initially swept over me, I did not need a lot of convincing to know that Type 2 diabetes would not be a major hindrance to an accomplished and well-lived life. I was a few months shy of 40 when I was diagnosed. By that time, I had already accomplished a lot of things, although not in an earth-shattering or life-saving fashion, and I had reached a few personal goals right before I was diagnosed with diabetes. I thought that if diabetes did not matter then, why should knowing that I have diabetes matter in the larger scheme of things?
Come to think of it, 2007 was the best year for me to be diagnosed because it was a year of accomplishments. That year was my second year skiing, and I managed to ski down short slopes without screaming my head off in fear. That may not be an accomplishment to some of you but it’s certainly a major feat for someone who picked up skiing in her late 30s.
In February 2007, I stood in the rain at the starting line of my first marathon. I was shivering, my hands were numb, and my shoes and socks were so soaked through that my feet felt like prunes. I ran, walked a bit, ran again, suffered leg cramps and kept running 42.195 km to the finish line.
One week later, I stood on stage for my first singing recital. Sure, I croaked the first line of Amazing Grace and butchered the rest of the hymn. But I fought back tears of embarrassment, finished my two recital pieces, and couldn’t wait to get back on stage to prove to everyone who witnessed my awful performance that I could definitely do better.
In November 2007, I married the best man in the world. If convincing the best man in the world to spend the rest of his life with me is not an accomplishment, then I don’t know what is.
Since I was diagnosed, I had completed three more marathons, including one in which I ran while wearing a costume and glugging my way through Medoc. I had reached certain milestones in my profession. I had participated in several other singing recitals. I now have this blog and a photo blog. I had recovered from a broken leg bone and minor sports-related injuries. My husband claims that my cooking skills have improved, and since I haven’t managed to give him food poisoning and he gobbles up everything I serve him, then I have no reason to challenge his claim. These are just some of what I consider my accomplishments, and I aim to achieve a few more.
Was Type 2 diabetes an issue? In my case, not really. Of course, Type 2 diabetes can be trying and troublesome, as it is most of the time, especially regarding partying, running and exercise, and work; and I have to remind myself constantly that diabetes poses serious health risks. But, it is not a hindrance, deterrent, restraint or restriction for me to aspire, act and achieve.
With the bad press that Type 2 diabetes gets, many newly diagnosed diabetics I meet online tend to see themselves as a failure of some sort and forget their own accomplishments, big or small. If there is one thing I’d like to tell people (especially the younger ones) who are newly diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, it is this – remember who and what you are, celebrate all that you have gone through and overcome, and continue dreaming and believing in yourself because diabetes will take away from you only what you let it.